Saturday, November 13, 2010


drift |drift|verb [ intrans. ]be carried slowly by a current of air or water the cabin cruiser started to drift downstream figurative excited voices drifted down the hall.

adrift |əˈdrift|adjective [ predic. adverb(of a boat or its passengers) floating without being either moored or steered

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Certain themes seem to be recurring both at home base and out here in the blogosphere. Walk. Run. Leap. No don't. Wait. Oh-oh. Splotch. Slowly now. . . r e a c h. No, sorry, I meant to say crouch. Ouch. And so on and so on. Bumpity, bump, bump. . . bump, bump. As Marylinn wrote in her recent post, wake me up when it's not stupid any more? 

Meantime, while things are as they are, we do as we must to keep ourselves on course. I am finding work really helpful at the moment. My focus is on getting an installation together - its various components need to be conjured up and completed within the coming ten days or so (instal date, Sunday 28 November; official opening, Tuesday 30th). I think I might have mentioned this idea here before. . . basically, my task is to produce +/- a thousand paper boats (made in three different sizes to create subtle spatial tensions) and a silent film showing a similar flotilla adrift under the sea ice in Antarctica.

The film part of this installation will be circular in structure; by that, I mean it will loop, and therefore announce no obvious beginning or end. There will be no familiar points of reference, nothing explicit in terms of 'statements of context' or intent. There will be no narration and no music; nothing but the play of light and dark and an ocean of static (on the wall) and floating (in the film) boats to draw you in and hold you there. You will be able to float underwater for hours or days if you feel like it, and you will not have to hold your breath while you're there; neither will you need to come up for air. And, guess what? You won't be expected to wear swimming togs or a wet suit. . . and - you have my word on this - your skin will not resemble a wrinkly old prune when you emerge.

The paper I'm using to make the boats is 300gsm cotton; sheets left over from the printing, in 2007, of my poetry collection. Piles and piles of proofs would ordinarily have been tossed aside and renegaded to the rubbish tip but thankfully I was there at the time the book went to press so was able to rescue (literally, hundreds) of beautiful, large sheets of creamy, acid-free paper for future projects.

In a way, these small boats are messengers, each one carrying a fragment of our common story on its surfaces - a lithographic drawing, a few lines of poetry.

Making paper boats is a wonderfully steadying exercise. I highly recommend it. It has a similar effect (on the mind, at least) as yoga does. There's something about the repetition and focus and the accompanying head-clearing rhythm that does it, I think. It feels a lot more like meditation than obsessive industry or - heaven forbid - indulgence (although I can see how it could easily take on the appearance of either or both, given how many hours - no, days - I'm spending at this.) My intention? To say something about community - how we're a kind of constellation composed of many parts - and at the same time to create a space that loosely references T. S. Eliot's line 'at the still point of the turning world is the dance'. And then I want to invite people in to partake and participate for an extended moment. Does this count as a 'reason'? And is it reason enough? I'm not sure. All I know is that I feel compelled to make this piece.

Measure, rule, cut, stack; mark hull joints, puncture axes with compass point, cut to midpoint using scissors; score, crease, fold, glue, peg x 653 (so far). . . As a process, it's kind of numbing, kind of nice - or, ecin of dnik, gnibmun fo dnik. (Siht si tahw deneppah ta eht dne fo eht yad, detpmorp yb Alemap dna Epolenep aiv liame dna Koobecaf. Ti dah em gnihgual flesym yllis. Uoy dluohs yrt ti, yllaer uoy dluohs. Eht erom uoy od ti, hte reisae ti steg. Dna eht reinnuf.

Sdrawkcab gnitirw smees ot tif htiw s'yadot ddo erehpsomta, t'nod uoy eegra?

Os, owt sgniht ot yrt. . . (1) evititeper gnikam-taob dna (2) gnitirw sdrawkcab. 

; )

147 boats packed together make a mandala, a paper buoy, a kina (sea urchin). . . 


PS. You can find out more about this group exhibition at


  1. I have drafts upon drafts upon drafts of poems on paper just around in bags and they don't really recycle paper here which seems so strange to me so wasteful - paper seems like the first thing "they" started recycling. I can't bare to throw it away. Perhaps someday I'll do something with all of them. I'm glad your poems found your boats.
    How I'd love to write for a few hours under your sea film. I've been needing to get back to the water for something I'm working on the past couple of weeks.
    Good luck! You must have steady hands.

  2. i am entranced by these lovely, simple boat shapes. water, boats, paper....mutable, in flux.

  3. uoy knaht rof ginettes em tfirda no a aes fo selims os ylrae ni eht yad.

    (But I think I need morre coffee now ;-) )

  4. Count me in, dear Claire.

    Yours for not rowing . . .

    Do we have to work before we can drift?

    Do we drift into work?

    Does it matter?

  5. The circled boats as a sea urchin. Under the Antarctic ice (my Herzog hypnotic vision) I could stay, without sound, cold or need for air. In Girl Scouts, we had a song, which came to me - see if it makes sense for I'm not sure -

    "When all my little ships come sailing in across the sea,
    Their weary journey ended,
    Their way they've wended home where they would be
    They've sailed across the bar
    Where no storms are
    All dangers past
    And two by two together,
    Come sailing home at last."

    Everything keeps telling, reminding me, we are all in this together. xoxo

  6. Dear Rachel - - - I love the idea of you writing under the sea (film) for a few hours. At least your paper wouldn't get soggy! Do make something out of your drafts - fish, perhaps? Or peace lilies?

    Will you show us one of your poems one day, RacheL? sense you are immersed in a big unfolding. . . lovely! And we can be patient x

    My hands are not as strong as they used to be, but they are steady, yes. ; )

  7. Dear Susan, I am always warmed by your visits.
    The boats. . . they are very simple. Leaf-like.
    Slivered new moons.
    Everything these days seems mutable and in flux, doesn't it. . . At least we can float in water. Or, when we're splashing about, little boats can.
    Love to you, Claire x

  8. Olleh, Hanid. Ruoy egassem tog em gnilims oot. Knaht uoy. ; )

  9. Thank you for joining the drift, dear Mim.

    Oars are definitely not required (too much hard work).

    All we have to do for this little exercise is turn up and go with the flow.

    L, C x

  10. Marylinn, your girl guide rhyme bought tears to my eyes. I read it as a celebration of kinship and an acknowledgment of the endurance required to make it across the bar and safely out of danger. In this, as in so much, two by two is so much better than one by one.

    Thank you xo

  11. Yes, I will at some point craft something from the drafts. It'll be a learning process indeed as I was never very good at origami.
    I'd like to think something is unfolding - and I think it is - but I've been struggling with a poem lately trying to peel back layer upon layer. Not sure if I'm trying too hard or not hard enough.
    I'll post something on the blog soon. A poem. And thank you for asking and wondering about them. Sometimes writing them in like picking ripe berries and all I really do with them is place them in a basket for later.
    It's good to give them air sometimes.