Harris (John I), A Prospect of Worcester from the East, c.1750, HSW_WMAG_1988-365 smaller for website

‘A Prospect of Worcester from the East’ (c. 1750 and attributed to John Harris the Younger)
Photo attribution: Image from Worcester City museum collection

 
 

BACKGROUND
 

‘Mosaic Modern Worcestershire’ is a Worcester Art Gallery ‘From the art gallery with love x’ commission carried out in 2020 when the U.K. was dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. The project is inspired by the gallery’s painting ‘A Prospect of Worcester from the East’ (c. 1750 and attributed to John Harris the Younger). Sarah’s choice of ‘A Prospect of Worcester from the East’ as inspiration for her new interactive art that could be accessed online is partly because Harris’s painting depicts Worcester and lockdown has restricted residents to their homes and local streets. But Sarah also chose this particular Worcestershire painting because 2020 is the three-hundred-year anniversary of Harris’s birth.

Sarah’s response to the painting included creating a modern interpretation of the scene using segments from digital photos of contemporary Worcestershire as photographic tiles laid over the base framework and outline provided by the original painting. The resulting artwork is neither the original painting of Worcester as it was then, nor the Worcestershire landscape as it is now, but a composite abstract created by combining the two. Sarah also produced a hypertext poem and poetryfilm. All three parts of this project can be enjoyed below.

More about the original painting ‘A Prospect of Worcester from the East’ , which was acquired by Worcester City Museum and Art Gallery in 1987 with the support of ArtFund, can be found in this Research Worcestershire post and this Worcester News article.

 
 

A MOSAIC OF MODERN WORCESTERSHIRE
 

A Mosaic of Modern Worcestershire by Sarah Leavesley scaled down for website

A total of 375 photographic tiles were used to produce the mosaic, created from 126 Worcestershire photos. More about the images used for this can be found by following hypertext links in the poem below.
 
 

THE HYPERTEXT POEM
 

Click on different words in blue font in the poem to reveal different photos used to create the photographic tiles in Sarah’s mosaic. Below the poem is an image of the mosaic with gridlines marked on so that you can see where these images were used in the mosaic.

 

Still Splendid

 

An open garden gate gives way
to late summer’s golden harvests,
green fields, city rooves and spires,
the distant curves of the Malvern hills,
mist and cloud combining in a wide blue sky.

 
I could step through this past prospect
of Worcester into the picture’s pigments,
and piece together each painstaking detail
to get a sense of eighteenthcentury life:
how much, yet how little, has changed.

 
Fast forward with broad brushstrokes
to the rush of cars and people, the flash
of busy scenes caught by the click
of many camerasshutters opening,
then closing on glasseye images.

 
This modern shape-shifting mosaic
is glimpsed in quick snatches – fixed
not with a painter’s palette of oils,
but pinprick pixels of colour. A different
texture, but richly vibrant all the same.

 
Six hundred thousand residents *
now sculpt this county with their lives
and dreams. Centuries of construction
have re-patterned the cityscape, yet still
the castle, cathedral and backdrop hills.

 
Still the River Severn, roads and fields
stretch across the contoured miles
those slopes and dips that Harris
would have known when he painted
‘A Prospect of Worcester from the East’.
 
 

* This compares to a county population estimate of around 120, 000 in 1761.
 

 

The tiles used in the mosaic are identified in a X_Y format – where X is the number of tiles counted horizontally away from 0 on the left, and Y is the number of tiles counted vertically upwards from 0 at the bottom left of the mosaic. So, for example, the bottom left corner tile is tile 0_0, whereas the top right corner tile is tile 24_0. Some tiles use smaller and others larger sections of the source photo. Some were also rotated or flipped horizontally when placed into the mosaic.
 

A POETRYFILM & VIRTUAL TOUR

 

 

Still Splendid – a poetryfilm
 

A Mosaic of Modern Worcestershire – a virtual tour
This video may be played and watched like a normal video. However, if you want to look at any of the images for longer, or at a different speed, you can press pause. Then use the video scroll/progress bar (while on pause) to move backwards and forwards through the photos at your own pace.