cool, misty

a final visit
at the end of a project
au revoir to a summer fling
with a kind of freedom

speeding along
near empty roads
all the way
leaving Calais behind
heading south
arrive at the chateau
mist hangs around
the tops of tall trees
the gates are wide open
and the yard
is knee deep
crispy yellow leaves
H greets us
well wrapped up
and smiling
a young girl’s smile
she says she’ll call us in for tea

we un-install and dismantle
unscrew and unfold
the structures
wipe away dust and sand
from the photos
that are bowed
with damp autumn air
a summer’s work
is suddennly reduced to a pile of sticks
a stack of card
photos, acrylic, mirror, card
layered and stowed
in the back of the car
sad to leave behind
the bits that won’t fit
the red-satiny covered corrugated steel
the fitted doorway frame
the traces of a month long adventure

and then
we are drinking tea
all sitting neatly
at the round table
in the formal sitting room
portraits of grandmothers,
great grandmothers, husbands
watch over us
weak sunlight stipples the room
ancient golden curtains, spotted mirrors
shadowy furniture, lurk at the edges
around the table we are 6
H and her childhood friend
who has no english,
plus two woofers,
one from america
a taller one from Russia
they pour tea
serve chunky pear crumble
make polite conversation
we all sit quite still
like characters in a film
waiting for the next line
the log on the fire crackles
though it’s not very cold
and a record player spins out
Mendelssohn …I think
the moment
is hallucinatory
in its clarity and strangeness
…and then it’s over
and we find ourselves decanted
into the garden
H leads us round
peering at old photos
brownish, 70’s and out-of-focus
mounteed on sticks that stab the lawn
for Heritage Open Days
telling the story
of the family
H as a child, as a bridesmaid
to a cousin in a couture dress
with her mother, brother, sister
awkwardly standing
by the once formal flower beds
rammed with upright plants
dark orange plumes on parade
behind pale yellow tight-headed flowers

before leaving
H gives us kilos
of stubby pears
from her prolific tree
and an armful
of black blistering walnuts
glancing around
through the wispy air
at the solid slab of chateau
with its pale-green shutters
the massive trees shudder
and shed, as we watch, their leaves
and suddenly there’s a whiff
a feathery touch
a deja vu moment
of long-gone summer days
passing in an orderly way
….. slowly
one by one
days of being alone
in my head
making, thinking, dreaming

and so it’s really over
a sabbatical
a summer job
working away from home
intense and lucid
ponderous and tense
fraught with potential
and unreliable dreams
but, out of this disarray
new directions call
different ways of thinking linger on
connecting, diversifying…
making assemblages
small things, piles of things
informal, leaning things
insouciant and casual things
unforced …



trying hard to keep in mind
the place
the air
the openess
of the chateau
but it arrives
momentarily and
then slips away again
to practicalities then
what will fit in the car
what will last
in the damp petite maison
don’t want things to
unpaste themselves
curl at the edges
wet mount photos
repeat and make patterns

have made some
diversions into assemblages
of objects and their photographs
a kind of portraiture
for the discarded object
questioning perhaps
what is real and what’s an image
and how do they relate
a reminder of Steyerl’s
defence of the poor image
digital files turn to prints
that become photocopies
and Instagram moments
which are blogged
and transmitted
into the ether
liked, ticked, loved
commented on
and ignored

another diversion
perhaps more romantic
is into mantelpiece art
ha ha – a new (!) and strange format
but a riposte
to the fleeting
and hidden corners
of this
19th century chateau
which somehow feels
suffused with Flaubert’s
her aspirations, fantasies
longings and obsessions
her need for
love, romance, society
furniture, fine clothes
position and parties
seem to reverberate in
the ancient wallpapers
and thick drapes
the meandering maze
and scented sunny lawns
in the potager and rasberry canes
in the stone floors
and brightly coloured paintwork
the spotted mirrors
throwing back at you
the hazy light
seeping through the shutters
on a sunny afternoon
throwing back at you
a procession of
women sequestered
by the stifling conventions
of previous centuries
Hedda Gabbler
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Lily Bart
Mildred Pierce
Blanche Dubois
etc etc

a last minute project
to finalise and get to printers
it’ll be a stretch…


hot sultry

its not over till its over
three weeks after
leaving the sunlit and
halcyon days
in Sacy-le-Petit
being secluded like a nun
…apart from internet
being intensely focussed
thinking, making
developing, testing
reading, talking
eating, drinking
and now
other stuff fills my head
and time
thinking of
caring for, catering for
indecision is one problem
and interrupted thoughts
am not often
methodical, systematic,
going one step at a time
but tend towards mosaic thinking
normally assigned to a younger generation
piecing things together
going on a bit of a journey
arriving at unexpected destinations
but here and now
it’s a dark night
of a mind
where a few lights
suggest a word, thought, action, image
briefly illuminated
grasped, examined
kept or discarded


cool and a bit autumnal

already the residency
is slipping onto the
back burner
everyday stuff interlopes
food, family, bills
finding work
but there is still
work to do
which images to print
size, backing, resolution
which fabrics to fold and drape
which structures to keep
whether to develop the zines
testing stuff on the photocopier
finding ways to preserve things
to survive outside
much imagining
which is quite hard
being on the spot,
as this residency has reminded me,
is so important
chance encounters
changes in light
odd juxtapositions
are critical
to thinking and


cool, dark

arrived home
late last night
weary, hungry

it’s been over 5 weeks
nothing much has changed
all is familiar
prosaic, calm
there’s tea and toast
and a little time
to reflect
then it’s onto
planning the next phase
of the residency
planning and preparing
printing and constructing
the final pieces
to complete
a body of work
for the vernissage
in September

Like Cocteau’s Orphée
searching for unknown poetry
there lingers a hankering
to find those
elusive moments
that inspire the work
for now
the Château de Sacy
is only visible
as if through a mirror
of dreamy recollection
a rose-tinted interlude
of uncertain fumbling
leaps of visualisation
colliding imagery and
intense creative endeavour
yet from this
something solid
something real
must come