Why am I involved in the camouflage celebrations?

Matt Black answers…
The exhibition is called The Art of Deception. This fascinates me in all sorts of ways.
Just the idea of 250 artists living in Leamington, working together to devise industrial and military ways to recreate what nature already does so brilliantly. The idea of trying to disguise Birmingham, Coventry, factories, ships etc. And I love the whole game and idea of deception.

Because I want to know the truth, and I feel like we should always tell the truth, but it’s not always that easy. Because it’s always a struggle knowing what is a white lie and what is not a white lie. Because governments lie and people lie. Because we flatter to deceive. Because it’s the core of movies galore, spy movies, war movies etc. And I love the fact that Leamington, because of the artists who came from London and were living here, was called “Party Town”.

But why am I interested as a poet? Deception, camouflage, lying and pretence are all important aspects of poetry. The game of poetry (and of fiction, but I’m a poet) is that readers are invited to work out what is the truth through a series of camouflages – images, stories, tones of voice, exaggerations and denials. Same as in life of course. We camouflage ourselves daily. We decide what clothes to wear, and what facial expressions to wear, to either become less or more visible, depending on the occasion or the mood. Sometimes we hide ourselves to escape predators, becoming caterpillars or stick insects, blending ourselves into the office meeting, or the party, or the family. Sometimes we disguise ourselves to become predators, like owls, or the orchid mantis.

I’m really looking forward to all the local history aspects of this story, as well as exploring the whole concept and metaphor of camouflage. Maybe I’ll see you at an event – or maybe I won’t, because you will have disguised yourself successfully and blended into the background and environment. Or maybe I will have. Who knows?

Matt Black

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