Exhibition brings Wordsworth’s words to life

A multi-media exhibition led by a team of academics at the University of Leicester has launched at the Wordsworth Museum – one of the Lake District’s most popular tourist spots.

Professor Philip Shaw, a lecturer within the School of Arts, has been part of the team behind Still glides the Stream: Wordsworth’s Journey Down the River Duddon, an exhibition displaying a series of 33 sonnets tracing an imaginary walk through the Duddon Valley in Cumbria. 

In the 19th century, William Wordsworth was one of England’s most influential Romantic poets; now in the 21st century, his works continue to inspire people in the UK.

Professor Philip Shaw said:“The collection of sonnets that this exhibition celebrates was actually the first published that were positively reviewed by critics at the time. Before that, his collections that are now well known to us like Lyrical Ballads and I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud were scoffed at by readers of the period. 

“The intention of the exhibition really was to make this accessible to people of all ages, and in a variety of ways. The multimedia project features creations by textile artists that depict some of the evocations and sensual qualities of Wordsworth’s words, as well as photography, soundscapes and artworks by local school children.” 

The exhibition is perhaps even more poignant considering the affect that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on people. Nature has become something that has provided solace when isolation was at its peak – whether that’s finding comfort in the routinely evolving seasons or using the quieter time to appreciate the natural beauty of the world around us.  

The exhibition also paved the way for several offshoot projects that Professor Shaw is equally proud of.

“We’re doing a lot of work in local Leicester schools, introducing children to Wordsworth’s poetry and helping them to understand romanticism in preparation for their GCSEs,” he continued.

“On a national level, the exhibition has allowed more people to interact with Wordsworth’s works in a more contemporary way, and that’s hugely exciting. 

“But locally, we’re able to introduce younger people to him and, perhaps, inspire the next generation of poets.” 

To find out more about Still glides the Stream: Wordsworth’s journey down the River Duddon visit the Wordsworth Grasmere museum website.