I POPPED in to Bridport Old Books and Caroline said to me: “Here, try this.” So I put some headphones on and listened to what sounded like a conversation with all the interesting bits taken out. Er – pause – like – pause – ah – pause… “You can walk around,” said Caroline. “It’s all coming from here.”
Here? Where is here, I thought? There’s only her and me in this bookshop that I can see. Does she mean something in here has been picking up conversations and now their terrible residues are coming out of the walls like wavy stains or stainy waves? Words as waste matter – except, of course, when you hear just the detritus of speech you do start to wonder what you’re missing out on and listen more closely for clues in what you’re left with about register and emotion / “It’s coming from here on the wall,” she said, and pointed to some sort of transmitting device near the window. “I think it’s rather funny,” she went on. “There’s more out in the back. You have to go and see that.” So I went into the back room and found there was indeed a kind of encrusted tongue sticking out of the wall… A horrid letter opener
“All I have is a voice / To undo the folded lie”
Outside Bridport Old Books, and in front of Bridport Arts Centre, artist Nigel Slight began his first book, Writing The Unfinished Story Of War, at a desk on a pallet six feet up in the air dangling from a crane.
Why? Mr Slight said: “I wanted to do something about war, especially as it was taking place in November, the month of Remembrance Day.
“When the First World War ended the soldiers who fought in it were told the lie that it was the War to end all Wars.
“But here we are, three, four generations on, and it is clear that wars are never going to go away, indeed we seem further away from peace then ever before. And at the moment we are engaged in not one but two unjust wars that the governments of the UK and USA have got us involved in.
“Neither of these conflicts has a clear mandate and all they have done is caused death and ruin to both military personnel and an untold number of civilians.”
All this is part of Countertext09, exhibiting at Bridport Arts Centre and the Electric Palace Café until November 28. Works by nearly two dozen artists are also on display at shops and business premises around Bridport.
Find out more by clicking on this link – or just explore.