Following 9th century monks as they flee from invading vikings with the body of St Cuthbert and the Lindisfarne Gospels – and undertake a momentous journey that helps shape England
We took our exhibition down last week. It was a new experience for me, having my words on a wall alongside beautiful photography, watching readers engage with the words in actual time, getting immediate feedback or helping with clarity.
But then I had to stop people coming in and scrape my own letters off the walls. It would have been wonderful and appropriate to have had our exhibition alongside the gospels exhibition until the end of September. But there are lots of other tremendous gospels inspired events and so ‘Dear Angel’ is being exhibited in the space until the end of August.
And so off the letters came, one by one, taking four hours in all. They twisted through the air like sycamore seeds, scattered onto the ground, before being swept up and dumped into the bin. “This is the world of an artist,” said Dawn Felicia Knox, Paul’s wife who’s helped throughout and was the curator. “You spend so much time and love and then you work so hard to make it all look wonderful, and then it comes down again in a few weeks.”
It doesn’t feel right to me. Words are kept in books that last for centuries. Surely that’s one of the reasons to write? To make your mark in a world long after you’ve passed away yourself. Paul’s upstairs with a drill, pulling pictures off, feeling sad too.
And then we’re all done for today. It’s not perfect but it’s the best we can do in the time we have. Paul will come back for another day, a whole day of scrubbing and scraping and packaging pictures carefully. I look through the doors as Paul locks up; blank walls like pages of a book that have their words and pictures scraped clean forever. And then we hand the keys in for the final time and drive away. And when I get home, I take my shoes off and pick off the letters that have stuck underneath, that I spent hours with, crafting into sentences right here by my desk.