Lines of Sight explores W.G. Sebald’s photographs from his work, Rings of Saturn: An English Pilgrimage (1995) written while he was living and teaching in East Anglia. The exhibition reveals, for the first time, the extraordinary body of images that Sebald used as source material to weave together text and image, geography and history. Celebrating the brilliant eclecticism of Sebald’s storytelling, Lines of Sight is part of a city-wide celebration that marks what would have been Sebald’s 75th year.
The writer W.G. ‘Max’ Sebald (1944 – 2001) has in recent years attracted a remarkable international following for his evocative prose works such as Vertigo (1990), The Emigrants (1992), The Rings of Saturn (1995), and Austerlitz (2001). These spellbinding narratives blur genre boundaries and through an unorthodox use of photography explore questions of home and exile, memory and loss, history and natural history, art and nature.
The multidisciplinary nature of Sebald’s work is reflected in the exhibition with the inclusion of books annotated by Sebald and the original working notes and instructions passed between Sebald and Brandon-Jones, highlighting the social nature of Sebald’s peregrine methodology. Objects mentioned or depicted in the books testify to Sebald’s fascination with East Anglia’s social and mercantile history and will range from the work of Thomas Browne to Sebald’s study of the region’s silk weaving industry. Other themes that run throughout Sebald’s text include the natural history of the region; strange and eccentric residents; local artists and writers; the herring fishing industry; naval history; environmental concerns; country houses and estates. All of which combine to make Lines of Sight: Sebald’s East Anglia a unique portrait of the writer and the region that captivated him.
All of these materials will form the basis of a major, fully illustrated publication, The Shadows of Reality (Boiler House Press), that will also include essays by leading Sebald scholars, an interview with Brandon-Jones and a comprehensive catalogue of the photographic images used by Sebald in his key publications and their sources.
Lines of Sight: Sebald’s East Anglia is curated by Dr Nick Warr, Curator of Photographic Collections, University of East Anglia (UEA) in collaboration with Dr Rosy Gray, Curator of Contemporary and Modern Art, Norwich Castle. The exhibition is supported by a programme of events for young people and adults developed in collaboration with the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, UEA.
The Book Hive is thrilled to be sponsoring the Lines of Sight exhibition. As a bookshop and publisher based in the heart of Norwich, the opportunity to help celebrate such an important figure in the city's literary heritage is a privilege. Sebald's legacy lives on, and we are keenly aware that for both locals and visitors alike a place such as The Book Hive should continue to champion his great work.