Basho at the Ferens Gallery

In Exhibition News by Alun Kirby

rh blyth haiku books
I have a set of haiku books, which I have read time and again for more than 15 years. They are by Reginald Horace Blyth, and they are beautiful.

This summer, in a birch wood on the Black Isle, one poem hit me – a heart-stopping, dizzy moment when everything seemed right, just as it is.

The poem is by Basho, considered the greatest of the classical haiku poets, but never my favourite (I am entranced by Issa).
basho poem

Just a mushroom and a leaf… and a whole lifetime and all its attendant experiences and memories is conjured before us. The poem is ‘explained’, if such a thing is possible, by Blyth, below.
blyth writingI responded to these feelings, finding a Peter Engel design perfect, and folded a metamorphogram from cyanotype-coated archival tissue paper. Left in the Yorkshire sun, it produced a beautiful memory of it’s time as a leaf.

begonia leaf

The final image has been accepted for the Ferens Open 2018 and will be on show at the Ferens Gallery, Hull, from 17th February to 22nd April.
basho - leaf from an unknown tree