Starting off this morning from London we headed back to the cliffs and beaches of Kent. Chalk boulders we noticed back on our last trip to the coast, East of Margate, are accessible at low tide, between 12 and 5 pm today.
While in the car, we started sketching our way through the day, thinking of cut stones, joined stones, geometric volumes meeting organic shapes, and the complicity of plaster and chalk.
Armed with our chisels, hammers, saws, scrapers, mallet, axe, nails, strings, ropes, wire, tape and chalk line, we went down to the beach, after checking out the tidal chart at “Lilly Put” mini golf court, on Vikings Bay, Broadstairs.
So, here we were, starting to find our way through chalk, and selecting for that the more substantial chunks of matter. All the way through, we wondered why nobody, no sculptor, would use this considerable amount of ideal, massive reservoirs of homogeneous, soft, white carvable material. The fact that our terrain was caught in the middle of coastal erosion, just-produced by cliffs falling off, and yet-to-be absorbed by the greedy tide, thus new-born matter soon to disappear, completely freed us from the responsibility of leaving permanent traces in the landscape.
With a turquoise blue chalk line, we started cut the boulders into virtual slices, then pinning nails on the white chalk surfaces, we tried running our rose, golden thread across gaps and bridges between the chalk boulders. Giving up quite soon (lilliputian climbers would be the only potential users for that installation), we switched to a thick, black, cotton rope, drawing shapes across the pile of eroded chalk stones.
Soon thereafter, the shapes we usually carry, chose not to leave us in peace, and we started sketching the contours of recessed doorways again, with just a few chisel marks, or as tiny volumetric vestibule+chamber suites…
But our black rope ghost of a shape, we wanted to push it further, and a couple of hours of axe-work did the rest.
These two fragments of a doorway carved elsewhere, in another material, and in radically different circumstances, just sprung from the sedimented stone mass, some fossilized form of memory, just a reiterated sequence of gestures. In scale and dimensions, in contrast with the surrounding wilderness (humans only allowed at low tides limits the extent of on-going landscape-taming), the fragmented doorway was just a pale, shiny ghost of our Banan experiment, the shadow in chalk of our sandstone replica.
Along the day, a few people stopped and asked:
a lady walking her dog, curious : “Are you fossil hunting? – No, carving something. – Oh, My daughter is an archaeologist… – So, does it fall much ? Have you seen it fall ? – Well, we always kind of know that it is going to fall, but for weeks it doesn’t, and suddenly it is gone.”
an idle man excited by our project : “What are doing? – This is a fragment of a monument which used to stand on the cliff, well, that is what we’d like to suggest. – The only thing you see in Margate is people walking dogs… If you did this all along the coast it will make Margate into something.”