I watched a rocket stalk rehearse for lift off
Caught daily in a flash of winter spotlight
So Proud! Front of stage in the darkening days
They emerge like comic actors missing a cue.

Local colour to a plot already resolved,
Two trumpets flaring announce after the fact
It’s Twelfth Night! What we willed is now
Wilted, new costumes already worn and washed.

But Look! There is Jack Greenhorn
Preparing to make a last hopeful entrance
Long after Christmas performers packed away,
Our jolly pantomime audience drifted home.

In Instagram

‘things left behind’ – the sea in a box

Today I hand in my box to Judy Thomas to send to Japan.  I have perhaps wandered off task and created something unexhibitable.

At the bottom of the box – a mirror

The box contains something(s) collected from the beach, A memory – in the form of the poem below and an artwork – a series of printed transparencies, which might work together or might be separate items.  They record the presence on the beach of the items collected but also their existence as transparent, see through memories, already only leaving a trace.  They are not very aesthetic, don’t really relate beyond my act of collection, but can still be triggers for my memory, which through the words and images could be communicated to others or trigger memories in them.

The first transparent insert – abandoned trainers


things left on beaches

are warp and weft


time weaves people in fabrics and spaces


a pair of trainers

worn and punished


he swam out with the current and back with the wind



a half tennis ball

batted and dog torn


rain stopped play and tide took his wicket



frayed rope end

severed in a storm


boat lost the mooring and beached in the creek



hard plastic mesh

from a shattered creel


under the deck the eel lay dying


The layers together and held against the light.

Border Ballad

The film is being made for forthcoming trial installation. I want some sound – so  I am using two complimentary border folk songs.  The first, Waters of Tyne,  I ‘collected’ from Hexham Library – recorded in this post.  I need a compliment from the Scottish tradition.

The Border songs and ballads have a romantic veneer.  Romance in terms of the emotions portrayed but also a minor glorification of the historical violence of the border.  This was codified in the first half of the 19th century –  ‘Walter Scott (1771-1832) was the first to attach cultural-historical significance to the border ballads.’

Scott repurposed marching songs and made up some of the ballads to contribute to his purpose of Scottish cultural creation.

I need  Scottish and English readers now.

Border Ballad by Sir Walter Scott

Arch, march, Ettrick and Teviotdale,
Why the deil dinna ye march forward in order!
March, march, Eskdale and Liddesdale,
All the Blue Bonnets are bound for the Border.
Many a banner spread,
Flutters above your head,
Many a crest that is famous in story.
Mount and make ready then,
Sons of the mountain glen,
Fight for the Queen and our old Scottish glory.

Come from the hills where your hirsels are grazing,
Come from the glen of the buck and the roe;
Come to the crag where the beacon is blazing,
Come with the buckler, the lance, and the bow.
Trumpets are sounding,
War-steeds are bounding,
Stand to your arms, then, and march in good order;
England shall many a day
Tell of the bloody fray,
When the Blue Bonnets came over the Border.

Water of Tyne


Waters of Tyne, is a folk song  I ‘collected’ from Hexham Library – recorded at the Sage Gateshead below – I found a wonderful leather-bound book called ‘Songs and Ballads of Northern England.  This is an original, old and widely owned song describes the separation of two lovers by the Tyne.  Border ballads are often about physical separation.  This Tyne as emotional division and barrier has  many various versions – Kate Rusby’s Bring me a boat – is the same theme but rendered differently.

Featherstone Green Staircase


slow steps turn 

on a spiral corner
time is sticky, tricksy,
hand on the rail 
seeping through a
faded castle heart  
the stone floors host
a thousand million steps
echoing the ever greeness
like a tide on the fetch
held in twirling eddies
till fading silent
on the ebb.
here is the filmpoem

gliding free

A train came in a warning clap and roar 

September thunder in a barking blast.

The yellow leaf drew a super rapid curve

accelerated across time and space

blown up and over the tracks, trees 

shot beyond her maternal canopy

held for a moment then let slide 

into the eddy and turbulence, 

random gliding into see saws 

down the shimmer tracks

out of my sight,


Then dust,

a sheen of ochre

rubbed into eyes

motes of reflected light

blurred like a vintage filter

caught in coat and throat

and the slow rattle from a train

departing from its turbulent wake.

Gliding free – 1st draft film poem here


Problems with Artist Statements


William Pym – artist statement – first draft

‘The Photograph is an extended, loaded evidence – as if it caricatured not the figure of what it represents (quite the converse) but its very existence.’

Roland Barthes (1915-1980) writing in Camera Lucida (Barthes, R. 1980)

Do Photographs really capture memory, place and a point of time?

A sheet of chipboard or shiny laminate leaves its birth factory, becoming kitchen, bathroom or storage cupboard, does it too carry an image history in its fibrous soul?

Circle the landmark factory, catch from the corner of your eye the ever changing, always present, FACT of this community of work. See woody STEM changed to billowing STEAM, the cycle of breaking, recycling and consuming, reflected in reassembled shiny white flatpack storage.

Photographs, images, memories, held for a time in fragile materials or digital storage, are fading out of existence like the distant views of a curling vapour trail, continuously twisting in the air.

After review by a literate non artist:

(who rightly pointed out the incomprehensibility of the above – ‘Is this written for a viewer or your Tutors?’ – good question – I have always been irritated by incomprehensibility in galleries, so I must try to say it more clearly)

William Pym – artist statement – second draft

I have circled a landmark chipboard factory, catching from the corner of my eye the ever changing, always present clouds emerging from its dominant flue.

The industrial process changes woody stems into billowing steam and chipboard flooring. The sheets leave their birth factory becoming kitchen, bathroom or storage cupboard. This cycle of breaking, recycling and consuming, is the history that our reassembled and shiny white flatpack furniture carries in its fibrous soul. All of our photographs are fading, only held for a time in fragile materials or on digital media scrolls.

‘(the photograph)…is still mortal: like a living organism, it is born on the level of the sprouting silver grains, it flourishes a moment then ages……Attacked by light, by humidity, it fades, weakens, vanishes…..’

Roland Barthes (1915-1980) in Camera Lucida (Barthes, R. 1980)


Editing the photo scrolls

final crit blog-3

Above is the trial photo scroll as a 3d object.  The following is a ‘still’ from the edited scrolls I have been making.  Improvements inspired by feedback include – a decisions to drop the hand written font and work with a simple typeface and font – like a traditional typewriter or a ticker tape.  I have also included some words that reflect ancient property rights or structures, a demesne is the are of land close to the manor on a medieval lord’s estate. All the photography is now shot on film.


opened boxes

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Opened Boxes

I cannot yet reveal all that is in me

a half empty vessel pours and reveals only the bottom of the jug,

the inside of a broken heart for surgeons and healers

ascribing epithets and epigrams:

The Radical Navigator

closes minds or opens boxes,

plots the course or straps the helm

integrity, intelligence, helpfulness,

is the Steward’s tale.