Writer in Residence • January 2018 • Patterns of intimacy

January 18, 2018

We are delighted to share the second piece of writing from our writer in residence. Rebecca has captured the essence of our first exhibition of 2018, Passion Vision and Spirit, perfectly.

Please take time to read her words and enjoy Norman Gilbert's work.

View more by this artist here

Passion, Vision and Spirit: Norman Gilbert

January – 17th February 2018


exhibition really fizzes with energy, and has understandably attracted lots of
positive attention.  Inspired by that
energy, I wanted to respond quite quickly and intuitively to what I saw.  There was a particular
I wanted to capture while I felt it, when you first walk
through the door and when you see each work up close.  For that reason, my poem
could be a work-in-progress – but I wanted to
share it at this stage, to demonstrate the process as it takes place. 


paintings have such an immediate impact – in their scale, uses of colour and
pattern – and I wanted to acknowledge that in my response.  In this poem, I’m literally asking myself
‘what is it about these paintings that produces such a powerful effect?’  What can you put into words and what is (rightly)
beyond articulation?  I’m playing with
pattern and repetition throughout, something to convey both the gentleness and
intricacy of the paintings.  I was also moved
by the fact that this exhibition shows examples of a living artist’s work from decades
apart (1956 to 2016), which feels like a rare privilege to see. 



Patterns of intimacy

after Norman Gilbert

What is it that draws the eye?

             The falling line

               or an almond of blue?


Blue eyes,
yes –

and a wine

Notice the
hands –


delicately balancing

on hip, hand
in hand:

patterns of


Fingers interlocked,

a clutch of


What draws
the breath?

                  That string of
berries at her wrist,

                  his bare feet
and an instinct



Thumb tucked
into waistband:

that cause all else

to radiate.


Tilted head,
the eyes

downcast.  Stillness lives here –

sweetly, briefly.


What draws
the heart?

               The interlocution

               of love and landscape.


Giving shape
to what has waited;



And colour,
of course –

offerings of

sugar and


questions left

as vessels for






© Rebecca
Sharp 2018