After the Flood – encounters with mud

The new walkway at dusk - the oddly filtered colours seem to convey the atmosphere with surprising accuracy

The new walkway at dusk (digitally edited)

After the excitement of the exhibition in November and the jumble of deferred tasks which awaited me over Christmas and the New Year, it was a relief to get my hands into the soft silt deposit of the spent floods. For my companion it was a less unequivocal pleasure, as for him the boardwalk we were replacing had been an extensive and recent labour of love. The whole structure was lifted wholesale by the torrent and deposited among the straggling willows and thorn trees three metres further along the bank. Our first task was removing the bent steel pegs which had pinned it to the bank.

The massive cross-sections of willow were waterlogged and incredibly heavy, we laid out the planks for purchase and rolled them cautiously over the mud. The day moved to the odd, imbalanced rhythm of heavy loads and sliding feet in deep, unstable mud. The washed-out light and chill wind added to the surreal atmosphere.  By the day’s end we had 20 metres of gangway in place, perched on the tree stumps and pegged firmly into the ground with 1.5m steel rods.

The family evacuated the boat by kayak on Christmas eve and came to stay with family in Bristol; now that the waters have receded and the gangplank is in place they are hoping to return home. I’m pleased to hear my kayak came in handy here.

Looking back at the handful of photos I took I wonder what kind of documentation best serves me here. These experiences will find their way into drawing, sculpture and other work eventually, but photographs give an immediate visual anchor to my writing. While later work will make a deliberate exploration of visual languages and modes of representation, these photographs are less considered.

Since I am in unfamiliar territory here I decide to be playful, this at least freeing me from any pretence of either neutrality or considered intent.



The neighbour's more modest version

The neighbour’s ingenious new floating gang plank


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