Celebrations to mark 200 years of Wordsworth’s Daffodils reached the finals of a new landmark award in Cumbria.
A new portrait of William Wordsworth by Hideyuki Sobue, and related events, won runner-up position for Rydal Mount in the exhibition of the year awards, finishing behind two internationally renowned artists.
Hideyuki’s portrait and other work was exhibited at Rydal Mount, the poet’s home near Ambleside, earlier this year as part of celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of the publication of the final version of the world’s most famous poem.
Curators Peter and Marian Elkington also organised a celebrity literary lunch, and a poetry competition for Cumbrian schoolchildren which was judged by Christopher Wordsworth, the poet’s great great great great grandson.
Together the celebrations reached the finals of the Cumbria Life Culture Awards, where the exhibition of the year title was awarded jointly to two giants of the art world, German artist Anselm Kiefer’s “Artists’ Rooms” at Carlisle’s Tullie House, and a retrospective of the legendary sculptor Barbara Hepworth at Kendal’s Abbot Hall Gallery.
The awards were announced at a celebration night at Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake, hosted by Cumbria’s cultural icon Melvyn Bragg. Lord Bragg presented prizes across 17 categories in an evening which highlighted the wealth and diversity of the county’s cultural talent and attractions.
In a guest speech, the eminent Cumbrian artist Conrad Atkinson declared that the contest represented the strength of the “Northern Cultural Powerhouse”.
Rydal Mount curator Peter Elkington said that he and the Wordsworth family – who still own Rydal Mount – were thrilled to be shortlisted “in such distinguished artistic company”.
“Ours is a small, if highly significant, Cumbrian attraction, and we are especially pleased for the artist, Hideyuki Sobue, that he was mentioned alongside colossal figures such as Kiefer and Hepworth.”
Japanese-born Sobue now lives in Grange over Sands, and has been a Wordsworth devotee for many years. The portrait of Wordsworth was one of a series of works on the theme of “I wandered”, the opening words of Daffodils, which were exhibited throughout the spring and summer at Rydal Mount.
A book of the same title in collaboration with Lakes-based poet Gary Boswell was published at the same time.
Sobue based the new portrait on the life mask of Wordsworth, created coincidentally in 1815, the year that Daffodils was published. It forms a diptych – two separate paintings – with a stark picture of a sea of daffodils stretching back to infinity.
He used the mask in the archives of the National Portrait Gallery in London as the basis for the new painting, which shows the poet as he would have looked 200 years ago, at the age of 45.