Wren by Robyn Golden-Hann

Wren by Robyn Golden-Hann


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Carved on slate by Robyn Golden-Hann, this work is 18 x 25cm, and celebrates the word ‘Wren’. This piece 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.


A small short-winged songbird found chiefly in the New World.

Family Troglodytidae: many genera and numerous species, in particular the very small Troglodytes troglodytes, which has a short cocked tail and is the only wren that occurs in the Old World.

ORIGIN: Old English wrenna, of Germanic Origin

Words are power.

Without them we cannot give coherence to our thoughts. Witness the opening line of St John’s Gospel: ‘In the beginning was the WORD, the very source of Divine authority, all the way to George Orwell’s classic 1984, where he dares to imagine a world with fewer words. Orwell explains the principles of ‘Newspeak’: ‘… designed not to extend but to diminish the range of thought, and this purpose was indirectly assisted by cutting the choice of words down to a minimum’. I cannot be alone in sensing danger if a collection of names such as those celebrated here slip from the dictionary...and by implication, from the consciousness of young minds.

Who, when encountering something of interest, doesn’t want to know its name? The desire to classify has surely been one of the hallmarks of the Age of Enlightenment...are we now, post-Enlightenment, undoing the work of our forebears, diminishing the importance of our beautiful natural world, refusing to recognise our flora and fauna by name? Have we become so disconnected from the natural world that such an action could even be thinkable?

I have chosen to honour the word WREN. My piece depicts both the written word and the bird itself in hand-carved Welsh slate. My intention was to capture the flighty nature of the little wren, perched on the word, about to fly away at a moment’s notice. For the word itself I have used a ‘fast’ italic, a lettering style that looks as if the very written word, like the little bird it represents, might just fly away at any given moment!

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