I ask a friend to visit me and to set out the materials on site. Over the past months him and I have discussed frequently the work, the site, my stay and the wider circulation of the drawing/contact methodology. He knows the work, has seen earlier manifestations in mid-December. After I ask him I resolve the Walnut tree piece along with the sewing machine and installation on the meadow. I wait for a dry(-ish) day in this fairly wet and mild May to move the furniture onto the meadow. I try and place the blankets before and by myself, the siting and placement of Im Walde had been resolved in January already (yet not in relation to the others).
The day eventually isn’t dry. The traffic high so he arrives a couple of hours later. We do a walk through the village, each carrying a blanket (and likely under the watchful eye of the entire village), we exit the village to the swimming pool, walk up the slope and pause once the transformer is in view.
I ask him to take some documentation photos. We climb up on the transformer together, he jumps forward, I tricep lift. He says his feet are getting warm from the energy underfoot. We jump down, unroll the graphite blanket, tie it as before (it is now in three parts, a tear happened on the December de-install when it was wet and soft), note how it shrunk over the time, barely covering the width at all. Then I roll out the luminous blanket and place it, adjust, readjust and we watch inside out.
We walk back round via the cafe to pick up some cake, have coffee and cake with my parents then load the other materials into the car, through the village again, watched again. We carry the furniture, not to the place I initially thought but much closer, it obviously needs to be closer to the blankets. Then we watch, wonder, step away, around and closer again. The feet on the spring meadow amidst white delicate flowers and lush green grass is quite something. That I hadn’t considered my gran’s sewing machine for almost thirty years quite another thing. I then begin to set up Im Walde, it takes a while, I seem to get lost in its chronology, we adjust a few sheets. Someone walks past, someone else again. They stop and we talk about the printed wood and my extended stay. I eventually ring my parents who arrive 30 minutes later and the next shower is beginning to threaten. I show them round, they play, we talk. They talk to the neighbour for a while who then steps closer and I show him around. Oh, by now it is raining and the sewing machine hidden under green cover. The cyanotypes are getting soaked and acquire much matter from the Douglas firs above. We stand under the fir on the edge of the site and marvel across. A huge rainbow eventually appears all and us.
I end up with a whole series of process photos and a decent amount of documentation too. The interrelatedness of the different works is difficult to convey visually, the atmosphere of the afternoon and the site similarly so.
(I eventually close my laptop at this point as a heavy shower seeks out the sheltered veranda table I am writing on these days).
So, the day was a drawing/contact event, not a documentation of materials but a testing out and probing how they work on site and with each other. The extent to which the placement of a rather delicate manual sewing machine from the mid-1950s works as resolution to hold the pile of delicate sheets that are another walnut tree and a potential blanket on this abundant spring meadow and in this site was quite something. While I understood it as a resolution I hadn’t quite anticipated the strength of this resolution and what this simple furniture placement would do to alter the site, its reach and resonance.
The site for the luminous blanket is similarly well chosen: there is a rhythm from both East (the village) and West (the forest) to the works, Im Walde and Walnut Tree are big, weighty works with extended outdoor cyanotype processes, they reach well beyond in scale and temporality. The two blankets are in contrast playful, light and airy, the tingle-tangle along, also in height: up on the transformer and half-way up some bushes. They are works to engage with, play with, touch, while the cyanotype works are visual, encountered from a bit of distance. In fact, my mother was the only one who touched the walnut tree sheets, noone stepped uninvited closer to the sewing machine.
I am pleased that Doug pushed me to consider site further and even though as the BoW presented is a series of four covers, not a site nor place, the siting of the objects and the environmental, physical resolution of it would not have been achieved if it wasn’t for my budging up against place and immersiveness.
That Research considers performance and the role of the body in drawing as much as it does is also beneficial for being able to understand this day as performative, as a trying out and testing and then also inviting people to explore it. Five of the six people who I met and I am close to in these nine months in Germany were present and explored the site and the work with me. They took different routes through it, my father sat on sofa I have been sleeping on for this time the next morning and was quite moved how his time recovering from the stroke (the period over which I was printing the walnut tree) was suddenly mingling with his mother’s work tool, which for all my memory stood in the tight corner of the small room which was my favourite childhood place. That all got rained on with the softest West Coast of Scotland weather (incl. a full luminous rainbow) is almost too kitsch to add to this, but of course I do.
See here for a series of pictures from the day to give a sense of the event and performative nature of it: