Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Blue skys and seas

I spent my final day on Spurn filling the second gabion with Kilnsea stones and then wiring both gabions shut.

I left Spurn at 2pm but not before stopping to chat with Andrew who was collecting money from a fisherman at the high point on the road. We stood there chatting in what was unseasonably fine weather. Either side of us the road slipped down 20-30ft into the blue perfectly still clear blue waters of the Humber on one side and the calm sea on the other. The sky was reflected in the water and created the feeling that there was nothing but water on both sides as no land could be seen in any direction or horizon except up and down the narrow spit. The atmosphere was almost hypnotic. We both chatted and stood there, in the cool hazy sunshine as if in the centre of a mirage. It is moments like that which make Spurn so special. You often find yourself cut off from everything, including the weather. I will try to get back to the reserve over the next couple of weeks but I fear it may only be possible to go once in February. We shall see.

Andrew said that the high tides come at the beginning and end of February. Fingers crossed for all concerned that the road remains intact.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Stolen stones

I started the day at sun up, I say sun up but it actually failed to make an appearance all day. A grey wet soup was the prevailing climactic conditions. I took a packed lunch with me, thanks to my hosts at the B&B and began by parking just down from the bird watchers cottages where the road side is nearly level with the beach and collecting stones of various sizes and colours ranging between black and white.

I had not been lumping stones into the back of the van for more than 10 minutes when someone told me I would be fined £2,000 for doing so. I had to explain why I was there and that Andrew knew. I was left alone for the remainder of the day.

I spent the middle part of the day wiring the cages together and starting to fill them with the bricks I had collected the previous day. It soon became clear I had not picked nearly enough bricks, so I padded it out with some of the sea defence squares I had salvaged.

In the afternoon I was visited by Andrew and Fiona Wier (from the YWT) and we talked about their plans to have an artist in residence at all of their parks and reserves running up to the summer with a view to having shows in the summer. I said I would do anything to help but for the meantime watch this space.

Andrew agreed to my suggestion of placing a gabion on each of the tank blocks further down the point and Fiona liked the information points/ frames.

I spent the second half of the afternoon picking up more bricks and stones as well as several more concrete defence cubes. I reinforced the the second gabion to stop it from bulging at the sides and tomorrow morning I shall empty the brick test piece and reset it all over again, then crack on with the Kilnsea stone gabion.

On the way back to the farm I came across a large dear on the road, unfortunately it scrambled into the bushes before i could get a photo. This is only the second time I have seen one on Spurn although their hoof prints are everywhere.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Hod carrying up sand dunes

I finally made it back to Spurn late last night, 9:30 to be precise, after a day out in London with my son and the afternoon in the studio getting things ready. I spent the previous day chasing down my Gabions which I had been told would arrive in the morning and when they were still not there in the late afternoon I had to go out and find the delivery van (which had broken down) and transfer the contents over to my van.

I started this morning with a large breakfast and then got to work. I put up one of the gabions to get a feel for the size and volume, then set about collecting house bricks that had been washed up by the sea. How the house bricks will end up who knows but I need to start the process moving and take it from there, I have no doubt that this will develop beyond the bricks or even the gabions but for now I like the rounded pebble like bricks.

I collected one pile then moved on down the beach and started in another area. After unloading a tub full of brick I saw Andrew Gibson pull up to collect some money off the fisherman on the opposite bank, after catching up we discussed the gabions and some cautionary notes from Andrew as far as locations and contents, we also discussed the gold leaf and shot blasted railway chairs (not shoes). I showed Andrew the metal prototype of the Spurn Points picture frame. Andrew suggested some kind of stainless steal mesh base to help root growth around the base and to help anchor the stand naturally. We also discussed some minor changes to the text and wooden frame. We both agreed that the next stage was to produce the final versions.

I set about loading the piles of bricks into the van. I had to carry them up the sand dunes and into the back of the vehicle using a builders rubble bucket, it was coat, hat and jumper off work and as I finished the last load the sun came out and the sea dropped to a lazy calm. I took this as a sign and stopped for lunch.

In the afternoon I continued to collect more bricks, this time for the Humber side and further up the point, almost level with the Lighthouse. I also collected a number of the concrete squares used as part of the sea defences although I was unable to locate enough to employ them usefully (yet).

The van was now loaded with a considerable weight so I decided rather than put it under the unnecessary stress of a trip all the way back down the point I would instead pull up into the yard just north of the lighthouse and empty and clean the contents of the van leaving them in the open to get washed overnight by the rain that was now drizzling down.

On returning to my digs I used all of the remaining gold leaf to part cover the railway chair ready to show a couple of people tomorrow.

I think I have earned a pint and a pie in the pub tonight.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Workshops & Workloads

I managed to get the railway shoes shot blasted and picked them up before returning to work in the city. I was very happy with the results. I had to quickly spray them with WD40 to stop them from rusting over once more. Close up you can see the pitted texture of the metal. I'm not sure yet whether I will leave them as they are or cover one with gold leaf. I will think it over during the next couple of weeks as here is no rush with this particular piece.

I went around north London speaking to engravers and all of them were completely useless and totally overpriced £80 for the following text to be placed on the first stainless steal box section for the frame stands,

1. 1m3 has same calorific count as a Mars bar.

I realised late in my week in the studio that I already knew a guy, Alain, who has a great workshop full of laser cutters, profilers and computerised engravers as well as machines for turning out all sorts of precision, bespoke machinery. I met him through Tim Phillips, an artist from my previous residency at the Florence Trust, who used Alains services extensively and I had been to the workshops several times before to help Tim move work.

I left the box section with Alain once we had entered the text into the computer and he said he wold have it ready for next week. He would have done it there and then taking 30 minutes but i had not bet on this and did not have any money with me ad little time, which was a shame as I would have loved to see the machine at work.

I spent part of the afternoon looking at Gabions and some sculptural uses. Next week I shall order a half dozen to take with me to spurn. The following images were just some of the results of my search.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Snow Joke

The weather is terrible and not getting any better, its been difficult getting around London on foot and not much better in the van. I spent 10 hours in the studio between yesterday and today. I managed to clear everything up as well as unload the van and a load of equipment that I brought back down form the north.

yesterday I managed to get two of the railway sleeper shoes to a metal working company who will shot blast them clean ready for me to pick up next week before going back to work.

I had my metal delivered and started work drilling holes and measuring up. I need to buy some heavy duty tools. Hacksaws and files as well as new metal drill bits to complete the job on Sunday. On Monday I will drop the finished metal off with a welder and get the work done during the week.

I have been looking around for metal picture frames and I am finding it difficult to locate something close to what I'm looking for. most frames come in at around £30 and I'm not finding it easy to locate any frames that are anything other than a square box profile. I shall persevere however and also look at wooden frames. Maybe wood will be better and if vandalised made easily replaceable?

Anyway all stuff to think about. This week coming I will be ordering some Gabions ready to take with me back to Spurn. I need a new camera as well as Ive given mine to James (my son) for Christmas.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Happy New Year

Following an extended Christmas break I am gearing up to return to Spurn at the end of the Month from Sunday the 24th to the followingTuesday. I have some steel being delivered in the week for a prototype of the picture frames, ive picked up my sandbags from the north and have been working on further ideas involving Gabions.

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