April 20, 2017

Ariel V
(1992) carbon-based ink on paper on board, 20 × 28.5 × 10 cm

The Arael Mountain, which encloses the eastern side of the Ebbw Vach valley (wherein is situated Abertillery) was my safe haven. In times of perplexity and hurt, and when seeking consolation, I’d climb to the summit and look down upon the town, as though from an aeriel view. From there, I’d gained both a geographical and a psychological perspective. The mountain was supposedly infested with fairies, who would teleport travellers great distances in an instant. (Further information is available in my The Appearance of Evil: Apparitions of Spirits in Wales (2003).) In Hebrew, ‘Arael’ means ‘vision of God’ or ‘light of God’. I experienced both on that mountain.

8.30 am: There was a chink and clink of scaffolding in the grounds around the house. The work of restoration had begun. At this time of the year, my immune system (which has been severely compromised by the effects of ME during the past quarter of a century and more) is in overdrive. Food intolerances are more pronounced, a dull pain pervades my musculature, sinuses are engorged (leading to toothache and headache), a profound tiredness (which no length of rest has ever mitigated) dogs my every effort, and cognitive impairment is pronounced. My encounter with the illness, while chronic, has been at the mild end of the spectrum. I can still function (albeit only by dint of a colossal effort, sometimes, and with consequences, always). And, the symptoms are not likely to kill me. So, much for which to be grateful.

9.00 am: Genesis was processed and the ‘tail’ pieces of each recording (the clicks, drag, and stutters of the stylus in the groove as it tracked towards the spindle), extracted. I was confident that the ‘blind’ samples and sequences, which I’d been working on during the past few weeks, are centred on the concept of ‘blind leaders of the blind’ (Matt. 15.14). I recorded the source text and associated verses, while occasionally tweaking the graphic publicity material for the May 1–2 event.

The first job that I secured on graduating was as a part-time graphic designer for a small business company in Abertillery. My remit was to design logos for sports bodies and cultural societies, chiefly:

Logos: ‘Ten-pin bowling’, ‘Pool’, ‘Orpheus’, ‘Potholing’ (1981–82),
pen and ink, Letratone, and Letraset on paper, 8-cm diameter

The job was repetitive and poorly paid; but kept it me solvent and funded my painting to boot. The images were produced using a Rotring pen, Letratone (for which I had the greatest enthusiasm), and Letraset, and reproduced on a standard photocopier. While commercially orientated, the commissions never prevented me from either being inventive or exploring compositional possibilities. (I made a virtue of a necessity, as they say.)

By 5.00 pm, The ‘blind leaders of the blind’ idea had developed some traction, in terms of both a hermeneutical approach and a method of interleaving texts on the same subject from different parts of the gospels. Now this, for me (and, I guess, anyone else for that matter) is a new approach to biblical, textual, sonic collaging.

7.30 pm: My new, earthed isolated effector power supply unit arrived during the afternoon. I was keen to know whether my persistent ‘hum’ would now be eradicated. PSUs don’t come better than this one:

The result: absolute silence. ‘Harvey the Hum’ had done it again. All that remained was for the PSU to be integrated onto the pedalboard and trussed up in the usual manner, and a buffered volume pedal to be placed after it and before Pedalboard II.

9.45 pm: Practise session 2.

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