Saturday 11 April 2015 – the final day of the #Letter386 installation in the Allsop Gallery at Bridport Arts Centre – saw the destruction of the unopened pieces. Fortunately there was a last minute reprieve for a further 3 months so in the end only a little over 80 pieces were torn up be me with a little help from my friends.
More than 75% of the work was saved from destruction and in so many ways the whole project was a great success with lots of great feedback and visitors returning 4 and 5 times to see the work unfold as new days were revealed. For me the greatest pleasure came from seeing how many people were prepared to spend the time to let the work weave a story with them. The number of coinciences was phenominal and I hope to write about some of them in the coming days.
And what of the remains of the unopened ones. The sack is in my studio awaiting my attention. The initial plan of a public conflagration had to be shelved because of bureaucracy and the shredding didn’t happen as I couldn’t get my hands on a sturdy enough shredder in time so the letters and contents are mostly in quarters or smaller, all mixed up. Before this I had been toying with making some work out of torn up paper stuck back together: like letters from someone’s bin. I never realised I could have the perfect source of materials! At present I think it is likely I will pulp it all further and make paper out of it. Decisions still to be made!
It’s been a busy couple of days and I was totally exhausted. I have finally managed to put this image of the very last one. As you can see from the envelope it contains a wad of fifties and genuine artwork by the Chapman brothers. Of course nobody will believe that but it really is true!
I couldn’t manage to organise a celebrity to deliver the last one (nor all the other ideas I had for the launch night) so i gave the last one to Bob Dron, who was helping me install the work, to carry in to the gallery.
I will sift through the images that others have given me of the opening and perhaps put a little gallery up of the PV and the installation in the coming days as well as documenting the unfolding evolution of the work and any pieces I create in the Gallery during the exhibition.
The installation of #Letter365 has begun and you can see from the photo how this project and installation relates to my field drawings. This is just a detail of the first two months to be put up. When complete there will be almost 30 metres of envelopes in the grid and then the regular grid will be disrupted as the sold items are opened and the contents spill out, some requiring the moving of other envelopes. I am finally beginning to get excited and confident that it will be OK.
In my earlier post today I mentioned my abiding interest the interplay between order and chaos and how a stream of my work is made up of many repetitive actions interrupted and disturbed by random chaotic influences. This piece, Mystery Evolves, which I completed a few days ago, is an example of just such a “field” drawing. And while this piece will not be exhibited in my #Letter365 show at Bridport Arts Centre it is relevant to both the project and the installation. The year-long project has been a repetitive action – the daily creation of an artwork and its dispatch to the Arts Centre – which has been affected by unruly elements sometimes beyond my control. The installation will be an ordered arrangement of the envelopes interrupted by the opening and display of the contents – and who knows what else.
I will be exhibiting some of field drawings and tidelines pieces with the #Letter365 pieces to help place it into a broader context of my current work.
It’s odd how my brain makes me think about things and how I sometimes can feel that some images I create are only of worth to me, that nobody else will be excited or interested. With today’s piece I crossed a line I had been keeping myself behind but wanting to cross before and I have managed to do it in a way that brings together so many of the things I am interested in visually. It is firmly rooted in the work I have been doing over the last couple of years and says much about how I see the artist’s role (as indicated by the envelope message), as well as linking into certain aspects of the history of modern art. I’m delighted with the result and yet there is a little voice in me that says it’s nothing special!
I have just spent the last hour or two trying to track down the sudden slow running of my PC. It’s a pretty powerful machine and it is not often that I have cause to complain at its speed and capability even when editing multiple large images. I quickly found that none of the processes were using much CPU power so I looked at the services and found something using 25%! It turned out to be the monitoring system for my UPS. I updated the software and immediately the problem went away. But of course while looking under the hood I happened to notice a couple of other things using more than they should. Of course I have no clue what most of these things are and what they do so I end up reading forum posts and trying to track down why these things are misbehaving. They are not affecting the system enough to slow it up or cause me any problem at all and yet I am spending an hour or two trying to get a solution when I should be writing this and a hundred other things. But of course it is because I have a brain that does that kind of obsessive hunting that I have taken on #Letter365 and am carrying it out in this way!
Which brings me to the fact that I have not had a day off for almost 2 years! I think it is now 672 consecutive days that I have created a piece for either #Collage365 or #Letter365 and for a few weeks both. Most of the time it’s fine, usually more than fine, but occasionally I wish I could cheat. Like tomorrow we are going to be away and I don’t want to do my #Letter365 there so I will have to do it in the morning and I may end up restricted by time and may not have the full range of materials open to me because of drying time, say, or getting-it-wrong-a-few-times time, or run-out-of-ideas time. How great would it be if I had already created tomorrow’s artwork? But of course that goes against the whole idea of the project. However, that reminds me, there is nothing to stop me at least doing my envelope in advance.
There is nothing to say about the fact that I am saying that I am saying nothing in the messages on the front of the envelope that are not actually messages merely an explanation of why there are no messages.
But for the one person who might be missing my weather report, it’s very windy.
The piece inside may or may not have any connection to what is written on the envelope, though one thing is for sure none of the envelopes contain a live cat or any other sentient being. Neither has an albatross that has been in contact with this piece or its envelope nor has it been made intentionally wet by seawater from such a bird. It could be argued that there is no completed artwork inside until the envelope is opened! Did Schrödinger use a cat in his problem to shock or cause us to think in a different way? Have I put live artworks in these envelopes along with a small radioactive source and a vial of art poison (carefully shielded so the artwork cannot tamper with them)? After an hour will any of the artworks be dead? By the time the installation opens in March 2015 will all the pieces be dead? If so will they have died of natural causes, starved by my cruel confinement of them or poisoned by the experiment. Were they dead to begin with? How can we tell if the art is dead or just sleeping?
I did an hour and a half work in my sketchbook before breakfast today (and I have just done similar this evening!) and I did a large drawing (may not yet be finished) at the studio plus some sorting out there. It’s so great to be able to spend some real time on my work rather than only being able to make time for this project. I know I need to put this project in high gear very soon if it is to be a real success, but I need to do some other things first if I am to retain a semblance of sanity.
Having really prepared everything for a productive time at the studio I realised I had forgotten to take the envelope I had printed. Head next!
An unfolding artwork created a piece each day for a year