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The Observatory

If this was my residency, I’d sleep on a mattress from The Gypsy Moth. Re-arrange stuff, I say. You wouldn’t be a allowed. It’s precious archive material from Sir Francis Chichester’s round-the world-voyage, says Helen. I’d ask.

Charred wood and glass. Revolving studio space. Don’t know what to expect. What would you like me to do? I’ve got some ideas, says Helen.
I hunker down for a warm night, with my dog Ghyllie, giant stacks of chairs and a couple of museum models from Shipwright school. I have dreadful nightmares. What black events can have happened here? Poor Ghyllie did you dream them too?

In the morning before people come to the slipway, I am to wade into the water. The black dress will float, my hair will float, the props will float.
Are you sure you want to do this? Helen will say.
She will place her props.
There’s a hairdryer in her room.

Thermal top, jeggings, wellie boots.
Wavy hair dropping back onto black back,arms salute the sun.
It looks yogic, says Helen. But it’s not yogic inside, it hurts.
Yes like that, hold it there. You are a good model, says Helen whle I rest.
The others say is this right? Is this how you want me? But you help.
Now you Helen, your turn to model.
Reeds, red, blue,rays of sunlight. Swish. Things coming together.

Red disc, white clouds, pale reeds.Looks like savannah.
Lie back, d’you mind?
Twin suns.
She shades her eyes
I prise the red lenses from her fingers,
Rest them on her palms.
Large hands, small white lipsticked face.
You look a mix of seductive and evil.
There is blood on my hands, she says.

Before I leave we flick through our photo shoot of the day.
We have made purple, says Helen.
Made purple?
Youve not heard the expression?
No, I never heard it. What’s it mean?
Something came together in that moment.
Magic happens.

I remember Dreaming Place with Claire.

http://www.lookinlookout.org/helen-snell

The Observatory is currently at Buckler’s Hard, Beaulieu in the New Forest National park, England, until June 2017

Artist Schedule
Ella Frears – 16th – 20th Nov and 6th – 20th Dec
Helen Snell – 2nd of January to 24th of February 2017
Christine Mackey – 12th of March to 28th of April 2017

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