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Open book showing prints of two seated doves and the words 'Heading for extinction'

Talk | Carolyn Trant and James Simpson - Map of Lost Cuckoos


[ Talk )

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Join artist Carolyn Trant and poet James Simpson as they discuss their collaborative work, Map of Lost Cuckoos.

Discover how an artist and poet work together to create something beautiful and unique. Carolyn Trant has worked across a variety of media for over 25 years but is best know for her Artist Books. These exquisitely designed books are mostly woodcut books, but also collagraphs and drypoint. Texts are often hand-cut and use her own words and collaborations with poets.

James Simpson is an award winning poet and has collaborated with Carolyn on several books, including their Map of Lost Cuckoos. This cartonera and Artist Book, are part of our Birds and Beasts: The Wild Escape exhibition. Both can also be viewed in the ‘Treasures Room’ at the British Library, where they have been on display for the past five years alongside Magna Carta.


“Map of Lost Cuckoos is the book of poems that has mattered most to me this past year. Who is there now who in the manner of Blake, writes of all that matters with childlike, moving, hard worn simplicity?” Kevin Crossley-Holland.

During the talk, you will have the opportunity to see Map of Lost Cuckoos and other cartonera and Artist Books, plus James will read a selection of poems from the book.

Check out a London Magazine review of Carolyn and James’s last event at the Gallery here.


Book your tickets

Tickets cost £15 and include a glass of wine or a soft drink.

Our galleries, including the Sussex Landscape: Chalk, Wood and Water exhibition will be open until 7pm. If you would also like to visit the exhibitions, you can book your ticket here. (Entry to the galleries is not included in event ticket).

What are ‘cartoneras’?

Originally a Latin American phenomenon of ‘cartoneras’. ‘Carton’ is Spanish for cardboard, collected by street activists who support street dwellers by paying them to collect discarded packaging they can use for making books. They combine up-cycling with community production – cheaply printed and accessible books of poetry, prose and fiction, a lively grass-roots movement of political, social, ecological and digital activism.

Two photographs with one on left in black and white of a woman with long wavy dark hair sat against a wall with hands held together and on right a colour photograph of a man stood in a field with the sun bright behind him


Carolyn Trant is an artist who has worked across a variety of media, making Artists Books for over 25 years. Editions range from 30-3 and she has made some single sculptural pieces, like BlueBeard’s Castle and Beauty and the Beast and a large installation, The Falcon Bride. Some books are codex or concertina format, some use cut-out or pop-up techniques or turn into carousels. Sometimes the box or slipcase is an artwork in itself.

More recently, global events have led her to feeling a need to make the cartonera alongside her Artist Books.

Her work has been bought by individual and institutional collections across the UK, Europe, Australia and the USA, including the V&A, National Art Library, British Library, Tate and the American Library of Congress.

She contributed to the book ‘The Cultural Life of Images – Visual Representation in Archaeology’ ed. Molyneux pub. Routledge 1997, and her books ‘Art for Life, the Story of Peggy Angus’ was published by Incline Press, 2004 and ‘Voyaging Out – British Women Artists from Suffrage to the Sixties’ was published by Thames and Hudson, 2019.


James Simpson lives in the Southdowns. He is a Jerwood/Arvon award winner and prizewinner in the Thomas Hardy Society’s James Gibson Memorial Poetry Competition. He is author of The Untenanted Room, Agenda Editions 2012 and The Rhyme of the Reddleman’s Daughter, Actaeon Press 2018.

He has collaborated with the artist and printmaker Carolyn Trant on the artist’s books, Hunting the Wren, The Rhyme of the Reddleman’s Daughter, The Untenanted Room, Some Light Remains and Blind Tiger (all Parvenu Press); editions of these now reside in private and public collections nationally and internationally; including the British Library (Modern British Special Collections), Yale University Library, Louisiana State University (LSU Libraries) and the University of Georgia (Main Library).