sarah bennett


bummock: tennyson research centre

'Bummock: Tennyson Research Centre' focuses on the unseen or lesser-known parts of the Tennyson family archive.

Bound (2020)

A plethora of archival 'snake weights' hold each book open with gaps left to reveal passages from the poem The Princess which Tennyson wrote following a conversation with his future wife, Emily Sellwood, about Victorian women’s lack of access to higher education. The poem recounts how the princess has founded a college for women only and is refusing to marry the prince - so rejecting the expected female duties connected with marriage and motherhood.

N.B. The 'Bummock' is the large part of an iceberg hidden beneath the surface of the sea.



Sarah Bennett: PP image 1
Bound (2020)

rollover/click thumbnail to view a larger image

Photos: Reece Straw
Bound working process (2021)

Tennyson’s poem The Princess and archival snake weights being installed at the Hub, Sleaford, September 2021.

Usually only one or two snake weights are used in archives for each volume or book, but in the working process for Bound, experimentation led to multiple snake weights being placed in various formations.
Sarah Bennett: Bound working process
Bound working process (2019)
Photo: Andrew Bracey

Plant Seizure Drawings (2019) ink and laser print

Based on the Tennyson men’s various ailments, Plant Seizures is a series of composite layered drawings based on researching plant remedies used in the 19thC. Each Plant Seizure portrays a specific member of the Tennyson family and includes other plants or items significant to that individual’s emotional life, or their mental illness.

The centre of each drawing prefigures the source of each affliction, e.g., intestinal villi are depicted in the drawing of Alfred linked to the digestive tract – thought to be the source of his hypochondria. Audrey and Elizabeth Tennyson are included as providers of care and support. Their plants are sourced from fabric and patterns associated with their female roles.

Plant Seizures by Sarah Bennett
Plant Seizure Drawings (2019)

Wall display of eight drawings
New Curtois Gallery, The Collection, Lincoln (2022)
Devon County Pauper Lunatic Asylum at Exminster 1845Sarah Bennett: Plant Seizure Drawing 1Sarah Bennett: Plant Seizure Drawing 2Sarah Bennett: Plant Seizure Drawing 3Sarah Bennett: Plant Seizure Drawing 4
Sarah Bennett: Plant Seizure Drawing 5Sarah Bennett: Plant Seizure Drawing 6Sarah Bennett: Plant Seizure Drawing 7Sarah Bennett: Plant Seizure Drawing 8

Photos: Reece Straw
Touch Me (2020)

Tennyson’s brother Edward spent 56 years in a private asylum - Lime Tree House, in York. The only archival box relating to Edward in the Tennyson Research Centre contains receipts for his clothing – morning suits, overcoats, shirts, collars, undergarments, and boots – all paid for through a trust fund set up by his grandfather George Tennyson 'The Old Man of the Wolds'. The receipts inspired the making of a parcel entitled Touch Me, which sat alone in the exhibition, covered in thorns. By all accounts, none of the Tennyson family ever visited Edward at York, where he died in 1890.

The wrapped parcels would have been regularly delivered to Lime Tree House from the Gentlemen's outfitters - tailors, hosiers, hatters and bootmakers in York.

In both Touch Me and Scorn the combination of thorns, brown paper packaging and detachable collars produce anxious objects.
Touch Me (2020)
Photo: Reece Straw

Scorn detail (2021)
Photo: Scott Murray
Comforter (2021)

Comforter is a stop-frame drawing of Elizabeth Tennyson’s rattle (Alfred’s mother) with its own sounds, recorded in the archive, crescendo-ing as it appears and disappears on the screen.

For a short period the rattle with its bells, whistle and coral tongue - that usually lies silently in the archive - is made 'animate'.

Comforter (2021)

Video Production: David Salas and Phil Ellis;
Sound Design: Sarah Bennett and Paul Ramsay
sarah bennett © 2024