For now The Peasholm Magic Lantern and last year's residency has drained me, creatively as well as physically and emotionally. I don't want to rush into the next thing - and this is so new for me - I want to stand and stare and be proud - of me!

On Saturday I visited some of the art exhibitions I have been meaning to see and ran into an artist I know. She put on four shows last year and told me she was "taking a year off". She said she was creating visual and poetic journals of journeys she was taking, for herself, and perhaps for later development. I like that idea.

I also want to find other venues to show the Lantern. Though at the moment, the energy isn't there even for that.
I am still in shock. Despite a massive snow fall two days beforehand and all the health and safety shenanigans, the Peasholm Magic Lantern went ahead at the weekend as part of the Coastival festival. And we had 300 visitors over the two afternoons. Yes, 300, I have not added an extra zero by mistake. I had expected 30, and we had ten times that number.

Not everyone stayed for the 20 minute duration of the digital loop, though the majority did, or, at least, for a substantial part of it. And, of course, not everyone liked it, but most responses were favourable. For many it was the experience of coming onto the island in the middle of the park and climbing the hill to the garden and pagoda at the top - perhaps bringing back happy memories of doing the same in the past - which added to the enjoyment. One girl had just "done" Haikus at school so was excited to see them "at work".

Here are some extracts from the comments book:
“Really enjoyed it – lovely concept of poetry with music.”
“The best performance piece of the whole festival.”
“Very nice – makes you realise what a nice park we’ve got.”
“Very tranquil. Enjoyed it and could have sat for longer.”
“Beautiful experience. Meditative/brilliant.”
“Interesting use of the building. Enjoyable. Different.”


I thought things were going too smoothly. My art installation is at risk of getting snarled up in health and safety fears. Parts of the site are being worked on, but even with barriers up, the powers-that-be are worried visitors will leap over them and injure themselves.

Surely to goodness a barrier saying "Keep Out Danger" is enough warning? There seems to be this idea that if people ignore signs and barriers, they are still not responsible for harming themselves. This must be an urban myth. And if I wasn't up to my neck in risk assessments, steward rotas and hi viz jackets, I might take the time to check the case law.


The Government has announced a Dementia Strategy which will mean the setting up of memory clinics. I imagine these to be huge stores with racks and racks of lost or misplaced remembrances. I have worked with people in various stages of dementia over the last few years. I am saddened when I watch them struggling, but at the same time I am fascinated at how little bits of self seem to dissolve with the fading words and memory.

"My husband is coming
to collect me,"
Gloria says.

Her memories are snapshots
dropped to the floor.
"My husband is coming,
he'll be here."
The visceral connecting tissue,
the tendon, has let loose
the bones
which clatter out of pattern.
"I don't have it."
Time shifts from her grasp,
hides inconsequentially
in her handbag.
She searches for it.
"It's not here.
Do you have it?"
She looks for a moment like a little girl
scared of being told off.

"When is he coming, my husband?"
Gloria asks.


Another frenetic week has whizzed by. I had been thinking of applying for a commission as a poet for a public art project in Durham. In the end, I decided I could not do it unless I went back on some of my commitments locally, and being seen as reliable and consistent to people here became more important. I am disappointed. I wonder whether I should have gone for it in any case, to see if I could have got it, but then even the thought of driving over for the interview made me want to weep. Do things happen for a reason? Is the fish that got away always the unpalatable one? Or should I have pushed myself?

On a brighter note, I have tried The Peasholm Magic Lantern on site now, and it looks good. What a relief that I don't have to do any more tweaking and have something I can be proud of, even if not everyone is going to appreciate it, I am sure.

Then looking up into the night sky:

Moon, taut silver sail,
guided by the tended flame
Venus holds for all.