I went back to Aarhus this week for a quick 2-day trip, doing children’s workshops, more like ten minute chats with groups of children (I have been amazed and impressed by how many schools and kindergartens have been bringing their groups to the exhibition).   I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, despite the fact that on Day 2, guess what?  It rained cats and dogs!   I found that the experience of having to try and engage the children with the sculpture, in not very much time, together with their questions and comments, was very focusing for the mind.  It really made me think about what I had really been doing with the piece was to try and find ways of representing ‘abstract’ qualities of personality, like shyness, self defensiveness, secretiveness, feeling ashamed of something and so on…   It was fabulous to see recognition dawning on some of the faces, when I got them to think about how you can represent a person other than in a conventional way of drawing a head, face, body, two legs and arms.

I also got to see the rest of the exhibition, and to take a wonderful bus ride round the bay to Ebeltoft, a picturesque seaside holiday village, where they have a fairly unique glass museum set up by Finn Lynggaard in 1986.  Lyngaard was a pioneer, who introduced the concept of the art studio glass (as opposed to industrial glass made in factories) to Denmark in the seventies, after being inspired by Harvey K. Littleton in the United States.   Glasmuseet Ebeltoft is currently showing an exhibition: DG15 40 Years of Contemporary Glass in Denmark.   I was interested in seeing it because I would like to try working with glass again; after doing a little glasswork on my foundation course, and have tentatively been talking with the curator of the exhibition, Torben Jørgensen about this possibility.

Back to Aarhus on the bus, the trip reminded me somewhat of the north west coast of Scotland, minus the mountains of course.  And I had a slightly disappointing fish and chip dinner by the river that runs through Aarhus which was uncovered recently having been cemented over in the 1970s.

Here are some photos of the rest of the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition which I saw the following day.  I was particularly impressed by the way these pieces sat thoughtfully in their environment, either reflecting it (literally or metaphorically in some way), and in some cases contrasting with it to dramatic effect.



I knew that a nasty job awaited me after the exhibition opening; namely cleaning up the floor in Roskilde, but quite how nasty, I wasn’t aware. I am writing it up as a blog post because I think it presents important lessons in terms of renting additional workspace for temporary production of artworks.

On the first day back from Aarhus I went to work on the floor; scrubbing it with a steel scourer and concentrated cleaning fluid. Despite being water based paint, it was hard work to remove it. Eventually it was coming off, but it was leaving a dull mark where the high gloss of the epoxy floor paint had also been scrubbed off.   I considered, that being a workshop, this was acceptable, but I was to find out that it was not.  After two days’ scrubbing (approx. 10 hours), I had done about half the floor, and was told by Lars, the carpenter who had negotiated the space, that he didn’t know if it would be acceptable.   I had to call the owner of the space who agreed to come the next day and take a look.  The next day, Wednesday, I learnt that it wasn’t acceptable to the owner; he said that the floor had been freshly painted and in order to rent out the space he needed it returned in the same state.  Lars had known this he said; why hadn’t we put down plastic before painting.  

I tried to explain – in Danish – that I had protected the floor as far as possible, with cardboard and plastic, hence the minimal marks, but I had come into a situation where large, 200kg, sections of sculpture had already been set up and screwed together for stability, with no plastic underneath.  Mikkel – the lead carpenter – had then gone on holiday leaving me to paint, and while I could ask Lars and his helpers to move occasional pieces, I wasn’t made to feel that I could ask them to completely rearrange the whole workshop.  Besides the moment to lay down plastic would have been before arranging all the pieces for painting.  Not acceptable of course.  Lars offered to help by finding the number of the painter who had done the job – rather condescendingly, he said he should call the painter first to explain in Danish so I could then call and he would understand!

When I reached the painter by phone, on Thursday, he told me that the paint was even more expensive than I feared: £150 for 3 litres; he estimated that a full coat of the floor would require 20 litres!  He was amazingly helpful though in that he said he could come on Sunday to meet Radu – who had offered to do the painting so I could avoid the fumes, being pregnant, and give him some of the paint (which we would pay for of course) since it was only sold to ‘professional painters’.    We decided it was best to attempt a retouch rather than a full coat.  On Friday I went back to scrub again for 6 hours; not to completely remove the rest of the paint, I didn’t have time for that, but at least to remove most of it, so that one coat of floor paint would suffice.

By this point Mikkel and Lars had clearly washed their hands of the whole situation: both had told me in no uncertain terms that it was my responsibility and mine alone to return the floor in the original condition: despite never having told me the terms on which we were renting the space in the first place (to be returned immaculate), and the fact that they were essentially responsible for the mess.  Lars telling me that he had offered me plastic free of charge missed the point completely;  I could not insert plastic under 200kg sections of sculpture alone and they should have done it.

A big lesson learnt: if you rent a place via someone else, make sure you find out under what terms it is being rented before you start work so you can’t have the responsibility suddenly shifted onto you retrospectively as happened here.

Radu went yesterday to paint; he was pleased with the result he had achieved with the five litres of paint the painter gave him.  He returned the keys to Lars and if there are any further complaints from the landlord we will abdicate further responsibility. In the end there is no contract linking us to that space.  Sadly, I won’t be working with either Lars or Mikkel again; communication is of the essence and it was lacking here; in fact any recognition of its importance was lacking and worst of all, instead of apologising, they abdicated responsibility.




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.


I was up at 4.50 this morning to get a train to Århus that would get me in for 10am. I returned to the hut at 10pm! My day at home was worth the five hour journey though. We kept Zach out of childcare for the day and he and I went into Copenhagen and visited the wonderful blegdamsremisen play centre for children which has a 0 to 3 year session on Tuesday mornings.  It was so restorative to be home and spending some time with family.  Today has been gruelling again though.  As feared, the angle into the rear ‘swinging’ panel is too wide meaning the triangular sections were not long enough. I had to make the painful decision to leave a gap at the front, on the right side.  I preferred that option to the suggestion of hacking the end off the swinging panel with a circular saw!

Only just managed to put a couple more coats on the rear which I must graphite and glaze in its entirety tomorrow. Moreover the front still has blemishes aplenty some of which I can try to remedy, others might be best left. The overall quality of the surface finish is not what I’d have hoped, but I think the rain and damp is partly to blame for that.  Tomorrow the press preview is at 11am, no hope of being finished for that but I’d like to make the cocktail party at 7.  What do we slave for months for if we can’t make the party at the end..?


A crazy couple of days. Up at 6, leaving my hut at 7 and walking through the woods to the site. That and the breakfast call home helped me overcome the weariness, stiffness and footsore-ness to face the day ahead. Yesterday was very difficult weather wise and I don’t feel very proud of how I handled it. I really started to feel frustrated and stressed. The problem was that even a short rainshower would halt the painting for ages as it was damp air and the droplets would remain on the surface for ages.  I retreated to the rear side and we had to abandon all efforts at 6, wrapping the facade up for the night once again.  All this without even mentioning the fact that my paint gun chose this moment to give up completely; I tried flushing it through,  taking it apart, but finally was forced to go to buy a new one..driven by the gorgeous young Sofus in his camper van home. .

The evening was saved by the fact that I went for dinner with my neighbouring artist, Hilde Danielsen from Norway, and her helper. I like her piece, Time goes by, very much and it was a convivial evening.  Radu and I talked as usual in the evening and the result is I’m now on my way home as planned (this time on the ferry crossing to Sjælland which is rather nice since it’s such a fine evening), but will go back again early on Wednesday to continue.  Tomorrow, Tuesday’s, forecast is for rain all day anyway.

Today was the first fine day, with the exception of a few showers around lunchtime. I worked almost exclusively on the front and have effectively finished it. In some lights and from some angles it looks good, others are less flattering, just like a person I suppose. It’s not the perfect,  flawless result I intended but it’s not terrible and certainly I feel it’s a minor triumph given the adverse conditions.  I was nervous about the weather but could never have anticipated such a washout!