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Gutter Words

Art Exhibition by Jo Hamill

28 May 2024 — Present

The James Joyce Centre is delighted to welcome Gutter Words, the latest installation of the exhibition by Jo Hamill. Jo Hamill’s work explores the multifarious occurrences innate within language and in particular the written word. Found stencilled on the walls of the building, it is a work that asks the central question: what needs to be said?

Working with her personal copy of Ulysses, artist Jo Hamill systematically obliterated the words of Joyce but carefully retained those words positioned closest to the gutter — the technical term used to describe the central margin of a bound page. The remaining fragments are an echo of the original, the act of deletion exposes the architectural scaffolding that holds the words in place. Voids become physical spaces to be read and the words become unanchored, set adrift in an uncertain space.

Gutter Words is a complex book work and accompanying installation. It is the culmination of a 13-year enquiry by Jo Hamill. It aims to explore the sculptural space of language, the book and its physical connection to the body. The written word and the book are mediated through an array of linguistic, design and typographic conventions which act as the safeguards to a tightly managed experience. Omnipresent is our compliant respect for these conventions as we navigate through an encounter and are directed to read. Gutter Words attempts to draw attention to the potential that these conventions have to rupture, offering a less defined but perhaps more intimate reading experience.

Jo Hamill is Head of Art and Design, at Leeds Beckett University. She has taught in higher education for 23 years and continues to practice as a Graphic Designer and Artist. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and published by the conceptual writing imprint, Information As Material. The installation at the James Joyce Centre is the latest iteration of the Gutter Words project, a 14-year obsession with reading Ulysses.

The James Joyce Centre is supported by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.

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