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Poetry inspired by the collection

Nigel Hutchinson is a poet who studied fine art. His work has appeared in poetry magazines, online and in anthologies. His collection 'The Humble Family Interviews' is a response in part to George Shaw's Tile Hill paintings. He has produced work for the Herbert Art Gallery, Compton Verney and contributed to the Mead Gallery's 'Journeys With The Waste Land' exhibition. After a career in education he finds his best pupil now is himself. If only he'd listened earlier...

Nigel has written 13 poems inspired by the sculptures on campus, which can be read below...

after 'The Good and The Bad' Jake & Dinos Chapman

after 'Black Cube' Lotte Thuenker

after 'Concrete Country in Red' Lucy Tomlins

after 'Song: Version V' Jon Isherwood

after 'Reclining Stone' Guy Stevens

after 'Our Shadows Alone Touch You Trying to Find Where Here Is' John Newling, 'White Koan' Liliane Lijn, The Architect, Paul Mount

after 'Needle of Knowledge Obelisk' Stefan Knapp

after 'Hare' Regis Chaperon

after '3B Series 1' Bernard Schottlander

after 'Lets Not Be Stupid' Richard Deacon

after 'Forest Planet' Atsuo Okamoto

after 'Don't Let Go' Laura Ellen Bacon

after 'Days of Judgement' Laura Ford

after 'The Good and The Bad' Jake & Dinos Chapman by Nigel Hutchinson


Jake makes a dinosaur model,
it looks like a Tyrannosaurus Rex,
Dinos assembles a plywood stegosaurus,
they're both surprised how huge they're looking . .
too big for bedroom or kitchen table,

but not as shocked as the great crested newts
watching from the pond's edge
discussing how events have unfolded,
tricks evolution plays,
who'd have thought they'd still be here
giving this patch of earth a cold-blooded stare;

down the slope bright yellow diggers performing
animatronic dances like a makeshift tribute act,
skeins of geese perform text book landings -
pterodactyl ghosts with ancient voices,
crow can only caw, perch on a dinosaur spine
like a harbinger,

newts slip back into undergrowth,
considering what exactly the meek might inherit,
how earth is precious

© Nigel Hutchinson

The Good and the Bad are two sculptures by Jake and Dinos Chapman currently on loan to the University of Warwick. They can be found near our new Sports Centre on main campus. We have also developed The Dinosaur Trail which leads you round a selection of our sculptures and includes these two huge dinosaurs by the Chapman brothers.

The Bad by Jake and Dinos Chapman

The Bad by Jake and Dinos Chapman

©the artists, courtesy the artists

The Good by Jake and Dinos Chapman

The Good by Jake and Dinos Chapman

©the artists, courtesy the artists

after 'Black Cube' Lotte Thuenker


how hard is hard
how heavy the word stone
how solid a cube
how platonic

what kind of heart beats under a pinstriped suit
what hearts beat together on mattress ticking
what's carved in stone forever
what's the time frame

how soft is soft
how patient the drip of water on limestone
how long before stability is eroded
how easily our horizon tilted

what opinions are black
what are white

what's the grey area

© Nigel Hutchinson

after 'Concrete Country in Red' Lucy Tomlins


The invitation is to climb, though
this ancient field edge long since
grubbed up, path that cut across
no longer in need of a stile,

this steel replica as if to compensate
for men with scythe or spade
who crossed here to perform
agriculture's seasonal rituals,

maybe trysting evening lovers
slipping from farm to thicket,
some urgency in their climbing,
tang of transgression in their hearts;

wear of boot on wood, polish of hand
on rail replaced by a declaration of rust
and occasional student sitting to study
or clear the head.

Strange how the world transmutes,
this hedgerow crossing grown in size,
its function altered from steps to stasis;
background car park's destruction

realising all cars are larger now,
though measures of how much
we have grown less clear,
is the irony that Concrete Country
no longer needs off-road 4x4s?

© Nigel Hutchinson

after 'Song Version V' Jon Isherwood


for Aysar Ghassan

In this silver birch grove scent of mushrooms on the air,
William Blake seeing heaven in these wild flowers
would know this sculpture is an opening,
that there's more at stake here.

Sun on our backs, us idly unpicking what it could mean,
if indeed it is a symbol or metaphor. Conversation rolls..
it's no secret that what we're looking at is granite, though
not hard to see some kind of bag, the way it slumps,

or improbable spacecraft landed here, a mission from
some other galaxy waiting for the right moment to emerge,
or plausibly a toadstool carelessly kicked, pregnant cap
about to burst, spores diffuse on the lightest of breezes;

thought it's not heaven in these fungi, wildflowers, trees,
but atoms of a world changed forever,
particles from Hiroshima and Nagasaki seeded
in everything, in all of us.

© Nigel Hutchinson

for Hestia, Greek goddess of the hearth, after 'Our shadows alone touched you trying to find where here is' John Newling, 'White Koan' Liliane Lijn, 'The Architect' Paul Mount


not, of course, where your feet are,
but if an archaeologist excavated you
where would your hearth be, the centre of you stand?

Hestia's cone of white ash a symbol of home
remade daily with the making of fire,
shape of the day sat square on level ground,
washed with water, cleansed with air,

not always easy to see the simple structures
cone, cube, sphere beneath it all,
what's essential, what is not
what can be learned, what forgotten.

Questions regarding shadow, self and place
hanging in this ancient woodland, fertile as leaf mould,
only glimpsed in passing, a metaphor maybe
for life which will plot an alphabet's course.

You might suspect some kind of architect,
though he's just a man, his proportions measured out
in angles, planes, ratios, chromed against the sky,
he's shiny and solid

but he dissolves in reflected clouds.

© Nigel Hutchinson

after 'Reclining Stone' Guy Stevens


or geese that settle here in any weather,
or water fowl dreaming foxes,
but visitors taking up the invitation,
relaxing their spines, dozing off for a while,
meditating maybe,

imagining themselves briefly elsewhere,
a favourite city, postcard beach perhaps;
moorhens and coots know nothing of this -
one proud to be strutting on bright green legs,
the other watching its brood of punk-feathered chicks,

greylags concerned about darkening clouds
secure in the safety of a flock,
envious of a coat that woman is wearing,
prepared to fight her for it,

monks that farmed here no longer recognise
the lie of this land, crop that's growing here now;
long-gone brickmakers curious about
what the clay they laboured for has built.

© Nigel Hutchinson

after 'Needle of Knowledge Obelisk' Stefan Knapp


point the way to somewhere,
or maybe from then to now,
they're statements of intent,
instructions to get up and away,
freed from gravity, the weight of here,
those ideas about perfectibility,
things that seem to matter -
you and I shrinking, too small
to figure out the presence of us,

at this height not even dots on a landscape,
as if the telescope's reversed,
suddenly everything so far away and yet
so sharp, so bright.

In these enamelled aerial memories of earth,
topography of hill, river, woodland mapped
in paintbox fresh colours,
wiped of waste, spoil, disappointment,
trail of abandonment and abuse scrubbed
clean, brightened by what seems like delight,
as if every city, town and village is yearning for
endlessly changing dances with only wind and water,
arced by rainbows, rinsed with sky's simplicity.

© Nigel Hutchinson

after 'Hare' Regis Chaperon


carbon + sunlight = wood
wood + water = paper
paper + fingers = origami

(imagination + planning + possibilities) = sketchbook
sketchbook + materials = ideas
ideas + origami = transformation

[chisel + mallet + hands] = making

{skeletons + shells} = limestone

limestone + origami = surprise

surprise + action = hare

hare + energy = bounding

>bounding< = energy compressed

ready to spring (S) into action (Z)

thus: (H + E = S + Z) x (L = P) = (A - ∩)

where H is Hare: E is energy: L is limestone: P is paper: S is a spring: Z is Action:
Alpha - ∩ is imagination

while Hare keeps his counsel, reserves his right to fold and unfold his form,
play tricks with shadow and light, substance and story.

© Nigel Hutchinson

after '3B Series I' Bernard Schottlander


turn the corner and you're transported,
not dramatically, not to some alien galaxy,
but to essence of Bauhaus,
somehow you've arrived in the 1930s..

a discipline of horizontals marks out your stage,
rational, restrained, the plane of the ground you stand on
echoed by windows, walls, rooflines, you the vertical,

palette cleansed, grass is that mid-green you expect,
complementing the sculpture's red declaration,
white surfaces, blue window frames, curved staircases
along your north boundary like a silent lido,

Scarlet blocks, tubes and hoops like megaliths,
placed here to some rigorous plan,
geometric rituals of mystical significance - or maybe
an interrupted game, players hiding just out of sight..

it's stillness again, everything conspiring
to be here, now, waiting for you to unfold it.

© Nigel Hutchinson

after 'Let's Not Be Stupid' Richard Deacon


Sun sparkles surfaces into galaxies,
unimaginable distances deep in a steel sky -
this holds momentarily

then the reality of bolts and engineering,
plus the memory of that feint smell -
oil, ghosts of factories,

let's not be stupid - it's all steel of course
but easy to see this drawing in air
could be deforming softly, reforming,

performing dramas large and small,
not hard as tempered metal,
but soft as a graphite pencil,

let's not fool ourselves, skies will change,
but monochrome is always black and white,
something about the choices we're offered,

meanwhile roiling curves frame
a traffic island declaring a cacophony
of poppies, cornflowers, a protest march

against serious stuff you can bark shins on,
gash and bruise yourself - can red really be
that red, blue be so calm, grass so vivid;

discords, complementaries putting up a fight
against such substantial materiality, we'd be
stupid, foolish to dismiss play and interplay.

© Nigel Hutchinson

after 'Forest Planet' Atsuo Okamoto


To be clear, this is not Pompeii,
these are not ash-cloud mummies,
vaporised lives, although there is
something of that unexpected moment,

under the tree canopy volcanic bombs
cooled to granite density, three boulder-like forms
seeming out of place, transported from another age,
a different place entirely, though

they may be shape-shifters, egg cases after
what was life has burst into being, worm casts
or burrowings on some ancient beach,
perhaps unseen seed pods, redundant relics,

whatever their history they're both raw
and polished, bursting or burst,
threats like landmines or husks like
conker shells in autumn.

© Nigel Hutchinson

after 'Don't Let Go' Laura Ellen Bacon


It's hard to grasp
something on the edge
between sweet an savoury,

presence and almost absence,
a lure perhaps, an enticement..
breathing in never quite enough.

Maybe this scent some
childhood memory when
an adult life was a mystery,

cycle rides on slow afternoons,
warm air that slips past your face,
timelessness kissing your body,

palpable fragrance of sunlight
through dappled leaves, promise
of sleeps's satisfactions.

Perhaps nothing so clearly defined,
just a sense that this fragility
hangs in the balance, more easily
ignored than savoured.

© Nigel Hutchinson

after 'Days of Judgement' Laura Ford


Roll a ball of wool and a cat will paw it
with serious instinct, claws unravel
any loose strand, any weakness,

like Adam and Eve leaving Eden,
that business of curiosity unspooling them,
sloping off out of the gate,

one bite, just the one and now
heads bowed and bodies dejected
the sky is falling,

maybe they didn't hear Him
reconsider, that He'd been rash,
all that work, every creeping creature,

this perfect garden,
why despoil it so soon?
Regret not an original sin.

Not daring to look back,
eyes on the ground,
unseen as they leave

a building site sign which reads
'Please Report To The Gateman',
some joker in the background

strumming a guitar
wondering in words
what's been delivered,

what dreams drive us to tend gardens,
plant rosemary, roses, rue,
raise apple trees and apricots,

hedge in or fence off
our sanctuaries, those patches
of peaceable kingdoms,

take dogs and cats as companions,
take life's strands and skeins,
knit them into some semblance of order.

© Nigel Hutchinson