Some notes from making the work....
I was thinking about site, place and materials. I was “working” with a site in Ireland, and another in Helsinki. It didn’t feel right for me to be working with a site when I wasn’t there, the connection to the site in Ireland slowly dwindled. All that remained was the memory of sensations in my body, how I felt in the place, a memory that was dissolving and changing over time of course but nonetheless one that sustained me when I was trying to connect remotely to this place. In this memory I was standing on the hillside, the stones on the hill top are upright, placed there by many hands, many years ago. Underfoot there is grass and mud churned up by the hooves of cattle. So I stood, and I stood and I stood a bit more. First I stood “like a stone” upright, unmoving, made from hard stuff. Then I followed the movement of my bones as gravity and gradient became known. My hips are heavy and want to twist, my knees dip out to one side and my weight adjusts to the uneven terrain. I had some questions for the stones.
Do you feel the sea mist settling on your surface as I feel it settle on my face?
Do you face in a particular direction, what is front and back for you?
How does it feel to settle into the earth so slowly over time?
And how does it feel to stand for hundreds of years?
Back in Helsinki I am amongst the stones, their many forms surround me. It seems like nobody sees you up here. Like a lizard, caught in the act, freeze and disappear. How does the body feel in this position? There is pressure on the knees, the bum hovers over the earth, the incline of the embankment is felt, the weight must be kept even so as not to tumble head-first. Then settle, close to the ground, low and steady. Even on this steep incline we keep purchase and we will not tumble down. Depending on the time of day, the time of year, the sunlight reaches in to warm them, but up at the top, under the thick concrete layers and dense iron rails there is always a chill. It touches the bones. Liquid drips and stiffens, repeatedly, and time escapes, I see a worm immortalised. It will worm no more. Is this how the universe was formed and how it will end?
Photo: Cáit Ní Dhuinnín
In the gallery I am caught between. Different times and threads are weaving together. The past few days have involved building frames, tearing down walls, figuring things out, making mistakes, measuring, measuring again, painting frames, working together. Physical work that brings me back into my body. I have been in my head too long. There will be tomorrow and the days after, more figuring out and preparation, some cleaning and tweaking, some relief as well as last minute nerves. But whilst there are the immediate tasks of making and building and problem-solving behind this lies a process of creating, experiencing and exploring that stretches back and will continue forwards beyond this month of May.
The body, occupying many layers of time. In one moment of being, we embody the past, the beings that have gone before us, they can be revived through our bodies. By being in our bodies we are also inhabiting those that may come after while still remaining in the present. Vertical time.