We’re thrilled to announce that some of the most exciting, beautiful and historically fascinating objects in the Jacquetta Hawkes Archive will be on show at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park from 8 September to 4 November 2012. They appear as part of an exhibition, Back to A Land, curated by Dr Christine Finn, Jacquetta’s biographer.
La Cotte de St. Brelade (Jersey), entrance to the cave from the ravine (archive ref: HAW 18/3/45)
The exhibition coincides with the Harper Collins reissue of Jacquetta’s tour de force, A Land, her synthesis of geology, poetry and travelogue. Fêted by critics and the public as a celebration of Britain’s landscape as it emerged out of the dark days of war, Hawkes’ wandering – and wondering – about the origins of Britain’s foundations, from primeval swamp to North London pavement, was illustrated by her friend Henry Moore. Dr Finn has used the book as well as Jacquetta’s notebooks, manuscripts, photographs and other archive items to revisit the key locations of A Land, reflecting on how Britain has changed since first publication and presents the results in new photography, film, and illustration.
Here’s our copy of the new edition of A Land by Jacquetta Hawkes, just out from Harper Collins, on show in the Reading Room. We’re so excited that this wonderful book is in print again at last and hope it will delight many readers new to Jacquetta’s unique mix of archaeology, geology, history and personal insights into the landscape of Britain.
Interesting mentions of Jacquetta Hawkes and her “biography of a landmass” A Land in comments on the Dark Mountain Project website. The commenters reflect on their experience of the Uncivilisation conference, which included a paper by Christine Finn on Jacquetta’s ideas.
Past, Present, Man, Nature: celebrating Jacquetta Hawkes.
An online exhibit by Alison Cullingford, Special Collections Librarian, University of Bradford.
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6. “I see a land”
“A Land” (1951), Jacquetta’s most famous book, is a book only she could have written. As she said in her preface, “The image I have sought to evoke is of an entity, the land of Britain, in which past and present, nature, man and art appear all in one piece … I see a land as much affected by the creations of its poets and painters as by changes of climate and vegetation”. Typically, she begins with her own experience, lying on the ground of her back garden in London, which starts reflections on the geology below. The book tapped in to interest in Britain and its history, its distinctive past, its visual heritage, and was itself an appealing artefact, with colour drawings by sculptor Henry Moore. As Diana Collins observed, the book made such unpromising subjects as stones and the mating of reptiles fascinating and meaningful. Jacquetta remarked that the book made a “curiously strong impression” with the public; she received the Kemsley special award for it.
Man and the Sun
“A Land” can be seen as the first of a trilogy, completed by “Man on Earth” (1954) and “Man and the Sun” (1962). These three books drew on Jacquetta’s academic, scientific background, but went beyond this to inspire readers with her imaginative identification with the growth of human consciousness and mythologies of the sun. Jacquetta believed that natural selection was only the mechanism for the development of consciousness, and that there was “an all-pervading and transcendent significance in human evolution”. Her interest in dualities, complements and contrasts shows in her ideas about the feminine “Old Brain” and the masculine “New Brain”, and the replacement of mother goddesses by sky gods in prehistoric religion.