Conference Report: Word and Image

2017 Conference
Word and Image: The Second Modernist Network Cymru Conference
National Library of Wales/Aberystwyth School of Art, 12-13 September 2017
Emma West
Chair, Modernist Network Cymru (MONC)

On 12-13 September 2017, over 40 academics, curators, artists and enthusiasts gathered at the National Library of Wales to explore the connections between word and image in a range of modernist texts from Wales and beyond. The conference, the second organised by Modernist Network Cymru (MONC), had two aims: firstly, to bring together those engaging with (or making) literature and the visual arts; secondly, to bring those working on Welsh modernism into dialogue with works from other nations. The theme of Word and Image seemed a perfect way to bring together these different strands, not least because word-image crossovers seem especially pertinent to the art and literature of Wales. We could think of figures such as David Jones, Brenda Chamberlain and Margiad Evans who worked across art and literature, whether in poetry and painting or short stories and illustration, or texts such as Chamberlain and Alun Lewis’s Caseg Broadsheets, which juxtaposed modern poetry with experimental woodcuts. More recently, the photographer Aled Rhys Hughes and the Welsh National Opera have both produced multimedia responses to Jones’s prose poem In Parenthesis.

It was thus with great anticipation that the committee awaited the arrival of delegates on a stormy Tuesday morning in the National Library of Wales. Within a few minutes, the conference nerves subsided: the delegates were so enthusiastic and friendly that the area outside the Drwm was soon filled with excited chatter.