Encountering Animals at Frodsham

Animal Encounters was our theme for April’s Write for Growth at Castle Park Arts Centre, amid the stimulus of the annual exhibition of the Association of Animal Artists

This year’s exhibition is even more inspirational than last year, incorporating categories from Power and Pace of Life to Fragile World and Windows to the Soul. It’s on until mid-May, so do go and see it for yourself if you can.

We wrote about first encounters with animals and explored animal qualities, passions and appearances as images of the human world. We imagined political leaders variously as bears, gorillas and chameleons (I’ll leave you guess which ones!), with Brexit envisaged as a whale, unicorn or jellyfish.

Listening to the hawk’s flawless self-assurance in Ted Hughes’ poem Hawk Roosting  set us off to find words to get under the skin or fur of some of the exhibition’s subjects. Later, we focussed on our own experience of animal encounter, seeing how the heart-stirred energy of Pablo Neruda’s poem The Horses contrasts with more detached perceptions of Wallace Stevens’ Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.  We went back into the the exhibition to chose an animal painting that evoked our own words in poetry prose. Below, Liz Kay is unsettled by the presence of Frances Daunt’s Swaledale Ram, which you can find by scrolling down the 2018 Exhibition Gallery webpage  here .


Swaledale Ram

We turn from the farmhouse and count the lambs

that have not lasted beyond Good Friday’s chill.


A ram stands alone

– more sky above than grass below –

I clutch your hand and whisper

What would this dale be like without meat or milk or eggs?


Since a girl my head counts sheep.

This night I dream of slaughter.

On the third day I wake, our bodies entwined.

Liz Kay 

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