Artist and arts tutor, Victoria Bennett’s tribute to Victorian poet Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844 – 1889) at Chamber Gallery Rangiora acknowledges his far-reaching influence on 20th century literature and poets that include T.S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas, W.H. Auden and C. Day Lewis.
Bennett says that her exhibition, A tribute to the Poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins is her response as an illustrator to his poems, and her, always wishing to acknowledge his sonnets, ‘one of the greatest innovators in the English language and a man of strong personal faith. His poems deconstructed and recreated language in new and striking forms’.
Hopkins was an English poet and Jesuit priest who, although writing and having poems published during his lifetime, did not became widely recognised or influential, until forty years after his death. A Roman Catholic who studied at Oxford University and a Jesuit priest from 1868, he is most famous today for, The Windhover, 1877, yet it was not published until 1918. Studying in theology in Wales he learnt the Welch language, the sound of which influenced his poetry, shaping the way in which the English language could be lyrically manipulated for its sound to give meaning to his verse.
He defined the numerous manifestations of his response to his experience of the natural world in his poetry as “inscapes”, writing sonnets rich in their language and rhythm, the opening lines of The Windhover his best-known:
I caught this morning morning's minion,
kingdom of daylight's dauphin,
dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding…
Hopkins’ poems are characterised by the sound of their verse and his personal experience of nature through echoing phrases and verses, a tangible encounter in their own right. Bennett’s response includes The Windhover as one of the model for her paintings where ‘whole pictures have been cut up and reassembled to form new images. My goal was to capture the intricate beauty of the sonnets’.
Victoria Bennett, A tribute to the Poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins
Chamber Gallery Rangiora, 141 Percival Street, Rangiora
1 August – 2 September
- Victoria Bennett,The Windhover, 2021, acrylic on paper