Cygnet by Ayako Furano

Cygnet by Ayako Furano


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This carving, by Ayako Furano, celebrates the word ‘Cygnet’, 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:  38 x 30cm


A young swan.

 ORIGIN: Late Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French cignet, diminutive of Old French cigne ‘swan’, based on Latin cycnus, from Greek kuknos. 

Swans both seduce and frighten.  On the one hand, there is light: the heart-warming story of The Ugly Duckling,; the perfect heart shapes their necks form on Valentine’s day cards; and the ethereal beauty they epitomise in Swan Lake. On the other, there is darkness: the violent legend of Leda and the Swan; their frightening, if false, reputation for breaking human arms; and the morbid idea of a final ‘swansong’. Indeed, the very sound of the word ‘cygnet’ is far removed from the sweet ‘-ling’ ending given to the young of gentle ducks and garrulous geese, reminding us of the swan’s essential wildness.

Think of mute swans. Words unvoiced create a vacuum, but it does not mean that they cease to exist; they can be nurtured, or bullied, into being. Ultimately, we have the power to deploy words. It is our collective responsibility to use and celebrate them. This exhibition offers the opportunity to do so.

Think of colour. Do words have to be in black and white to exist? CYGNETS bear shades of grey before they mature into black, or white, swans. The natural colours of stone, whether swan-black slate, swan-white marble, green limestone or cygnet-grey sandstone present the word ‘cygnet’ in a different context.

Think of mosaics. Ancient mosaics are often unearthed intact, preserved and perfect. Words, too, may be hidden from some quarters in a literal sense, but simply await discovery.  In the act of finding, we can hope that they become more precious.

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