Artist Rebecca Harvey and poet Lucy Sparrow are joint Artists in Residence at The Morrab Library. Throughout the year, the pair are creating pieces in porcelain and poetry inspired by the library’s rooms, collections and atmosphere.

If you have visited the library recently, you may have paused on the staircase to read Lucy’s latest poem, ‘a living library’ which slinks along the stringer up to the top of the stairs. At each tread, a new line is added to the poem which grows as you climb, repeating itself in a calming refrain up to the landing, from which you can see the room where Lucy first drafted the piece.

Lucy says “‘a living library’ was written in the Poetry Room in The Morrab Library late one sunny afternoon in January 2024. In an armchair surrounded by shelves of books and art works, looking out through an enormous window into the surrounding garden, I felt an intense sense of serenity and connectedness.”

Through their residency Lucy and Rebecca seek to bring to life and shine attention on unexpected places around the building, illuminating quiet corners, treasured reading spots and places of contemplation.

Lucy adds, “The library, crammed with treasures and always welcoming, opens up as a safe yet stimulating space nurturing learning, creativity and reflection.” Through her poem she hopes to “convey the essence of the library, its energy and life revealed through presence and purpose, by the library staff, library members and visitors in this very special place.”


Lucy’s poem is depicted in another form by Rebecca Harvey’s work in the Rees Room, just off the landing. Rebecca works in porcelain and for this new piece she has painted with Cornish clay slip onto the glass panes and has written ‘a living library’ through the clay, letting the light stream through the words.

Sitting at the desk in the Rees Room, surrounded by French fiction, Pelican books and texts in a whole host of languages, you can look out of the window through the poem, or watch the afternoon light play through its letters.

Rebecca describes her process and the inspiration behind the piece below:

“At the top of the stairs I gravitate towards the intimate Rees room as it holds assorted memories of being the first that I spent time in with my young daughter after the first lockdown. The window invites a gaze towards the living life of Penzance, palm trees, close knit houses, sky and drifting interior thoughts.

The pane of glass echoes the page.

The materiality of locally dug kaolin references its granite source and traditional use in paper making.

Textures of brushstrokes soaked in clay, are drawn across the transparent glass and slightly conceal the exterior.

Energy held in the edges of the brushmarks are left, partly inspired by the slightly torn and ruffled edges of a WH Davies book. This book is so beautifully illustrated and belonged to a member of the The Penwith Local History Group who are researching a creative Hilda Quick collection held in the archives.

A sequential gesture of the handwritten words holds the fluid rhythm and pattern which are revealed through the transparency of glass.


Like the poem this understated composition has taken on many permeations before arriving with a somewhat simple interpretation of ‘A Living Library”.”

Lucy and Rebecca’s previous pieces were installed in the Reading Room and you can read about their work in our previous blog post. This summer, Lucy’s poem guides the library visitor gently up from the ground floor and Rebecca’s next porcelain installation can be found in the Rees Room window (upstairs). You can also pick up a copy of Lucy’s poem to take home from the table on the landing.

The installations are open for members and non-members alike to visit during Library opening hours (10-4, Tuesday-Saturday).