Diocese of ChichesterDiocese of Chichester

‘400 Days’ and ‘Alternative Values’ Chichester Cathedral premieres ‘mosaic’ of 400 paintings

‘400 Days’ and ‘Alternative Values’ Chichester Cathedral premieres ‘mosaic’ of 400 paintings

Chichester Cathedral has just opened an extraordinary exhibition of 400 paintings, produced over 400 consecutive days, by the artist and poet Frieda Hughes. 

The paintings are displayed in the style of a huge mosaic, 9 metres by 4 metres, titled ‘400 Days’, in the Cathedral’s North Transept. Alongside ‘400 Days’ Frieda is exhibiting other new paintings titled ‘Alternative Values’ – these artworks are visual responses to her latest collection of poetry carrying the same name. Many of the poems in ‘Alternative Values’ explore Frieda’s increasingly personal look at her childhood with her parents, the poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath; the book includes several moving poems about them. This, she says, is her way of reclaiming her parents’ very public relationship.

The exhibition is on display until 17th August with free entry.

‘400 Days’: In November 2015 Frieda Hughes decided to find out if she could create a painting every day for a year - the subject was to be an abstract visual diary - what colour and shape were the events and ideas of each day? Was she happy, sad, optimistic, frustrated, overwhelmed, underwhelmed, excited, exhausted, full of energy or just plain tired, and what did that look like? She said: “Every brush stroke had a meaning on the day, for the day, and in this way, bit by bit, I was able to build up the mosaic that describes, in full colour, 400 days of my life”

This project is an exploration of how our days change in mood and tone, and what it looks like when one person describes their actual experiences in shape and colour over a finite period of time, and displays them simultaneously so that the many changes are visible. Each of the 400 paintings is 10 inches by 14 inches, oil on canvas. This exhibition offers the first and unique opportunity – even for Frieda - to see all 400 paintings hung together. Two men from the Cathedral Works team took two days to construct the timber frame to display them all in one optimum block, which is 16 paintings high (4.1 metres) and 25 paintings wide (9 metres) – possibly the largest installation of paintings anywhere in the country.

‘Alternative Values’: The exhibition also includes other new paintings by Frieda that form a collaboration between her poetry and her artwork - from childhood, writing and painting have been two driving forces for Frieda. Sixty further paintings are on display, inspired by Frieda's latest poetry collection of the same name 'Alternative Values'. Many of the poems in ‘Alternative Values’ explore her relationship with with her parents, the poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, and the collection includes a number of powerful poems about them. This, Frieda explains, was an important way for her to reclaim her parents’ very public relationship. Other poems in this collection look at Frieda’s experiences with love, life and death, and her sometimes blackly comedic views about life.

Frieda Hughes was born in London in 1960, grew up in Devon, and after living in various parts of England and Australia now lives on the Welsh Borders. She wrote and painted from an early age and studied at St Martin’s School of Art from 1985, graduating in 1988 with a BA (Hons). For many years she has been a painter and children's writer. She has published seven children's books and in addition to 'Alternative Values' has published four other poetry collections. She has also held many exhibitions and her paintings are held in collections in the UK, Sweden, USA and Australia.

The exhibition is in the Cathedral’s North Transept and is open daily with free entry until 17th August. For more information please call 01243 782595 or visit http://www.chichestercathedral.org.uk/whats-on/40...