December 23, 2014

The day of Martin Herbert’s funeral and celebration, which was held at Aberystwyth Crematorium:

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The crematorium is close enough to home for not even the most inclement weather to have prevented me from attending. (See December 12, 2014). The entrance recalls those of many small-town American hotels that I’ve stayed in our the years. It was decorous and welcoming but, at the sametime, at odds with with gravitas of the occasion and the operations of the establishment. The service, attended by loyal friends and a loving family, was, we were advised, ‘spiritual rather than religious’. I delivered a eulogy on behalf of the School of Art. Together, we severed our temporal connections with a remarkable man whose heart was as large as his talent.

10.45 am. Back to the business of this world (having been reminded that one must prepare for business in the next too). A time for putting away files, preparing for this afternoon’s work at the sound archive, and generally feeling the pulse of the exhibition preparations. A time also for making of list of things to be completed on re-engaging the endeavour after the Christmas weekend.

2.30 pm. An afternoon at the National Screen and Sound Archive, locked in a copper-lined ‘cell’ (quite extraordinary …  Serraesque … like being inside a water tank) full to the ceiling with mobile racks of sound media recorded on every conceivable format. The length of time it would take a person to listen to (let alone catalogue) it all beggared belief:

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4.30 pm. To town to retrieve the festive bird:

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7.30 pm. The last evening of labour before the Christmas break. I’m tempted to give form to an old idea, one which I’d conceived in 2000 but never realised as a painting. It’s based on Psalm 119.41-48:

The Authorised Version setting of the sixth section (Hebrew: ו (vav)) of Psalm 119 consists almost entirely of rendered ‘passive’ cells. The objective was to paint just one of the sixth section’s 121 words. The word ‘trust’ occurs once only in this section, and occupies the 30th square in an 11 by 11 grid. In this work, the five ‘active’ cells (or intervals) corresponding to the letters TRUST merge into one. This is because the letters making up the word — RSTU — are consecutive in the alphabet. In the midst of the overall whiteness of the picture, the word is almost invisible. Similarly, in the realm of faith, the object of trust, like that of hope, is often unseen.

The idea presents an opportunity to paint my own Modernist grail: an entirely white painting that is nonetheless full of content. In this way, too, the work will provide an appropriate end-stop to The Pictorial Bible series.

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