In the 1930's the English critic William Empson noticed how 'the
fashion for obscure poetry . . came in about the same time as the fashion
for crossword puzzles; and it seems to me that this revival of interest
in poetry, an old and natural thing, has got a bad name merely by failing
to know itself and refusing to publish the answers.’ The best
art always seems to be, paradoxically, a mixture of play and complexity
– questions and answers squashed into one. Making crosswords with
pupils and a crosswordsmith expert like Sandy Balfour we learned how
to come at a word from many – often odd – angles and in
doing so, how to open words up. Once you know how to solve a clue, or
even better, to write one, then you know all the ways that a word can
fit into the jigsaw of language. Once you know how to play with it you
own all it's meanings.
-----– Alec Finlay
RIVERS CROSSWORD is the second of Alec's word-map crosswords. It
adapts the form of the cryptic crossword to create a map of the North
East of England, following the course of the river Tyne, Tees and Wear.
This major art project was conceived by Alec and made in collaboration
with Sandy Balfour (The Guardian), Beth Rowson, Ira LIghtman and pupils
from Westlea Primary Scholl (Seaham).
THREE RIVERS CROSSWORD is an adventure in cryptic thought,
with over two hundred clues that refer back to the locale. It offers
website links to help guide readers to solutions, allowing anyone in
the world to navigate this crossword map. The crossword schema follows
the course of the three rivers as they flow past towns and villages,
castles, bridges, battles, follies, schools, museums and local flora
and fauna. The words include place names (Latin, Old English, Viking,
Norman), local history, hills and valleys, landmarks and buildings.
RIVERS CROSSWORD was released December 2005 (platform projects,
morning star, Creative Partnerships and Nexus)
Buy a copy of THREE RIVERS CROSSWORD
clues from THREE RIVERS CROSSWORD were presented as an artist
project by Alec as 'cove cards' in metro carriages throughout Tyne &
Wear, commissioned by Nexus and locator as part of the NewcastleGateshead
Festival of Visual Arts.
by Ginny Reed © 2005
by Sandy Balfour
Link to Alec's other Crosswords