I spent last week in a quiet part of Cumbria. It was a working week but in a beautiful location away form home and studio. We made time to explore a bit as well, enjoying the sweeping views across the valley and the changing weather patterns.
Almost exactly a year ago I had a similar week working here and came across an old lime kiln that had been used recently as a bonfire site; a place to dispose of various bits of agricultural rubbish. You can see this structure on the picture above, in the middle near the bottom. What remained amongst the ash and nettles were various bits of metal, rusty and burnt. Some of these objects formed the starting points for a section of my Findings project. I brought this group of work back with me, intending to photograph them ‘on location’. So last Friday, with good light conditions and a pleasant breeze, the pieces accompanied me on a walk up onto the edge of the fell until I found a suitable limestone rock. This was within view of the old lime kiln and made a very suitable foil for my line of Findings.
I’m now in the midst of putting together the book to accompany the exhibition. This publication, like my previous self-published books, tells the story of the project. Images and words are gathered together from the places that sparked off the ideas, the making of the work and the finished pieces.
I’ve been finishing off various bits of work for Tide Marks. With less than two weeks to go until the opening it is finishing touches time. Amongst the work are five paper pieces with embossing and stitching on a scale that I’ve not attempted before. Stitching into paper this size (70 x 50 cm) provides certain challenges but I’ve worked away methodically at my kitchen table with the autumn light changing rapidly as the weather flits between sunshine and showers, the now cold wind carrying animated leaves past my window. This has been a more attractive place to work than my studio of late. I miss the eye onto the outside when I’m there.
These pieces are subtle, quiet. They change massively with the light: sometimes the embossed lines and stitches catching dark shadows so they look like drawn marks; sometimes the whole piece looking flat and empty. The space that appears empty from a distance is full of detail when you’re close. Space can be scary: it is tempting to fill it up, but just like silence that can be beautiful I hope the spaces can be too.
I went to Spurn last week to collect the rest of my work from the lighthouse. I also had various meetings to fit in that day but I felt it was important to allow myself a little time on the beach. The light was absolutely glorious.
I felt that I was going back to say goodbye, but actually I was saying ‘thank you’ and ‘see you again soon’. I now understand how Spurn is firmly under my skin.
There were various interesting items haning about on the beach. I’d seen this lump of metal on previous occassions and wondered about trying to collect it to use for printing. I tried picking it up… surely it was too heavy… could I bring the car closer? Not really… in the end I decided to carry it (struggle with it) the few hundred metres along the beach to my car. It now sits in my front garden waiting to be played with…
The last couple of weeks have been hectic. I thought things would calm down after the lighthouse exhibition weekend, but I’ve been as busy as ever. I’m still finalising some of the details of the Textures of Spurn gallery tour and have had various meetings and correspondance to do with that. I’ve also been fulfilling some small commissions – more on those in another post.
Yesterday I went to the The Hepworth and Yorkshire Sculpture Park on a little Richard Long pilgrimage. I’ve been an admirer of his work for some time but hadn’t seen any in the flesh. The exhibition at the Hepworth finishes this weekend so I just managed to catch it. It was good to see familiar works as framed images as well as actual work on the gallery floor. I struggled a bit with seeing such works in a stark gallery setting, especially with minimal interpretation for those visitors who might not be so familiar with his work, so I felt much more comfortable with his piece at the Sculpture Park.
The light yesterday was beautiful – a glorious autumn day with all the colours and smells to go with it.
I was as fascinated by the natural sculptures as I was the man-made ones and spent a long time with these silhouetted foxglove seed stems.