Painting & Poetry: May

This month our Creatives in Residence, Molly Lambourn and Jade Cuttle, have created exciting new works inspired by Regency holiday resorts, Jane Austen's love of the seaside, and her last unfinished work Sanditon...

In May, we were all thinking about the seaside. At the House, we were poised to re-open, and were working on our summer exhibition, Jane Austen on Holiday. Our Creatives in Residence picked up the baton and responded to the themes of seaside, holidays and Sanditon in exciting and creative ways, teasing out new themes and ideas.

First up, Jade presents her poem Sanditon:


I try to build a poem out of sand:
peg down a paragraph
between the flotsam of full stops
and oil-slicked verse,
but the words slip through my fingers
and wash away with the tide —
a poem needs roots,
somewhere to grow like a heath
or a heart.

Jade: I wrote this piece after reading about Jane Austen’s last unfinished novel, initially called The Brothers, then later titled Sanditon. She completed eleven chapters before stopping work in mid-March 1817, most likely because of her illness. Named after the fictional seaside resort Sanditon, which the character Mr Parker hopes to transform into a fashionable seaside resort, I began thinking about how a story built on sand is the perfect setting for an unfinished tale.

The contextual infrastructure of sand, with its loose granular substance, lends itself perfectly to a novel whose very plot remains unfixed. There have been many writers who have tried to complete the novel since Austen’s death, but the author’s vision for this tale remains as elusive as sand. I decided to transpose this puzzle into a poetic context, exploring what it would be like to build a poem out of sand — complete with the shifting tides of uncertainty tugging at its edges.


Molly’s piece for May is a ceramic artwork, titled ‘Leap of Faith’. Responding to fashionable Regency seaside resorts, it conjures a cast of characters reminiscent of Austen and her heroines.

Molly: This month’s piece is a ceramic called ‘Leap of Faith’. It explores the seaside and how it was a place for taking risks in Austen’s world. For the woman in yellow with a bonnet, the seaside was a place to be seen and admired. The seaside was a place for attraction and recognition. For many women it was a place to escape to, to let loose and play in the sea or to gamble (see the two women holding gambling fish).

The seaside was a breathing space away from propriety, even Austen enjoyed the freedom she found by the sea and that freedom is expressed through her characters.

In this video, Molly introduces her artwork in person…