Contemporary Arts - 2021 - Contemplating Hope installation

Artist Layla Khoo invites visitors to share their hopes and dreams
‹‹ Back to Contemporary Arts

Artist Layla Khoo invites visitors to share their hopes and dreams

Artist Layla Khoo was commissioned by the Brontë Parsonage Museum to create 'Contemplating Hope', an installation inspired by the hopes, reflections and ambitions Emily and Anne Brontë recorded in their diary papers. At the Museum in Haworth, a series of twelve ceramic vessels created by Layla, one for each month of the year, were filled with the reflections and hopes of our visitors. We also had an online version on this webpage where you could contribute your thoughts towards the project.
Anne and Emily started writing their diary papers in 1834 and continued writing them approximately every four years until 1845. Doing so was an act of hope for the two sisters. They reflected on their past, documented their present and imagined their future; they found hope amongst the many hardships in their lives and times.
Recent times have been difficult for us all. The pandemic has affected all of us and we have been faced with new challenges. In the midst of these difficulties, there have been, and continue to be, moments of hope and examples of individuals and communities coming together, giving us all something to hold on to and look forward to.

Click read more to see artist Layla Khoo's reflections on the end of her installation in May 2022.

"When I was first invited to visit the Parsonage to take a look at the collection with a view to responding to it back in 2019, I remember feeling absolutely overwhelmed by the weight of the history held in the building and the collection, and in the legendary literary status of Anne, Emily and Charlotte.

As I settled in to exploring the Parsonage, I became intrigued by any artefacts which gave an insight into the more private lives of the Brontës – objects which could reach across the years and still remain relatable. As soon as the curatorial staff showed me the diary papers and the tin box full of haberdashery they were stored in, I was inspired. Not just by the glimpse into the day to day lives, but the ongoing, shining writings of hope. Hope for their present, and hope for their future, when surrounded by tragedy and seemingly insurmountable odds against these aspirations. 

When creating the concept for the work, I had no idea how the world was about to change, and how timely it would feel for us to be recording our hopes through this experience. I made the work throughout the lockdowns of 2020, isolated in my studio, surrounded by news of deadly disease and considering how important it felt to hold onto hope, but also to re-evaluate what I was hopeful for.

I assume I wasn’t alone in this period of stepping back to reflect on what really mattered. I’m certain that what I would have written on my diary paper prior to 2020 was very different to what I wrote in May 2021 when the installation opened.

And so now I’m reflecting again, on whether my hopes remain the same, just a year later. In 4 years time we will have the opportunity to see what the visitors to the Parsonage hoped for during these strange times – what made us the same, and what made us different. And whether these fundamental hopes were so very different to those of Anne and Emily. I can’t wait to find out, but for now all of those hopes and contemplations are safely stored in their vessels, and now form the latest of so many words written in this hallowed place  of literary history."

In four years time we will gather all contributions, including breaking open the ceramic vessels, and share some of our hopes and contemplations.
read more