Dorothy’s Room

Dorothy’s Room

2-28 August 2018, Rydal Mount, Ambleside, Cumbria

Dorothy’s Room is an immersive installation inspired by Dorothy Wordsworth’s Rydal Journals in which she describes “rural sights and sounds” in vivid detail. Due however, to illness Dorothy became bedroom-bound, relying on memory to transport herself into the landscape she had once walked:

No need of motion, or of strength, Or even the breathing air: –
I thought of Nature's loveliest scenes; And with Memory I was there…
Extract from the poem “Thoughts on my Sick-Bed” by Dorothy Wordsworth.

She recollects past walks in such a way that she was able to access the world around her and the past in a way that was therapeutic, a healing process that brought her joy and calm and kept her from the ‘wilderness of her mind.’  

The installation centres on and around Dorothy Wordsworth's bed. Significant objects, mentioned in her Rydal Journals, nest amid twisted and disordered bed linen stitched with extracts of the later entries including a working-draft of part of her poem, "Thoughts from my Sick Bed’, whilst film brings the walks and landscapes she wrote about in those journals into the room, reflecting her memories and longings to be outside.

Dorothy’s Room is part of Louise's current project entitled Women’s Walks to Remember: ‘With memory I was there’ for which she is collecting the Lake District walks of women who are no longer able to undertake them. Throughout August Louise is re-walking each remembered walk and bringing back treasures – film, sound, words, objects, maps – to share with each woman. In September, the Dorothy’s Room installation and these re-membered walks will be exhibited at the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere in the Lake District.  

Creator, Designer and Film Maker: Louise Ann Wilson

Project Assistant: David Honeybone

Stitchers: Liz Bagley, Catherine Bartlett, Lois Kirtley, Jean Simpson

Film, Technical Editor: Janan Yakula

Women’s Walks to Remember walkers: Linda Broughton, Margaret Crayston, Jill Peel, The Tuesday Walkers (led by Sue Falkner), Wallace Heim, Harriet Fraser

Thanks to: all at Rydal Mount and the Wordsworth family, Peter Elkington, Marian Elkington, Hazel Seddon, Nigel Crook, Jeff Cowton, Melissa Mitchell, Poppy Garrett, Susan Allen, Rebecca Turner, John Coombe, Simon Bainbridge, Jen Kagan, Anne Wills (for showing me how to make Pace Eggs) and Harold Potter, who inspired this project

Producer: Louise Ann Wilson Company

Funders: The Wordsworth Trust, Faculty of Arts and Social Science (Diversifying Wordsworth project), Lancaster University, Lancaster Arts at Lancaster University, wilson+wilson

Main wepage photograph: Melissa Mitchell