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I am now recording (with permission) conversations with friends which cover aspects of my practice that I want to research, the recordings are a not only a great way for me to revisit good ideas and thoughts but also to become accustomed to the sound of my voice. A number of close friends have suggested I record myself talking about work over the last few months perhaps as a desperate ploy to stop me talking to them! Seriously though, I am finding it valuable to save and remember moments that so often get lost and to capture it for potentially making new work in the future. The cadence and flow of conversation is interesting with different people – energy changes and habits play out. With groups of people conversation ripples, and over flows or crescendos then stops abruptly.

I had my 5th mentoring session with Judith Alder and we sat in the studio space I used for the residency at Ashburnham Place, rain showering heavily outside and the sound of the weir roaring in the distance.  We talked of recording voice, falling into traps, endings, new ideas, research, plans and artistic gamboling habits with open submission competitions.

One of my recent conversations was with a good friend, Vanessa Marr and I have her to thank for suggesting that over the next couple of months (allowing for school holiday madness and Ashburnham Place being closed to the public for a few weeks) I should take every opportunity to research the hell out of the sculpture….

So after discussing this with Judith, a plan is in place and I am testing out filming under water. Some surprisingly good results hvae come immediately, the camera I am using is very basic and annoyingly decided to have a hissy fit overnight and so would only turn on and record or turn off….so, grateful for these essential functions still functioning I dipped and dangled it in the lake aplenty.

I also tried floating paper and wire drawing on and in the lake.

The paper roll was fun because it started immediately unfurling when it touched the surface of the water and then slowly continued to unravel out into the lake.

I will go out next in a boat to the sculpture with the camera and a homemade contraption to use to control its position under water so I can film underneath the floating raft.

I will also take a length of string a split ring and a weight to attach it to the anchor rope and film it descending into the depths. I expect it will get too dark to see anything at some point but that will be interesting in itself and to see how deep this occurs and whether it will pick up the anchor at the bottom.

I cannot swim out to the sculpture in the middle of the lake due to insurance restrictions but I may be able to tow the sculpture to the swimming area and investigate further there if necessary.

The line of water half way across the lens is very seductive and gives a real sense of surface as a place in between. I am curious how to investigate surface and have only thought of floating other things on it, including myself and filming from that level. The images so far look strange as the perspective changes a lot when you are placed at water surface level, light and dark are much more extreme and it seems vast so scale is altered and somewhat reversed as the banks of the lake look small and the sloshes and ripples look like huge waves.

The other down side of the camera is that the water proof case has a ring to attach string to on the bottom so all the film so far is upside down…perhaps quite fitting given the reversal of scale and the other worldly quality of the surface.

I also have cleared out the studio space and it is looking very photogenic again so made some basic oak strip drawings in the space, partly because Judith and I had talked about the possibility of bringing the sculpture back to the drawing starting point, in some ways the starting point is outside where it is floating but also I did make lots of rotational drawings in the studio so it made sense.

We were curious to know if the scale of the work would look small in a confined space or large. So taking 6m strips of oak into the old pump house was also to see how they curved and pushed out against the walls – in initially they hung down the steps and pressed up against the back wall and then I played with hanging them over the beams and looping them along the back wall

One of them snapped in the process and that gave me different sizes to work with. I really liked the simplicity of the final two circles against the whitewash – the oak is a natural fit in that environment and the natural light is easy to work with.

More experiments to come as the researching the hell out of the sculpture continues!

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