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Translucent Topography, 2020

This series of concrete poem packets are my contribution to a DJCAD PhD project titled 'Nexus'. Nine artists initially took part in the art exchange and with the addition of a book-binder, the collections were developed into an art book.

Translucent Topography series.

Twelve individualised packets each containing two translucent sheets of paper, one a concrete poem, the other a word poem. The concrete poem is a visual and topographical representation of a participant’s location during lockdown. Each word poem is a variation of a twelve-line poem. Every line is taken from an inspiration shared by each participant. Tap...tap...tap tap tap. The typewriter acted as both writing implement and mark-making tool. Tap...tap tap.


2021 Nexus Exhibition in the Matthew Building Reception Gallery.


Global pandemics don’t happen every day. Things that we used to do everyday stopped, and the world collectively burrowed in to a strange new existence: life lived quietly, at a distance from each other, making hermit crabs of us all. Note to self: hermit crabs must change shells not only because they grow, but because they relish change.

During this enforced hiatus, we each realised that thinking doesn’t stop, nor does the desire for continued learning, exchange, meaningful discussion or the need for human contact. Our PhD group met weekly online, sharing readings, presentations by guest ‘visitors’ from around the world, critiques, discussions about what PhDs are and what they could be, thoughts, desires, fears, and the communion of creative thinkers.

We artists mourned the lack of previous facilities and the ability to make what many of us had been making before. In formulating this collaborative project we devised a way to preserve creative making, allowing nearly complete freedom in choice of materials, topics, and approaches. The only restriction was the A5 finished size. And also from the beginning, we decided to share a copy with each other, holding on to something as a token of seven months connected but apart, linked through so many aspects of ideas, thoughts and interests. One of the visitors we invited to our weekly sessions is a bookbinder, box-maker, conservator who is truly inspired as an artist-binder. It became clear that her collaboration and contribution was also going to be a part of our project, shaping and holding our pieces.

And finally, from the beginning we added another three copies: one to stay in the Artist Book Centre in Dundee Archive, and two to travel internationally to share with others in the ways that we could no longer do ourselves in an embodied sense. This project became our collective avatar, making visible the connections, overlays, and provocations between us, a kind of timely Nexus.

Professor Mary Modeen

Dundee, Scotland

10 November 2020


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