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Hello again. It is me writing more words for the internet. And I have pictures too. Today I am going to write about Optical Glade. Here is a panorama of progress…



jeroen2As you can see, it’s climbing up the walls like a kind of geometric invasive weed. Except its not really very geometric as it’s all hand-drawn. As I mentioned earlier on (on the first day, I think) we used a technique from the Middle Ages to transfer the design to the white-painted walls, using chalk dust and pencils. Once all the pencil lines were drawn it was time to realise that the cupola is not a geometric shape as I had foolishly assumed whilst working on the 3D model back in London with ben_k, but instead is a creation composed of eight individually different panels.

Anyway, as soon as we started painting with the black paint things started to be more enjoyable than clambering up and down five stages of scaffolding in a cloud of blue dust, because now we could see what was emerging. In one week we have painted from the floor to the very apex of the dome. And in a few more days we will have finished with the black paint and will move on to the white paint. Then back to black paint to tidy it up. And then the scaffolding will be removed and the audio part of the work will be installed. More on that in the future.

The painting itself – the design of it, I mean – represents a sacred space, in the form of a ring of upturned trees. I will tell you some of the reasons why this happened. When I was a small boy there was a derelict cottage at a crossroads near where I lived. I found its ruinous and decaying nature very alluring and I investigated the cottage as often as I could. It was certainly older than most of the structures that stood nearby; a relic of a time before motor cars, tarmac, DIY stores and traffic lights. On the side of the cottage wall was a small weathered stone plaque with writing carved into it that said that the spot marked where the Peddars Way had crossed. The Peddars Way, I later found out, is (or was) a very strange and very straight track or path that crosses the part of England known as East Anglia. No-one knows where it starts, and it runs for hundreds of miles before going straight into the sea on the coastline of north Norfolk. It doesn’t connect towns, would have been of no use militarily, and couldn’t have been a trade route as it went, quite literally, nowhere. It is (or was) also reputed to be haunted by the Black Shuck, a terrible dog the size of a Great Dane that had one Cyclopean eye and meant certain death to anyone who caught sight of it.

In 1998 the destination of the Peddars Way was uncovered. A storm surge stripped away layers of mud and peat from the coastline and revealed what’s become known as Sea Henge, a circular construction made of huge wooden poles surrounding an immense upturned tree. It had lain, preserved, under a thick layer of mud for thousands of years, and for thousands of years the Peddars Way had continued to point to it. Of course, I’ve no idea what would compel people to undertake a hazardous journey for hundreds of miles through what would have been dense woodland along an eerily straight path to reach this strange structure. But they did, and probably for much, much longer than our current civilisation has existed.

So here in Maastricht, I’m painting my own version of a henge, or a grove. The trunks of the trees emerge from the octagonal window at the apex of the cupola, and surge down the curved dome walls, plotting out into branches and twigs that brush the floor. The trunks of the tree forms twist around the walls; the limbs of the trees have become formal annotations of actual branches – I’ve more-or-less obeyed natural laws of growth and structure, but with the aim of creating a moonlight shadow-cage. A monochrome haven in the noise and haste of 21st century Maastricht. Next to the river.


7th May 2017