C-Art ran from 10th September- 25th September 2016. After all the years seeing these yellow signs about at that time these ones were finally pointing towards my art work. What an amazing feeling. I had some great responses to the work, families sending me photographs with them in it etc but my favourite one of all was from a complete stranger. A lady called Norma. She found my contact details from the catalogue and emailed me this wonderful email-
Whilst on one of our favorite walks, the Ullswater shoreline at Pooley Bridge we came across some puzzling signs and realised they were the C-Art signposted at the beginning of the walk. Being in our middle to late 70s we are not really “into” modern or conceptual art but on reading your text all became clear. Having been born in 1942 and spending 6 years in the sixties in Australia we found your installation not only moving but very thought provoking. Like any example of good art I felt better after viewing it. Well done you. We wish you much happiness and success in your future signpost 2017. Grab everything in life that comes your way and make every day count (but I feel you already do.)
Yours most sincerely
Thank you so much Norma! We shared emails back and forth where she later said she told her book club about me. I was overwhelmed with happiness reading this email the first time and even more so now. Such kind words, so inspirational-thank you Norma, and thank you to all those who wandered down to see it when it was up!
Once the plan was in place it was time to get making, in between late shifts and planning for my new job I somehow managed to squeeze in some time to make. Sawing wood at sunset and painting in the dark, my ‘outdoor caravan studio’ became signpost heaven. Using scraps from the junk yard on site I managed to salvage some wood and more posts. I think the newest signpost used to be a headboard before I found it ready for the bonfire. Not anymore! I cut it down to form the shape I’d imagined and I have to say I really love it. Although initially I planned to use the same sculptures I’d made previously I had to upgrade them using much bigger poles. Poles with pointer bases for them to fit into the ground and much taller ones have a bigger impact, so there were more stripes to be painted too and more gloss paint to dry in time!
As soon as the The Great British Caravan series was complete, it was time to get ready for the next big thing! And the next big thing was something really exciting. I wrote back in August, that I was going to be part of C-Art; Cumbria’s largest visual arts event. The catalogue had been printed and my Installation titled ‘Looking for a Sign?’ was to be featured as an Extraordinary Place on the Ullswater Shores. I was so incredibly excited about this, I received permission from the owners of the campsite, (they own a small part of the lake shore), that I could go ahead and install, and on my morning walks I slowly began to imagine it forming. I began thinking about what I wanted my installation to say. From the title, you can probably guess that this work was to follow on from the contemporary sculpture I’d made for Greystoke Church. I wanted this work to be a reflection of the time I’d spent at Ullswater and the questions I was asking myself at that time. I’d envisioned three signposts to feature in the installation. The two I’d already made, ‘At a Crossroads in Life’, ‘A Place in Time’ and a third sculpture yet to be made. I wanted this last sculpture to use the lake to reflect upon the last five summers I’ve lived at Ullswater and speak about my future moving on. I’d had the image of another sign I’d seen in Australia in mind. Pointing two ways, the sign stretches itself out between two long distances. It was that sign I wanted to replicate, yet using dates rather than places again. <2012-2016>. In some ways the dates may be recognised resembling a gravestone scripture however it doesn’t mark a sad occasion just points towards the past, (2012 marking the summer I came to Ullswater), but also towards the future, what the rest of 2016 and onward will bring…
The only way to really know what I wanted to make was to visit the church itself, see the space, and get an image of Greystoke. It turned out to be a really quaint village, with a fantastic old pub. The church itself stood tall at the end of a narrow lane. It was a lovely church and a fantastic space to exhibit in. After seeing the signposts in the village and thinking about those significant dates in time I began thinking about making my own signpost, the same design as the old Cumbrian road sign but with mine and and my great-grandparents significant dates. The date they met, married and moved and the same again for me. Our places in time.