Mark and Ted: Exploring the Mark Hinchliffe Ted Hughes Collection

There is a jaguaStatue of a jaguar on a glass shelf in a display case. The jaguar is roaring at the ground. It is black glazed ceramic, and is reflected in the glass shelf. The lighting casts a shadow on the back of the display case. r prowling in one of the display cases at Heritage Quay. Although only 15cm long, with its taut muscles and mouth open in a roar it demands attention. Made by one-time Poet Laureate Ted Hughes (1930-1998) it is clearly the result of close observation of the natural world, and important as the only known surviving example of sculpture by the poet.

This is only one of many objects now on display as part of Heritage Quay’s latest exhibition,

Overview of a display case. On the top shelf is a small statue of a jaguar and a handwritten letter. On the middle shelf are two books, one closed to show the front cover which is blue, with an inset a circle made out of cork, the other open on foam supports to show printed endpapers which are blue with a repeated white and red swirl pattern. On the bottom shelf is a wooden type tray, a metal tool and some small booklets of paper samples in different colours

‘Mark and Ted: Exploring the Mark Hinchliffe Ted Hughes Collection’.

Bringing together pens and paper samples, books and badger bristles, photographs and feathers, the exhibition celebrates one of Heritage Quay’s most important recent acquisitions. The collection was formed by Mark Hinchliffe, a poet and friend of Ted Hughes.

Overview of a display case, showing a Mont Blanc pen in its case, a manuscript draft of Ted Hughes' Orpheus and Eurydice, and black and white photograph of Ted Hughes speaking at a lectern

The exhibition includes first edition, fine press and limited edition published works, many of which have been signed by Hughes. There are photographs of Hughes and his family, some previously unrecorded, and correspondence between Hughes and Hinchliffe. Not limited to paper objects, there are tools relating to the family-run Morrigu Press, sherry from Hughes’ time as Laureate, and even one of Hughes’ Mont Blanc pens.

As well as offering unique material relating to the life of one of the twentieth century’s major poets, the exhibition also shows us something of how Hinchliffe engaged with Hughes’ work. Through his annotations, or the newspaper clippings, plant and animal matter, postcards, letters and programmes tucked into the books, we see a dedicated reader in action.Overview of a display case, containing letters and printed books. There are three books, displayed open, and two sets of letters. The letters are mostly displayed in their envelopes, with two open to show the contents.

Exhibition open Mon-Fri 8am-8pm; Sat 9am-5pm; Sun 10am-4pm. Exhibition closes October 2022.