This book of visual poetry has been hanging around in my bag for weeks. I keep meaning to unload it onto the bookshelf. But the longer it has tagged along, the more I’ve enjoyed its company. Like the smooth pebble you pick up on the beach and stroke every so often, it has become a familiar. Over lunch, on the train, in the bus—it’s been fun to dip into. A book of ideas, inevitably, I began looking for an idea of the day. Was it to be ‘ART a modest lamp flickering against the wind’ or ‘FORM found on the doorstep shivering in a cardboard box’. ‘INTENT ’ (printed on a red tent bag) or ‘CONTENT ’ (printed on a pegged-out red tent). Mostly, like these examples, the ideas come in matching pairs simply set across the page from each other. Occasionally that pattern is ignored. ‘Citrus Finials’, a set of fruits juicing on the familiar fleurs de lis of black Georgian railings, is accompanied over the page by the verse ‘lemon yellow lemon lime green lime orange orange’ facing a bright orange blank. And at the end, another idea stakes a trellis of sweet peas with wooden rulers over nine pages. ‘Trellis’, 2001, plants science and nature together in the summer sun at the New Victoria Allotments in Glasgow.
In his new collection of Concrete Poetry drawn from work made since 1996 (though most since 2002), Bellingham seduces and plays and gently provokes. His random associations are nattily observed, colours crisp and typography clean. This attractive portable gallery, its concrete thoughts set in elegant design, will probably stay in the bag a little longer before it ends up as an object on the shelf.
Alice Bain is editor of MAP