Ocean Flowers

This unique artists' book by Susan Derges and John Wedgwood Clarke includes 23 Giclée prints and 23 poems. They created the work for the ‘Sea Garden’ exhibition at RAMM in 2019.

‘The series of photographic images that make up this book is a kind of homage to the Victorian botanist and photographer Anna Atkins, who published one of the first photography books – on the subject of algae –
as well as to the earlier, pre-Victorian, richly populated state of rock pools.’ —Susan Derges
Accession Loan No.
Collection Class
Photographic print on
Common Name
Ocean Flowers
Simple Name
Full Name
Ocean Flowers
Production Person Surname
Derges; Wedgwood Clarke
Production Person Initials
Susan; John
Period Classification
Modern (1945-)
Production Date
Family Group

Inscription / Transcription
Love these mix’d souls doth mix again And makes both one, each this and that The Ecstasy, John Donne Humans may yet return the idea of the “thing” to its older sense of meeting place. Imagining Ecology without Nature, Timothy Morton the algae-crowded light vast shoals of vacancy sailing strangely into it rise up whirl up as in homage a staggering physiognomy as if the sea’s forests had put on a mask spirit of the aperture how can we be like ourselves the more you look the more you come apart as light intended the ecstasy but no armies or uncertain victory an undulation of the soul if I could touch as you illuminate you might name this Nova Albion with a sixpence a brass plaque and your diseases but i am no oak there are no white cliffs naked ink pilgrim ink my soul doth yawn light migrant oak balloon i pass over a coast i do not recognise someone is chasing my shadow you have been away so long i have grown strange in this place folding inwards let me in you say to what an old spoon a bowl my ecstasies of the windowsill after-snow dusk ghost grail all that cannot be captured a green December concentration now dance blue lover blue nebula i’m falling into i hear your body carried to me on the wind through the halls of waves spring has come and you are pale my love as the white of bulbs the blue cobweb limpets archaic as winter’s archival ghost we move through rain-washed rooms bodies chilled and intensified by scratches in the plaster broken rain goods our algal sisters are in residence am i rippled by light or rippling light above the limpet’s apparent certainty i give you licence to gaze to make what you can’t of this light in your eyes you have made a portrait that is more me than me floating to the ceiling my stipe at the golden section there i un-peel the sepia history of antique rose in silks in wallpaper laminations cracks a florilegium of silences tied by a fine green ribbon my candelabra of voices burns outside your door what do you propose to do with my likeness in your great houses drawing rooms shop windows songs blue hands i left this impression long ago and continue elsewhere light comes goes everywhere an unchaste cellular rush you want to enter this room shreds of placenta crying of course it’s Porphyra umbilicalis the door handle turning and turning as a drop of ink finds what it may become as a dream opens in and out everywhere along its expansion without entry point so i grow in you to the exclusion of you this is the likeness of my being in two minds unstoppered lily of the valley lily of the sea i am like the skin of a gaze that almost becomes torn by interruption a barer of unnamed attention’s collapse many happy returns perhaps you may make a garment of me such fashions are timeless you have tossed me from the background of your life a lock of hair lock of light i am all your past in a body taking flight sun through a snow cloud you cannot press for your album the transparency of childhood looking your fin-dé-siècle narcissism leaks into me you cannot see past what you have made of me my rivers are rivers of dust death leaks from my eyes with such love i reign over the wind’s centre a terrible solar god aurora-gorgon your fascination is your undoing could you bear me in your heart undone a séance ectoplasmic in the clear blue rush a flame torn off everything in me unlocked a great spring ghost tide flying past i have made room for you yet again come in the limpets are in full watercolour no one is watching you need perform your looking for no one a mid-afternoon dream in which you are waiting for someone to speak original light

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