Third in residence, following Simon and Sean, taking up dwelling in these studios which seemed big when I visited them mid-build, unclad in a warehouse in Andover. Now sitting inside looking out, they’ve shrunk to fit.
I’ve been calling the Observatory home for a few weeks without fitting any of it into words, so this is a first try. This is weeks of making home with the temporary canvas of the tent and the temporary location of the Observatory studios, of getting used to a bird alarm clock, to time my waking hours to the sun rise and set. Of a daily commute which involves navigating a busy roundabout, a bustling hedgerow and walking under the shadow of a huge planetarium.
There’s this floating feeling once inside the Observatory, the boat parallels reinforced by a wheel for moving, by planks underfoot, by views that change at the turn of a crank. The first thing I did was place an old boat compass by the turning mechanism, gather my bearings and watch the horizon.
I spent my first day just turning, marveling at the sensation of being very still and yet mobile. My experience since has sustained this sense of rooted movement. Days with the Science Centre at my back, water rocket testing and experiments in finding out, thousands of children passing through and eating lunch with a view of me revolving.
Days spent sitting, testing views, following the sun, trying out the vistas offered by the studios. Days spent looking, with eyes straining to match the view to the map, binoculars tracking birds of prey, ears filtering through road noise. Days spent walking. With the roads at every turn any moving takes co-ordination, map studying and roadside ditching just to reach footpath signs, the named paths announcing a real beginning.
These first weeks I’ve tested looking, tried to change my sight, met people and talked about our surroundings, which almost always turns into talking about our first landscapes. The ones we’ve spent years building words to describe.
On the second day in residence a boy asked me where I was going on my walk into the Science Centre ‘to my studio’ I replied ‘how about you?’ ‘To my spaceship’ he answered, as if it was obvious. I realised that could’ve been my answer too. What’s a spaceship but a word that conveys the intent to be somewhere else, in a vessel to take you there? So since then the Observatory has become that, and I’m seeing where it takes me.