Exhibition: Rebecca Chesney – Hope’s Whisper, South Square, Bradford, until July 29 2012
© Rebecca Chesney
If the weather itself hasn’t been brilliant, there’s little doubt that weather related art should be hot. In what must be the wettest summer in living memory, climate change is nothing if not topical. And Rebecca Chesney has been monitoring rainfall, wind speed, air pressure and temperature since October.
But preoccupation with bad weather is nothing new. Her solar-powered digital weather station has been installed at the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth. And few writers have been so affected and inspired by the elements as the Brontë sisters.
In her time in residence at Haworth, Chesney has been comparing today’s weather with handwritten records of the 1800s. She has also cross-referenced these with the sisters’ letters and novels. To personify the weather may be a pathetic fallacy, but it is also an irresistible one.
Just as the muse breezed into Haworth, so did illness. Being consumptive, the Brontës had a strong personal interest in conditions outside. Indeed, the show title, Hope’s Whisper, comes from a letter written by Charlotte as she kept watch on both the weather and her ailing sister Anne.
It is a reminder that weather once had a tragic dimension. Let us hope this is not on its way back.
- Open Tuesday-Sunday 12pm-3pm. Admission free.