The Apocalyptic Book of Lewes

– fragments of a history. A Year of the Artists Community project conceived by Carolyn Trant, and a Lewes Live Literature ‘Soul Food ‘ event, supported by Arts 2000, Millennium Festival, South East Arts, and East Sussex County Council.

An artist–led initiative for a residency in the town of Lewes hosted by Caburn Bookshop, Anne of Cleves House Museum, the County Record Office, St. Anne’s Special School, Harveys Brewery and the Bonfire Societies; backed by Sussex Literature Development Network/Lewes Live Literature.

…’The Artist was in residence in various venues across Lewes collecting information and reactions to a proposed visual history of the town, inspired by its incendiary history and tradition of radical dissent…

She was inspired by the British Museum exhibition ‘The Apocalypse and the Shape of Things to Come ‘…many of the themes of religious and political debate, images of conflagration and ecological disaster seemed to find echoes in the history of the characters of the town of Lewes… it also forms part of the Sussex Literature Development Network’s Millennium Festival project ‘ Revelations’…’

The installation consisted of a large unique printed book with handwritten texts, displayed on panels accompanied by an exhibition of material, visual images and writing, gathered with the help of the children of St Anne’s special School and the people of Lewes during the residency, with particular reference to a very english tendency from Blake to Stanley Spencer to fix a visionary landscape in a very specific geographical location.

It included:

The Battle of Lewes and the beginning of parliamentary democracy
The Protestant Martyrs
The Burning of the Priory
Westgate Chapel and non-conformism
Tom Paine
The Loyal Petition of the People of Lewes in support of Queen Caroline in 1820
Gideon Mantell
Warren and Lewes House

…all seen against an apocalyptic backdrop of fire, pestilence and disaster, up to and including more recent events such as the coming of the railway, the avalanche near The Snowdrop, the burning of Harveys Brewery and the eclipse of 1999.