• Don’t Look Now

    Two months following the start of the programme at the Florence Trust after settling into the Lady Chapel of St Saviours Church, a kind of hermetically sealed chamber owing to its prior occupation by a photographer, I hadn’t started living there yet – which was something I was not supposed to do. I experienced a kind of trauma. The origin of this trauma culminated over a period – perhaps. Before I approached the Trust to take me on just that – trust. I had seen Nicholas Roeg’s film: ’Don’t Look Now’ (1973) As I am writing today on the 24 November 2018, his family announces the film director’s passing on. Couple Laura and John Baxter played by Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland, the film is adapted from the Daphne du Maurier short story, a fact I discovered retrospectively upon chancing on a commemorative plaque to Grandfather Gerald, domicile adjacent to The Mount Square in Hampstead where I stayed later in time. The film viscerally scored the structure in question of materiality in my practice. Until then, I had been produced images on slide film, positives in 5 x 4 or 8 x 10 format which I couldn’t leave alone. I wanted to get to the emulsion somehow and curtail the extension of images to the printers – who took things out of my hand or any hands – the natural progression for slide film was inevitably the drum scanner, and then the Durst LAMDA machine for printing. I spent the few months, I had taking delivery of 24-inch RA-4 chemical print processor and DeVere 8 x 10 enlarger, to print of both positive and negatives with mixed results. From an analogue drum in the processor, which had imprinted by a foreign material, giving decorative channels and gullies to my prints which I used to affect. This, still not close enough to the contact I wished to make the moment of light and chemistry. I began to print my drawings, another failure or half-journey towards the idea. Because it was the moment that Sutherland sees the strange, hooded figure seated in a pew in the church of his Venice restoration project Across a 35mm slide on the light box in A room of an un-located archetypal English cottage, that prognosticatory function makes awards him sight of something outside the frame of capture. This hadn’t happened to me that year. And why should it? In the film, vermilion ink spills or red dye proliferates across the surface of that source which, though an accident, models the heralding of the much greater tragedy of Christine’s simultaneous death in the pool be- yond the bank of the cottage front door. Her death somehow masked by the conjoining radiance of her red Macintosh coat, with the object of Donald Sutherland/ John Baxter’s augury. Even her death and the future possibility of grief is extricated from ‘Don’t Look Now’, as that which can be looked at, Only Christine’s horrific substitute: a banal and unsatisfactory metaphor setting the scene for another future tragedy. There I was: lights down, safelight hanging in, with transparency in developer solution and an image meeting its own future when the light changed. The sodium lights of the Florence Trust illuminated; I had a spoilt piece of work in front me. It was no problem as most works had little or no quality control at this stage and the application of them was mostly for pitted against the idea of a future masterpiece – this I thought was the aim of a residency. I hear a voice, that of the director Paul who says he didn’t think I was in as the lights were of. The irony of that statement didn’t escape me. But it might have further down the line when I had moved into this room after I lost my job and apartment in that chain of order having faced injury care of a van turning over my bicycle’s front wheel. His voice was lit up by words to the effect that I Julie Christie had been this moment in the church yard collecting seeds and had just departed. Had the director of the Trust reanimated ‘Don’t Look Now’? In the role of special effects assistant, by spoiling a transparency I had been working on influenced by the film I had seen. In possession of having welcomed my briefly opposite actor, Julie Christie having myself taken on John Baxter in my Lady Chapel studio by proxy; her none the wiser having left superstitious may- hem in her wake and with a few seeds in her hands. Meeting Julie that day, I might have held her thought to hold her responsible for re-enacting a scene remotely.

  • Something Chrome

    There is an unused bathroom left to disrepair of the back of the kitchen in a previous home. The bath shows signs of former use and now is bin for various incarnation of detritus – I cannot remember what flotsam, jetsam, lagan. No apparatus is totally barred from imagined use through each entreaty would involve the existing reverse jetsam in its path. Bathe with a box, shit with a poster roll, something chrome. Behind is a sickly lamp, behind my head in conspiracy with the faded light of a window. And I face the mirror which I draw lines on with a lipstick bar. I have seen myself and think of myself in-visible and the act too, invisible. For when I am prompted to explain that for some time I have been marking with a line and a cross of the lines at five strokes, that it is the number of times I imagine I might kiss a particular a girl, I am surprised and ashamed. I thought it was a private experience. I thought I was in my mind. The memory was transfigured in another home which has a black garbage bin liner for a shower curtain.

  • Yes I do think so.

    Someone once said my practice is like a black hole.

  • The EUh had so many stars.

    The EUh had so many stars.

    The mountain was coming. But the sky was dirty.

    Your crown is slipping, the red sun-star.

    Small pet in your arms doing your bidding in the trees: it’s not your fault.

    Arms out to the side are better than in front.

    The mirror crack’d.

    Elusive friend, a reflection of the coat in the glass.

    I thought I heard a sound. The drops are not enough.

    Playful ball into the water – coat colliding colours with the saturated palate.

    Crouching like a luge.

    In the church looking up at a different mirror.

    Donald is looking to the side. What does it mean? He looks young.

    All the images are mixed up reflections: coat, slide, lightbox, halo in the water. Eyes panning above the magnifier. Zipper frame actualising button. Have I cut myself on the digits – a frock not hewn, too young to be dead? At the beginning, it isn’t fair on all of us.

    She is still looking at Mary.

    Can those inks bleed like the background of my house in my head?

    Running, yelling, calling – we don’t see what happened.

    Retrieving her from the water – DON’T!

    Look, can’t see through blue cataracts. Blue and yellow cataracts.

    Regina in the mirror: I see cataracts in the mirror!

    Sister: She likes triptychs because they are like mirrors.

    Joan [pouting] : I am too tired for this.

    She is still running along the line – the border – staring down at me as if she knows something but yet is just a dream of mine confounded by the hearts on the ground.

    Donald doesn’t believe in the dead coming back. Even though Julie has beautiful eyes.

    He raises his voice in a crescendo, mock tactics, military on exercises.

    War of curly hair.

    Three on a stage in profile, different heights, the medium filled with presence.

    Both dead and also living through this woman’s lungs. Expiring.

    He is a man not afraid to show his teeth.

    Like a repeat frame on frame – gesticulating technologically.

    And he turns – always turning, turning means something.

    Camera launches at the tap-dancing fool.

    Comisario: What is it you fear?

    Foreigners.

    Warned me I was in danger because the dead are going to lead you to the dead.

    Cradle the medium’s face like a manger. Soft skin – permeable – able to tell the weather just by looking at it.

    Too much flailing about. Partial works and strange hair.

    The stairs at an angle of misunderstanding say it all in their arabesques in the dark. Shadow of permanence. Stay here, stay here.

    Priest: I hope it’s not another murder that makes you climb that unsecured ladder like a fool.

    Who is laughing now? My white gloves are being sullied on the wood surface.

    And old Hollywood’s lights are behind me like syrup dripping kelvins.

    Every now and then the lens is a halo. Bubbles of cameo.

    I will open my mouth for you. And she will shut hers for you like the water. Cause he stares in disbelief – wondering if starting a chain reaction that can’t be stopped, might just be enough to realise these incumbent hooligans are dead turning in their graves.

    The spinning ball on the water animates the place that swallows her plotline.

    I am not sure what a baptism in Venice would be like in the canal, next to an oligarch’s yacht drawling expensive fumes.

    But this arch has a floating piece of paper with nothing written on it.

    Falling frame, falling table, on high, on low, dinner will fall on top of her, and a whole set will fall on top of him.

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