Tuesday, 22 June 2010

summer solstice

The sun climbed high enough to breach the ridge of the hill and cast its rays on the shelter at about 7.30am,  peeking through a gap in the apex.

Today I stopped on the way and considered building a platform in a beech tree much further down the hillside. The beech had fallen down, probably 20 years' ago, but had continued to grow, forming a covered space at its base. It was a tempting diversion, as ever, but I managed to stay focussed and collected more material to blend-in the shelter. I've made a threshold out of a chewed-up piece of spruce. I keep adding 'thresh' to the floor of the shelter, but it's as wet as ever. I'm beginning to think that only a massive amount of woodchips will do.

I've made a spindle out of scrap wood and tried spinning different sheep-fleeces. Bluefaced-Leicester wins hands-down, but the black-faced rough fell sheep from Clare Island come in second at the moment, with the Swaledale as the least favourable. I've used some of the lengths of yarn to tie-in some of the woven struts in the shelter.

Cross Fell's summit was a turmoil of cloud in an otherwise blue sky this morning, so I did a drawing of it from above the shelter. When I looked back at the shelter I realised I was looking at a margin of the nature/culture interface in sharp relief because of the long early morning shadows. I did a drawing of this.

Because I had built the shelter, I knew its structure well, so it was an easy and satisfying drawing to make. I'm going back as soon as I can with paint. I think that after three years of talking about this nature/culture interface, I've finally found it...
...so, I took up a canvas, paints and brushes (along with a storm kettle for a brew) in the late afternoon. For various reasons it took me an age to get settled and start. For one thing, I hadn't been up there at this time of day before in the strong sun, so I was surprised how obvious the shelter looked. The wet floor inside means not being able to put anything down on it, and I'm still short of raised resting places. I seemed to spend my time picking items up and setting them down again, swapping places like a slow motion game of musical chairs. It got more ridiculous. I took the canvas, paints & brushes up the slope to look down on the shelter. I was immediately attacked by a wide range of insects from ants to midges, even though the wind was strong enough to blow the canvas off its perch. The longer I sat on the soft heather, the more I became aware of a massing army of insects prepared to defend their homelands from attack. I reckoned that if I softened and thinned the paint with turpentine, I could work quickly with some semblance of control. However, the turps I'd put in a screwtop jar had all but evaporated. I gave up trying to paint in a conventional manner and just clagged paint over the canvas and beat the retreat. A piece of shale seemed to have more structure and interest than my painting.

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