My Marion Keene doll lives! Karin in the States has done a great job of bringing mini Marion alive. The doll is a combination of poses from Marion’s 50’s heyday and I am looking forward to her arriving safe and sound from across the pond.

As you can see, her eyes are blue. I was beginning to get a little concerned for the real Marion as I knew she would ordinarily have been in touch with the vital eye colour info I requested a couple of weeks ago. Eventually she was; well her neighbour rang me up following my letter. Seems Marion is in hospital having fallen and broken her hip. She is on the mend now though and I’m hoping my continuing interest in her on-stage career (albeit somewhat virtual now) might cheer her up.

As you can see, I have collaged her into a couple of scenarios just to get a feel for how she might look in situ. When eventually the doll arrives I plan a number of scenarios. Firstly she will be filmed rotating on a turntable in front of a green screen, so I can effectively ‘collage’ her in a variety of scenes that have other backdrops. In the one here, where she is stood in front of the band, you can just see the real 14 year old Marion sat with the band – looking forward towards the ‘future’ Marion. I’m not yet sure how this is going to work, but I like the juxtaposition, and a major element of this piece is concerned with images being moved through time so I will experiment with these ideas.

My second plan is to have her go on a little journey around Hartlepool. I want to see her in a shopping centre… in the Grand Hotel and perhaps stood on a table in the local Subway… oh and a trip to the Marina is on the cards too…and the (closed) cinema she used to bunk off to. I’m thinking that the juxtaposition of her glamour next to the actuality of the here and now might provide an interesting tension. She should really be carried around by a little girl… I need to work on that.

As I am considering how my own narrative will work, in an attempt to draw things together a little, so one of my hoarded historical objects has come into play. The object in question is the Olivetti Lexicon 80 typewriter… first made in 1942 and retired in 1968. It fits the Rink Ballroom period perfectly, and it so happens that I have one. Last night was spent pushing a cloth into the hard to get to places that have gathered fluff and other unsavoury material. On the one hand I like things to not be too joined up, life is by its very nature fractured (hence my multi-screen video arrangement) ; but I also want to construct a more linear story out of some of this material to act as a counterpoint.

To make another arrangement of history and to impose a hitherto non-existent narrative.

My typewriter will be the visual device for this. Amazingly you can still get ribbons for the Lexicon 80 on eBay so I feel a purchase coming on. The ribbon still works though, and gives an appealingly uneven texture to the hammered keys on paper, so I shall see how that goes before replacing it.

In the gallery context , I’m thinking it would further underline the leap of technology (or perhaps the non-leap?) to have this part of the piece played back on a laptop; ceremoniously placed on a plinth.

Of course…how many of these ideas actually make it into the final piece…is a definite known unknown, but I am glad to have reached this stage of experimentation for as you know dear reader…

…All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!