Andrew Fentham: Sterne Stuff

Blue Sky Idea

Proposal Info

Artist Name

  • Andrew Fentham


  • Shandy Hall

“This work responds to the dashes, squiggly lines and black pages of Laurence Sterne’s most famous work. The implications of the novel’s punctuation and pictograms are teased out in stand-alone visual poems. Can Sterne’s hand-drawn lines be followed as maps? Blanks in the text filled in? Can asterisks become the stars they are? Questions of materiality raised by the book’s publication – marbled pages, borrowed text – are addressed through application of Sterne’s own techniques of adaptation, diversion and concrete writing.

These poems are ‘of’ The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. It is their aspiration that this of-ness draws close to are-ness or is-ness. Sterne’s concern with materiality – and the spectacle of his performative zoom and pan – is any inspiration behind them. Their ambition is to extend beyond ekphrasis into full communion with the novel. These self-conscious poems are presented digitally whilst insisting upon physical relationships to text and modelling Sterne’s sculptural techniques. Tristram Shandy is not the only text in play as Sterne himself gestures to Locke, Rabelais and Shakespeare. The radical literalism of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman is expounded and demonstrated. The novel’s ontological curiosity is carried here to a logical conclusion.”

– Andrew Fentham

Andrew Fentham is a Cornwall-based writer and artist. Pamphlets of his poems are Hunglish (Broken Sleep, 2019) and Romanesco (Eyewear, 2017). His poems and translations have appeared widely in magazines.

Twitter: @fenth_