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Light poem spotted around Newbury

On Friday and Saturday, a travelling light poem appeared around Newbury, encouraging the public to reflect on their experiences of living through a pandemic, while evoking hope for the future. The outdoor art piece was presented by the Corn Exchange Newbury and 101 Outdoor Arts and Emergency Exit Arts.

Entitled Recovery Poems, the illuminated poem paused on its journey for the public to read it in locations including the Market Place, Victoria Park, West Berkshire Community Hospital, Newbury College, Newbury Racecourse and the vaccination centre, and Tesco car park.

The poem was made up of two phrases: ‘The surge of spring hides into the blank wood of winter now we have paused in the heartland of care, made beds of sodden earth’s mournful moss, our mortal thrum’ and ‘At what point do we fall into each other's arms and dance again loosening our shadow? We are vulnerable in this first light, but rising steady now, crowning in the new music’.

Inspired by conversations with communities, artists and poets, Robert Montgomery and Deanna Rodger created the moving outdoor art piece, which provoked questions about what we have lost as a society as we take the first tentative steps out of lockdown as well as the positive changes we can make as we recover from Covid-19.

Throughout the pandemic, the Corn Exchange and 101 Outdoor Arts have been finding ways to keep the community creative while events are not permitted. As a travelling installation, Recovery Poems offered a way to share art with local residents who spotted it as they went about their day or enjoyed following its journey via 101 and the Corn Exchange’s social media.

Simon Chatterton, who is the 101 strategic lead at Greenham, said: ‘It has been a strange and difficult time for so many of us. This felt like a chance to bring a small element of creativity and positivity into the lives of people in the town, at a time when so much of our usual activity has been curtailed’.

Recovery Poem is a partnership project between Without Walls, Emergency Exit Arts, 101 Outdoor Arts, Robert Montgomery, Deanna Rodger and Thatcham Town Council.

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