Artist in Residence

Carolyn Thompson

‘I am interested in creating fictitious scenarios from factual information. For the Precious Cargo commission these scenarios will appear in a variety of media including paper and textiles, and will respond to, and directly utilise, the words of Laurence Sterne and Eliza Draper, taken from their correspondence and journals to one another during their separation from April 1767 onwards (when Eliza set sail for India), and the later counterfeit versions of these documents. The work will be installed in the room Sterne prepared for Eliza at Shandy Hall on her return. This room is now known as ‘Eliza’s room’.

A hand-stitched unfinished patchwork quilt will be produced, in which re-created copies of Sterne’s letters and journal will be used in the English paper piecing process. Their communications will once again become secret, hidden in the quilt as the letters of lovers often were. The quilt will hold significance as an undertaking Eliza may have embarked upon aboard the nine-month voyage to India, and as something she may have aspired to bring back to England for the room promised to her by Sterne. The fact that the quilt will remain incomplete will echo the possibility of the relationship becoming less significant to both parties the longer the pair were separated from one another, and be resonant of the fact that Eliza never returned to Shandy Hall or saw Sterne again before his death.

Carolyn Thompson is a visual artist, quilt maker and Co-Founder of artists’ collective Cataglog. She possesses an MA in Fine Art from Wimbledon College of Art (University of the Arts London). Working predominantly with found text and images, she exhibits internationally and has completed a number of residencies and commissions in museum and archive settings. Recent exhibitions have included The Perverse Library – Shandy Hall, North Yorkshire; I will cut thru: Pochoirs, Carvings and Other Cuttings – The Centre for Book Arts, New York; Banned Books in Australia, Baillieu Library, University of Melbourne; Text Festival, Bury Art Gallery, Museum & Archives, Lancashire; 18th Istanbul Art Fair; Folie à plusieurs, MCO Gallery, Portugal, and Book Things and Word Works, Eagle Gallery, London.

For more information about the installation visit the Eliza’s Room page.