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20 December 2008

Working with trees

A two day workshop in Ely, with the guys from East Cambridgeshire District Council who maintain the trees to make a living willow structure in the form of a giant eel trap. It was a delight to do this, they had an understanding of the land, the plants and their surroundings. Including the people who come and chat or just watch the work being done.
There are three varieties of willow used for the structure, traditional osier willow, Goat willow which is a hedgerow native and Salix Gracilistyla Melanostachys, a beautiful pussy willow.
I look forward to seeing it used by all ages in the Cherry Hill Park for several years.

06 December 2008


The beacon structure will move from Holt Country Park soon, to go to Haddenham Gallery, Cambridgeshire. But this does not mean it will lose relationship with the North Norfolk coast, in fact I have only just received this from Jerry Seaborn. Thank you to all who are still sending messages, for generosity in sharing your pictures and memories of Light-Lines.
The long gap since my last posting has been because I have been involved in conversations, going back to growing and using willow and vegetables, back to the physical and reviewing my use of online research and making.
I always feel as though the year closes now and for most living things in the UK climate it is a time of death or sleep; waiting to renew, so it is good to know that we will enjoy long days and sunshine again next year! Look out for dates when I will be leading workshops and walks next year under the title of 'Weaving a Walk'

11 September 2008

A new place for Light-Lines

My last visit to Light-Lines last week was to move it to a new site. It was a strange experience and I found the disruption surrisingly disturbing; visitors have continued to add elements and decorations. It really did become a local landmark, I met visitors who have been regularly during the two months and those who were coming across it for the first time. All asked why it should be removed, although having some reservations I am sure that it is not a good thing to leave it. Part of the message of Light-Lines is that nothing is permanent in the landscape, especially on this moving coast.

The work is now installed at Holt Country Park, thanks to help from site Ranger Rob Goodfiffe. This is a very different venue, the scale and atmosphere of it's surroundings change the feel of the work. I am not sure how long it will stay for, probably until it has a new coastal site somewhere on the Wash, this site has different environmental issues to highlight. The management and species grown here have changed over generations, as always none are permanent. Areas that have been woodland, growing trees for commercial practices, are now being planned for open meadow land.

In addition I found this on You-Tube, it is from someone who visited Light Lines at Salthouse Beach. Great to hear how it was used by so many people. If you have five minutes to see and hear two short stories go here

22 August 2008

A break

I took a break, a holiday sailing on the north coast of Spain. Brilliant sunshine and good winds, some rain but not enough to spoil the sailing. All the towns had some public art, mostly related to fishing or sea travel. I think the one I liked most was this strange little relief. It reminded me of the graffiti in Salthouse church.

04 August 2008


The final day of Salthouse 08. Un-making is part of the Slow process, understanding what I have made and seeing the effect on people and environment. Salthouse has been a good example.
It turned out to be much easier to start the take down than I had anticipated. For the first time it was cold and wet so not many people were there. All the work from the churchyard has been taken down, and all the lanterns along the beach path. It was an unraveling, the un-making was a real process as much as the making. I found myself going through memories of conversations and making the initial work. there was a pattern and rhythm to it all.

Still meeting people who are visiting for the first time as well as bringing friends and relatives to see the installation. All with very personal experiences of the work and place, keen to share their comments. In the same way interventions are still happening in the beach structure, demonstrations of people having relationship with it. On this visit I heard someone refer to it as a beacon for the first time.
Met up with Viv Allen, also in the process of un-making see who has kindly sent this comment. 'I thought your work was really the strongest in the show. I thought you successfully met that challenge of working within the landscape. I thought you achieved just the perfect balance of your work being clear and well rooted with the landscape while at no point being dwarfed or lost within it. The forms were both beautiful and natural and I felt showed a strong sense of belonging.'

29 July 2008


Additions to the beach shelter change; they are obviously placed with care, lavendar and samphire this time, must have been carried here and given as tokens of someone's visit.

28 July 2008


I would like to acknowledge all those who have helped in the support and making of Light-lines, whatever happens to it after the official take down date 3rd August it has been a really exceptional place to have worked.
To Matt Bradbury, of Norfolk Wildlife Trust for getting all the appropriate permissions sorted out. The list was quite long.
To Stiffkey Lamp shop for support and encouragement
To Ian and Jenny Stevens for leather ties, advice and encouragement
Suckuk for solar lights
Les Beckett for logs
And as always for all sorts of support, Tim Frost.
To all the visitors who have made comments and sent me images or messages, it is really special to have this kind of feedback so immediately. I will be using it in future public art and consultancy processes.
The image is 'English tourists by an American abroad' by Fran Bussard. Fantastic!

27 July 2008

More visits to Light-lines

More visits - or rather repeated visitors. Many thanks to Merlin for his wonderful selection of morning light on Light-lines, and to Fran for some of the refuge in the old chapel. I think the answer to the missing lights in the beacon is that either the wave that came through last week knocked all the lights out, or someone has taken them. All part of the story of this place and this work I guess.

26 July 2008

Back to - or Continuing 'Slow Making'

Going on with, or going back to Slow Making. All the elements of Light-lines are made with Slow in mind, if the working process of each on is not necessarily slow to produce.

After working in the public space of Salthouse I go back to the studio, contemplate all the activities and start a new map. The stitching helps me to remember, the pace of walking and the flow of water. The conversations and meeting along the way. I have sent myself post-cards of significant sites, where I will re-visit and work again.

Linked by me working or by the journeys other people have made, the maps are Ordnance Survey 1:50,00 showing only the waterways, stitched with woad dyed yarn.

Shown first at Norwich School of Art and Design in 2006 this work has become more significant with time, shown in conjunction with 'Fair Trade Material Matters' at the Sainsbury Centre for Contemporary Art and linked to exhibition Cloth and Culture Now. The combintation of exploration and personal identity seems to engender very instinctive responses.
This is work I am going beck to - and will build on over the next year, more walking, more traveling by coracle...that is another story but here is a link to a picture

23 July 2008


The shelter and boat form of the installation is hard to photograph well, if anyone has good images put them on the blog and record your feelings about the space.
Each time I visit I rake and clear leaves from the pathway. The rhythmic movement and sound, as well as the lines made in dry earth is a bit of a ritual and helps to clear my head of rushing and busy-ness

The coracle is now a significant conversation point - perhaps because there is no mention of it in the signage.

Re-visiting in stormy weather

see Facebook | Michael Davis-Bater's Photos - A visit to Salthouse
The beach with Mike and Kathie and children on Sunday evening, July 20th the waves were within four paces of the shelter. The weather was very stormy, a strong North wind and I was nervous about the shelter. When I heard that the sea had come through at about 8.30 on Monday morning and the spray went right over, I wished I could have been there to photograph. Next evening the waves were less, but the affects were obvious and the structure was still sound, with the log seats spread round the entrance.

I took a walk with a visitor - whose name I do not know...if you read this and want to please add your comment and pictures to this page.

Visiting the shelter is a different experience now. I found myself reluctant to leave this time. I was looking at the many tokens left by other people, like gifts left for me to experience. This place is showing a wonderful generosity of spirit in people, and a desire to link with others maybe.

A strong relationship between the beach, the materials, people and the shelter has developed very quickly; what was alien to the place has become part of it.

I had time to sit and take in the qualities of the pieces left, they are carefully placed and really considered. There is a quality of Slow Making in the pieces.

Some messages to Light-Line

Another visitor to Salthouse has sent a whole selection of images - view them on this link. Thank you Susan for such a personal record.

Hello Jane,
I was walking along the beach today with my husband (or trudging I should say, shingle makes tired legs!) when we came across Salthouse 08. We really loved it and spent a very enjoyable few minutes inside and around it, having a quick apple and retying shoelaces. I thought you might like to see my favourite photograph from this afternoon.

Best wishes,

I am the man in Ash Soan's picture.
Please find the attached that I took later - I hope you like them (better than Ash's anyway). I have better versions if you should need them

Hi jane

Some photos from our visit..when we saw the installation and its decorations we all wanted to add to it..Ian as always had his penknife so we used that and some rusty wire as tools.Ian and Jack both decided independently of one another to make boats from found objects. Jack made a starfish boat and Ian one with the cross in a the graffitti in the church. Meghan and I made a hanging piece using stones with holes and bindings. We all liked the links to the church to the sea and to the light guiding. fab visit was very meditative sitting quietly making on the shoreline!

Dear Jane,
On the Sunday evening after the Salthouse 08 opening, Joachim and I returned from Southwold via yet another difficult journey and then had all sorts of bureaucatic palaver in the church getting in the way of the beauty of the show for this curator. Rain got in the way in the churchyard. But then the clouds shifted a bit and we took our picnic to the beach as planned. We'd already lunched in the chapel shelter twice during the hanging with the resulting effect of a power nap or a massage. Anyway, we took the lantern walk to the beacon on the shingle bank. I swam in cool, clear water, during which time my butler laid out our supper in the willow hut. No one else about in an elemental infinity. Again all the aggro vanished. Bare feet on shingle oddly pleasant, amazing light show overhead. When we walked back I saw an avocet through the latticing of one of the lanterns. When I looked closer that feeder in the margins of a pool was being followed by two chicks. The very best moment of Salthouse 08 for me.
Best to you, Ian

11 July 2008

Artists make the invisible visible and tangible

I went to a seminar last night about artists working with transient, new or developing communities. At one point there was conversation about artists as 'double agents - or maybe they are even angels who see the invisible and help make it possible!' There is a reference somewhere to this, which I want to explore further in relation to the Education Annexe work.
Certainly working on the beach I felt as though I was making the invisible tangible, I knew it should be there, just that it hadn't arrived.

I have been taking my bike to Salthouse every time I visit, and coracle. They just needed to be there, and make ideas easier to express. It all made sense to the coast guards who were patrolling the area!
Photograph by Tim Frost

08 July 2008

Light direction

In placing the work and focusing on the problems and issues of construction and making I lost sight of my original aim of this piece.
The placing of this work on Salthouse beach is about relationships between the human and non-human, the natural and the spiritual.

The beach at Salthouse is a quasi-natural shingle bank. The profile is changing and will become very different as the sea is allowed to come inland. The pathway where the work is placed will be underwater, the lantern would have to be a lit buoy. Which relates to what some have suggested the chapel, or charnal house, and church were used for in the past. If you line up two or more lights they can guide sailors safely in to a difficult harbour, the metaphor for lost souls and Christianity or church.

The transient nature of this land is disturbing human and non-human. Some will not have places to move to, some will have no warning of the changes. This is Slow Making in practice.
If your community is affected, if you are interested in opportunity to express experiences of the changes you have seen or heard or have solutions and ideas to share please get in touch. You may be able to provide a guiding light.
For link back to other parts of the web-site go here

03 July 2008

Light-lines shining

The first time I have seen the lights working all together, the effect is what I hoped for and far more. The colour of the sky at sun-set after a sunny day is such a deep blue, infinitely so, it seems almost tangible.
If you are in the Salthouse area during July go along the A149 as the sun is setting, you will see the lights gradually come on. They take a while to all come on, depending on their position in relation to the sun. As the sun-light goes the path becomes defined by yellow lights from the sun-jars, the white lights in the shelter show up on the horizon.

Review of Salthouse 08 can be seen here

Photographs by Tim Frost

02 July 2008


Light-Lines is installed on Salthouse Beach, thanks to all who helped!

On the lanterns and shelters the wording attached is as follows
'The start of a journey or a place to return to, Light-lines may be used as a guide for the traveller or platform for storyteller. Important for explaining and understanding relationships between spiritual and physical, between human and non-human, stories are places of refuge and adventure. Share stories, follow Light-lines.'
To share your stories and pictures of Salthouse 08 shelter and beacons

With thanks to Ash Soan and his iphone for the attached image.
And to the family whose name I didn't get, sorry. The three year old had the right idea, she knew it was a place to tell stories and demanded one straight away!