book fairs in paradise

So. February turned out nice – and busy.

In January, Iain Morrison at the Fruitmarket Gallery had asked Barrie if he’d like to exhibit the entire 100 cantos of The Divine Comedy as part of their annual book fair (which of course he did, and it also turned out to be the final push he needed to complete the entire project).

So, he spent a fair amount of time in his studio with very old sheets of Letraset (that’s a whole other story) and then had a frantic week packaging the entire show up ready to go to Edinburgh (in between that teaching lark of course).

This was probably the weekend before the world turned, and, of course, Barrie didn’t get to go and take part in the book fair, or see his own show.

He’d been away in Munich as part of an international poetry festival earlier that week (true) and couldn’t get up to Edinburgh in time. And of course, we’ve all been in lockdown ever since, so he missed out on it all. Doomed to forever be in the boarding lounge of the good ship Zeitgeist.

Caseroom Press collaborators, Alan Mason and Ken Cockburn were there of course (here’s Alan describing the one that got away).

And Barrie was eventually there (rather aptly) in spirit, for the Fruitmarket Gallery’s first online event.

Iain and Barrie spoke about the work and read selections from Dante’s Inferno using the prints as their Virgil-like guide. Guests were invited to grab their own editions or translations of the text and join in, or just log-in on the night and listen as they descended into the circles of hell. Iain might even invite him back to walk up the mountain of Purgatory together.

Initially scheduled to finish at the end of March, the show has far extended it’s run, and is still on, playing to an empty house every day. Barrie takes great pride in thinking that it is one of those rarest of things – an exhibition that has been extended by unpopular demand.

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