Ipswich artist discovers rare notes in charity shop book find

Jason Kofi-Haye holding the book he found in Ipswich Oxfam

Jason Kofi-Haye discovered notes inside a book he bought written by artist Elisabeth Collins - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Notes written by a late British sculptor and painter have been discovered inside a book bought from a charity shop by an Ipswich artist. 

Jason Kofi-Haye, 43, bought the second hand book from Oxfam not knowing that it had once been owned by Elisabeth Collins, artist and wife of visionary painter Cecil Collins.

The book in question was Gurdjieff Making a New World written by J.G Bennett which Jason explained had influenced artists such as Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel. 

A close up image of the book Gurdieff Making a New World

The book Jason bought was Gurdieff Making a New World by J.G Bennett - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Jason initially picked up the book because it included themes that interested him and noticed that some of the pages had been annotated. But it was only a few days after he bought the book that he realised the extent of the notes. 

He said: "I saw bits and pieces in the book and I’m always a big fan of notes and annotations in books – I think there’s something really special about it.   

“But these notes are more exaggerated than normal,” he added. 

The majority of the notes had been written on the back of a Kensington and Chelsea council letter dated 1979 and referenced page numbers from the book. 

A Chelsea and Kensington council letter dated 1979

Elisabeth had written on the back of a Kensington and Chelsea council letter dated 1979 - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Some of the notes found in the book written on the back of the council letter

Some of Elisabeth's notes written on the back of the council letter - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

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Some of the notes read: “Man should be conceived not in terms of knowledge and being only, but rather in the elements of knowledge, being and will. 

“Man must live by conscience. 

“Faith, hope and love – the sacred thought,” it added. 

Jason said that he found Elisabeth’s name in the front of the book and a google search revealed that she was the wife of Cecil Collins and an artist in her own right.

Likened to visionary artist William Blake, Cecil Collins worked as both an artist and lecturer. Jason explained that a particular piece of Cecil Collin's work inspired him greatly. 

Elisabeth's name written in red ink at the front of the book

Jason found Elisabeth's name at the front of the book - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

“I’m a massive fan of his. When I went to Tate Britain, I saw a picture of his called Music of Dawn – it was a beautiful golden picture and it always stayed with me," he added. 

Jason will be using his discovery to add to the Power of Stories exhibition at Christ Church Mansion.

Jason's talk, Art Intervention: Here I am; the role of conscience and the inner voice in narrative structures, will take place on Twitter Spaces on October 14 at 7pm. To join see here.

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