Dinner & A Rose

Poetry Beyond Text, 2010, in collaboration with Sarah Bodman.
Edition limited to 11 copies. SOLD OUT.

Commissioned by Poetry Beyond Text: Vision, Text, Cognition, an AHRC-funded project to investigate how readers respond to visual aspects of poetry.

An artist’s book in homage to The Talented Mr Ripley, a novel by Patricia Highsmith. The author charts her murderous hero Tom Ripley’s greed for the good life using culinary themes. Ripley’s character is defined by what he chooses to eat and drink, from devil-may-care martinis in Mongibello to penitential hot milk in Rome. Sarah Bodman and Nancy Campbell drew on Highsmith’s menus and, inspired by Poetry Beyond Text’s interest in experiment, recreated Ripley’s meals in a live performance.

Sarah prepared a delicious, if sinister, dinner, for 12 guests, with a thirteenth place set for the absent Ripley. Every food mentioned by Highsmith was served, from cold chicken in aspic to sole veronique. The dinner lasted over 12 hours. The conversations were recorded and Nancy collaged the material into a series of 12 poems. Sarah Bodman photographed Ripley’s setting for each course; images and poems partner each other in the finished work.

‘Campbell’s poetic text skirts in and out of the levels of consciousness in this artists’ book … as voices and fragments of the daylong feast, and echoes of conversations between characters from the novel seemingly drift about the room. The rose is beautiful, but has thorns.’ 
Mary Modeen, ‘Discovery by doing: research through creative practice’, in Poetry Beyond Text: Vision, Text + Cognition (University of Dundee, 2011)

Sarah Bodman is Senior Research Fellow for Artists’ Books at the Centre for Fine Print Research in Bristol.