Hot ice and wondrous strange snow

Artist’s books by Liz Mathews
The Millennium Library at The Forum, Norwich, June 2016

‘Hot ice and wondrous strange snow’ appear in a catalogue of strange and contradictory concepts in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and this exhibition focuses on The Seasons Alter, an artist’s book which sets Titania’s speech about the disruption of the seasons — words eerily prescient in our time of climate emergency and environmental disaster.

As a lettering artist, I translate poetry into the language of material form — here it’s a single sheet of handmade paper folded into a double-sided sequence, endlessly circling like the year, and the text is lettered with a driftwood stick in handmade inks mixed with snow-melt, rainwater, mud and dust, drawing in the material words.

I work with poetry, anciently prescient or modern, that says something relevant, revealing and often paradoxical about contemporary concerns, focusing on the layers of meaning within each text, so the words can speak afresh directly to us and about our world.


Liz with some young visitors to the exhibition.
The exhibition begins inside the library, while turn the page artists’ book fair continues outside.
Swallows on the Thames with words by Matthew Arnold, The Seasons Alter with words by Shakespeare, Butterfly Cloud with poem by Jeremy Hooker.
The Seasons Alter, side one, words by Shakespeare; double sided artist's book on handmade paper, setting Titania's speech from 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'; paint mixed with snow-melt, rain, mud and dust.
Butterfly Cloud, from a poem by Jeremy Hooker.
In the Light, Portrait, with poems by Jeremy Hooker, and Winter from John Clare's Year.
It is a Winter's Tale with words by Dylan Thomas, The Seasons Alter with words by Shakespeare, Light Through with words by Virginia Woolf.
The Seasons Alter, second side, words by Shakespeare (the first side at number 4).
32 bar blues with poem by Richard Price, Hot ice and wondrous strange snow with words by Shakespeare, Spring song, Lark song, and Green rain with words by Jeremy Hooker.
Blake's Grafitti, first work of zigzag group, setting poem by Kathleen Raine.
Autumn from Clare's Year, paperwork with words by John Clare.
Winter from Clare's Year, and Pattern, banner with driftwood and clay fragments, words by Virginia Woolf.
Turn, artist's book with poem by Maureen Duffy, and Here's the place, words by Jeremy Hooker.
Spring from Clare's Year, poem by John Clare.
This Earth, words adapted from Winifred Nicholson.
Rag/Luideag, artist's book by Liz Mathews with poem by Derick Thomson /Ruaraidh MacThomais, stoneware clay pages sewn into cotton duck binding with linen thread,; paints and charcoal mixed with tea and whisky.
Tatter'd Colours by Liz Mathews, words by Anne Finch, artist’s book on French canvas, with binding that allows the pages to be hung as regimental colours, or read page-by-page as a book; in canvas kitbag.
Tatter'd Colours by Liz Mathews, words by Anne Finch, as before, from the further end.
Overview of the exhibition just inside and outside the library's ground floor, continuing on the mezzanine, in the artists' book fair turn the page.
Frances Bingham & Liz Mathews, photo by Gary Florance

Back to Exhibitions

Back to top