I was stamping a plastic milk bottle to put it in the recycle bag when I glanced down and found it looking up at me. And so began the ‘Old Gods’ sequence. The first one was a of nature gods, all green leaves and mottled light. This second one is of sterner Gods in a hard rock surface, these Gods definitely don’t laugh! Yet to be tackled is ‘Totem’ a degree of mulling is taking place.
The Full Moon occasionally sits on our hill, taking a brief rest before dragging itself across the rest of the sky. And it occurred to me that a bench seat might be appreciated. So I made ‘Trestle Moon’, the Moon made from a disc of white translucent Perspex, and the stand made from ‘Australian Purple Heart’ a hardwood that resists rot. (Incidentally, here a brief diversion, the sleepers under the tracks of the first London Underground were made from Australian hardwood).
I chanced upon the wood when the Crinan Canal was being dredged, on the towpath was a pile of distressed timber planks hauled up from the bottom, it seems that they were bank shoring boards. A number now await a new function in my workshop. So, ‘Trestle Moon’ was duly sold, but I had thought of a further Moon construction, this time with a larger Moon disc and bigger stand. The resultant object was such that it looked like the Moon was trapped in its frame. So, I wrote a folk tale to explain the reason why.
The Moon Catcher.
Once upon a time, in the times beyond recall, it was the delight of the Moon to come down once a month to bathe in a secret loch high on a mountainside. The water was very deep and very black, with never a ripple on the surface, so the Moon always had a perfect reflection.
The Moon was very vain and would only come down when she was full, “Who wants to look at only a part of oneself.” she said.
Lachlan the mighty hunter had been out looking for hares when he chanced upon the corrie in which the lochan lay. He looked in wonder at the full Moon bathing in the cold black water, watched the way the droplets sparkled as they fell back into the water , wondered at why there were no ripples, fell in love with the moon, wanted to possess it, wanted to take it home for Caitlin his beautiful wife.
All that month he worked on a trap, it was to be a large basket lined with the moonwhite pelts of mountain hares, surely this would be the ideal trap, what moon could resist such a cosy welcoming nest. But the Moon was not interested and hid behind angry black clouds.
All the next month he clattered and banged at devising another trap for the Moon. Caitlin was a very patient and understanding wife and though she didn’t know why her lovely Lachlan was up all hours fiddling with rope and wood, she knew full well that sooner or later it would all be revealed. So she just said ‘Yes dear,’ and ‘No dear’ and ‘Oh dear’ when the need arose.
Lugging his contraption up into the hills, Lachlan was sure that it would be just the very thing to trap the Moon. Arriving at the loch he set it out in the water near the shore where he had made a hide.
He sat down to wait and watch.
As the clouds blew away, the Moon was revealed in all her splendid loveliness. In the loch a perfect form appeared. Scarcely daring to breath, Lachlan crept down and pulled on the rope that would spring the trap, and he leaped into the water to secure his prize. Dragging the trap out of the loch he watched in dismay as the Moon broke into a thousand pieces and sparkled back into the loch.
Despondently he made his way back to his house and to his Caitlin. She laughed when she saw his woebegone face “What is it my love, has the bear gone on holiday, has the wolf taken to eating kale?”
He told her of his attempts to catch the Moon, and bring it home for her pleasure, of how it always ran away into a thousand jewels, just one of which he would have brought home if he could.
“You are called Lachlan the mighty hunter because of your daring and skill, there is nothing that you have not caught. When I laughed and said ‘you might as well try to catch the wind my love’, you went and did it. When I loosed the strings on the net it blew the windows out escaping, and when I said ‘You might as well catch the rain in a sieve’ you went and did it,” and she looked over at the corner where her sieve was sounding like a summer shower. “And our fire is from when you caught a lightening strike, ‘Fire from the Gods’ you said when you brought it home, and it has not gone out since. But where on earth do you think I am going to put a moon, not just any moon, but the Moon?”
Lachlan looked about his little house and had to agree with his wife, there really was no where to put the Moon, and as he looked, an idea burst like a thunder clap in his head and he rushed out of the house, Caitlin smile fondly after him, and wondered what he was going to do next.
All that day he dug and all of the next day, and at last he proudly showed his wife the pond he had dug. “When that is filled with water from Loch a Gealach, we will see the Moon in our own garden.”
His wife gave him a fond kiss, and said “I can look up at the Moon any time I like, and without all the effort you have put into it, but I would like to grow water lilies, can you catch me some of those? White ones would be nice.”
Lachlan realised that there were just some things that were not meant to be, and he went off to divert the burn. Then he would go and find the rarest, the finest, the whitest water lilies that could be found, and he thought he knew just where that might be. He had heard tell of a Water Enchantress who lived a way off by a secret loch, bejewelled with Moonlilies. He might be gone some time, but then his Caitlin was used to the ways of a mighty hunter.
Loch a Gealach -- The Loch of the Moon.
I was working on a production of ‘The Critic’ starring Derek Jacobi. There is a play within the play, which was done in 17th century style. There was a sea sequence with stylised waves as ground rows. The waves were moved sideways and back by Footmen. The waves were hooked like a row of saw teeth. Actors wearing ship shaped hats walked between them. Imagine my delight to discover a roll of bandsaw blades in the metal skip at the dump, they reminded me of the stage set. As you see I have used them to make the waves upon which the pruning saw blade galley sails with large washers as the roundels, and a piece of beaten brass as a sail. The Moon is flamed stainless steel, originally destined to be a part of a bracket fungus on another piece still to be finished. This another work that inspired a poem. Possibly a bit over the top!
An antique moon face sullen,
beaten and scarred,
sailed with blind indifference across
a bronze coloured sky snagged with curled swarf clouds.
Above a landscape spewed forth from still smouldering chasms.
Gouts of flame animated the tortured surface.
Rocks spat and spasmed, foundried and folded.
And when the molten seas had cooled, we sailed on blades of steel.
Gorging on anthracite, stoking the furnace of our souls,
whilst gazing into a brazen future with flame seared eyes.
Standing at my bench one day, brain in neutral, the words urinal and rhino collided in my head,. I could see what the resultant 'Urhino' would look like. So a quick trip to Jewsons provided a shop soiled urinal, that's 'Shop Soiled!' So with the addition of some polyurethane insulation and car body filler, 'Urhino' was born. A short stopover at a car-body respray facility resulted in a seamless product. Shortly after this I was invited to partake in an exhibition of work inspired by a poem or story. Having the object, I was allowed to submit a poem inspired by the object.
On the great green grassy African plain,
dotted hither and yon with thorn trees,
an angle of Giraffes moves from tree to tree.
Prehensile tongues stripping leaves.
Is it Acacia? I know we’ve been told.
Every time the rains fail, or the rains fall.
That nice man from the BBC, he knows.
In between the trees, an estate of Termite castles,
millions of tiny minds with but a single thought.
Thank God, they’re not bigger.
A slink of Lions watches a deer,
anticipation writ large.
A sneak of Jackals watches the Lions,
anticipation writ large.
A crossing of Zebras grazes unconcerned.
A raucous of vultures fights over road kill,
the sprint of Cheetahs left behind.
Safari buses queue to view the remains.
A troop of Guides alert for danger,
peers anxiously into the bush haze.
20,000 Americans a year need home comforts.
The widow from Arkansas won’t squat.
The accountant from Salt Lake City,
has issues with privacy, and his mother.
Canvas siding hides the performers,
from the bush curious beasts watch intently.
Small bright eyes slowly blink, small ears twitch,
massive nostrils quiver at alien smells.
Territory is being invaded.
The blunder of Rhinos shifts restlessly,
enough is enough, they charge.
Ripping through the encampment,
the Widow has no problem squatting,
the accountant finds public performance no hindrance.
The Rhinos, triumphant, depart, trailing tatters.
Before we can open a arge amount of 'stuff' needs to be sorted. Kate still holds Junior Needlesmiths workshops in the Barn and has some Silver clay workshops booked for later in the summer.
During the winter a lot of 'things' seem to migrate into the Barn so consequently at the start of each season there is a large degree of sorting needed before we can open again. Kate had arrived back from the Kirsty Allsopp Handmade Fair with several large boxes of lampshades which had been stashed into one corner.
It took almost a week to sort, rehang and rearrange but we're now open again, most days from 10 in the morning.
We hope to see you at the top of the hill soon!