PoArtry is a collaborative project that is the brainchild of Rick Sanders, aka Willis the Poet and is a mash-up of visual art and poetry. The concept is a simple one; artists and poets are randomly paired together from names drawn from a hat. Each pair then has 3 months to work together to create new work inspired by each other’s existing portfolios. Dawn has been involved in the project for the last 4 iterations. www.poartry.co.uk

The Gleaner , 2022

The Gleaner

Hope is the thing with Feathers

The earth spins and we hope

The answer to the riddle is hope

I hope for hope where there is none

(Lines from Hope soundtrack including the first line quoted from Emily Dickinson.)

The Gleaner emerges from an underworld of words and sounds of nature from the Hope Project soundtrack.  Through connecting with nature in a cyclical vision of time, she gives hope for a world where we re-attribute value to what has been decreed worthless. 

The Gleaner gathers the discarded and the overlooked just as peasant women would gather left over grain and fruits from the harvest.   In the tradition of still life painting, each object she has gleaned from the re-melted facial hair wax and wordless scrolled strips of newspaper to the green tree fruits, dried flowers and dessicating petals are symbols of the transcience of life communicating their own messages of hope.   

Traklements, 2021

This piece was inspired by West Midlands based writer Roger Noon’s poem ‘The Sideboard (After Edip Cansever)’ in which he uses the word ‘tranklements’, a dialect word for precious and familiar ornaments that you might display.

Encore, 2021
Dungeness Hull
inspiration for The Captain Said by Phil Binding (r)
The Captain Said

“Haven Light ahoy, boys”, the captain said
waving our helmsman to starboard.
We smelt fields, saw gannets shadow stars
heard crashing rollers of betrayal.  

“Abandon ship”, the captain said,
as he tapped his pipe on tilting rails.
Wreckers scaled the broken bow
lit by violent, smoking sunrise. 

We broke out cutlass and pistol
but they were too well-armed.
Hatch and cover splintered
as blood foamed in the scuppers.

“Help yourselves, boys”, the captain said
patting his pockets, standing
in conspiratorial greeting.
Small boats came bobbing by,

liberated our hard-sailed cargo.
Sea boots crunched skullbone, 
slipped on our brains and guts
as hands passed box and bag.

“I’ll take my pay now”, the captain said.
They gave it him in the guts
with twisting rapier thrust
then lead ball to his neck for luck.

“I’m sorry, boys” the captain said
when we greeted him on the other side,
watched his black soul founder
through ash, mast, spar and flame.


Venus Talking 2020

Randomly paired with poet Kezzabelle Amber I was inspired by her collection ‘Permission to Speak’ to create a response that captured the essence of her work; notions of female beauty and a particular poem about women and children in war torn areas across the world

Kezzabelle chose an old image of mine taken on a trip to Cyprus in the late ’90’s.

Walking over the ashes

I have watched some people make the most of lockdown time for the last year to connect with their creativity, learn, develop or re-kindle skills they never knew they had or had long forgotten. Me…I’ve somehow lost my way. This is not good. I went into lockdown buckling under the pressure of trying to stay in an ill-fitting part-time job to pay the bills and furlough was a time for self-reflection and an opportunity to re-connect on some level with myself through a script-writing commission for BBC Bitesize. This confirmed that I could not risk my mental health any further by returning to the retail environment, added to which family demands became even greater and home-schooling three grandchildren beckoned. Meaningful creative output somehow seemed far away. Until the ever-supportive Black Country poets Emma Purshouse and Steve Pottinger dangled their ‘Arses from Elbows’ opportunity to tempt me out of the wallows.

The eight week course was a back to basics poetry writing series and provided me with a focus and discipline sadly missing at that time. This weekly focus on writing has remained through an incredibly supportive and open spin-off group of poets. We are following the brilliant Jo Bell’s ’52’ poetry writing prompts and have reached week 23 with the group still intact. It’s sometimes hard-going and, like all creative activities, can sometimes add to your caskets of self-doubt and insecurities. Last week’s prompt brought me out in a rash of philosophical Camus-esque self-questioning. But I keep at it! Unfortunately I’m still filling those aforementioned caskets, and increasingly concerned that I lack the skills and energy to find new ways of marketing whatever it is I do/did. The truth of it is I want me time, but I can’t afford it!

My entire career has relied on sharing my skills with others, generating ideas and motivating others to see the potential in themselves through creative activities. So how come I now struggle to motivate myself, listen to advice or simply relocate the self-discipline I treasured? I am trying to see this time as an opportunity to breathe and let things lie and not as being washed up on the shingle beach of failed artists. But the fact remains, I am too young to retire and feel too disconnected and too tired to dig deep. I am pleased for the opportunity to re-show ‘Hecuba’s Seat’ with DUST Rising’s Every Other Seat’ exhibition in Roebuck Shopping Centre in Newcastle, Staffordshire and fingers crossed this is also the re-start of clawing my way back to my creative self.

‘Hecuba’s Seat’ by Dawn Jutton from DUST Rising’s ‘Every Other Seat’ exhibition first shown (here) in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, 2020

Meanwhile, this seems to all be coming out in some fairly deep writing, as I realised when I shared this Week 22’s efforts at prose poetry with the group. I generally don’t feel the need to share new work (or blog ramblings come to that!) online, but today is different. Maybe tomorrow will bring a new Spring in my step…

Meanwhile, and finally, here’s the poem.

 I walk over the ashes
 I walk over the ashes of burnt earth to look at the edge of the world. 
 Unfurling my fingers, I stroke the beckoning abyss to calculate my worth, 
 my weight in gold, and trace the shape of the space I would leave.
When I look back, dust has settled in my footprints. In the distance, 
I see the tear-stained faces of children picking over the mounds of words 
I’d thrown into the smoke from fires lit to hide my journey.  I turn back to the abyss, 
lift my eyes to the past for an answer and take a step forward – 
but do not fall. In the ice-cold darkness, a ledge; a black viscous slick sucks me into itself,  
coats me in resilience and soothes my unsettled skin. 
I amble over acres of green fields and pick daisies to make a chain
that could anchor me to the future. My eyes sting with the brightness 
of their sun-kissed centres but I dry my tears with their soft white 
petals. I blow through blades of grass to call on the birds for answers,
but they know only their own song.  I sieve life-giving soil through my fingers 
to ground my insecurities and ask the divining branches to lend me their secrets, 
but both hide them in their core.  I wander until my feet ache 
with the weight of my questions, until the odour of ash leaves my skin and only tear-cut scars remain.
I swim under a waterfall of emotion, surface for a moment to fill my lungs 
 and scream.