Category Archives: Jacquetta and objects

Pots Before Words: exhibition Spring 2014

Pots Before Words | Kate Morrell

10 April-22 May 2014

Gallery II, University of Bradford

Pots Before Words is an exhibition of new works by Kate Morrell, commissioned by Gallery II at the University of Bradford.  Kate engages with the life and work of Jacquetta Hawkes, via research in her Archive at the University.  PBW features a series of new objects and drawings by Kate.  It centres on Jacquetta’s study of prehistory, her appreciation of the role of pottery, and her humanistic take on archaeology.  Kate is particularly interested in the issues which arise when interpreting or translating from an incomplete or inaccurate record of the past …

Find out more about Gallery II and the exhibition on their website.  Preview 10 April 5-8 pm.

Credit: image courtesy Kate Morrell.

Thanks to the Arts Council England for their support for this exhibition!


Can you solve the mystery of this Beast?

HAW 10_1_4 Boar Creature Statuette

Who am I? What am I? Can anyone help?

We found this image of a rather winsome creature in the Jacquetta Hawkes Archive.  He was loose in a file of archaeological correspondence minus any kind of information.  We like him very much and would love to know more about him.  We think he may be a boar.  Any suggestions welcome!

A Land: An Object

A Land (1951) is the fusion of poetry and geology that is Jacquetta Hawkes’ best-known and most quintessential publication.  The book, and later responses to it, regularly feature on this blog.  Jacquetta believed that understanding the past and nature, how civilisation developed, was essential to human well-being, even survival.  This book expresses these ideas in a stunning new way, and resonates with activists, artists and academics to this day.

The title, in its various published and unpublished forms, is this week’s Object in the 100 Objects online exhibition at the University of Bradford.

Jacquetta circa 1951

Jacquetta circa 1951

100 Objects

100 objects Bradford is a new online exhibition from Special Collections, curated by Alison Cullingford and inspired of course by the British Museum/BBC series.  Each week meet one of the most important or interesting items from Special Collections.

The first object is the University’s Charter, on display outside the admin office in J.B. Priestley Library.  Thanks to “Red” Ted Edwards, our first Vice-Chancellor, the Charter includes a commitment to using knowledge for human welfare, which led to the founding of Peace Studies, and still appears today in ecoversity and other projects.  The image shows Ted with the Charter.

Several of the objects chosen will be from the Jacquetta Hawkes Archive.  Others will be relevant to her ideas, for instance about campaigning, peace, sustainability and the importance of nature, or to archaeology.  In particular, the overall motif of the exhibition, the idea that 100 individual objects can be known and understood, and used to make wider concepts friendly to audiences, ties in with Jacquetta’s writings about the importance of objects.

Words, Land, and Landscape at Ilkley Literature Festival

Just announced: the 2010 Ilkley Literature Festival programme includes several events celebrating the centenary of Jacquetta Hawkes.  More detail about buying tickets etc available from the Festival website.

Tuesday 28 September-Sunday 31 October 2010, Manor House Museum. Celebrating Jacquetta Hawkes.  An exhibition in which I use the treasures of the Jacquetta Hawkes Archive to tell her fascinating story. (Event no. 2).

Wednesday 6 October 2010. 6.30-8 pm, Manor House Museum.  Private view: special chance to enjoy the above exhibition and Faces of Poetry, also on show in the Manor House.  (Event no. 54).

Wednesday 6 October 7.45 pm,  Ilkley Playhouse Wildmans.  Old Land, New Land: a journey through Jacquetta Hawkes’ poetic geography. Dr Christine Finn, Jacquetta’s biographer,  introduces Figures in a Landscape, an experimental film about Barbara Hepworth scripted by Jacquetta Hawkes and continuing the fusion of literature and geology shown in her masterpiece, A Land. (Event no. 55).

Saturday 16 October 7.30 pm,  St Margaret’s Hall.  Jacquetta Hawkes and her Circle. Dr Finn and Dr Jon Wood of the Henry Moore Institute discuss the art, film and poetry scene of the 1950s (Henry Moore, Graham Sutherland, Festival of Britain) and Jacquetta’s involvement. (Event no. 165).

The Stanza Stones project, collaborating with Simon Armitage, will draw creative inspiration from the Pennine landscape, linking beautifully with our exploration of similar ideas in the 1950s.

Hiding the Hoo hoard

In August 1939, as war threatened, London’s great museums and galleries evacuated their collections to safer locations, away from air-raids.  Artworks and treasures were moved to country houses, organisations in Wales, quarries, and the London Underground.

The archaeologist Christopher Hawkes, Jacquetta’s first husband, was then an Assistant Keeper at the British Museum.  He supervised the huge and difficult process of selecting, packing and transporting as many of the Museum’s treasures as possible for storage at the disused Aldwych tube station.  Jacquetta helped with the packing.

Diana Bonakis Webster, in “Hawkeseye”, her 1991 biography of Christopher Hawkes, quotes some telling details: Jacquetta felt “half choked” by fluff from the packing kapok. The objects were placed in “large, green, coffin-sized boxes” and transported inconspicuously by horse-drawn carts covered by tarpaulins.  The boxes were sent down a chute on one of the escalators, with their landing cushioned by sacks of sawdust.

I think the most exciting treasures stored at Aldwych were the Sutton Hoo finds.  Jacquetta remembered seeing “a large white chalked square on the platform.  It was clearly marked FOR SUTTON HOO”.   The Sutton Hoo objects had only just been unearthed after 1300 years in the ground.  Now these astonishing gold treasures, already compelling a complete re-think of 7th century history, had to return to the secret dark.

Past, Present, Man, Nature: 3. “That great force of life”

Past, Present, Man, Nature: celebrating Jacquetta Hawkes.

An online exhibit by Alison Cullingford, Special Collections Librarian, University of Bradford.

Intro | Credits | Previous | Next

3. “That great force of life”

Jacquetta's ID card

Jacquetta's ID card

World War II changed everything.  Both Christopher and Jacquetta joined the civil service, though they continued to publish on archaeological topics. Jacquetta was elected as a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1940. Jacquetta began in the Ministry of Post-War Reconstruction, moving later to the Ministry of Education.  She seems to have found the work congenial, remarking that it brought her “immense interest, amusement and some understanding of the higher bureaucracy”.

At the same time, she was drawn to poetry.  Her surviving notebooks delightfully juxtapose notes of formal civil service meetings and drafts of poems.  Nature, the past and “things” continued to inspire her: poem titles include “On Staring at a Celtic Ornament”, “Rooks”, “The Seal”, “Kuban”, “Pear and Cherry”, “A Glass”.  Her poems are also a moving testament to love found and lost, with poet and critic Walter Turner, who died suddenly in 1946.  “Symbols and speculations” (1949) was her only published volume of poetry.  Afterwards, she turned to other forms of creative expression.

Man in time folder and typescripts

Man in time folder and typescripts

“Man in Time”, shown here in typescript, is perhaps her greatest poem, describing a mystical, ecstatic experience she had at Mount Carmel watching a caravan of camels.  It gives the reader a flavour of the way Jacquetta felt about the past and the present: “As I stood by the cave whose walls had known / How that great force of life, how love, had formed / Men, women, music and the skeleton.”