(revisiting day 6 assignment prompt) Thomas Moore, b.1789-d.1852 born in Dublin, Ireland – sailed from England to Norfolk, Virginia, (America) September 25th 1903, returning to England 1906. Apparently acquainted with President Jefferson during his stay in America and apparently this ballad was written during that time. I had this poem on my further reading list for study of ballads having had a quick look for some examples and being here (Writing 201) mainly for some study of poetry and general writing practice, not necessarily poetry writing myself as it’s far from my natural skill it seems. Flicking through my friend’s art work and sketch books I’ve decided (with her permission) to place one of her sketched studies of an alleged Alfred Kubin drawing (“Swamp Plant” 1903?) with an extract from this poem, Ballad of a  Dismal Swamp

(c) Colette Bates 2012, posted with permission to accompanying article (c)stu06bloc9 2015: sketched study of drawing titled "Swamp Plant" attributed to Alfred Kubin 1903 as shown in "The OtherSide" exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary July to September 2012

Sketch (c) Colette Bates 2012,
posted with permission to accompanying article (c)stu06bloc9 2015:
sketched study of drawing titled “Swamp Plant” attributed to Alfred Kubin 1903 as shown in “The Other Side” exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary July to September 2012 (The gallery drawing had a very dark pencil background – Colette chose to leave her study background as light as the bare page. She made the sellotape bookmark using found petals on her way home from a gallery visit during the course of this exhibition.)

I’ve chosen stanzas six and seven from this eight stanza ballad for an extract from Thomas Moore’s ‘Ballad of a Dismal Swamp’:

He saw the Lake, and a meteor bright
Quick over its surface play’d—
“Welcome,” he said, “my dear one’s light!”
And the dim shore echoed for many a night
The name of the death-cold maid.

Till he hollow’d a boat of the birchen bark,
Which carried him off from shore;
Far, far he follow’d the meteor spark,
The wind was high and the clouds were dark,
And the boat return’d no more.


I had been to the preview of the Alfred Kubin exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary and intrigued during my evening by the apparent incongruities therein. Colette, inspired by my intrigue and aware I would be unlikely to return to study the works myself returned during following weeks armed with her own research studies to share with me and continue our previous conversations regarding the work. Without her efforts, including a list of all 56 titles, dates and sources of the work (where such information was given) and having bought the exhibition book for access to some of the images of the drawings,  my memory of the works would rely only on generalisations other than the piece that stuck in my mind which was an ink drawing titled “Crucified Serpent Man”, apparently an 1899 drawing, but appearing to be drawn with a modern fine-line pen such as an Edding pen.

It is with the encouragement of this dear friend Colette that I came to be with WordPress attempting to learn the art of blogging since mid-January this year. A way of having a “hobby”, some way of passing the time and surviving each day with some sense of having achieved something at least. A way of remaining connected with contemporary arts practice. Trying to find employment whilst wholly unemployable is a depressing undertaking but a Tribunal decided I was fit for work, capable of “giving directions” and so now stuck in a nightmare of compliancy with so little capabilty for work and lacking competency, skills and efficiency. “You can use a computer” isn’t enough to be able to do a job! Account isn’t taken of how slow one might be in utilising software to achieve “work” in a workplace sense and I can’t sit at desk while using my arms / hands! Employment advisors are ignorant insatiable beasts and it’s difficult to understand how they sleep at night, how they can take the pay and do the job.

Until Colette suggested I try having my computer set up in a way that I can use it while standing, it’d only get switched on very briefly enough to check online bnking and essential email and a quick look at news or weather. I’m more inclined however to select her as heroic for bringing me back to an interest in contemporary art and for sharing conversation and materials about exhibitions she was able to visit more than I because of my near-rural location and not being able to reach the city. She’s the founding member of the 6bloc9 group concept and is heroic in my estimation for that purpose also. She’s also the sort of person who even though unwell will go the extra mile to help someone else and to hell with the consequences of days of worsened health that follow. She will hopefully survive the remainder of the winter, having been left unable to claim either ESA or JSA. To continue receipt of an ESA claim you have to be well enough to manage that claim and attend appointments and she was far too ill to manage and so now suffering even greater ill health for having no income and very little means to survive for now almost six months. She’s not managed to get to a new JSA claim appointment and can’t claim that under special conditions as advised until she’s well enough to get to the appointments and to sign on fortnightly. She was assumed capable of becoming self-employed, even though she very rarely managed to draw and hadn’t made a painting since 2011 for for such ill health as prevented such effort. (This sketch being one of very few art works in recent years and having made none at all between 1995 and 2009 for disabling illness and focussing on caring for her children during those years).