Lovely day in Kassel, at about 4:30 am, workers from a local construction company began dismantling Olu Oguibe’s “controversial obelisk made for Documenta 14, titled “Monument to Strangers and Refugees,” (“I was a stranger and you took me in”: Matthew 25:35) with two heavy cranes.
By 9:30 am, the obelisk was entirely gone, strapped to a flatbed truck and sent to a construction site on the outskirts of the city (where it now remains).
An impromptu, innocent and gentle crepuscular walk in the grounds of Trelissick turns into an unexpected action movie plot point: a monstrous kraken hauls itself from the mire and lumbers, clicking and creaking and groaning, fingers its way across the sward … and we run … and I tip my camera over my shoulder in the hope of … and we are free … well, derrr …
And then today I was wandering across the apocalytic wastes around Geevor and was reminded of the obsessively claustral, sepulchral aesthetic of the geological vampires of our recent past.
Friends who’ve come here say: it’s not pretty — no; it’s so frighteningly, dangerously hard — yes; it doesn’t let you forget, does it — no; but it still slips its mineral veins deep into your soul like brittle mycelium — oh yes.
And wherever you go, the Bucca are watching …
You can fly to the furthest reaches of the globe and fuck the future of our world, and ignore the politics and the ecology and the economics and … and gawp at the natural wonders of the world and tick off your bucket list scores or you can look around yourself, here and now, orient yourself and choose to belong and see the beauty and the depth and the magic of the place where you stand … and …
cobble together a collage of 6 photos and try to say something about us, people, and the earth, and about the sea and history and hardship and pain and about home.
Because the premise is a lie … was always. Because family feuds are worse, civil wars not and because antisemitism is not exclusive when it comes to who the semites are … because Trump is, Netanyahu is … not …
And so people die. And live without hope … and now less … if that’s possible.
And not to aesthetisise anyone else’s pain, and not to ignore the ancient greek’s misogyny … why is this shit still going on … I’m not naive, just sad and angry.
Spent the afternoon clambering around the post-apocalyptic scifi, giants’ legoland desolation of the St Just Mining District (a World Heritage Site).
Must have been hell on earth as men delved far out under the sea, digging for tin, copper or whatever was profitable this week, and men women and children processed the stuff up on the cliffs above, smashing rocks and scraping arsenic with their bare hands … at the edge of the world … spending their lives making money for scum.
And thankfully there have been no attempts to prettify or sanitise anything.
It is hard and raw and grim and still wild and beautiful …
until it all disappeared into the gloaming and the fog.
Penzance has a population of about 20,000 and there was a crowd of about that size to meet the Man Engine, weighing in at 40 tonnes and standing 10 meters tall, the largest mechanical puppet ever made in Britain.
The crowd had to wait and wait as he stayed crouched under a Cornish flag half way down Market Jew Street.
He was built to celebrate the “Tinth” (groan) anniversay of UNESCO granting the Cornish mining landscape World Heritage status.
Humphrey Davy patiently waits with his eponymous lamp as a gift.
The huge puppet had taken eleven days to crawl the 130 miles from where he was built in Devon.
And then he did finally stand up.
Always a bit cynical about such orchestrated jollity, having to brave such a vast crowd in such a small space, and Cornish time involving a long hot wait in a sometimes fractious scrum, I was surprised by just how impressively steam-punkily big and beautiful he was.
It sounds a bit naff but one of the best things about him, intimate almost, alive, is his blink … and then ten thousand people start singing The Song of the Western Men … it’s weirdly quite stirring in a sort of scary An Gof Nurembergy way.
Sneaking up on the giant miner for a closer look at his internals and puppeteers.
Looking east along the north coast of Mainland from the ruins of the Viking church, and first resting place of Magnus Erlendsson, Earl of Orkney, that’s St Magnus to you and me, on the Brough of Birsay.
And south towards Marwick Head.
Wild and desolate but home successively to Picts, Celtic Monks, Viking Earls and an 11th century Cathedral and Bishop’s Palace.
When you see the exposed strata on Brough Sounds you realise how easy it would be to extract the huge slabs the ancients erected all over the island.
Now, how they moved the bloody things is another matter. Wet seaweed is a great lubricant apparently and perhaps time didn’t mean quite the same thing then.
Ah, them were the days.
Getting back to our road trip — we really needed a bank on our first morning on Orkney. So we braved rush hour in downtown Stromness only to find that the bank was open just two mornings a week and not on a Tuesday … fair enough.
The beautiful Bay of Skaill where the settlement of Skara Brae was built 5000 years ago.
An incredible warren built in to the dunes above the beach, which was an enclosed lagoon at the time.
We’d never thought we’d ever get to see it. And you know how some things can’t possibly live up to expectations? It did.
The incredible thing is that there are similar settlements all over the place here, minus the famous dressers, but they are so much more modest and 3000 years younger … perhaps a bit slow to catch on, the Cornish.
Or, more accurately, biscuit tin lid pretty. The gate house and Grant tower of Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness near Drumnadrochit belies its rather gruesome feudal and colonial history. Not that that is at all unusual — tourism’s always a bit weird if you stop to think about it.
OK, for no other reason than we’d not been before and on the off chance that you haven’t either and accepting that we’re already pretty familiar with London’s Magnificent Seven and Paris’ Pere Lachaise, Montparnasse and Montmartre, and that we don’t really have a thing about cemeteries per se and that there’s very little in the way of definitive or aesthetic choices and that these two views simply constitute moments of caught interest and nothing more and … well, there’s so much more to come and … whatever.
Enjoy. And don’t comment. OK? We didn’t spend all our time in Glasgow in grave yards … we just didn’t take a camera out for dinner or whatever, alright?