The Black Honey of Summer

The title of Sally Stokes solo exhibition, ‘The Black Honey of Summer‘ as well as the pictured artwork is inspired by a Mary Oliver poem, ‘August’. Stokes references a lot of her paintings with poetry. In fact, every morning a poem is shared together with her husband, Tony “it’s a way of connecting at the start of every day. If the day begins well, it will often end well”.

Interesting to note the poet, Oliver is completely immersed in the body of “Other”, which in this context is a bear. She has brought in the plight of a bear living “high in the woods” during summer. Oliver’s poems are romantically close to Mother Nature and as the Native Americans believe, the bear is the symbol of a free spirit.

‘August’ by Mary Oliver

When the blackberries hang
swollen in the woods, in the brambles
nobody owns, I spend

all day among the high
branches, reaching
my ripped arms, thinking

of nothing, cramming
the black honey of summer
into my mouth; all day my body

accepts what it is. In the dark
creeks that run by there is
this thick paw of my life darting among

the black bells, the leaves; there is
this happy tongue.

‘The Black Honey of Summer’, 2020, oil on linen, 102 x 102cm
by Sally Stokes

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