It sometimes it is necessary to ‘step-off’ the rollercoaster ride of working life and find a place where time is measured by changes in light and tides and passing of long, quite days. Thanks to Karen Shepherdson, I have just returned from such a place, having spent nine days as Artist in Residence at the Old Lookout Gallery in Broadstairs in Kent, UK. The gallery is in an idiosyncratic old leaning weatherboard building on the jetty with views across the English Channel. It is slightly rough-hewn but beautiful. I found it deeply luxurious to sit and watch the sea whilst ruminating about the experience of being a body in light.
Outside the locals partied on the esplanade on Friday evenings, cooked welks in a large steaming pot on Sunday morning and spoke of the weather often. Day-trippers rolled in like a tide at 9.45am and rolled out again, significantly pinker, at 6.00pm.
Being there was all about rhythm, the rhythm of light, tide and life. My days went slowly and I spent my time researching and developing three light collection methods which will form the basis of my ongoing Museum of Light project. After some coaxing, all the techniques worked well and saw me observing, tracking and following light around the gallery space from dawn until dusk.
The result is a collection of photographic sequences, luminance and colour temperature data and visual and text-based observations of changes in light within a specific frame. My challenge now is to collate this data, investigate what correlations result from these different approaches and to produce a series of art works based on these observations.
The intended outcomes of the residency are a pocket sized publication titled ‘A Light Collector’s Field Guide’, a short film about light and global orbit and the addition of a new data set to the Museum of Light archive.
The reality of running away with the circus means many long hours animating in my studio. But since the clocks changed to summer-time I have been walking along the River Lee at 6am after leaving Richard at the train station. It is exquisite. The mornings are quiet and still and beautiful. Every day the world unfolds in slightly different ways. The swan swimming down river with its wings extended like an ice sculpture, mother duck with her brood of 15 tiny fluff-ball babies, the heron flying low and purposeful, the muntjac grazing unconcerned at the water’s edge, the conjunction of the rising sun and the setting moon, the hammering of a woodpecker and in the last two days, the first cuckoo of spring calling out to celebrate the morning. Perfection.
January and February have mostly been spent working on projects in the shed with selected days out for lecturing and socialising. After the creative development with Circa in Berlin over new year, the Carnival of the Amazing Animals circus projection animation is underway. Circa will be performing Opus at the Barbican in London next week, so there will be a few days of discussion and rehearsal while they are here. I have been working on the Lil’ Red music video with Stephen Lenman from Skopje. It’s a bleak little tale but highly appropriate content for animating through the dark, wet winter…hoping to complete and launch at the end of February. My PhD research continues with the ongoing development of Two Places I Call Home and A Collected History of Light. Discussions are also underway with Alison Gazzard about our next co-authored paper investigating light, maps, time and rhythm.
A still from the Lil’ Red music video currently in production for Skopje.
Rain dripping from the eaves of the shed is a daily feature in my view of the garden.
Image of the day is randomly selected from my library. Today’s image is from photographer Uta Barth’s book ‘In Between Places’.
A rare sunny morning and a perfect place to sit.
I have blisters and the muscles in my hands feel the work they have done today. I have pushed, pulled, coaxed and stitched two rolls into the arms of my little armchair. It is surprisingly tough work but it is very satisfying spending the day slowing down to traditional craft pace, learning new skills and proudly bringing the chair back to form.
Twenty two years ago, on the other side of the world, I bought a small, but lovely, arm chair with the intention of re-upholstering it. This week the project has begun, I have been peeling back the layers with great pleasure.
At last it seems the spring might really be here. We have our first iris blooming and the sun is shining warmly, we even ate our lunch in the garden this afternoon. To me it feels like it has been a long long winter and this brightness is surely welcome. It feels like its time to get a haircut, start planting and begin being a sociable creature once more. Here’s to a beautiful season.
Its a grey old day today, a day for snuggling in cashmere, drinking cups of tea and baking pear upside-down cake for a good friend’s birthday tea. Its been drizzling all day, the garden will be very happy. On the weekend we worked on installing our new (old) fire. its a little French multi-fuel enamel tower. I am looking forward to sitting by it in the evenings, it will be beautifully warm when it’s working.
This afternoon my beautiful German 1930’s railway clock has been returned to me, with new glass and an overhauled mechanism. I bought it somewhere in the suburbs of Adelaide, Australia with Helen Carter, we were supposed to be traveling to Uluru, but the car had broken down and we were browsing whilst waiting for repairs.
Today, when we hung the clock by the door in the lounge it wouldn’t run, so we moved it to the wall by the window and it is now ticking contentedly, filling the room with a warm and familiar beat. We all work more contentedly when we find our place, I have certainly been feeling that way of late.