Friday, January 2, 2015

Spirit Level

Over Christmas my Dad presented me with an old spirit level and a collection of brass hinges which had been languishing in the garage for some years. Cleaned up and polished this small elegant instrument it is a beautiful object, both functional and aesthetic, and with both metaphorical as well as practical applications. I like to think it will remind me of the importance of  establishing balance when making judgements based on careful observation and assessment of conditions. Perhaps in the mid 19th century JB, whose initials appear stamped deeply on both sides, like my grandfather who was an engineer, made the tool himself with some spare mahogany and brass. It feels good in the hand, sides easily in the pocket, carries a human story and a tactile charge from all who have handled it over time.  

Transforming the old house into a suitable dwelling involves a principle of repairing, salvaging and recycling as much as possible. It is remarkable how one things becomes another in a process of constant change and transformation, growth and decay, creation and destruction ........

I have designed and made a prototype kitchen cupboard door using more recycled tongue and groove pine panelling and some mouldings from Brico. Perhaps I can use the brass hinges for these? 

Eating dinner is an opportunity to consider each item of food; bread, cheese, soup, salad, apple juice - each thing arises as a result of a complex matrix causes and conditions linking seemingly separate and disparate elements together into a temporary relative identity - being consumed and absorbed into the  body and it's systems and processes, supporting feeling, thought and perception, mind and consciousness, various conditions arising and ceasing, which in turn supports the renovation of the house.......

 Even the wood lice, not particularly welcome house-guests, which occasionally to cross my path as they head away in search of new homes from the few remaining crevices that have been peeled back and dried out in the ongoing  transformation, have a part to play in this infinite chain of causation, although what exactly remains a mystery still to me.....

Working throughout the day without the distraction of radio, television or the internet, one can observe various thoughts and states of mind as they come and go amidst the changing light and dark, heat and cold, and the background sounds of human voices, birds, bells, and cars........ I am getting to know how it feels to be present here in time as well as space.   

Only when the walls are returned to the original undecorated surface, stripped back, patched up and rendered 'neutral' can one start to appreciate how the changing qualities of light and colour are calibrated to the spaces. Making a wall 'white' with a 'breathable' lime based paint is not so much an addition as a subtraction. What an effort is involved in taking 'something' back to 'nothing'.

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