Louisa Albani’s haunting anthology of the sea

Boy with Injured Seagull - Louise Albani

Boy with Injured Seagull - Louise Albani - Credit: Archant

The sea has always evoked oceans of inspiration in art, but for Louisa Albani it was enough to keep her up into the middle of the night creating prints.

Now, a selection of her haunting pieces are being included in the anthology What We Heard From The Sea, a series of commissioned prose and poetry in a book she compiled, illustrated, designed and published.

It was a trip to Cornwall last year where this North London urbanite was caught figuratively hook, line and sinker by the swell of the sea and its stories.

“I went to the museum in Falmouth and normally museums do not light up my fire at all,” says the 48 year old. “But I got completely mesmerised and involved in all the stories of all these courageous men at sea, like ferry men, shipbuilders, fishermen; a museum full of these wonderful real life stories and it suddenly occurred to me that the life that I live, most of us who live in a city like London, we’re not aware of these people who are out in the sea, having to get in touch with that survival instinct because it’s tough and difficult out there. We don’t have any connection to that anymore because we don’t need to.”

On her return home to East Finchley, the former King Alfred School pupil gathered poets and authors she knew and commissioned them to write “with an idea of the sea as a life-force. Which it is, it’s timeless, it can be anything you want it to be really but it’s a power.”

The result is a variety of sensitive, evocative and at times raw prose and poetry. One of the poems is based on a documentary film called Leviathan, about the tough lives of the men who work in the fishing industry,. Another is the tale of the boy who finds a dying seagull on the beach. “There are also stories on how we might see the sea and understand the sea in different ways,” she adds.

Albani is among three artists whose work features in the book. “It’s interesting you should say they’re haunting because often I paint at night,” she says. “I paint at two, three, four o’clock in the morning. Often I’ve woken up and I’ve had some kind of dream.”

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The result is an anthology of heartfelt imagination in a trio of artistic forms.

?What We Heard From the Sea; An Anthology is now available to buy for £5 from Hampstead’s Daunt Books. Louisa Albani is also exhibiting paintings at Coffee Cup of Hampstead in Muswell Hill. Visit nightbirdpress.com