Pibroch by Marian Leven and Robin Robertson

Artist Marian Leven responded to Robin Robertson's poem 'Pibroch' in this fusion of print and poem. Materials and gesture are two converging aspects of this artwork. Gesture is usually defined as a body movement used as indication or communication, as in a shrug of the shoulders to express uncertainty. In this piece, the gesture is simultaneously the movement of the artist’s hand across the page, the mimetic sweep of the water lapping in continual movement, the long free-flowing lament (pibroch) and the energy she exerts in wielding her brush to convey the intensity of movement as a measurement of time. The water’s waves, rolling and receding, are evoked in the poem and the long smooth curve of grey. The poet’s words come out of the blackness of a feeling of death, so the words in the print are enveloped in black. Robertson’s poem is gestural as well; it moves by rhythm, by the kind of theme and variation of the extended lament invoked by its title, in cyclical, sweeping form. Image and text are intense and choreographic, reminding us once again of the body’s role in perceiving and responding to the environment.

Marian Leven, RSA RSW, attended Grays School of Art. Her exhibitions include: Fragments and Traces; Open Eye Gallery; Shared Space, Compass Gallery; and Towards The Shore, Highlands and Islands. She won the Noble Grossart Painting Prize. She is represented in The Great Book of Gaelic. Collections include: Fleming-Wyfold, Universities of St. Andrews and Dundee, Kirkcaldy Art Gallery and Demarco European Archive.

Robin Robertson is from the north-east coast of Scotland. His fourth collection of poetry, The Wrecking Light, was published in 2010 and was shortlisted for the Costa, the Eliot and the Forward Prize. He has received a number of accolades, including the E.M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and all three Forward Prizes.