Street Art

Walking with my camera on a sunny day, I’m reminded of The Boyle Family’s reconstructions of pavements as pieces of sculpture, and a poem I wrote in 2003.

Throwing Darts at a Map of the World
A pebble stuck on asphalt, tyre-prints on yellow lanes,
the essence of dust in the gutter.
Broken glass shimmers, illumined by
contemporary archaeologists:
The Boyle Family just keeps going,
throwing darts at a map of the world.

A square of artificial grass that never rots;
a piece of Sussex cliffs; a beach, complete with mounds
of sandworm diggings, the odd shell, a darkened leaf.
You can even hear your foot walking over
their mock-up snow. Water is the only thing
they haven’t replicated.

Fire flows like water, but onscreen-upside down.
Ripples in the sand are frozen pictures of waves,
a landscape viewed from way above,
or cells from my skin under a microscope.
A scale of 1:1 is distorted
merely in the viewer’s eye.

Looking at a copy of ploughed soil
he tells me about his grandfather, a farmer.
About the smell of manure, how he watched him
wash himself after a day’s work. I’m riding
on horseback at 15, a romance of dung
drifts around me, my hair cherished by the wind.

But the more we gaze at the ordinary,
the more abstract it becomes. The cartography
of modern life, captured, with nature, bending.
We realise, without context, without perspective,
we’re nothing.

The identity of nature and its depiction
throws us into disarray: We know
the preservation of moment
is fragile as solitude – a shoulder
moves into view, breaks my composition.

It’s hard not to touch the pictures, safely,
to reassure us of artists’ forgeries.
We reappraise the effort of making things
(but real builders don’t bother
putting leaves and dust into the gully),

and why should we control everything,
when twist of fate can give us goose-bumps?
We cycle back into town on double yellow,
over metal gutter grids and patched-up asphalt,
our vision-extracts magnified.

© S.Henrici 11/10/03

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