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New aquisitions

Cowboy Story by Richard Tuttle | 03-Feb-15

Not a new book but a Staff Pick from our Poetry Library Open Day 2014.

Cowboy Story by Richard Tuttle; illustrations by Heather Deedman; accompanied by a mini-disc of music by Zoe Irvine; concept by Alec Finlay
[Edinburgh ; Gateshead] : Morning Star ; BALTIC, Centre for Contemporary Art, 2002.

Richard Tuttle came to prominence in the 1960s, combining sculpture, painting, poetry and drawing. Tuttle belonged to a generation of artists who considered words to be art. The lines that make up Cowboy Story look and feel like poetry; they are recognizable in structure as a form of minimalist poetry. However, they are abstract and don't make sense in any kind of familiar way. They are more like words that recall poetry but don't embody it entirely. There is space for interpretation, room for metaphor - Tuttle doesn't hammer down with words what is happening in Deedman's illustrations. His words are there to work with and support her illustrations, all alongside Irvine's music. The three elements (sound, image, word) come together to unify the book and give it life. On their own, these isolated materials are enjoyable but perhaps lack a clear purpose. Combined they are an effective exploration of traditional story-telling and most importantly, fun for the reader, whatever their age.

Alec Finlay recalls how the multimedia project came about: "I knew Heather's drawings and, somehow, had the idea it would be interesting (but) unexpected to get Richard Tuttle to do the text. How (I managed it) I can't say - intuition? He provided a wonderful piece. Zoe conceived the sound aspect, a kind of mise en scène, which Miles Lang played. I was what one might call the animatore - better than editor. It was part of a series, the small press series, part produced by Baltic, when they had the 'art factory' concept, now long gone."

Reading Cowboy Story can feel at times like you're reading a new kind of poetry, an alternative to what we know commonly as 'poetry'. That is why I wanted to share it on the Open Day when we were considering the role of text in art.

Anyone interested in learning more about Tuttle's explorations of sculpture, painting and poetry can visit Tate Modern to see the current Turbine Hall installation Richard Tuttle: I don't know. The Weave of  Textile Language until 6 April 2015.

Jessica Atkinson
Digital Coordinator

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