Earlier in the Summer I heard that I had the "commission", along with a small budget, to do an art installation for Coastival next February (www.coastival.com). Words in My Head (which was meant to be a working title but appears to be sticking) will be a celebration of the poetry of Edith Sitwell, it will be housed at Wood End, Scarborough, where she was born in 1887.
My interest in Edith Sitwell has been growing ever since she was nominated in a Local Heroes project I co-ordinated for the museums' services in 2003-2004. Up until that point, hers was a name which I vaguely connected with arrogance, aristocracy and eccentricity. Of course, she was much, much more complex than that and, at times, an innovative, a surprising, a fine writer.
I have become fascinated by her life story, her unhappy childhood, her move to London where she was forced to financially support herself despite her family's wealth, her relationships with various characters, including other writers and artists. And I am struck by her poetry, which she continued to write and develop throughout her days.
As part of the research for Words in My Head, I went to Renishaw, the Sitwell seat near Sheffield. I was excited, especially on seeing a pub called the Sitwell Arms, and I enjoyed my time ambling through the gardens, being given a tour of the house. However, I didn't feel particularly connected to Edith, nor do I think that I learned anything new about her. I feel more in step with her here in Scarborough, despite her dislike of the place and the fact that she rarely returned once she had the choice.
Perhaps it is my own attachment to the town that I am engaging with, rather than Edith's, yet I cannot help sensing the beat of the sea, the roar of the lion as she called it, coming through those starkly moving poems she wrote in the 1940s and 1950s.