I was asked to make another temporary wall painting for the Culture of the Countryside project, this time for the show at Wingfield Barns. Yesterday I spent the day in the barn with my Mac, a projector and Jo Wylie at Glastonbury on the radio. It took from 9.30 to 5.30 to do, with a twenty minute break for lunch. I used umber, white, black and cerulean blue acrylic paint to restrict the palette. I had been asked to mention the field names and the villages of the schools that had taken part in the show which gave the initial map the range. I had been supplied with a scan of a Victorian OS type map and a detail of the Wingfield college site. I had taken a photo of a fold out map in a book of the Wingfield College estate with the field names on. There was no way the scale of these maps would marry up at all. I did mention the notion of a palimpsest during the planning stage.

Final map painting at 5.30pm on Saturday.

The previous map painting I made using an overhead projector and I arranged the digital files and printed them out onto transparent sheet. This time I decided to use a digital projector as I thought I would be able to control the light and darkness in the room more easily. It also meant that I didn’t have to prep the image in the same way. I used Google maps to make a basic map of the whole region which is what I did for the Halesworth one. Then I found appropriate digital images and put them in a folder. On my way to the site I stopped a took a photo of St Andrew’s church from the top of the hill and used that as well.

This meant that I could be a bit looser about the image construction. I started with the google map and then started layering the Wingfield detail and then the field map and the Victorian OS map, more or less centred over Wingfield.

The manner of the images came about because I had discussed the practicalities of the piece with the art centre manager who was worried about the expensive tiled floor. I had reassured her that I wouldn’t drip paint at all as I hadn’t done at all for the Halesworth one. “You’re not doing a Rolf Harris then?” she said. When I got there in the morning I was given a very fine heavy weight dust sheet which it seemed a shame not to make full use of. I also thought, as the morning wore on, that thin paint would be quicker to use and would help with the palimpsest effect that I was after, it would allow the layers to show through. There was a time limit to the work and I thought it would probably be more fun to use thin paint and be a bit looser about it. And I was right; it was more fun and quicker. I was doing the images in about twenty minutes each with a bit of Photoshopping on the images before projection, specifically gray scaling and increasing the contract and brightness. So the look of the piece evolved during the day and was a mixture of preparation, having a fairly clear outline idea in my head and improvising on the day. The outline in my head was vague in detail but I had a conception of what it would look like. Quite what that idea in my head looks like is difficult to explain as it is purposely vague and I did no prep drawing or sketch.

I realise, once I’d done it that I could have been much more orderly about it. I could have measured out the wall and designed the whole thing in Photoshop before I got there and then just traced it on. I could have arranged all the overlaps and so on and made all the decisions before I got near the wall. Why didn’t I? The fact that I didn’t and did it the way I did seems interesting and the process that I have used seems to have lead to the image looking in a certain way. There is an interaction between the circumstances, the time allowed, the materials, the brief and with the manager. Interesting. Is there any meaning in that? Is this creativity?