“Water is the eye of the landscape”
Water holds a lens up to the world through which one can experience it differently. It is an element easily entered but within which one cannot survive without adaptation. How we adapt and respond aesthetically is the substance of this blog. The circular swim through the Lakeland tarns is the heart of the artwork around which other work is orchestrated.
Back to the centre – the compass point. This belatedly added entry marks the end of the project and my reluctance to let it go. Writing the blog signals an ending but the thoughts and memories persist and as Richard says, will burn bright and inform new projects.
Already, Richard and I are developing new ideas, submitting new proposals drawing on all the accumulated ideas and experiences of the circle which in its turn drew on previous work.
The circle has become a tangible motif and rolls along quite happily.
Blea Tarn 24th June 2010-07-06
Back to the centre of the circle but via Harrop Tarn from Thirlmere rather than up from Watendlath. We enjoy this route and savour the ‘newness of return’ to an earlier swim that started the circle just over a year ago. There is the excitement of finding the first post used copiously by the sheep to scratch their ticks and the resultant subtle colouring that it imparted to the post, and of finding the tree alive – just – in spite of the drought and predations of the same sheep.
The swim itself is informed by the exhibition; all the elements of the show seem present here and add to it’s intensity so that the sensations of the place are invested with, and filtered through, the very different experience of the film, sound track, pictures, photos, talk, and general hype of preview night. The compound experience is almost too much to fully appreciate – thinking has limits and digestion of this project will spill out over weeks, months, and years into the future.
Brewery Arts Centre
The Monday following a well attended preview of the show, I received a telephone call from the Brewery. Did I know that one of my diary paintings had been damaged? A technician had observed an L shaped rip in the canvas and had removed it from the wall. When I realised which painting they were talking about I assured them that was how it was when I had hung it, damaged from a falling slate in the studio fire.
Putting up a show is usually like having a book published in that by the time it comes out in print, the next one is underway and the publication is history. With this show it was still work in progress with the final post and stone drilled to the wall. It had to be removed when we were ready to get to our final swim at the compass point of the circle, back where we started at Blea Tarn.
When I removed it towards the end of the exhibition I left a photograph of what it had been. No one observed me taking it down and I left with it in my bag ready for the last stage.
The Brewery Arts Centre 30th April 2010
Preview night of the exhibition and it’s underway – that cocktail of people and art brought together in one place for a brief encounter. Always unpredictable in it’s results and, seen from a particular point of view, as much a performance-piece as the swim-project itself, the opening night is another pool to dip into and savour – Jill and Pat working round the viewers offering sprayed samples of essence-of-Bowscale Tarn or Bleawater Tarn to cool fevered brows; the sound of trickled water in the background recorded from Bleawater Tarn sending who-knows-what messages to people’s minds and bladders; the acrid smell of Paul’s canvases rescued from the burnt-down Green Door studios mingling with the humid evening air – these are some of the ingredients contributing to the evenings unrecordable performance. Some swim in quite a different sort of tarn.
Gurnal Dubs 16th April 2010
What was the last swim round the circumference of the circle is the penultimate of the project. A final swim – a return to Blea Tarn, the start of the swim at its centre – will take place after the exhibition is up.
Strange feelings of ending persist though during the walk up and the swim.
Its familiar territory for us here. Gurnal Dubs was my first open water swim several years ago. It was a sudden decision to enter the water then – an April too, but so cold I couldn’t stay in for more than two minutes. This April its warmer – a pleasant cool.
Afterwards, Richard lolled on the bank near my stone post. I imagined all the waters we had swum in rippling through his head.