• Elizabeth MCClafferty

Titling “All Shall Be Well”

Our current exhibition “All Shall Be Well,” on view through February 28th, features a fortuitous pairing of artists -- Jacqueline Boyd and Louise Strawbridge, though working in vastly different mediums and modes, share clear commonalities in their bodies of work. Both artists explore the notions of time and memory, their works addressing the malleable and often overlapping concepts of past, present, and future. There is a unique sensitivity with which both artists approach their work, and the choices that each artist makes throughout their process is evident in their works careful compositions.

These common threads are often the starting point when determining the titles for our exhibitions. Ahead of each exhibition, I have the privilege of an inside look at the works that will be on view. I have a little over a month to acquaint myself with the materials -- artist statements, images, titles, etc. -- and this allows me to begin to formulate a coherent concept for the exhibition.

For this exhibition, one of Louise Strawbridge’s vessels served as a jumping off point in defining a title for the show. The title of the vessel, “And All Shall Be Well,” is borrowed from T.S. Eliot’s poem Little Gidding, the last poem in Eliot’s Four Quartets. Eliot himself borrowed the refrain -- “And all shall be well, and/ All manner of thing shall be well” -- from the writings of English anchoress Julian of Norwich, a female theologian who lived from the 14th century to the early 15th century. The writings of Julian of Norwich provided great inspiration for many poets and theologians of the 20th century, evidently including T.S. Eliot. Eliot’s poem reflects upon the (often theological or philosophical) ideas of history, the redemption of history and the past, the problems of earthly existence, and the patterns of time and eternity.

Time and eternity, past, present, and future… these were all concepts that I felt resonated through the works of both Louise Strawbridge and Jacqueline Boyd. Having “All Shall Be Well” in mind for a title, I approached Jacqueline with the idea. As if by design, I learned that the words “And all shall be well, and/ All manner of thing shall be well” serve as a refrain in Jacqueline Boyd’s life. She informed me that some years ago her relative gifted her Julian of Norwich’s foundational theological text Revelations of Divine Love, and on a nearly daily basis, Boyd repeats to herself “all shall be well.” These words and ideas, so deeply intertwined with her life, no doubt infuse Boyd’s paintings.

And so the fortuitous pairing of Jacqueline Boyd and Louise Strawbridge proved to be even more perfect than we could have imagined, and “All Shall Be Well” became the natural titled of the exhibition.

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