New work for exhibition at Wordsworth Grasmere until mid-September 2023.
“…At heart, ‘Breath Water Marks’ is a celebration, not only of water’s inspirational beauty, but of water clean enough that you can see through to new worlds and worlds that have always been there, will always be there if we can draw back from destroying them permanently.”
(Taken from an essay by Ian Duhig which can be read on the Journal page)
Exhibiting Dovetailing at the Windermere Jetty Museum in the summer of 2022 gave me the opportunity to spend time in the museum, boatyard and conservation workshop, and sense the fleeting movement, floating reflections, the forming of wood, and working with air and water. I became drawn to the idea of wake and have gathered three studies as starting points for this project:
I was taken out on Lake Windermere by the Jetty conservation team and watched the way in which oars dip in and out of water, creating endless tiny rings which grow and disperse outward.
I was also mesmerised by the tiny water boatmen in the large boathouse next to the Jetty Museum, drawing rippled light lines with their paddle-like back legs as they go and disrupting the flickering reflections.
The last kind of wake which inspired me was that from Ferry Mary Anne, salvaged from Lake Windermere in 1978 and currently undergoing a long and careful process of conservation. Built of larch, this earliest-surviving rowing ferry boat now rests on a custom-made cradle at the Windermere Jetty Museum.
Now still, enough remains of the hull of the boat to convey a sense of her movement across water, the trees from which she was made, the skills and craft used to build her, and other lives lived on her journeys. There is even a chance that the Wordsworth family could have been taken across the lake in her as she dates back to 1799.
Development of new work
These different kinds of wake made me think about the traces we leave behind us as individuals and collectively, and how a memory of presence is endlessly shaped and formed.
I was delighted when Ian Duhig responded to the new work with a series of poems from which I have found the titles for the mobiles. The poems and images of the mobiles can be seen by clicking through to the Breath Water Marks titles page.
Installation at the Wordsworth Museum, Grasmere
Below is the panel for the series at the Wordsworth Museum with an excerpt of The Prelude, and snippets of footage of three of the mobiles. Each night they are tethered up to tiny hooks so that they are stilled (to avoid setting off the museum alarm!) and are set afloat every morning: