This post is by Laura Oosterbeek who is on the Publicity and Events team.
Originally from Aotearoa New Zealand, Laura is a Promiscuous Reader and Book Club Slut who spends her spare time biking around looking for sidewalk cats. Despite her allegiance to Cambridge, she is a fan of The Oxford Comma.
I love the Fitzwilliam, I usually go there to look at the rugs (I know, they’re not actually part of the collection) or to stare at the bust of that girl in the green room, trying to figure out of she’s in pain or in orgasm. Probably both. I sometimes go there just to look at people look at art. The Fitz isn’t like the famous art museums of the world — The Louvre, The Met, The Tate — in which most pass through solely to tell others they’ve been, they look at artwork through the screen on their phones, pausing only to see if it’s gram worthy (how could da Vinci, Magritte, or Botticelli ever be considered unworthy?). At The Fitz people actually pause to look at the art, consider its possibilities, its history, its intent.
As do the poets and artists in Notes on Noticing.
At Notes launches, I usually do the same — take the photographs. I notice a look, a gaze, a pose, (the way Elizabeth and Alessandro perfectly mirror one another with their black turtlenecks and slight lean) and capture it in a click (every time having to overcome my shame in that interruption caused by the mechanical click in the silence of a poetry reading). I don’t like to read at Notes launches despite being asked to almost every single time. I don’t like hearing my antipodean accent in a room of Cambridge students, it makes me hyper aware of the twang and long vowels and cadences that always go up at the end, like I’m asking a question (I never am?). But I did this time because we were at The Fitz.
Jun let me choose any poem to read — I passed over Lorcan’s Footnote as I don’t speak Greek, and Thomas Dixon’s, while a work of art in itself, was a mindfuck to read aloud, I loved Olivia Sutherland’s musings on free art and the overwhelming blue-ness of Antonia Cundy’s I think, but ultimately settled on Helen Grant’s Snowflakes.
As I read I noticed the grief and the distance in the poem, her words weaving a snowflake of memory. And I realised, this is what art is — a narrative of noticing that allows others to notice too.
Turns out she was in the room when I read — a fit of giggles to my right as the last vowel dropped.