Natalie Ferris

Critical Writing in Art & Design

CBR Letterbox


Major Project: 'At every step they flinch wince jerk shirk lapse collapse' - Christine Brooke-Rose, art writing and experiment

Christine Brooke-Rose, known as one of Britains foremost experimental writers, has also been one of the most deplorably neglected. Born in January 1923 in Geneva, she was brought up in Brussels speaking English, French and German, securing her a position in her twenties translating decryptions of the Enigma code at Bletchley Park during World War II. Channelling 'items out of the air, intercepted, decrypted, translated, transmitted', it is this straining after potential, what she figures as groping after meaning, that inflects all of her literary and typographic practice, and was to prove integral to her beguiling novelistic 'experiments'. Language is seen as material to be swiped at, pulled apart, prodded at, picked through, shot to its constituent pieces, flayed beyond recognition, then to be reworked into splayed protractions of frenetic syntactical order. Brimming with all the 'affrodizzyacts' of misaligned references, deliberate malapropisms and tricksy puns, she exposes the true pleasure of language as not in recognition, but in the delight of discovery.

And the uncertain attempts to classify her work, as 'resplendently unreadable' as it may be, betray a continuation of an in-built publishing house literary conservatism. Is it to the art world in all the interdisciplinarity of the 'experimental' that writing must now turn

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BA (Hons), English, University of Cambridge, 2009


English editor, SPACE Journal of Architecture, Seoul, South Korea, 2012 to present; Editorial assistant and admin, Enitharmon Press, London, 2012 to present; Assistant editor, ARC Journal, London, 2012 to present; Freelance writer, Halcyon Gallery, London, 2012 to present


Darkness Visible – Tom de Freston, Royal College of Art, 2011; Pain in Performance and 'Moving Beauty', University of Cambridge, 2011; Experience Dante, University of Cambridge, 2011


Winner, Titular Scholarship, University of Cambridge, 2009


'CBR Cabrieres', Natalie Ferris, FRIEZE, 2012; 'Christine Brooke-Rose: The Great Experimental Writer', Natalie Ferris, The Guardian, 2012; 'Affiches Francaise', Natalie Ferris, Eye Blog, 2011