W B Yeats Bedford Park Artwork Project
Celebrating Yeats in Bedford Park
Nobel-Prize-winning poet, WB Yeats, though inspired by Irish legend, landscape and longing, actually spent two-thirds of his young life among the London roadways and pavements grey in his much-loved poem, The Lake Isle of Innisfree, written here in Bedford Park and reflecting an exile’s urban/London experience crucial to shaping both Yeats’s (and Ireland’s) identity, and English literature.
Yeats spent most of his London years here with his Irish migrant family in Bedford Park (Chiswick, West London), the world’s first-ever garden-suburb, whose diverse, Bohemian, artists’-colony residents, fostered the young poet’s exceptional creative genius.
But the only poet brought up in England to win the Nobel Prize has no monument in England.
Though many authors, artists, actors, architects and others made Bedford Park their home after achieving fame, Yeats is the only one brought up here and inspired into creativity — and international fame — by its uniquely Utopian, progressive, aesthetic Arts & Crafts ambience.
A chance to celebrate Yeats, Bedford Park, poetry, art, genius…
Help the Artwork Project (click here to watch short video) — a community-led arts/education charity — to install a major contemporary sculpture (the first ever honouring Yeats in Britain) which will —
- Celebrate poetry and drama, and Yeats’s poems and plays in particular
- Honour a local resident who became a major international literary figure
- Highlight Bedford Park’s role in fostering Yeats’s genius
- Inspire local young people, students and schoolchildren to enjoy, engage with, and participate in, poetry, drama and visual arts
- Encourage the West London community to take pride in the area’s unique cultural and artistic heritage
- Invite Londoners and visitors to discover/explore a major 19c crucible of 20c culture
- Validate the input of poets and poetry to public life, Promote contemporary art, Improve the quality of our public spaces, Enhance the local environment
- Emphasise the importance of fellow-artists and supportive arts-communities in catalysing creativity
- Acknowledge migrant communities’ vital role in creating/enriching Britian’s cultural life while benefiting from London as a network/hub in which to develop their own art, ideas and identity
- Mark the mutually-vital and ongoing Irish-British cultural interaction exemplified by Yeats (and Swift, Goldsmith, Sheridan, the Brontës, Thos. Moore, Wilde, Bram Stoker, GBS and more, past and present)
- Remember Yeats’s own multicultural interest in Eastern teaching/spirituality and his friendships/collaborations with Mohini Chatterjee, Helena Blavatsky, Sarojini Naidu, Rabindranath Tagore, Shri Purohit Swami, Annie Besant and Florence Farr (the latter two moving to,and doing vital political and educational work in, India and Sri Lanka)
- Focus on the role of women in Yeats’s life and art (his craft-industry-founding sisters Lily and Lolly, his mother Susan’s love of Irish lore and legend, May Morris and her embroidery, revolutionary Maud Gonne, as well as Blavatsky, Farr and Besant, above) and in creating Bedford Park’s forward-thinking ethos (uniquely for the 1890s the Bedford Park Club welcomed women and men as equals)
- Recognise the area’s surprisingly diverse and cosmopolitan range of residents, including French painters, a Ukrainian freedom-fighter, an American anti-slavery campaigner and one of Britain’s first two Asian MPs
- Underline Bedford Park’s historic significance as a forward-thinking and artistic community, the world’s first garden suburb, and a model, internationally, for healthy and holistic housing development
- Provide a London place-of-literary-pilgrimage for poets, academics, Yeatsians and all who love art and culture, from Britain, Ireland, US, and around the world, bringing them to the shops and cafés at Bedford Park Corner, Turnham Green and Chiswick High Road to Support the local economy
- Spotlight the revitalised Bedford Park and Turnham Green Terrace ‘Culture Quarter’, as a centre of contemporary creativity including Arts Ed, the new Chiswick Playhouse, Chiswick Book Festival and Bedford Park Festival and much more
- Complement Chiswick Timeline’s Turnham Green Terrace artwork nearby, outlining Chiswick’s literary history
Information panels will link to online content on WB and the talented Yeats family (painter father, John Butler Yeats, artist sisters, Lily and Lolly, and brother Jack B Yeats, Ireland’s greatest 20c painter), on Bedford Park itself as a social-experiment/architectural-gem, on the Arts & Crafts movement, and on the area’s many fascinating poets, painters, playwrights, publishers, philosophers, folklorists and anarchists!
A Charitable Incorporated Organisation registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales (Registration# 1172224), our Aims & Objectives are:
- To advance art and to advance education in the works of WB Yeats and the history and heritage of Bedford Park for the benefit of the public, by the provision of a public artwork in commemoration of the life and works of the Nobel-prizewinning Irish poet and dramatist WB Yeats.
- To promote the enhancement and improvement of the area of Bedford Park for the public benefit by the provision of a public artwork.
We’re set (with your help) to create and install, at the ‘gateway’ to the world’s-first garden suburb with its beautifully conserved Arts & Crafts environment, this dazzling Yeats-inspired sculpture by artist (and youngest Royal Academician), Conrad Shawcross RA with, engraved in a wide circular stone base, Yeats’s lines…
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light
For some, Shawcross’s shapes will invoke flights of birds
Bob Geldof on Yeats and Bedford Park
Passionate about Yeats, and poetry, Bob Geldof supports our Bedford Park celebration of Yeats:
“Bedford Park is where the National Poet understood what it was to be impoverished, alien, exiled, became obsessed with a woman who would haunt his life and give rise to the greatest poetry of the 20th century. Surrounded by his extraordinary family and his radically revolutionary neighbours, Bedford Park whipped the beautiful young poet into the maelstrom of poetry that would give rise to a nation.”
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Phase Two backers include:
- London's Royal Academy, Dukes Education, Embassy of Ireland, London Borough of Hounslow, The Tabard (Yeats's local!), The Josephine Hart Poetry Foundation, Jimmy Page and Scarlett Sabet, Rowan Williams, Bob Geldof, Marie Heaney, Jeremy Vine, Carmen Callil, Anne-Marie Fyfe, Polly Devlin, Tom Paulin, Roy Foster, Edna and Michael Longley, Fergal Keane, Kevin McNally, Phyllis Logan, Shevaun Wilder, Ciarán Hinds, Martin and Joyce Enright, Marina Warner, Joseph Hassett, countless poets, actors, academics, Yeats fanatics, and lovers of all the arts, and literally hundreds of local Bedford Park residents, all shown on Crowdfund website and all of whom helped us reach our £134,000 target to include Enwrought Light by Conrad Shawcross RA plus stone base, engraving, interpretive signage, groundwork, delivery & installation, to be installed by Yeats's birthday, 13th June 2022.
Phase One backers (pre-Crowdfund-website) include:
- Anne-Marie Fyfe, Lab 99 Web Design, Land of Heart's Desire Literary Walks, Frances O'Leary, Kate McAlister, Joseph Hassett, Chiswick Pier Trust, Patrick Corcoran, Miles Parker, Tom Sleigh and Anthony Byrne, plus gifts in kind & donations from Ciarán Hinds, Polly Devlin, Anne-Marie Fyfe, Irish Literary Society, London Buddhist Vihara, Embassy of Ireland (London), Embassy of Ireland (Washington) and local businesses and architect/design/planning professionals and consultants, all of whom, between them, covered £24,500 of Phase#1 project costs pre-2021 incl. organisational set-up, launches, lectures, website-build, IT services, arboricultural, topographical, technical, architectural, heritage impact assessment surveys, reports & all planning consultancy costs.
The Lake Isle of Innisfree
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles
Nine bean–rows will I have there, a hive for the
And live alone in the bee–loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the
cricket sings ;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
Watch National Theatre actor Ciarán Hinds read Yeats’s He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven, a key inspiration for our project, at our London Irish Embassy launch in Grosvenor Place, with thanks to Irish Literary Society & to Ambassador Adrian & Mrs Aisling O’Neill
All planned talks & walks on hold since March 2020
Project supported by Embassy of Ireland (Great Britain)