Friday, May 18 is Light Night in Liverpool, a fantastic, free, hugely diverse cultural celebration across the city from 5pm until late. There’s so much to see and experience, it’s a firm booking in my diary. A great night out!
While I was working in Edinburgh with the publicity team and my commissioning editor on the final stages of my new book, North Coast Journey, I received a lovely invitation to contribute to one of Light Night’s wonderful installations.
The project is an ambitious collaboration between Tate Liverpool art gallery, Arup ,an independent firm of designers, planners, engineers, consultants and technical specialists working across every aspect of today’s built environment and Open Eye Gallery.
The team has been working with school pupils on both banks of the River Mersey to create a scale paper bridge that would span the river and link the communities on either side. Around 800 people will take part in this fantastic creation which will be made from paper and extend 15 metres across the atrium of the Open Eye Gallery at Mann Island in the city centre, close by the waterfront.
I feel honoured to have been among the people invited to contribute my thoughts on the theme of ‘Transformation’ on one of the many fragments of paper that will ultimately make the bridge.
I received a plan of the neat space into which I had to fit my concept and return it to the Arup team ahead of construction on Friday. My challenge was to make something eye catching and meaningful! I began by spraying the white paper gold, then I tore up some strips of thick hand made paper into small fragments to carry my words. The lovely hand made paper was bumpy and rough, I needed to write with care. I knew the letters would go all wobbly across the rough surface but I figured that was OK, as long as the final result legible! Besides, any transformation can be a wobbly process!
I thought about what I wanted to say and was inspired by the idea of the transformation of a caterpillar into a magnificent moth or butterfly. It’s not an easy journey. The caterpillar has to do a lot of unseen work to develop itself within its chrysalis. And when at last the magnificent moth or butterfly emerges it is not able to simply fly off immediately it must be patient. Very slowly it pumps body fluid into its silken wings. Then when the wings are expanded, the moth or butterfly must take time to rest and allow the structure within them to harden. Eventually the moment comes to fly and take to the air! Everything happens at just the right time. That’s the wonderful magic of transformation!
The butterfly has just two weeks to live, so every day is an extraordinary adventure. I also learned while researching this journey that butterflies taste with their feet!
It seems appropriate that I made my bridge artwork during Mental Health Awareness Week. It seems we are all like those magnificent moths and butterflies, evolving though life, facing new challenges, often needing quiet time to discover what works best for us and needing to take good care ourselves through the process.
I wrote out my words on four pieces of paper and set them out just a little bit like butterfly wings. Sure enough, the hand made paper made my writing wobbly! Then I found some golden hearts to add to the words because any process of transformation requires a lot of love. I put them through the middle of the words, just a teeny bit like a butterfly body, made with love! Then I remembered I had to put my name on it somewhere so I managed to fit that onto another strip of handmade paper.
It’s been wonderful to take part in this amazing project. I’m so happy to have had the opportunity, thank you to everyone involved in making the bridge and for inviting me to play a teeny part in it. It was a lot of fun.
I’m looking forward to seeing the bridge on Friday night, I’ll post pictures of it here! These pictures show my transformation of white paper into a message to be built into the bridge, inspired by butterflies! Here’s how my completed contribution looks!
With love X