by Gwenan Danvies
Panting was commissioned as a companion piece for the exhibition ‘Turned the Wrong Way’ at Studio Pavilion
71. I treat colour concepts like the concepts of sensation.
It’s Tuesday, I think the 28th September,
I’m sitting on the riverside with some lovely warm afternoon sun hitting my right cheek. I’m abroad; and in new environments I like to see things and myself anew- colour, scale and affectations- almost like the new place gives me new eyes, fresh each time. I lean into it, letting the days linger and plans loosen as I unravel and flop, my melting body drooping onto and absorbing new surfaces.
Today’s been quite a multi-sensory experience. My ears have been picking up all of these new things- bottles clinking on an old man’s trolley as he collects empties, the light rain of earlier against the cobblers- an in-between rain, the heaviest of it creating globules against the ground. Slow and soft.
How would I write about a blob? And about time? Maybe with the Pitch Drop experiment? It’s the process of suspense, the speculative as definitive, an assertive mystery. The abstraction of a whodunnit, of traces of action becoming clues.
84. A colour which would be ‘dirty’ if it were the colour of a wall, needn’t be so in a painting.
17 November 2021,
It’s all smears, sludge, dragging residue, drips. As we spoke I just kept on thinking about a text from a friend that I’d received on my way to the studio, telling me about finding drying puke clumped in her baby’s hair. I couldn’t stop picturing it clumping, how it would stick together, glueing to his face with his clammy sweat- actually wetter than sweat, a bit more like spit as it relates to the vomit.. Water-wet, not oil.
It’s a coating, swiped and dragged back and forth, smeared across, wiped into and off of the skin simultaneously.
Sometimes that brow wipe causes chills and a shudder as the body resets. And there’s panting. I could talk about puke for hours.
When my achalasia was bad, a deep bottom of the stomach bile chuck would be a sign my spasms were ending, they had reached the bottom. This was the most satisfying part and the most painful. If I see yellow I know it’s the end. There’s a dark optimism; everything is still in place and yes I’m alive. And yes I feel good. Fuck I feel good.
101. We have prejudices with respect to the use of words.
102. When we’re asked “what do ‘red’, ‘blue’, ‘black’, ‘white’ mean?” we can, of course, immediately point to things which have these colours, – but that’s all we can do: our ability to explain their meaning goes no further.
It was Christmas Day 2018, about 7pm, with the family. The atmosphere was quite tense, at the edge of exhaustion and exacerbation, but still trying to convince ourselves that we were having fun and that life’s problems had gone away for that one day.
Maybe at this time other families would play games, or perhaps take time out for themselves. I decided that it would be a good time for us to walk to the beach, to watch the stars and take in the sea air. We packed a tote bag with a bottle of red wine, plastic cups and a tube of Pringles, and off we went.
On the dark beach we poured out the wine into the cups and sat in silence letting the sea air settle us. One of us commented it could be nicer to go closer to the sea so we could hear the waves better, rather than the constant hum of cars on the A55. We gathered our things and slowly moved over, lit by the golden road lights and white phone torches. The beach in Abergele is cobbled, and as it slopes down to the sea it creates these steps. We reached a step that was too steep to traverse, so decided instead it was a good place to sit. Again we topped up the wine and passed around the Pringles.
Through the darkness I could see the outline of my hand cupping the wine, the dark volume lessening with each sip to reveal the yellow plastic. I heard mum breathing, I heard Sam’s fingers tapping against her phone. The stars shone above, on the horizon lights from the wind farm twinkled and we all went silent again, listening attentively to the sea and smelling the salty air.
I rested my eyes on the shoreline, scanning the smooth barrier line between pebbles and water. I became aware of the stillness and calm water. It was a nice moment.
But then I got confused about the sound. If it wasn’t the A55, and if the sea was still, what were we hearing? Examining the shoreline again, my eyes followed west. I began to make out a shape, some kind of large dark mass that crossed the line from pebble to sea. I finished my wine and began to gather my things to leave.
“Guys. What we’re hearing isn’t waves. That dark shadow there to the left? That’s the sewage pipe draining out to the sea.”
by Gwenan Davies
Numbered quotes are from Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Remarks on Colour