The Emblem of My Work

Exhibitions and events

The Emblem of My Work

2011 - 31st October 11


See the exhibition online at the blog


169 artists celebrate the 250th anniversary of Sterne's marbled page

Following the success of the first two volumes of Tristram Shandy, Laurence Sterne was commissioned to produce more. James Dodsley, the London bookseller who had sold copies of Volumes I and II, published Sterne's sermons under the title 'The Sermons of Mr. Yorick' in 1760. In January 1761, Volumes III and IV of the novel became available to purchase, so 2011 marks not only the publishing of the volumes but also the 250th anniversary of Sterne's most remarkable literary stroke of genius - the marbled page contained in Volume III.

If you carefully examine page [ 169 ] in Vol. III in the original edition, four fold marks define the edges of the marbling and also create the surrounding margins. The central section of p.169 was laid upon the marbled mixture in order that a coloured impression could be taken as cleanly as possible. It was left to dry and then reverse-folded so the other side of the paper could also receive a marbled impression. This side of the paper became page [170].

So, the marbled page in every copy of Vol. III (in every edition*) is different - each impression being a unique hand-made image.

In the text opposite (p.168), Sterne tells the reader that the next marbled page is the 'motly emblem of my work' - the page displaying a visual confirmation that his work is endlessly variable, endlessly open to chance.

In 2009, 73 artists, writers and composers created a new black page to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the black page in Vol I (see  The Emblem of My Work continues this tribute to Sterne's visualisation of ideas by asking 169 artists / writers / composers to create an Emblem of their work for display in the gallery at Shandy Hall.  Each of the 73 original contributors have been invited to participate again - and to propose a fellow practitioner.  An exhibition that celebrates chance - that involves chance.  The list of participants will appear on 'Emblem of My Work' blog along with images of the work - but who made which Emblem? 

Exhibition is in collaboration with 'Art in Yorkshire' supported by Tate.

Supported by The Heritage Lottery Fund.

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