Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Strangeness on the Shore Is a Work of Art

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Strangeness on the Shore Is a Work of Art

Article excerpt

Byline: By Tamzin Lewis

Poet Keith Armstrong and conceptual artist Rolf Wojciechowski welcomed the tide into their collaboration Out to Sea, as Tamzin Lewis discovered.

If you happened to see a man shouting poetry into a loud-hailer as North Sea breakers swept over enormous wooden letters positioned at the tideline, you encountered Keith Armstrong and Rolf Wojciechowski.

As part of a year-long project, the writer and artist toured the beaches of Spittal, Low Newton, Druridge, Blyth, Tynemouth and Marsden.

At each site Rolf constructed a 40-metre long poetic text-sculpture made of marine plywood. The wooden words were positioned into wet sand using metal stakes. The text was designed to move, disintegrate and interact with the tide. As waves washed over the separating words, Keith used a loud-hailer to broadcast his poem North Sea Fever, written especially for the project.

The public art project was photographed by Rolf and students at Tyne Metropolitan College. An exhibition of photos, video and poems by Keith, and also writings by artist Kurt Schwitters and writer Algernon Charles Swinburne, is touring the North-East. Readings by Keith will be linked to folk music, including Northumbrian pipes, at some venues.

Keith, of Whitley Bay, says: "The project was atmospheric and unique. Performing poetry on beaches certainly opened up possibilities, it was quite a surreal experience. I was initially nervous about performing with a loud-hailer in windswept conditions, but the loud-hailer has now become an indispensable tool!"

He adds: "I have lived by the sea for most of my life but I have never encountered it at such close quarters. …

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