Tracey Emin had a show at the Hayward Gallery this summer, which i got to on its last day, just after i arrived in London. I loved these words, which she had patchworked onto a quilt:
Come Unto Me
Every time I feel love
I think Christ
is coming to be
So I close my eyes and I
I’m back in the country, back in the office, back into the mass of work and issues that the trip gives me permission to put aside each year. It’s a rude re-entry – I’m into a five day meeting, starting tomorrow morning at 9am… I’m desperately clinging to the memory that a week ago i was in the south of france…
I always return incredibly grateful: grateful for the people in the UK who invite us, so generously, into their lives, homes, dreams and realities; grateful to my work colleagues for making it possible for me to go and come back; grateful to the people i travel with who always make the experience rich and provocative.
I doubt that we’ll be doing the trip next year – Greenbelt happens just after the Olympics, and arranging a trip then just seems silly. And it will be good for me to have a whole year focussed here – perhaps we’ll do a mini-reunion for people from trips over the years, based at Mona in Hobart… But i do miss not having the trip to look forward to already.
Our question this year was around the creation of transformative spaces. I think i found the question for myself in the Saatchi Gallery, and then on a hill in the south of france. One of the rooms of the Saatchi Gallery was filled with large rocks, each of which had tiny paper cross at their top – easy to miss, easy to destroy, easy to ignore. It was beautiful, and lovely watching people walk into the room, seeing when or even if they saw the crosses. I saw the installation’s mirror in the south of france – an iron cross stuck high in a rocky outcrop at the top of a hill. I could imagine it had been there for hundreds of years, being weathered but never changing shape. The ‘installations’ were so similar to each other, but said something so very different. One felt like a statement, the other an invitation; one felt like it was in competition with the rock, about which was harder and would last longer; the other felt like it couldn’t win, and that maybe its victory lay in not trying to. Maybe both are right for the people who made them – but they are a different faith.
And then there were the Gormley sculptures on Crosby Beach outside Liverpool. I’ve taken groups there three times now, and i love that moment when we walk over the final sandhill to arrive at beach, and the group breathes a simultaneous gasp of amazement. The sculptures have changed, even in this last year. Those closest to the water are showing the effects of the weathering, rusting and eroding, and have grown as barnacles and sea fauna attach themselves to the sculptures. They’re no longer just themselves, and they’re beautiful. Those furthest from the water stand tall, like they’re barely touched; beautiful, and so markedly different. But they all started absolutely identical. I wondered what it would be like for Gormley to come back to the beach, and watch the shape of his body as it changed… I feel jealous of the experience, knowing yourself both weathered and perfect… Mike described the moment of standing at the back of the sculptures and feeling awe and reverence, then standing with those closest to the sea, and feeling quite at home.
Things i will make myself to write about soon, just so i don’t forget: the Mirrors of Judgement at the Serpentine; the bathroom space at Greenbelt; what i’ve learnt about doing the trip and those who find it most useful; the assumptions a space makes on our behalf, before we’ve even started…
Annoyingly, i can’t upload photos at the moment, but i’ll link to Mike’s when he puts them up…