Top Shed residency blog 1 (Monday)


I am doing a two-week residency at Top Shed, Pockthorpe, Norfolk. Basically, I get a studio for two weeks and hopefully a bit of head-space to let something happen in it. My intention is to try not to approach it with too many ideas, but to let things come out of having a bit of mental space. Because I’ve never visited Norfolk or Suffolk before and there are a few places I want to visit, I will make some trips around, but I also want to spend time in the studio to think/work/rest.

Yesterday, I took the day to drive down through Lincolnshire, stopping off where the fancy took me. I did a bit of a windmill odyssey. When my brother and I were young, we both got interested in windmills and Lincolnshire is the windmill county par excellence; many of the places became more mythical, hallowed and distant to us than Old Trafford or Elland Road were to my sporty peers. So yesterday I stopped off at Wrawby, Alford and Boston (and passed through Sibsey). Alford and Boston mills were both working (Alford was idling, but Boston was, I guess, actually milling, because it was both turning and closed to the public). As children, my brother and I were taken by train to Heckington and Boston to see the windmills. The mill at Heckington was meant to be working, but the miller didn’t turn up (Boston was fairly dilapidated and lacked shutters in the sails, in those days). Seeing two windmills turning on the same day would have seemed an extraordinary thing to us then.

I also stopped by the mouth of the River Nene on the Wash. The military were dropping bombs or firing artillery way over to my left – I could see the spouts of water through my binoculars. A company called Dong Energy were installing cables out across the salt marshes to some off-shore wind turbines, using two giant caterpillar-tracked machines with the bizarre names of Moonfish and Sunfish (so a board said). A little way up the Nene are two lighthouses across the river from one another. One flew the flag of the European Union and the other the Union Jack. I imagine the occupants shaking their fists at each other across the Nene, and hurling barely audible insults.

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