What an odd start to the day. Firstly, the sea smells of fish. Undeniably strange, yet there is a disconcerting logic to it. Next, I saw a man taking a vacuum cleaner for a walk. I think I am quite pleased to get back to the studio and close the door on the world.
Started yesterday hoping to complete another work. I suppose it may seem as though they are coming thick and fast (and it will carry on that way for a while at least) but it is the final burst following a considerable amount of preparatory activity. I wish I could show more than little hints, but I don’t want to reveal too much until I have some of the others finished.
Got back from Studio 22 late afternoon – Yes! I finished the piece I was hoping to, and I am very very happy with it. It’s barking. Absolutely barking.
Next, The Plan. Well, not so much a plan as moving into the process of considering and clarifying what comes next. The work on its own isn’t enough. Osmosis is too slow and serendipity too unreliable. I have some ideas, time will tell if I have the balls.
Time has just about ended at Studio 22, so it’s back to the studio at home shortly. I will miss it.
Just I was heading out the door to go to the beach yesterday morning, the postman delivered a letter from France. It is one I had been expecting sooner or later, telling me that my great friend Georges had died. I knew, I think, that when he returned to Paris last autumn, that I would not see him again. He had been suffering from a degenerative nerve disease which had already begun to affect his ability to walk, and was spreading. Although he was in his seventies, he was frustrated that because of his illness – not his age – he was unable to help me work on the roof. We used to joke about various Heath-Robinson contraptions we could make to hoist him up there. Of course, we both knew the reality of the situation – which we kept to ourselves. He was extremely intelligent – he had been a chemical engineer – and had a wonderful, wicked sense of humour. When I returned to France briefly last autumn, I had found a letter waiting for me, in which he, and another friend, had described me as their ‘brother of the heart’. It is a literal translation, but you get the idea.
I don’t want to sound sad about this. I will miss him, but I remember him with affection and happiness. All the same, I was glad to have the beach to myself this morning. As I climbed up the shingle banks to head back, I noticed how much the rough weather had altered the shape of the beach. The beach may change, but it will always be the beach.
What does this have to do with my practice? Well, my work isn’t always based on things in my life, but things in my life certainly have an effect.
A few hours in the workshops yesterday morning and I produced key components for a work which has been waiting to appear outside of my imagination and a few sketches for almost a year and a half. This gestation period was partly to do with developing the idea, partly to do with finding certain pivotal materials. They all depended on each other. I took these secret bits and bobs back to studio 22 and started to assemble the work. I have more to do, but I can tell you that it looks how I wanted it to look, it says what I want it to say, and it made me laugh out loud.
Spent part of Monday researching textiles and other materials. This involved going round shops including Matalan, Primark, and Wilkinson’s. I realise I must have looked highly suspicious studying various odd articles in minute detail, not least because I came away empty handed. I came away to reflect, so I have to go back. Keep your eyes peeled for an appearance on Crimewatch…
Every once in a while I have to remind myself that I enjoy the bad weather as much as I enjoy the good. Yesterday morning was one of those times. I know, for sure, that this is merely a state of mind, heavily – if not completely – influenced by mood, energy and countless factors other than the weather itself. That makes me feel better about it, and the reminder apposite and worthwhile. Often, when I write, I also have a metaphor in mind. This is one of those times.
Settled on materials, and started paint on another work. I suddenly realised that I now have less than two weeks left in studio 22.