As it turned out I didn’t begin to make my piece today until I got on the train at Waterloo and although I was settled in well before the train set off, it was inevitable I couldn’t complete the task before we got going. So its creation spanned distance as well as time. That was actually important to the idea which related both to childhood train travel (most memorably in Scotland) and to the history of abstract art.
However I had forgotten to buy any stamps this morning so ended up delivering it by hand when i popped into Bridport to get a takeaway. This proved more complicated than I thought. First because the Thai restaurant I had chosen was closed for a couple of weeks! Then when I got to the Arts Centre there was a film in progress so I couldn’t get in and had to put it through the letterbox, quietly untaping it first where it had been secured to stop it flapping in the strong winds.
Today’s piece was created and posted in Birmingham (although the printed elements of the envelope were prepared yesterday in advance) and the picture above was taken in Victoria Square on the wall of the pool where some words from Burnt Norton, one of the Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot are carved:
And the pool was filled with water out of sunlight, And the lotos rose, quietly, quietly, The surface glittered out of heart of light, And they were behind us, reflected in the pool. Then a cloud passed, and the pool was empty.
But at present the cloud has permanently passed as the pool is drained and the fountains stilled presumably for maintenance:
To look down into the drained pool. Dry the pool, dry concrete
So there is a little touch of inspiration from Eliot and the light-hearted Brummie love of its public art. My picture of the Floozie says it all:
And of course behind and below the Floozie is Gormley’s Iron Man, a little of its magic rubbed off on me I hope, and round the corner is the Museum & Art Gallery with its great collection of Pre-Raphaelites amongst much else, though sadly I don’t think there are any Rauschenbergs there. And, of course, the stunning new library is not far away. I have been reading about Rauschenberg and looking at his work a lot recently. I think if I had become familiar with his work in the late 60s I might have studied painting rather than sculpture or perhaps I might have had the courage to be bolder in my sculpture. It is only today that I am really beginning to understand the very radical nature of his work and the interesting questions he has been asking through his career. His Erased de Kooning Drawing for example is intriguingly complex. Rubbing out Iron Man or TS Eliot is a little more difficult!
When I came to post No107 I was surprised to find the letter boxes at the Post Office had been painted white with no helpful patterns to educate you in how to post a letter.
And someone (is there anybody out there?) is bound to want to see the back of the envelope:
I made the decision long ago that I would not try to use sealing wax when I am away from home. Last time i was in Birmingham I used some spotty tape as a seal, I believe, but I forgot to take anything with me this time so created this custom seal. It was windy in the city today and a gust bent the letter at the moment I clicked!
I posted it in the box near to Gormley’s “Iron Man”. The box has a helpful picture of a hand and a letter. I was unable to replicate this with my letter as I was unable to get the envelope to stick to my hand long enough to get it in the box and soon gave up as it began to rain. Also I wanted to pop in and take a look at Grayson Perry’s tapestries as it would be my last opportunity to see them. They were quite entertaining, amusing and in places very beautiful but I’m not sure if I would feel the same if I hadn’t seen the TV programmes.
#Letter365 did a tour of Birmingham today. Here the picture shows No8 with Antony Gormley’s Iron Man behind with Birmingham’s beautifully restored Town Hall as a backdrop.
Today’s piece was a challenge for me. Last night I realised that I had forgotten to take the materials I wanted so changed to plan B until I realised I hadn’t got the makings of that second idea. It turned out well in the end and was something totally new to me in one way!
For those falling in love with the post boxes here’s a picture of a modern Birmingham facility:
An unfolding artwork created a piece each day for a year