Longue Duree

He writes about the longue duree of craft. The time taken to make something, to learn something, to become something. A lifetime. A long life. A long duration. The next chapter is about hands. He quotes William Carlos Williams and about how he is tired of ‘soul talk’ that there should be ‘no ideas but in things’ – ‘things touched by hand during the day’. Ah, me and here I am trying to get rid of things. And yet, the desire to make is continual.

I made a start. It makes me feel tired, weary. So many decisions to make – do I need this? Do I need two of these? And then it’s all those journeys, back and back. Photographs are the worst. My work? Well, initially it feels good to chuck it. But then I get seduced but what was. All those trannies – some are really good photos. I was lucky with photographers. They were so kind. I was prolific, then. But there was so much stuff. I like to slough it off, as much as I can. I didn’t open his envelope of stuff. He likes this process less. Not at all, in fact. He’ll get rid of clothes, making room for new. But memories, no not those, they must be kept even if they are never looked at or visited.

We looked his name up on Google and found a match for a photographer and someone who works in Ancient Monuments. Neither was correct. He’s a biker, arriving at the studio with a helmet on his arm.

I did what she told me she did. Bought the cardboard bobbins and wrapped the silks around them. I wanted to sit too but there wasn’t time. Did it make me feel good? It used to as a child. Neatening, ordering, and making room, making space. It did briefly but then tiredness comes in – a weariness that makes everything grey.

I feel unused. And yet, in this emptiness there is a richness that is new – a trace of something important that I cannot yet articulate. I need to follow this. It has not worked out the way I expected but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is wrong. Perhaps this space, this unknowing-ness is important, significant.

She replied. And I will go. I look forward to it, deeply. There is a connection.

And so did she, with the number. I think about what I will say. It has been a long time. I need to complete a circle. I belonged to something once, a loving thing. Is it still there?


By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.