St Cuthbert's Final Journey

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

Scraping Letters off and Pulling Pictures down…

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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

Photo 04-08-2013 18 08 56Photo 04-08-2013 18 34 07Photo 04-08-2013 19 48 53

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6 comments on “Scraping Letters off and Pulling Pictures down…

  1. Heather Martin
    August 11, 2013

    The exhibition was always going to be a temporary state. But I’m glad many folk came to read and respond to the words and photos.
    There can be a more permanent state, that’s when the book is written and out there for all to have access to. I’m certainly looking forward to that part of the journey for all these words and photos.

  2. Mary Gilmartin
    August 11, 2013

    It’s sad when the show is over, but words and pictures in a book are the alternative. Wish I could have seen your exhibit when it was on the walls, but since I live across the ocean I’ll just have to wait for your book. Let me know when it’s published.

  3. richardwhardwick2013
    August 20, 2013

    Thanks Heather and Mary, for your support all the way through. I’ve just come back from a week’s camping in Galloway with the family. We went to Kirkcudbright (Church of Cuthbert) and to Whithorn and St Ninian’s Cave. What a beautiful part of the world and I was delighted to be able to take Anna and the kids back to part of the journey.
    Take lots of care. I will let you know when the book is out…..

    • Heather Martin
      August 20, 2013

      You are very welcome, Richard. It’s been a wonderful journey and I was happy to walk ‘virtually’ alongside. Very envious of your trip back to Whithorn and St. Ninian’s Cave but glad you could take the family with you this time. Looking forward to the book coming out!

  4. Caryn
    January 18, 2014

    Hi there would you mind stating which blog platform you’re working with?
    I’m going to start my own blog soon but I’m having
    a hard time deciding betfween BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.
    The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then
    most blogs and I’m looking for somethng unique. P.S My apologies for being off-topic
    but I had to ask!

    • richardwhardwick2013
      January 24, 2014

      Hi Caryn, don’t worry about being off-topic. I use wordpress. It’s the only one I’ve ever used and I’m happy with them, for both this and my personal blog. I’m no expert but I find wordpress reasonably simple and with good variety to choose from. Also, there are magazines you can buy to help you and a community forum should you need it. So I would recommend them personally. Take care and good luck !

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