A Performance at Hog Theatre no. 4
There are not many places where I would choose to sit, even stand. But if I think for a moment, the idea of sitting by a swamp (maybe ‘in’ a swamp) seems appealing to me.
It was a summer’s day; the weather had been hot and humid for so long that I think even the wasps, moths and other various flying creatures had forgotten what it was like to be inside the house. The doors and windows were kept shut, shutters fastened.
Whenever a door or window was briefly opened, one or more of these winged creatures would make a dash for the gateway in hope of cooler air. Not one of these would ever make it through the passage, and even if they did, they would be given the full force of a lengthy swatter.
For all the years I had been visiting this house, never had I really considered the swamp that began just down the track. I had passed it hundreds of times; sped past it on my bike as I raced down the hill and memorised its position so I wouldn’t crash into it when I was cycling at night. From what I can remember, it had always been stagnant, and apart from one small fish and crayfish, I had never caught anything in there even though the large splashes I heard promised plentiful and sizeable aquatic life.
I think that this year was different. This year the swamp was particularly yellow. This year’s trip seemed to centre ‘around’ the swamp. Perhaps it was because I knew it would be the last time I would visit the house.
After a while of sitting inside, I decided to slip through a narrow opening before quickly closing the door again, standing briefly in the heat outside. Groups of tiny flies flew in circles around my head, and despite my attempts to deter them, only gained in their numbers as I walked down the track towards the swamp. As I made my way down, the crunching of acorns beneath my feet made a nice repetitive noise to my steps. This sound, as well as the mass of circling flies, made me feel like some kind of crazy pirate with a large stash of gold in my pockets.
When I reached the swamp, I peered into the little stone well that stuck out of the mud just next to it, and as usual saw the frog clinging to the wall. I sat down and looked at the swamp. A gentle warm breeze was slowly causing the stagnant yellow surface to drift towards me, piling together on the nearest bank. I watched as the swampy surface piled again and again on top of each other. Yellow was piled on top of yellow, specks of orange and green glistened like bubbles. Green on top of that and then yellow again. Pushing together into one big smudge, the contents of the swamp boiled down and reached its essence on the closest bank to me; just on the edge. A stray crayfish hobbled over the boggy brown terrain and I could tell he was sad to leave that swamp behind.
Sound in collaboration with Otis Jordan
Thoughts on 'The Swamp'
He sat on a small, wooden, bright green stool. It was small enough that he could carry it with one hand, freeing up the other to hold his bag of assorted paints and pallet. He didn’t need to travel far. The swamp was so close to where he slept he could practically smell it. In fact, it often materialised itself in his dreams, becoming a boggy expanse which softly murmured to him throughout the night. Once the time was right, he would make his way down to the swamp (hands full) and find the perfect spot to begin painting.
The surface of the pond was a sickly yellow colour. Stray acorns and other items typically found in the forest formed a film of pigment across the water. Disturbances most probably from fish down below caused the surface to undulate slightly. More confident fish occasionally jumped above the water, breaking the surface and creating marble-like swirls that span and found the quickest way to seal back together again.
The painting was going well, but he couldn’t help catching his eye on a beach-ball that lay sticking at an angle out of the murky surface. The seams between each segment bubbled slightly. It wasn’t there before he was sure of that. He liked beach-balls, he liked how they could easily be misidentified as large gassy planets or aliens with clawed feet. ‘I should compile a kind of field guide for beach-balls, help with all this confusion’ he thought to himself.
He allowed all these stray thoughts, the swamp, the pigments, the dry ice, to float around and maybe at points stop and rest, beginning to form something solid, only to drift apart again. He wondered how the hell a stray beach-ball (kicked too high) drifts into the scene and lands splat in the mud of a boggy swamp.
Whatever the reason, he didn’t think it mattered at that moment. The swamp is a place for things to get stuck, to drift and congeal – a space for circling asteroids to burn up and float down in a fine mist. An occasional acorn dropped from a tree and the frogs croaked their farewells.
Based between Manchester and Bristol, Isaac Jordan’s work presents fragmented, tentative images where at times nothing is as important as something. Working across painting, drawing, animation and collaboration. The artist's work has been exhibited in group shows such as Why Smash Atoms, PS Mirabel, Manchester, Micro, AIR Gallery, Altrincham, That Chopping Sound, SPACE Gallery, Bristol, Fake Covers for Fake Music, Hilbertraum, Berlin.
Otis Jordan is a musician and artist from Manchester, who makes music merging acoustic and electronic instruments with things lying on his desk, homemade instruments and old relics lying around in his cellar. It is often described as experimental folk music.