One of the best – no the very best thing about my car is the inbuilt compass. I love it. In all the world the 4 things we can rely on are those points. We may not know exactly where we are – but we know where we’re heading! We won’t get lost, the strange detour we might be taking will be ‘on the way’; clouds or no the sun would be shining from here, the moon would beam from there. I frequently give directions referencing the compass, but I know by the looks I receive that it’s a little eccentric. The everyday miracle that is North.
I heard the term ‘layaway’ used the other day – meaning putting a little money aside every week or so towards a particular purchase. I immediately turned it round to mean ‘that which is laid away’. Having been down to the Archive a couple of times recently I am reminded that its overflowing unruly presence is in fact a store of abundance, laid away reference, history, process – paintings, drawings, fabrics, stuff – the fruit of long years of Susan’s, the studio’s and my everyday creative work.
Of course I know it intimately and it was ever in my mind when Emma and I were making the book. Now that job’s done it comes as a surprise all over again whenever I go there. We must put it to further good use….
I pulled the curtains open this morning – there was a twenty pound note lying in the window well! I live at grass level and looking out I saw another, and then another.
Risking freezing temperatures in my nightie, and the neighbours’ nosiness, I went to investigate. There in the front garden were more scattered twenties – and then I saw under the hedge a huge pile of them – hundreds of smackeroos lying in the garden! A fortune! Pennies from heaven! Money grown on trees! I could hardly believe my luck. The lady at 999 – not an emergency I had to admit – advised I pick them up dog-poo style in a plastic bag and she’d send a constable round. Some of them felt a little too crisp – but they were the unused ones, several had bites out of them – foxes or a furious fight?
Knock knock – enter 2 constables.
“Yes madam if nobody claims them within – is it 28 days? – the money’s yours. Yes madam we’ll just count it here in front of you. Yes madam, we’ll just look at the serial numbers: 816,816,816,816,816,816….. Oh dear, looks like counterfeit madam.”
Lovely dream bubble popped! Castles in air crumbled!
On the latest trip to the archive I was accompanied by my nieces, and the outing housed a marvellous animated discussion around death, grief and creativity.
Daniel died at the end of February aged 42, a young man of promise. His father, my brother, has courageously written on his blog about this tragedy. At an inconsolable time he finds some comfort in colour – how I agree – and in particular the colours Dan chose and painted in his house. Daniel loved these colours and took such care in their very exact arrangement. That, and the colours themselves, give a lasting sense of optimism, of Dan really enjoying himself, inside and out. Colour has meaning and effect beyond words and beyond logic, sense and rationalisation – a miraculous power. It plays on the strings of our inner being. From his colours I made this little painting as the backdrop for the text of Dan’s funeral service.
Julian Barnes discussed his new book ‘Levels of Life’ on Front Row, Radio 4 this week. He too spoke of grief, what death does to time, and how it touches us left-behinds; he seemed to be talking directly to me. Published this week the book is available in various forms including as an e-book read by the author.
Well I’m getting nearer to the great removal; there have been years recently when my very being seems to have been measured in cardboard boxes: I was forever shifting and sifting, piling, re-arranging, storing and carting round work, lives and histories. So I’ve become used to the box and its mysteries. The house I had before this one was up a little lane in SW2 – one of a pair of redbrick ’50s bungalows. Two older women had been neighbours there for many years. My vendor invited me for tea to meet two friends of hers – the rather antique Hunnex sisters; they all went out to musical evenings together. Later, when I came to move out, I remembered these sisters: they had run a packing business. Yes, there was Hunnex Ltd on a Peckham trading estate. Off I went – and sitting amongst the warehouses were two adjacent brick-built houses – one for each sister – and a depot of cardboard boxes and wooden crates behind!
Pae White experiences insomnia. During a patch of sleeplessness she fashioned an artwork in her mind. It’s now in the South London Gallery, an extraordinary mesh of coloured yarns crossing the space, uniting the walls, inviting us into the ambiguous spaces made. A strange tension, literally, held in the air questioning volume, space, what’s solid, what’s not. She calls it ‘Too Much Night, Again’. It took an eight-person team ten days to construct – their discarded pizza boxes stand as a piled up witness to this meticulous work.
At The AbsoluteTaste Design Cafe I seemed to be waiting for ages, had already finished my coffee – where was the fruit salad I’d ordered? Had they forgotten me? Was I invisible? Then arrived this bowl of beauty, a witty and delectable construction so much more entertaining and imaginative than the dish of chopped chunks I’d expected. Compliments to the chef for transforming his apples and pears into so much more than stairs – into a whole flight of fancy!
I really enjoyed the Ozon film Dans la Maison – it reminded me of a summer evening sitting in a London square – speculating with my friend how we might gain legitimate entry that very night to a fascinating flat we could see in a block high above – but that’s another story….
thanks Alan, Molly and Ken Kirkwood, Sophie Herxheimer, Freddie Oke for photographs. The poetry is from ‘On Death, Without Exaggeration’ by Wislawa Szymborska
Pingback: through the lookbackroscope | Sarah Campbell Designs
Hi Sarah, How utterly amazing your account of your adventures. The miracle of chance looms so much larger now I have heard this story. Yes, to put the archive to further use seems a key factor in your future adventures. There are so many possibilities but I hope one that will turn into self fulfilment in many ways. The book is one great and major achievement and now must come the utilisation in commerce and academia. Hope the move goes smoothly and you adjust to your new environment without displeasure. I shall be down in early summer to inspect! Cheers Dave
Thanks Dave – I look forward to your visit…x
So funny, so sad, so focused, so diverse, so colourful, black and white at times, the way you write reflects life very well. I’m very sorry to hear about the death of your nephew Sarah. X B
Thank you Barbara – x
Lovely stories Sarah, really made me smile. I thought Pixie boots were magical too! x
How nice to hear from you Tracy – thanks. What news? x
Diverse and moving Blog as ever. I remembered your workshop (last May) on Friday when I visited FTM with a friend of mine to see the Kaffe Fassett. Wonderful colour just like yourself.
Best wishes, April
Thanks April – yes, the FTM’s a feast for the senses isn’t it? Colour works wonders.
Well we go away for a week and miss all the excitement! What a shame they were counterfeit!
yes, would have been a fab funny bonanza share-out! Only sorry I forgot about my camera to take a ‘real’ picture.
Love your thoughts on the compass – how very important it is to remain centered and focused so that we always have our inner bearings – no matter what direction we find ourselves going in!
Very sorry to hear of the loss of your nephew, Sarah. His memory is blessed by your colorful remembrance of him in the program art.
Thank you Wendy – and for your thoughts on centred-ness. xx
Just walked through the door from seeing Dans La Maison, to read this little miracle.
Lovely film, a proper film.! And am very fond of Hunnex ltd too. Good Luck with the move. Can help if you need a pair of hands.
Good timing – life criss-crosses like the threads of Pae White’s work!
The money story reminded me of my first pixie boots in the eighties, bought with a princely sum of £25 found on St Benedicts street norwich. I handed it in to the police, 28 days later it was mine briefly before the boots were purchased! :0)
Pixie boots – they sound magical in themselves! x
Oh sarah! the spookiness continues!!! I had string art on my mind this week, you know the ’70s kind with the nails. Thanks for the pics of White’s exhibit.
Ah, I was trying to remember the name for the string art! Yes, sinchronicity gone crazy!