“Oh what a tangled web we weave…. When first we practise to deceive!” (Walter Scott) Mar29


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“Oh what a tangled web we weave…. When first we practise to deceive!” (Walter Scott)

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Alix Harwood explains: ‘As a visual response to the Sonnet I want to create an alternative reality, a secret place. In the style of Joseph Cornell, a wall-mounted, shallow wooden, glass-fronted, box (approx 300x450mm & 12mm deep) will hold strange items to illustrate & enhance the sonnet, a theatrical montage, viewed through cobwebs. A half hidden, secret world. This is a sketch of the sculpture, which will appear at the 26 Lies exhibition at the Free Word Centre.’


Sonnet, with tangled web

  1. I’m looking for somewhere to lay my head before the dark. Your hand blocking out the white noise until all I hear is beats of blood charging around my body against the slow boom of your heart.
  2. It’s not easy, this lies’ thing, but it’s not hard either, and at least I can breathe and smile again at the same time.
  3. Shortness of breath. There’s a spider in my hair.
  4. It is dangerous to write these words down. Lies belong in the corner of the room, under the sofa with insect husks, lost pens and sticky Lego bricks.
  5. There’s always a spider in my dreams because once, when I was nine-years-old, my brother put one on my pillow.
  6. ‘It was a ladybird,’ he says, thirty years later. ‘I’m sure it was a ladybird.’
  7. But I remember a Daddy-Long-Legs tangled in my hair with wings smashed in tiny pieces as I screamed and banged my head with the side of my hand.
  8. ‘What are you most afraid of?’ You say. That’s easy, I think. This. This is what I’m afraid of. Losing my children, my family, my house, my voice. Losing my mind.
  9. But also losing this lightness. Losing you.
  10. ‘Spiders,’ I lie. ‘I’m most afraid of spiders.’
  11. Angel Hair. In May and August in the Australian Outback millions of baby spiders rain down from the sky and it looks like snow. These spiders throw streams of silk up in the air and use them like parachutes.
  12. Here we are, teetering on the tip of a blade of grass. Throw your threads high until they catch in the wind and carry us to a new place, a new life.
  13. I don’t want to keep my feet on the ground.
  14. And dawn settles and I think if I can know you better, if I can hold onto these words of yours in a long, even line, not tangled but clear with finger spaces and full stops. And if we can cling onto these words like parachutes then the light will flood in. And that’s all we can hope for.

Writer: Elen Lewis
Artist/sculptor: Alix Harwood