Well, March whooshed by, in part because of my mini residency at Saul Hay Gallery, popping in every Sunday afternoon to join painter Jen Orpin in situ at her easel. I chatted to visitors – a number of whom I knew and who had swung by because they'd seen my socials – and discussed different pieces in the show. I met some of the acquirers of the artworks and heard the whys and the hows and even the wheres. I sat quietly on a sofa in the corner near the bay window, taking down snippets of conversation and observations in my notebook. I quizzed Jen and Saul Hay's Ian about everything from paints and particular brushstrokes to signing front, back or side and when it's appropriate to frame. I found out lots of new things, unearthed various coincidences, disappeared down plenty of rabbitholes when reading around some of the subjects, and generally had a very jolly time. I hung out at a very busy PV (private view, natch), and I partook in my very first hang (the bit at the start) and my very first finissage (the bit at the end, complete with a flute of fizz). This had me in tears when Jen announced that she'd decided to name the piece she'd been working on throughout the show after the closing line in the first poem in my debut pamphlet. And here is "Distance Means Nothing And Everything"...
|"Distance Means Nothing And Everything"|
I'm afraid I've still only managed to write one poem in response – which Jen and Ian kindly decided to put up on the wall next to its inspiration for the duration of the exhibition (see below); how amazing! – but I have a ton of notes and a lot of ideas, and once various things with deadlines are completed, I can't wait to get back to thinking about motorways and bridges and shadows and skies. This week, I went up the M6 to northernmost Lancashire, with a wee step into Cumbria. I was guest star on the ML2 Route A mobile library – or travelling library, as Alan Bennett calls it in "A Common Reader", or bookmobile, to quote someone else – and we toured lots of villages I've never set foot in prior, including Carnforth (where Brief Encounter was filmed), Warton, Yealands of different colours and the hinterland of Burton-in-Kendal. We brushed the lower reaches of the Leighton Moss RSPB reserve, and I spotted my first swallow of the year. It also meant I got to glimpse two Jen Orpin icons (and email them to her as a birthday present): the Snowhill Bridge, which I've already written about, and Forton Services, which I intend to write about, Jen's two takes of the space-age tower in The Journey Continues featuring birds (my next project).
|Jen and me at the finissage|