Stonehenge – Saturday 15th June
We drive to Stonehenge with the windscreen wipers doing their thing. As we arrive, the shower blows over and the sun gets the chance to periodically shine between the blousy clouds.
In the overflow field there’s a gathering of Druids. I remember that this time of year there’s a queue of different orders waiting to do rituals in the centre of the stone circle around the time of the midday sun. We’ve just missed the ceremony, but I think I know what went on.
Today our village is having its annual fete, which we’re missing because we’re here, and the theme is ‘pirates’. Certain villagers will be dressed to the nines I’m sure, looking brilliant in full piratical gear. Looking at the Druids on the field, I can’t help draw the parallel of fancy dress. There’s no doubt these people are Druid folk, the main signifiers are all there, cloaks, staffs, tatters and garlands. But as we park up, many of them are disrobing, revealing high street clothing underneath. They arrive as someone, dress for the occasion as someone else, then revert to their original someone for the journey home. I wonder who dictates this aesthetic?
Photos from the sixties and seventies suggest they used to dress in white, rather worryingly close to the outfits adopted by the Ku Klux Clan. Maybe that’s why the English druids changed their look? Maybe the change in dress went hand in hand with the rise of the civil rights movement in America? But I’m just speculating.
A large lady wearing a voluminous black cloak and crowned with a dainty flower garland, walks to the back of her estate car, opens the boot and removes her garland, then the cloak, then the long white shift dress revealing a blue skirt and white vest top. She slips on a comfy cardi, grabs her handbag and climbs into the front seat.
Along the byway an extensive line of trail bikes, ‘greenlaners’, dip and bob at speed towards the main road.
Mark is aware that he may need a few sessions after solstice to finish the silverpoint trilithon. However, he’s also aware that because of solstice, all the paraphernalia of the monument field, the ropes and supports and signs, will temporarily be removed. He’s got into a rhythm of finding his spot to sit and draw by visual signals around him but these will inevitably change on Friday. He’s written a note on the back of his drawing board to describe his spot. It reads: Post 4 130° Drawing -> 2 Bricks from ‘V’ brick -> Right (dimple) + 3 Bricks from Green Paint large splodge.
This describes in quite minute detail the location in which he must site his stool.
It’s busy as usual for a Saturday. People from all over the world are visiting, and a fair amount of them want a photo of the Stonehenge artist. Mark has put a sheet of fine paper over the leg of the trilithon he’s almost completed to prevent him from marking it inadvertently. It makes for an interesting photo.
An American family arrive on the tarmac path and obviously want photos of themselves in front of the Stones. Mum and the kids pose while Dad takes photos with his smart phone. The children adopt well-practiced poses, hands on hips, palms under chins, automatically. Then the youngest, a cute little girl in a bright red top and short plaits, decides she wants to take a photo. Obligingly, Dad hands over his phone and crouches next to the guide rope while his other three children bundle up close to him. I watch the little girl trying desperately to get them all in the shot, moving about the path, dodging between other visitors, but try as she might, she can’t get them all in the frame. No one tell her she could actually hold the phone horizontally rather than vertically and thereby expand the picture plane, but maybe just watching her trying to work it out is part of the fun. She presses a button. “Oh No. It didn’t work.” She says. But it’s taken long enough and no-one’s in the mood to hold the pose for any longer.