I can't say enough good things about this book. The first and most obvious thing is its appearance-it's a large book, hardback, with superb colour reproduction throughout-a book with real presence.
Carry Akroyd is a contemporary artist who has lived most of her life in north-east Northamptonshire, very close to the village of Helpston where the nineteenth-century poet John Clare had his being. Not all her paintings, screenprints, etc are inspired by John Clare but a lot of them are, and this book is dedicated to that ongoing enterprise. Akroyd explores visually what Clare explored in his poems : landscape, biodiversity, the effects constantly being wrought on the landscape-for good or ill-by human beings. And it is this very specific landscape-the Fens on the edge of East Anglia, not considered spectacular by many people but with their own beauty-that dominates the book. And we soon become aware that Akroyd doesn't make merely pretty pictures any more than Clare wrote merely pretty poems : there is a political component here, and a sharp sense of loss. Clare saw his world encroached upon and diminished by the Enclosure Act; Akroyd sees HER world-and, by extension, ours-despoiled and diminished by agribusiness and climate change.Quotes from Clare's poems float through Akroyd's work and act as the catalyst for many individual pieces.
So,in short,a beautifully-produced book of exciting and lively paintings. And food for thought.This would make a great gift for a special person.