Stonehenge – Saturday 23rd February
Standing at the entrance of the building site for the new visitors centre is a new sign. Attached to a metal A-frame is a large piece of paper with the word STONEHENGE and an arrow pointing up the road hand written in black marker pen.
I’m wondering how many visitors, seeing all those lovely shiny hoardings announcing ‘Stonehenge’, have arrived and attempted to park up?
The sky is full of grey clouds and alarmingly, small flakes of snow occasionally land on the windscreen.
The current visitor car park is rammed with coaches. The queue of people waiting to get in spills out from the path to the entrance booth.
It’s not been this busy since last summer.
Today it’s extremely chilly so we won’t be staying too long. We weave through the crowd and up onto the tarmac path where Mark quickly sets up his stool and gets out the silverpoint drawing. Immediately he’s besieged by other tourists. I decide to stand behind him and photograph the photographers for a while. Some people, however, just want to look and be amazed. A father holds his little girl in his arms and together they watch the artist making small concentrated marks on paper.
A group of teenagers, possibly a school party, gathers round, excitedly wielding small cameras and smart phones.
An Asian man takes his camera off its tripod and crouches behind Mark to get an action shot. I hear the shutter making rapid-fire clicks. Art as a sports shoot.
The snow gets heavier. A sudden flurry sends me scurrying back to the car park and to cover. Mark is going to persevere a little while longer.
From the comfort of the truck I watch a mother sitting with her small daughter at one of the round wooden pic-nic tables in the car park. It’s snowing lightly. She persuades the little girl to remove her pink hat then takes out a new purchase from a Stonehenge shop bag. The little girl sits patiently while a woolly sheep’s-face hat is pulled onto her head, her blond hair tucked in around it. She looks adorable. Her father arrives and is of course delighted by his daughter’s new look. He takes out a camera and photographs her.
Along the byway, a posse of trial bikes, ‘green-laners’, roar along the muddy track.
I spot Mark marching towards the car park, his three-legged stool folded up and slung over his shoulder by its strap, his drawing board clamped under his arm. He throws open the sliding door of the truck, carefully places the drawing board inside and climbs in, temporarily defeated by the elements. I look at the silverpoint study. It’s so close to being finished but isn’t quite…