Sebastian sat back in his chair and frowned as he read the latest email from Rupert Etherington-Smythe regarding important changes to the Mogwash pantomime script. He believed he had followed Rupert’s original instructions as best he could – the story revolved around a series of clues that would guide the hero to a long lost fortune and, he had set the action in the Australian outback so that the mountain of corks that had recently clogged up the recycling centre in the car park could be used in some sort of meaningful way and, so that Rupert’s cousin, Kate, could showcase her professional technique on the didgeridoo. Rupert had stressed that there was no point in the villagers having 24hr access to a didgeridoo if nobody was prepared to use it. Sebastian twitched and reached for his whiskey; he had spent all of the summer simmering over the story line, steaming up the scenes, and boiling the plot, in an effort to produce a script worthy of production on the Mogwash stage; with his creative juices wrung dry, he had presented Rupert with his final draft: ‘Walkabout’ – A Constructive Critique of Australian Social Identity 1918 – 1945. It appeared that Rupert had been less than impressed with his efforts and was particularly perturbed regarding a gratuitously violent scene depicting the leading lady being hit over the head with a stray Campari bottle, leaving her to wander in an aimless fashion through flimsy stage sets as though she was an extra in a popular soap opera, before dying ungraciously in a heap. Rupert believed that the leading lady should linger longer that Act I, scene II… and she should at least exist to the very end of the pantomime… it was fine to tinker with traditional narrative structure, but screwing it up completely and then stamping on it was probably a tinker too far for the villagers of Mogwash. Sebastian gulped the dregs of his whiskey, hunched over his keyboard, and began his edits.
Meanwhile, somewhere in 2014, Scarlet began to breathe.
Sometimes it feels right to take a step back, to retreat to the place when it all began to unravel. Maybe I am incorrect. Maybe this was the place when it all began to knit together. I remember that it was quiet, that there were no distractions and nobody could see or hear me, so it didn’t matter what I said.
25th October 2006
Having found myself involved in a bizarre woodland adventure, I was once again inspired to follow my artistic dream. In a sunlit glade I found spelt out with broken twigs the word ‘Whatever’. Daringly, and with no heed to caution, I changed the twigs to spell ‘Who?’, and so began a stilted yet fascinating, often disturbing, discourse. With my imagination brought alive at last, I decided to leave behind for now, my previous dabblings with clay on canvas and take on a new direction – in some ways inspired by my woodland conversation, but touched with humour and irony…. and possibly using a more visual medium.
So began the bottling.
Initially my experiments with bottling were explosive, shards of flying glass would become precariously lodged in the kitchen ceiling. The process was long and extremely dangerous, there were times when I would hold my head in my hands believing the project to be doomed to failure. Then one day – EUREKA!, I discovered an ancient technique that made the process almost foolproof, I have only electrocuted myself three times since.
During this period I was ably supported by close friends and family who visited me more often than usual. They too were fascinated by the process of bottling and were keen to keep me readily supplied with suitable clear glass bottles. For example, in the aftermath of my failed experiments, my close friend Jules was often at my side eager to empty bottles. Her encouragement, enthusiasm, dedication, and her nifty way with a Bar Craft Connoisseur cork screw cannot be too highly commended; her contribution to the project cannot be overemphasized, she is a legend in her own lifetime… albeit a tad incoherent…. and wobbly on her pins….