Lark by Jo Sweeting

Lark by Jo Sweeting


This carving in Lincolnshire Redbed stone in an oak case by Jo Sweeting, celebrates the word ‘Lark’, and was created as part of our exhibition ‘The Lost Words - Forget-me-not.’ For this exhibition artists have created a permanent record of the natural words removed from the Oxford Junior Dictionary. Size: 62 x 22cm


A small ground-dwelling songbird with elongated hind claws and a song that is delivered on the wing, typically crested and with brown streaky plumage.

Family Alaudidae: many genera and numerous species, e.g. the skylark and shorelark

ORIGIN: Old English lāferce, lǣwerce; related to Dutch leeuwerik and German Lerche; of unknown ultimate Origin.

I am a sculptor who uses lettering. My work begins with words and poems rather than visual images. I am interested in the origins of words and in the sounds they make and in the particulars of place. Words are connected to place. Their dialectical differences and descriptive qualities bring our landscape to life.

If we lose words that name things we care less about those things. We stop fighting to help them survive.

Could there be a more delightful word than ‘LARK’?! It derives from the Latin laudare, to praise. The collective noun is an exaltation, from the Latin exaltare¸ to raise up on high. It is heard high in the clouds but nests on the ground, a much-loved, tiny, almost unseen bird. I have watched it many times in my ‘place’ on the Sussex Downs. But it is in decline.

LARKS were celebrated by Wordsworth as ‘ethereal minstrels, pilgrims of the sky’, by  Shelley  as ‘blithe spirits, showering the earth with a rain of melody’. My favourite words are those of the First World War poet Edward Thomas, who describes ‘Larks building spires above spires into the sky.’

My carving will be made on Lincolnshire Red Bedstone in the hope that its warmth will reflect the first and last light of the day. My plan is to carve the word ‘LARK’ high above spires of uplifted lines on the stone.

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