All over! Well not really; the exhibition has just opened, I’ll be back in ten days to do some artist workshops for children and there’s still the de install to think about, not to mention the floor cleaning which still awaits in Roskilde. But it feels as if it’s over, after the massive effort of recent weeks.
I got there though: not exactly as hoped or expected but pretty well all things considered. I have been touched by several comments in recent days: Axel Arnott the curator of the show saying he thought the finished piece retained all the energy of the original maquette, the site manager Niels Østergaard telling me I’m a five star artist, and Nathaniel Rackowe, fellow exhibiting artist telling me he thinks my work is among those in the show genuinely of international contemporary art standard. It’s not that my head is swelling, nor do I want to boast, but after such an intense effort, these remarks mean a lot.
Thursday, the last day before the opening, was the final push. I began with a feeling of euphoria that it really was, and had to be, the final day of hard labour. This was quickly replaced by a feeling of serious fatigue. I rapidly changed my planned working schedule to concentrate on the rear of the piece. Perhaps it was the thought of journalists appearing, who never materialised! But also I realised that without graphite and glaze on the rear the piece wouldn’t be finished; a situation I could easily have got into if I wasted too much time fiddling on the front.
This was a good strategy because the graphite was a steady, rhythmical job I could get my teeth into and see progress with. Even so by the time the glaze was finished..glossy to my satisfaction but catching a multitude of flies, it was already late afternoon. I was still determined not to miss out completely on the cocktail party, but could see my deadlines slipping. It took a real effort to start sanding, washing and masking again, let alone to get that paint gun out one more time. Just before that happened, a friendly Australian artist turned up, plonked himself down on the grass and just started talking to me. I felt half brain dead and like I really only needed to carry on mechanically..incapable of speech. But actually I think it helped spur me on, having the company. Right at the end, a bunch of the site crew turned up saying; if you want help it needs to be now, we’ll be too drunk in half an hour’s time! That also helped me wrap up; they got me a plate of food and even invited me to go skinny dipping with them to clean up!! (An offer I had to decline).
So, after some last minute touching up, I did get to the cocktails, though I did find my enthusiasm for the party was a little half hearted; I was just too tired and not drinking while those around me started progressively to slur their words. I was glad to leave when I did though, since I caught the last bus out to the campsite. Friday, the Constitution Day holiday here in Denmark, was the official opening and the sun shone as if it had never seen rain in Århus. A lot of people turned out, and I was bemused to see a number of children happily climbing right into my sculpture. No point intervening; I found I had let go by now, having no more energy to expend on it, and besides it was nice to see them enjoying it. It did require a certain level of trust in the construction though!
A ‘recovery’ party/champagne buffet on the terrace of the Helnan Marselisborg Hotel provided another opportunity to talk to people while feeling slightly more with it.
Yesterday, Saturday, we left the exhibition alone entirely and visited the wonderful Moesgård archaeological and ethnographic museum. I say visited; we didn’t actually go in; not being capable of any brain effort, and having Zach with us, we were primarily interested in seeing the building itself, which only opened in October 2014. Impressive but not beautiful was my first impression of the giant wedge shaped bunker up whose sloping grassed roof you can walk to enjoy far ranging views of the countryside around. But it grew on me during the day we spent there and I came to like the contrast between the white concrete wedge and the greenery all around.
We got takeaway lunch from the typically stylish museum restaurant which we were able to eat like lunching farmworkers sprawled in a country by way that runs down the hill just 500 yards from the museum. It reminded me of an ancient West Country droving route; lovely. Afterwards we explored some of the old museum grounds; a huge manor estate stretching through landscaped grounds, meadow and woodland down to the sea. As the weather had finally settled to a summer’s day, it was idyllic.
And today, Sunday, we left Århus, after a last walk through the woods to see more of the finished sculptures and say farewell to House of Cards (for now). I was a little sorry to leave my woodland home of the last few weeks (the hut) but glad to be heading home. I’m bound to feel slightly anti climactic after such an effort but I’m also glad to be restoring a little more routine and stability to Zach ‘ s life.