Somehow, even with dozens of different things to organise, I found time to do the artwork for the logo and design the invitations to the opening of the gallery.
Back in the Olden Days. Part the Second.
I knew which font I wanted for the logo of the Glevum but unfortunately, Letraset only made it in black. I wanted white lettering on a black circle. I’d heard of a chap who’d reopened an old reprographics workshop in Old Market and phoned him to ask if he’d be able to do a monochrome reversal and produce a print-ready bromide. He said he could, so I did my artwork and took it over to him. He did the job on a Littlejohn process camera which occupied most of the room. It consisted of an enormous base with a glass top and, suspended above it, a vast metal canopy, full of lights and lenses. It reminded me of an industrial blacksmith’s forge. The whole process took most of the morning. Then, when I had finally got my black circle with white lettering, I had to cut and paste my artwork of the Glevum onto it. Cut and paste: using a real scalpel and real gum! Eventually the artwork was ready to go to the printer.
Today, using this computer, the whole process would take me about ten seconds.
Back to the story
With ten days to go, catastrophe struck. One morning, after a night of gales and rain, I arrived at the boat to find that the wind had torn the tarpaulin off the hatches and it was hanging over the side and dangling in the dock. The rain had been pouring through the hatchboards all night. Most of the chipboard that we had used for our flooring was ruined.
I had been planning to replace the battens and wedges that held the tarpaulin in place, but it hadn’t reached the top of the priority list yet. Now I was paying the price. Many of the old wedges were a bit soft and just hadn’t been strong enough to hold against the strength of the wind.
The only consolation was that we had not yet had the carpet fitted: that was due in two days’ time. There was simply no time to get in a state about it, so we pitched in in to strip out the damaged boards and replace them. From now on, Kate and I worked 20 hours a day and were sleeping on board. Doug and Myrtle carried on with the decorating whilst Kate and I replaced the flooring.
When the carpet arrived we were ready for it – but only just.
With almost all the decoration finished and with the carpet laid, the transformation was magical. I couldn’t resist hanging a couple of paintings, just to see what they’d look like!
Two days before the opening, we had an interview on the Al Read Show on Radio Bristol. It was scheduled for 9.45pm but, due to last minute panics, we did not leave the docks until 9.25. We burst into the studio with about a minute to spare. The media types seemed somewhat taken aback by our appearance, we were still in our overalls and covered in wood shavings. But Al Read was great, he made us feel very comfortable and seemed almost as enthusiastic as we were, asking all the right questions.
As soon as the interview was over we hurried back, to work on the Glevum until the early hours.
The day before were due to open, we hung Myrtles appliques. They looked fabulous.
The largest of them had been made in the small front room of their terraced house in Cliftonwood. It had been a landscape that, over the years, had grown and grown. In the end it was so big that it could not be fully opened in the house – she would add bits first to one side, and then the other. In consequence, she had never seen the whole picture at once; this restriction had also made attempts to measure it accurately, somewhat difficult.
We didn’t really know if it would fit.
It was hung from a pole, which was fixed tight beneath the hatches as high as we could get it. We were in luck: it might have been made to measure! It just fitted in the gap between the hatch coamings and nearly reached the floor.
Standing in front of it, you felt as though you could walk in. When Myrtle saw it properly for the first time, it brought tears to her eyes. The only time I ever saw such a thing.
To be continued.
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