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Cahill, CB., 2016.

Drawing The Wake: Reading Finnegans Wake Through Drawing

Output Type:Exhibition
Venue:Special Collections Gallery, Sir Kenneth Green Library, Manchester Metropolitan UniversityU
Number of Works:53

Drawing The Wake: Reading Finnegans Wake Through Drawing was a public display of over 90 exhibits at the special Collections Gallery in the Sir Kenneth Green Library at MMU, 5th December 2016 - 17th March 2017. It was supported by the International Anthony Burgess Centre and the James Joyce Centre, Dublin.

The exhibition investigated possibilities of using drawing to provide alternative readings of James Joyce's 'Finnegans Wake'. The exhibition contextualised illustrative visualisations of the text through its display of work by diverse writers and artists, including items loaned from the Anthony Burgess Foundation Archives and Manchester Metropolitan University Special Collections. The core of the exhibition was comprised of drawings, notebooks, prints and book works by Clinton Cahill. These were selected from a developing body of practice which questions conventional modes of literary illustration through the graphic notation of the imaginative affectivity of literature as it occurs, in the moment of reading. The project's methodology, principally, applies theoretical concepts concerning phenomenology of reading and of drawing, and reader reception theory.

Finnegans Wake, published in 1939 was James Joyce's last, most extraordinary prose work. It's influence on diverse creative fields has been well documented but the text remains more referred to than actually read. Often regarded as the preserve of scholars, the Wake has a reputation for requiring guides, annotations and other interpretive aids. A radical key question underpinning the exhibition is: what happens if we read it simply for itself, as a novel?

A series of talks, a workshop and a lecture about the exhibition were given to undergraduate and postgraduate students at MMU. Feedback from visitors indicates that the exhibition succeeded in its curatorial aim of showing practice-based research in a cohesive, coherent and accessible way, enriching the Arts and Humanities curriculum at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and stimulating wider reading of Finnegans Wake.