Between the 16th and the 26th of April 2012, myself and my good friend and colleague Sam Greenfield worked on the construction of The House of Curious Engagements. We worked in a carpentry workshop in Gloucestershire, a conversion of an old farm building in a field, which also functions as off-season caravan storage. Even though I have family we could have stayed with less than a twenty minute drive away, we chose to live onsite, in a large yurt.
The project had been in discussion for many months already, but the realisation of it was tight, we had very limited funds and even more limited time, so being on site seemed like a good way to maximise our energy and output! We set up the yurt on the Sunday night, and settled in for a long few weeks of building.
April 2012 was the wettest April on record in probably over a hundred years. During the two weeks we were there, I lay awake listening to more rain fall on the canvas above my head than I can ever remember hearing before. It was beautiful, but also massively infuriating when what I really wanted was to sleep before another hard day in the workshop. Considering the thickness of the single layer of canvas, the amount of water that fell, and the winds that blew over that open field on top of a Cotswold hill, it is amazing that we got away with only one wet rug, and a small puddle which was quickly absorbed by one of my dirty tee-shirts.
While the weather made our living situation hard, the other benefits were stacked up. Each morning the two of us would get into the workshop by about 8am, and while bacon simmered in the pan on our small portable gas stove and the kettle brewed for our morning coffee, we discussed the tasks of the day ahead. Before we had put the bacon in the sandwiches, one or other of us would be building away, mixing the smells of cooked breakfast with those of freshly cut sawdust.
Working our way through a wallet of unmarked CDs and pile of drawings, we slowly watched the pile of built components for The House grow and the pile of drawings yet to be started shrink. Productivity increased as time passed, so even though I sat there holding my head on the Saturday night in the middle of the build, wondering how we would ever make our deadlines, we actually finished the 23rd component at about 3pm on Thursday the 26th.
My heartfelt thanks go out to Sam, and to Archie whose workshop we commandeered, without whom none of this would be here.
For more information about The House of Curious Engagements, including touring dates, please visit the website.