Friday, July 11, 2014

heads up, it's public art!

Dulcie is really into letters these days.  She's got quite a lot in her repertoire and loves to spot them whenever we're out and about (or in and about).  And so it was I found myself leading her on a letter trail a few weeks back, in an attempt to distract her tired legs from the journey home without having to carry her.  That was why I spotted what I thought was a bit of paper stuck to the wall in this back lane.  "Ah-ha," I thought, "More letters up ahead!"
When I got closer, however, I realised it was a small ceramic plaque cemented into the wall, that I must have been walking past for the previous three weeks or so.

A few days later, I decided to check out the website and discovered this.  So the lovely little plaque was not the art itself, but was the information about the art - a small ceramic head nestling somewhere nearby.  I also discovered that the next writer due to be featured in the project was someone I met (and spoke to at some length) at that wedding we were at recently.  How odd.

Anyway, armed with my camera, I headed out to see if I could spot the head and I found it just to the right of the ivy in that top picture.  The weird thing was, as soon as I looked at it, I realised I had seen it before.  I had spotted it while walking past on my own and it had given me the heebie-jeebies so badly that I had blocked it from my mind, to the extent that I was surprised to learn there was a head there when I looked at the website.  I'm not sure how to explain how I know I had already seen it, but I KNOW that I had.  This has rather freaked me out.  If I can wipe a ceramic head from my memory/consciousness, how else am I distorting my view of the world?  It's probably best not to think about this too much.

The next day I was walking down the lane with Dulcie again and decided to show her the head.  I had to lift her up to do this.  Despite its spooky appearance and its being surrounded by cobwebs (her personal obsession at the moment) she didn't seem too troubled by it, so I decided to let her have a conversation with it.  "Hello, Dulcie," I said in my best man's voice, i.e. a cockney accent delivered from the belly.  She was a bit taken aback, so I encouraged her to say hello to the little man and they ended up having a fairly lengthy conversation about where she was going and what she was doing.  She was having such a lovely chat that she didn't want to leave, but was eventually persuaded to walk off, looking over her shoulder and waving and shouting, "Bye-bye, little man!" as she went.

Dulcie is quite used to having conversations with animated inanimates.  She can be quiet or, at best, vague when Graham and I ask her what she's been doing in a day, but if Susan the plastic seahorse asks her while she's in the bath, all the news comes spilling out.  That night, Susan asked Dulcie if she had met anybody interesting or done anything fun that day.  This was her excited response:  "We met a little man.  He had a funny voice.  He lived in a hole.  He didn't have any legs, just a head and no body.  I told him I was going to the library."
A few days later I was thinking about the little head while I was at work and marvelling at just how many things it had made me think about - how strange it was that I had spotted it and unremembered it and remembered it again, how much of an impact it had made on Dulcie, how coincidental it was that it turned out to be connected to someone I had just met...  I was messaging my colleague Emma and wanted to tell her the story, but couldn't think how to explain its many legs of strangeness in a brief message, so I just told her that a small ceramic head in a hole in a wall had made me think all sorts of thoughts and had even turned out to involve someone I'd met at a wedding recently.  Emma immediately messaged back, "It's not Nicola, is it?"  Well, Nicola was not the person I knew, but she was the person who had made the head and organised the whole project.  It turned out Emma had worked on a similar but different project with her before and had blogged about the experience.  Unfortunately, this all took place at a very sad time for Emma so only amounts to three posts, but her brief record is so beautifully written and I was really glad to have read it, something I wouldn't have done if I hadn't been looking for letters and spotted that plaque on the wall.

All in all, I can hardly believe the strange paths that little plaque has led me on.  I bloody love Glasgow.

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