St Augustine’s, Pascale Steven

I’m half way through the residency and after a few false starts. I think the work is beginning to take shape. I spent quite a lot of time making flags of my own design, but flags are full of dangers when it comes to interpretation so I’ve had to work hard not to fall into traps. This week I have started introducing an audio element to the work. I wanted to find an early sound recording and, after listening to a lot of scratchy recordings I found an old song recorded in the late 19th century called ‘The Church Across The Way’. It works well and of course the title feels very apt. I’ve also been doing a bit of spray painting outside at the top of the fire escape.

I’ve been exploring the beautiful graveyard at St Augustine’s. The weather has felt quite Spring like (we’re almost into Summer) for a few days and the Cherry blossom is out in full bloom. The Grave Stones are fascinating and give an insight into peoples lives in this city from centuries ago. Sadly far too many young children seem to be buried here, just an indication of what child mortality rates where once like.

There have been a few visitors to the studio. I think people are slightly puzzled by what they’re looking at. This is probably not so surprising as the work is still far from resolved. I’m looking at it slightly puzzled too. I think it takes time to tease something out so that it creates its own logic. I’m trying to weave several ideas together. At first sight they seem totally unconnected but I’m discovering that as is often the way they are all intertwined. This work has a small sperm whale that I made out of soap. I was never really sure why I wanted this whale but it’s led me to reading Moby Dick and also discovering a lot about these creatures. One aspect of this work has been my interest in exploring different forms of communication. I wasn’t really sure what this had to do with a whale other than echolocation but it turns out that they have extraordinarily sophisticated communication skills. Their ability to communicate goes way beyond echolocation. At thirty-six decibels they are also the loudest creatures on earth and have the ability to blow your eardrums.

I’ve given up listening to music through headphones, there were a couple of incidents where I didn’t hear or see people enter the room and also I couldn’t hear myself think. An amp and speakers makes all the difference.