Norman McBeath and Edmund de Waal: Perdendosi

14 January - 26 February 2022

Perdendosi is a limited edition set of twelve hand-printed original black and white photographs by Norman McBeath RSA together with a direct and personal response to the photographs by Edmund de Waal.  


The title, Perdendosi, is a musical term meaning to gradually die away. The photographs are a study of leaves at the held, drawn-out stage of their metamorphosis, where they are poised on the cusp of decay and eventual disintegration. During this time, they take on extraordinary shapes as they slowly dry, giving each leaf a unique identity and character. They are at a stage when they are leached of all colour, more like parchment than plant, on the edge of crumbling into the ground and vanishing for good. This study takes them up and gives them an attention, so that they are seen in their own right – like a final Act. In this way Perdendosi offers familiar subjects of study, freighted with associations and symbolism, giving each viewer the opportunity to make their own interpretations. 


Edmund de Waal offers his own train of thought and associations in his accompanying text Twelve Leaves, which he describes as both autobiography and a journal of reading. This is a uniquely personal, oblique and moving text, in which he draws from poets including Proust, Goethe and Celan in exploring his own emotional response, stimulated by living with these extraordinary images. 



 ‘leaves hold the idea of holding on …

I think that as I get older I realise that this is hard, that

leaves segue into the act of leaving.’

Edmund de Waal, Twelve Leaves, 2021



Norman McBeath RSA is a photographer and printmaker. The National Portrait Galleries in London, Edinburgh and Canberra hold over seventy of his portraits. His collaborations with poets, shown widely in Britain and North America, include Plan B with Paul Muldoon (2009), The Beach with Kathleen Jamie (2013), and Venice with Robert Crawford (2013). He was awarded a Fellowship at the Ballinglen Arts Foundation, Co. Mayo (2015) and subsequently invited to show work from the Fellowship in Between the Land and the Sea (2016) at the Keeper’s House, Royal Academy, London.

Recent exhibitions include The Long Look (2019) at Scottish National Portrait Gallery with Audrey Grant, and Holy Rood (2019) at The Fine Art Society with Robert Crawford. Holy Rood was recently acquired by The British Library, The National Library of Scotland, and Yale Center for British Art.


Edmund de Waal is an internationally acclaimed artist and writer, best known for his large-scale installations of porcelain vessels, often created in response to collections and archives or the history of a particular place. His interventions have been made for diverse spaces and museums worldwide, including The British Museum, London; The Frick Collection, New York; Ateneo Veneto, Venice; Schindler House, Los Angeles; Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna and V&A Museum, London. De Waal is also renowned for his bestselling family memoir, The Hare with Amber Eyes (2010), and The White Road (2015). His new book, Letters to Camondo, a series of haunting letters written during lockdown was published in April 2021. He was awarded the Windham-Campbell Prize for non-fiction by Yale University in 2015. In 2021 he was awarded a CBE for his services to art.

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