The Earth is Passing (Richard Skelton)

The Earth is Passing (Richard Skelton)


The Earth is Passing (Ephemeris Series)

Richard Skelton

Original Artwork


December 2021


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    Original artwork on 1250 micron mountboard
    One of a series of 16 collages
    Initialled and dated on the front
    Signed on the back
    148 x 210mm


    Ephemeris is a continuation of a series of found-poem collages begun nearly a decade ago with the six works that make up Decline — artworks produced to coincide with Richard’s second book, Moor Glisk. Of particular relevance to Ephemeris are the three Decline matrices lifted from the book Rural Depopulation in England and Wales — matrices which become sites for textual interventions. These collages visually enact the dissolution of moorland farm buildings as they are cannibalised by the occult agencies of the moor itself. Rectilinear edges crumble and waver, or are overwritten by moss, lichen and soil. Decline therefore also documents the plasticity of poetry, which absorbs all forms into its osmotic superstructure. Conversely, the series also reveals the grid-like patterning of the justified block of text, and the metrical underpinnings of poetry. The plexus that suffuses the world is a mesh of infinitely fine resolution:


    ‘… a sprawling lattice of earth, air, water and stone; filaments in a weave of interconnecting threads. … a table of elements, endlessly reconfigured.’ (Landings)


    In 2017, Richard and Autumn moved to a ‘dark sky’ region of the Scottish Borders, near to the Kielder Forest Observatory. After years spent oriented towards the hidden life beneath the feet, Richard’s recent work displays an increasing awareness of that which is above. The move to the Borders coincided with three years of PhD research, and the ensuing book, Stranger in the Mask of a Deer, is shot through with an awareness of the overarching presence of celestial bodies. Ephemeris is therefore informed by sidereal thinking and astral consciousness. Given the low light pollution in areas of the Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, and northern Cumbria, it is no coincidence that the second-hand bookstores in these regions feature hidden caches of astronomical texts. The visual poems that comprise the series are collaged from many of these books, including Raphael’s Astronomical Ephemeris for 1944 and Astronomy for Night Watchers, as well as Chambers’s Seven-Figure Mathematical Tables. Ephemeris is therefore a private map of the back-road connections between out-of-the-way locations in the northern countryside — a hidden, sacred geometry. The ‘texts’ themselves represent, in part, a détournement of astronomy’s clear sighted gaze, demonstrating poetry’s ability to bend and distort the straight line; to generate its own oblique ‘sines, cosines and chords’ from any and all source material.