A one-day workshop run in collaboration with the Laurence Sterne Trust and co-delivered
by Patrick Wildgust and Jane Hyslop
Shandy Hall, the Laurence Sterne Trust, Coxwold, 29 August 2021
In response to the Imprints: Art Editing Modernism exhibition, held at Shandy Hall from 28 August – 11 September, this workshop focused on the question of the relationship between text and non-verbal elements – a key issue for modernist aesthetics – as they were presented at the exhibition and issues arising when curating such an exhibition.
The workshop began with a tour of St Michael’s Church in Coxwold, where Laurence Sterne was once vicar and to where his skull was transferred in the 1960s. Patrick Wildgust, the curator of Shandy Hall, led the group’s examinations of Sterne’s gravestone, mounted on the porch wall of the church, and the eighteenth-century graffiti that cover the pews. The group then proceeded to Shandy Hall where Patrick described the house and then examined the life of Laurence Sterne, the cross-overs between the real life figure and the fictional character of Tristram Shandy. He described the manner in which Sterne approached writing and his aspirations for The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman and the ways that the first edition was published, printed and distributed helped meet these.
Jane Hyslop, Imprints of New Modernist Editing co-investigator invited the group to consider Imprints: Art Editing Modernism in the context of Shandy Hall, and of other artists’ approaches to the notion of editing. She described how each artist had come to the project, from the choices they made in terms of the texts they worked with to the mediums with which they employed, which were diverse.
The day culminated in the dining room at Shandy Hall where participants were invited to take time in considering a collection of books laid out on the table. They took time to choose a book, without looking inside and then were offered the opportunity to spend some time with the volume, to look, to think and to discover. Did it meet their expectations? What were the intentions of the artist or author? How did the material qualities and structure of the book support the content? Many investigations led to other books then each participant presented their findings and discussions followed to round off a rich and inspiring day.