Leslie Smith and Patrícia Portela
Hortus Conclusus is a collaborative project by book artist Leslie Smith and Portuguese author Patrícia Portela. Using fragments from Patricía’s novel, the collaborators arranged them into a bilingual prose poem. They set the text and mingled their sketchbook drawings to create layered imagery. To achieve a close collaboration it was important to work together closely on every aspect of the project. Experimenting with bilingual printing was also central to the book. The Portuguese text is printed in a robust black and the English translation is like a shadow printed beneath in grey. The book is a wandering through a strange garden. The narrator advances with trepidation asking, “If words were a physical substance…recorded in the mouth like the rings of the saliva tree. Would we be able to know what is left unsaid?”
The answer is a scene of dense overgrowth that the narrator and reader enter, discovering for themselves what is still left unsaid.