Monday, 29 March 2010

A week at work

In my periods away from Spurn I am usually in London where I spend some time in the studio and some time working in the city as a personal assistant to a lawyer.

I get my own corner office where I can do paperwork, order materials and draw up plans. This is a very useful time and space as it allows me to do all of the things that I can not do whilst at the Point or in my dusty studio with no wifi.

This week I have been finalising the designs of the stands with the metal supplier and placing the order ready for delivery later in the week.

I have managed to place an order for fine casting plaster from the Bethnal Green Travis Perkins depot (only one in London that seems to have it), draw up the email invite, sort photos and finalise images, of which these are just a few.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010


Started the day early and was once again blessed by calm seas and blue sky's. Between 7 and 9am I finished off the Gabions, just minor details using small stones to fill holes and cracks left by the bigger ones. I took some images and then moved up the Point to the visitors car park.

I went off into the thick brush to photograph the lager room I had found only yesterday. I have been coming here for 15 years and only found this room yesterday, this should give you some idea to just how overgrown and hidden by sand and thorns that most of the military ruins are. What you think are sand dunes or grassy hills are with closer inspection large rooms and hidden corridors, a vent here a door there, an old rusted periscope protruding through the undergrowth.

Once Id taken the pictures i went in search of drift wood, found some and headed back to the van (a long walk in the sand) It was on the way back to the van that I began thinking about all of the debris in the form of plastics that wash up at the end of the point in particular. The plastic bottles of all colours, some translucent and some sand-blasted opaque lying around at the high water mark. I decided then and there to use the bottles rather than the fishing twine. Maybe placing a bright light at the centre of the spare gabion and then surrounding it with the plastic bottles, playing with ideas of light, stained glass windows and human waist.

I took the refuse sacks out of my tool box and headed back around the point past the RNLI jetty. By the time I reached the end of the point I head filled 4 large bin liners with assorted plastic bottles. I returned to the van and then started work on the sea side of the point, once again returning with four large sack fulls.

I had done all I could do for the day and decided to leave hoping to catch Andrew on the way out.

I met Andrew at the Gate entrance to the point and we discussed opening up the lighthouse and using it as a studio next time I'm up as well as the final show and the situating of work in the large hidden room. We drove down to Andrews office together quickly and he gave me my old project folder so that I could retrieve some of the historical images that I had lost on my own disc copy, they may yet come in use.

I will return to Spurn in two weeks and look forward to working inside the light house manufacturing the bullets. I headed back to London via dinner at the Humber Bridge followed by Leeds and the Black Lab meeting that I attend fortnightly finally getting back home at 1.30am

Monday, 22 March 2010

One job ends and another begins

I spent the morning from 7am collecting the last of the stones and filling the last cage. After wiring up the sides I took a step back and must say I was very happy. I finished the job by getting rid of any left over stones and bricks clearing up the van and having a short break. The time was now 11.30am.

I got wrapped up and headed out and over the sand dunes from the car park where the life boat cottages used to be. I took a tape measure note book and shovel. I spent some time going over and through the sand dunes looking for appropriate buildings to excavate but there was nothing that wasn't to small, to buried or to used as a toilet. I went further towards the end of the point and went around all of the sites I know of. Finally I came across a building/ room I don't think I had ever been in. The door was very overgrown but once inside the space was amazing. 8m/6m and tall with sand sloping from end to the other in a slow incline, windows and doors, so just enough light and just enough cover. The most important thing was however, that it wasn't full of plastic bags full of fisherman's waist and their was no digging require.

On the back wall next to one of the small doors was some writing amongst the graffiti NCO ARCEEF, i think? anyway it was an obvious mark from the military days of Spurn. I decided there and then that this room would look fabulous as a hidden, lost world of the military past. I wanted to do something sculptural using the sloping sand and objects placed in it slowly being consumed by the sand. I thought about the massive trench bullets I made several years ago, but this time only making a dozen or less and colouring them to make them appear to be made of metal.

I left the building and went out to the end of the point. I found some drift wood and decided to carry it back to the van. Once back I bumped into Andrew and we had a good chat about the Gabions and the completion process of the residency and my plans for the sand filled room. As always Andrew was a massive help and very positive, which after yesterday was just what I needed.

I spent the rest of the afternoon walking the beach picking up ropes and netting for the final gabion which I plan to turn into a table using the drift wood for the top. I could not find much flotsam but did stumble across the spiked point (only) of an old groin. I rolled carried, dragged and pushed the Spike up and over the dunes (where the defences are most shattered, huge slabs of concrete have been tossed about like beach balls and the massive groins snapped like twigs) and left it at the side of the road before retrieving the van and loading it in. The spike will make a perfect ready made.

I didn't manage to take many photos as my phone battery ran flat so I have included some images from previous years on Spurn as well as some video taken at the end of the Point 2 years ago during the summer.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

"Not the coloured bricks"

I arrived at Spurn at 11am and after chatting with Andrew I got to work on completing the cages. The point was bathed in sunlight and had many walkers rambling around. I was questioned several times about the gabions and what it was I was doing. I also met two art teachers from a college in Scunthorpe and they showed a real interest and wanted to know when the show would be on. I worked until 6pm then decided to call it a day, get a shower and eat.

Down at the Pub the Landlady asked me what I was doing hear again and I explained that I was artist in residence a Spurn, she looked all excited and asked "oh did you do that book of photos that's on sale on the visitor centre"?. I explained that the last artist did that. The landlady then asked, "you didn't do those coloured bricks did you", I looked confused and replied, "what coloured bricks" she said "that must have been the last artist." then walked off.

I don't think most people are going to like the stones, but they are yet to be finished so I will hold my judgement until then at least. I have already been playing with the idea of using a thin line of gold leaf to run across the stones and around the gabions to bring some reflective quality to the forms and also to tie them in with the Shoe and a common thread of protecting Spurns heritage. how practical this idea is is a different matter as I would be worried about the weathering of the gold, how long would it last even a very thin seem.

Some research is needed.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

One part finished

I must apologise for the continued grainy photos, I'm afraid I lost my camera and have therefor been using my phone camera.

I spent my third day on Spurn collecting and organising yet more stones as well as taking out half of those in the cages and reorganising, this time however I concentrated on smaller more interestingly patterned stones. I needed the smaller stones to fill in the gaps and holes left by using to many over sized ones.

I managed to complete two of the four cages and also position and part fill the second two cages. The weather was indifferent with a slight moment of rain but apart from this it fluctuated between wind cloud and sun.

I was satisfied by the end result of the first two cages and with a small bit of extra work with smaller stones filling in holes and with a couple of weeks with some heavy rain to wash the stone work clean I think the piece will slowly start to take on some life.

I left a number of stones still piled up on the grass, as at the very end of the day my back gave a telling sharp pain that Ive learned is a warning to stop otherwise spend a week limping or worse.

I managed to squeeze 25 hours hard work out of my 2 full days on the point and I need to carry on at this pace if I am to achieve all that I have set out to do.

Monday, 8 March 2010


Spent a long day (7am - 6pm) moving rocks from one place to the next. Over the beach into a pile, from the pile into the van, down the point, from the van onto the floor, from the floor into the bucket/ box lift and across to the tank blocks and finally out of the bucket onto the tank block then finally into the gabion.

I also emptied the two test gabions ad moved the contents over to the tank block area where I was working.

At one point I thought one of the gabions had been stolen but it later turned up in the hedge row, apparently taken by scrap hunters by mistake, apart from-this one highlight the day was one of graft and I am now rather tired. Still a lot to do however and the jury is out over the final work.

Back on Point

After a very long trip back to Spurn (breakdown caused by fuel filter dropping off van thanks to the garage who serviced it this week) I had a chat with Andrew who was busily manning the entrance, taking money from all the visitors (and there were many) to Spurn. Cars were parked all along the road before entering the Point by those wishing to walk the length of the spit and once inside, the road was very busy with vehicles heading in both directions and day trippers and bird watchers stepping aside as we passed. All this activity was due to the magnificent weather, as you will see in the following photos.

I spent half an hour looking at the placement of the cages on top of the tank blocks followed by a visit to the two cages in the car park to see how they had weathered. The stones looked much better than the bricks as they had been washed clean by the sun and rain over the last month while the bricks looked unchanged. I decided then and there not to use the bricks, by themselves at least.

I am yet to fully resolve the layout of the cages in my mind. I was a little worried they looked lost in singles and a little forced when on top of each other. The placement and therefor the subsequent colour and nature of the stone work will be absolutely critical. I guess I will only resolve this by working with the cages and stones on top of the blocks themselves. A lot of trial and error lies ahead.

I spent the next three hours collecting stones on the Humber side and also on the sea side of the spit and pilling them up out of reach of the tide ready for collection tomorrow when I will begin working on top of the tank blocks

Friday, 5 March 2010

How not to use a knife safely

I managed to cut my hand rather badly two weeks ago (5 stitches photo taken 10 days after accident) and so had to cancel my last trip to Spurn. I am now somewhat behind schedule but hopefully this is nothing that cant be made up with a bit of hard work.

I spent today building a plinth ready for the railway chairs to be sat on. I also took the opportunity of finishing the gold leafing of the sandblasted chair while my hand was injured last week.

I have also done some more research into the metal work for the stands and have got the final price down considerably. I will put these into fabrication at the end of this month ready to put on the point at the beginning of next month so that they will have several weeks on site before an official unveiling.

I spent a bit of (injured handed ) time compiling a satellite view of spurn made from Google map photos pieced together. I hope to tie this in (when complete) with the situating of work and also as a general purpose map/ guide for visitors. This is ongoing and the image below is unfinished (by some way)

Tomorrow I will be with my son and friends in London all day and then first thing on Sunday morning I will head to Spurn. I cant wait.