My Waste Land journey by Eve Fleming
My own journey with T.S. Eliot’s Waste Land began by accident, following an evening about the poem at Warwick Arts Centre. We found the idea of an exhibition based on the poem interesting and discussed ideas, and the group was formed. At that stage it was new to us all and we did not have a clear idea of the route we were going to travel. We tried to concentrate on the poem, which although was confusing and complicated gave us many ideas. This was helped for me by a visit to London where we walked in the City of London looking at places mentioned in the poem linked to Eliot’s time working in the bank there.
One day we all went to visit Coventry Cathedral where we were told about the journey of the 2000 year stone for the font for the new Cathedral from Bethlehem to Coventry. This inspired me to create a display of this journey through the wasteland of post war Europe which echoed ideas in the poem. This was shown in the Cathedral while the exhibition was held in the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum.
Like all journeys the last minute preparations were busy, with labels, hanging and event planning. The exhibition opening after all the preparations was such an exciting event supported by family and friends. The performance of the poem in the Cathedral was brilliant and brought the poem to life and demonstrated the meanings that we had been exploring for the exhibition.
After the time spent planning, the time of the exhibition seemed to fly by. Regular times spent in the gallery gave an opportunity to talk to visitors and help the younger visitors use the old typewriter to give their views, which they found novel and exciting. The exhibits gradually came to seem like old friends.
The events members of the research group had arranged gave extra dimensions to appreciation and enjoyment of the exhibition. My own highlight was the Vox Box music recital at Birmingham Conservatoire which provided musical response to the poem.
The event I had arranged was the evening Coventry on Film: From ‘a heap of broken images’. The selection of short films showed images of Coventry from the blitz in 1940 and the development of the city since then and gave an insightful parallel with some of the ideas portrayed in Eliot’s poem, and was another memorable evening.
The aftermath of a journey or an experience is often the most complex and interesting part. There is regret for the passing of the excitement, but the memories and persisting relationships are retained and cherished. The experience has given me new insights and skills and changed my understanding of an exhibition and of Eliot’s poetry. It has given a new focus for future activities and experiences.
Eve Fleming Haiku
Wasteland journeys bring
Delight, exploring ideas
This is the picture I bought by Philip Luckhurst from the Response to “The Waste Land” by Leamington Studio Artists as a memory of my experiences.
‘In my end is my beginning ‘(Eliot Four Quartets)