WENDY MORRIS - A SILVA RERUM, A 'LIVING BOOK'
Following a day-long workshop with masters students of Sint Lucas Antwerpen, WENDY MORRIS gives an evening lecture for students and the public at Argos.
In the context of the exhibition Off by Heart and Out of Breath Wendy Morris has published a silva rerum. The term originated in Roman times to describe a work encompassing different genres of writing, translating as a ‘forest of things’. In the 17th century in Poland it came to describe a ‘living book’ or family chronicle designed to provide continuity between the generations.
Wendy Morris has set out to create a silva rerum for her refugee ancestors. In her search for traces of these Huguenots she could find brief histories of them after they arrived at the Cape of Good Hope but no traces of them leading up to their departure from Europe. She could find no letters exchanged between relatives, no documentation of lands or property lost, no narratives of escape handed down through the generations. Three hundred years after her forebears fled France for southern Africa Morris had made the journey the other way and was living not far from the villages in which they had lived. To remedy the absence of narratives and a sense of discontinuity with this history Morris set off on a project of recuperation. She started to compile a silva rerum for the families that had fled France and she took as her model 17th century Polish examples of a family chronicle added into by successive generations. Off by Heart and Out of Breath – a Silva Rerum is a ‘living book’ that merges traces of the past with experiences in the present, and invites entries in the future.