Wednesday, August 20, 12-2pm: 'Picnic on the Mound'. This morning Kate dropped off two wicker baskets and a cloth she's embroidered with the word 'picnic' at Claire Briegel's place. Claire has filled the baskets with food that she's made, and brought the picnic to 'the mound' in the Cooper Gallery. I've already seen that the baskets are delightful but let the delights unfold slowly.


Claire and Tara are on the mound. Who else is expected? Claire asked Kate how many she should cater for, and Kate plucked the figure six out of the air. But it will be fine if there are only the four of us. Kate, Claire, Tara and me. That should give us a good solid lunch each!


Well, no, because here is Lesley, Tara's mother, star of the
Paintathon. By which I mean if it hadn't been for Lesley there would have been no goat in the painting, strange as that may seem.

Claire tells us that the concept food she prepared is what she thinks the children would enjoy. Sweet things, pretty things, but also delicacies with an edge. Nearest her, are parcels of goat cheese. The 'edge' here comes from the detail that each lump of cheese is on a cocktail stick, wrapped in a leaf of spinach and set alongside a caterpillar-like gherkin. Yes, I think the children would have found this food fun. I do.


"What about the container of cress and the scissors?" I ask.

"I thought the children might like to cut the cress, or the grass of the mound, or both."

Tara has already eaten a goat parcel, caterpillar and all, and pronounced it tasty. And we have been joined by Alice whose womb-like work deservedly got lots of attention at this year's BA degree show. She has brought dates and raisins to the feast. So that's six of us in the party.


Kate is delighted with the food. The dip is made from yoghurt and mint, because Claire wanted everything to be verdant. The feast has been conceived and produced with such sensitivity and skill. Kate says it's a shame to eat it, without in any way implying that she's not going to consume her share.

The set-up reminds me of
INTER. The show that Kate and Claire put on at exactly this time last year. While their full-time colleagues had their degree show up, Kate and Claire made it their business to offer an imfa (intermediate master in fine arts) to those visitors deemed deserving. A gentle - but fun-filled - event full of exchange, participation and friendship.


Having taken the above photo, a funny things happens. I did not set out to do this, but the connection seems irresistible. Step forward, once again, Edward Lear.

They went to sea on a Mound, they did,
On a Mound they went to sea:
In spite of all their friends could say,
On a summer’s morn, on a sunny day,
On a Mound they went to sea!
And when the Mound turned round and round,
And every one cried, "You’ll all be drowned!"
They called aloud, "Our Mound ain’t big,
But we don’t care an orange! we don’t care a fig!
On a Mound we’ll go to sea!"
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where they hang around;
Their food is green, and their view is too,
And they went to sea on a Mound.

Carry on? Yes, I think I should.

They sailed away on a Mound, they did,
On a Mound they sailed so fast,
With only a beautiful picnic veil
Tied with a riband by way of a sail,
To a small cocktail-stick mast;
And every one said, who saw them go,
"O won’t they be soon upset, you know!
For the sky is dark, and the voyage is long,
And happen what may, it’s extremely wrong
On a Mound to sail so fast!"
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where they hang around;
Their food is green, and their view is too,
And they went to sea on a Mound.

Does that make sense? Too soon to say. Though I will say that the section of hillside, or mound, is proving to be the focal point of Kate's installation, more so than the postcard-covered plinth. But I suspect that particular element of the installation will come into its own sooner or later.

OK, back to the food. I suspect Claire chose the limes for the same reason that I brought along six oranges - for the colour. But as for the 'dough balls', if I can use such a stodgy term, they look like they seriously need eating.


Gosh, such yellow-brown succulence! The pakoras have been created, I think, from potato, spinach, herbs and spices. Claire mentions tumeric (if I hear rightly) and coconut. Ah yes, they've been sprinkled with coconut because children find everything about coconuts exciting (coincidentally, I brought a whole coconut along), and because there is something of the tropical island about the mound. Just because the mound functions admirably as a section of a grassy hillside, that doesn't exclude other associations. Of course not.

Knowing that the picnic was happening I did set something up. I brought along a copy of
Brideshead Revisited with a view to reading out a short passage from Evelyn Waugh's classic, the bit where Sebastian and Charles have a picnic on a day out from Oxford. But am I in the mood for that now?


Kate asks me to read from the book, so I do:


'It was about eleven when Sebastian, without warning, turned the car into a cart track and stopped. It was hot enough now to make us seek shade. In a sheep-cropped knoll under a clump of elms we ate the strawberries and drank the wine - as Sebastian had promised, they were delicious together, - and we lit fat, Turkish cigarettes and lay on our backs, Sebastian's eyes on the leaves above him, mine on his profile, while the blue-grey smoke rose, untroubled by any wind, to the blue-green shadows of foliage, and the sweet scent of the tobacco merged with the sweet summer scents around us and the fumes of the sweet, golden wine seemed to lift us a finger's breadth above the turf and hold us suspended.'

I turn to Kate as I read the next bit.


'"Just the place to bury a crock of gold," said Sebastian. "I should like to bury something precious in every place where I've been happy and then, when I was old and ugly and miserable, I could come back and dig it up and remember."'

Cue the eating of Claire's chocolate-dipped strawberries, some coated in white in tribute to the Swiss mountains in the background.


A visitor has told me that the mountain on the left of the postcard is the Eiger.


But we think that the mountain in the centre is the even more famous Swiss peak, Toblerone.

Carmel has joined us, bringing sushi. So Kate gets off the mound both to welcome Carmel and to take a photo of the group as it now stands, less Claire. In other words, we are seven.


I've just noticed I've got a toe-exposing hole in my sock. But that's all right, it just prompts me to pass on to the next verse.

The water it soon came in, it did,
The water it soon came in;
So to keep them dry, they wrapped their feet
In a pinky paper all folded neat,
And they fastened it down with a pin.
And they passed the night in a crockery-jar,
And each of them said, "How wise we are!
Though the sky be dark, and the voyage be long,
Yet we never can think we were rash or wrong,
While round on our Mound we spin!"
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where they hang around;
Their food is green, and their view is too,
And they went to sea on a Mound.

We have been joined by Lada, who has brought grapes. A chance for me to step back for another overview.


And all night long they sailed away;
And when the sun lost light,
They whistled and warbled a moony song
To the echoing sound of a coppery gong,
In the shade of the mountains white.
‘O Styrofoam! How happy we are,
When we live on a Mound with hamper ajar,
And all night long in the moonlight pale,
We sail away with a picnic sail,
In the shade of the mountains white!’
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where they hang around;
Their food is green, and their view is too,
And they went to sea on a Mound.


No wonder Lada is looking happy. Yesterday she heard that she had been given an award by the Fife Decorative Arts Society, and this week she is hosting an event, 'Resonate', at the Centrespace VRC at the DCA. Where, later this afternoon, Kate will be reading 'In Memoriam', from
AUGUST 31, 2013, a tribute to her father.

I've come to feel a bit like Charles Dodgson, the day in 1862 when he went out in a rowing boat with Alice LIddell and her sisters, a trip which led to the books
Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Only I'm a lot older than 30, as Dodgson was then, and there would seem to be at least three generations of Alice on board today, though all of them are creative individuals in their own right, rather than muses.

The two men who are watching
Paintathon in the above image are invited by Kate to join the picnic. Jonny's friend asks to be assured that there are no nuts in the pakoras. Claire says there are no actual nuts but she can't guarantee that there are no traces of nuts. Which turns out to be fine. So we are now a crew of ten, including me with the camera.


They sailed to Switzerland Bay, they did,
To a land all covered in Newts,
And they bought a Trowel, and a useful Cart,
And a pound of Rice, and a Cranberry Tart,
And a pair of Cream Leather Boots.
And they bought a Goat, and some green Jack-daws,
And a lovely Monkey with paprika paws,
And forty bottles of Ring-Bo-Ree,
And no end of Bamboo chutes.
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where they hang around;
Their food is green, and their view is too,
And they went to sea on a Mound.

I'm no sooner back on the mound than Kate asks if I've taken a photo from either the
Paintathon painting or the corner of the gallery where the monitor is. Good point, I haven't. As I'm walking towards the picture I'm calculating the number of years that separate the sending of the postcard to Kate by her grandmother and Kate's organisation of the Paintathon. Quite a large number that I need to make use of.


And in fifty years they all came back,
In fifty years or more,
And every one said, "How tall they’ve grown!"
For they’d been to the Dogs, and the Torrible Zone,
And the hills of the Chankly Bore;
And they drank their health, and gave them a feast
Of dumplings made of beautiful yeast;
And everyone said, "If we only live,
Such lives that will give—
US the way to the Chankly Bore!"


Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where they hang around;
Their food is green, and their view is too,
And they went to sea on a Mound.

The picnic is coming to a close. What a simple idea, brilliantly executed by Kate and Claire (not forgetting Carmel, who made both the costume being worn by Kate and the one waiting in the wings). And, if I can speak for everyone, a voyage of discovery coolly navigated by the ten of us who came on board.


But that was Wednesday. Now it's Thursday and I've written up this piece. Which makes three Strange Bundles photographed and written in less than a week. Why such productivity? Well, clearly I'm inspired by the scenario. But, just as important, I know how much work went into the installation and that it's only around for a little more than a week in total.

Two more days, in fact. Then the mound is skip-bound.

Can that be right?

Perhaps a message in a bottle should be despatched.


Lots of photos taken of people without their express permission. If anyone wants a photo taken down, cropped or replaced, then please let us know and we'll do that.

Thanks to Proctor's of Blairgowrie for supplying the Styrofoam used in the mound.

Thanks to Great Grass of Manchester for supplying the artificial grass used (Natural Spring).