26 Atlantic Crossings gets underway

The number 26 is one of the most significant in our culture, but unlike some other numbers, it does not draw attention to itself. It is not as stuck-up as a prime number, or as lucky as a 7. It does not have the perfection of a 10, nor is it as quirky as a baker’s dozen.

Its significance lies in the building blocks of our language, there are 26 letters in our alphabet. There may be doubts over the usefulness of some of them – but I like my quirky q’s and extravagant x’s which imitate z. Where would a spelling test be without xylophone?

The number of letters in the alphabet was the inspiration for the name of a loose association of writers, poets and corporate communicators. Check them out at 26.org.uk. They have run a series of innovative projects exploring the world around us – including a major project which teamed writers with objects in the UK’s national museums.

Currently in train is 26 Atlantic Crossings – a creative conversation between visual art and the written word involving writers from the UK and Ireland and artists in Canada.

The Canadian artists are part of the Prince Edward County Studio Tour, one of Ontario’s longest running and most eclectic art events. 26 Canadian artists created an original piece of artwork.

In a creative ‘blind date the artists were paired with a writer who gave voice to the piece in the form of a sestude. A sestude is a piece writing of 62 words. Not a word more. Not a word less. It was invented by John Simmons, a co-founder of 26, in the belief that ‘constraint encourages creativity’ The number 62 was chosen because it is 26 ‘in reflection’.

The result is 26 Atlantic Crossings, an exhibition of 26 original Canadian visual artworks with their 26 sestude ‘echoes’ from the UK and Ireland.

The 26 original artworks and the 26 sestudes are being brought together at a special exhibition at Books and Company in Picton, Prince Edward County, Ontario.  It opens on Friday August 22nd from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm and runs over the weekend, Saturday and Sunday, August 23rd and 24th from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm each day.

Over the summer the artworks and their sestudes can be seen in their home studios. The PEC Studio Tour, when the artists open their studio doors wide, runs from September 19th to 21st.

An e-book, with images of all the artworks and their sestudes, will be available to download free from www.26.org.uk. The date of publication is August 22. Do check it out.