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Lost, or what?

What do you do when what you're working on simply becomes stuck, when the original, usually misty vision will not come clear? One classic suggestion is to walk away and leave it for a while, let it simmer unseen at the back of your mind. And when that hasn't worked after several 'leavings'?

Is it best to abandon the piece, however hard that feels after investing time,energy and materials?

That's where I am with one piece of my long-term project. The image that sparked this body of work was an aerial shot of a whale underneath a small boat; what struck me was how such small creatures as humans had the capacity to destroy the largest creatures on earth.

The idea spread to become a lament for loss and destruction. And ironically, it's the sculpture about whales that is evading me... I started with a silhouette of whale vertebrae as seen from the front - constructed them from layers of thick, corrugated card - all good, happy with that.

Also happy with the small-scale maquette ....

Two had been made when a sculptor friend suggested casting them in plaster.

Time, effort, materials... and they broke when coming out of the mould.

Sometimes things don't work ... back to layers of card. The idea is till tugging at my sleeves and I'm still hopeful.

A lot of work goes into the painting; I think it looks ok....

(looks better in life, I have to admit)

The long bone is the real one.

At this point I realise that mounting the bones on point won't work well... so go with it.

As I had envisaged it, an integral part of this sculpture was the inclusion of the notation of whale vocalising as recorded by Payne and McVay in the 1960's...

How to combine the notation with the 'bones' is where it became stuck ... The idea of the piece is that at a future time, this is all that's left, all we know of the whales ... the shape of a vertebra and the notation, in the same way that archeology uncovers fragments that give a mystifying, incomplete picture.

The lowest frequency of whale 'songs' can travel up to 10,000 miles... all the whales in an area sing virtually the same song sequence, which evolves slowly over time. I wanted to convey something of this by marking each of the bones with the same sequence. The solution is yet to reveal itself.

What I'm not-so-secretly hoping is that writing this out will loosen the mental lock that it has fallen into.

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