In my tiny stone studio, I am wearing so many layers of clothes I can hardly move. Knock large chunks of ice off my paint brush, which I had mistakenly left in water overnight. Find I can paint quite well with gloves on (years of practice).
I am painting the top surfaces of the stones white – to make them a little bit smoother and to help make the colours of my images more vibrant when eventually I stick them on. Fret about the colour of the sky images that I now have on my computer – I have rung two printers about costs and details – but all are closed for the holidays. Fret about my timing – if only I didn’t have so many other demands upon my time! But the truth is I can never really get fired up about a piece until I am right up against the deadline. I think I can squeeze in a few extra days ….
I work out ways of packing and transporting the stones to the Museum. I need to protect their paper surfaces, and make it as easy as possible for people to carry them. (Some of the slabs, I should say, are around three inches thick, and quite heavy and rough). I also need to make sure I have sole use of our shared car at the time of installation.
I muse upon why such a simple work and such a straightforward concept should require such complexity of planning and preparation. I believe that in simplicity lies the greatest mystery. But simplicity, it seems, is the hardest thing of all to achieve.
As I paint and occasionally chip off protruding lumps from the stone – I think of the space needed for the work to make its fullest impact. I think of museums, how to me they often seem cluttered: and I almost tip myself into panic at the sudden thought of Skystones, overwhelmed by paintings and artefacts. This will not happen of course.
Lunch, then down to the estuary to collect more stones. It is still very cold. Try out new flyers’ hat with fur lining that I got for Christmas and add a pair of knee length seafarers’ socks to my layers of clothing. The work is tiring, especially climbing back up the lane laden with stones. Why am I doing it? Because I have to; because being out in the landscape and the physicality of the work makes me feel myself as alive, and because this sort of activity gives me a sense of continuity with humanity throughout time.
Tonight, a quiet celebration with the family of another glorious New Year.
May 2009 bring more peace and more prosperity to more people.