Caught by the River

Shadows & Reflections – Bill Drummond

Bill Drummond | 5th December 2011

In which, as the year comes to its end, our friends and collaborators look back and share their moments;

Pic by Tracey Moberly.

Shadows first.

I have been collecting shadows most of my life. But in 1998 I set out to collect one million of them before 2025. By its very nature collecting shadows is a tricky thing to do, as my colleague Peter Pan knew all too well. And as I do not document with a camera or even keep a tab on the shadows collected, I may never know for certain when I have collected the millionth one. But I do hope the combined power cast by those one million shadows, will out shadow the shadow cast across my life by a certain work that I did previous to 1998.

2011 has been a good year for shadow collecting – and if you are wondering what collecting a shadow entails, what you have to do is acknowledge the aesthetic and spiritual qualities of each shadow that passes you by as you make your way through the day. This obviously requires a certain amount of projection on your part.

Last night (25 November 2011) I was in Derry, Ireland, where I was supposed to be doing one of my forty Imagine Waking Tomorrow & All Music Has Disappeared graffiti that I have been doing on bridges around the world. It was to be done on the Craigavon Bridge over the Foyle, but at 2:23am, as I was just about to start, the river police turned up and put a stop to my shenanigans. I think they thought I was there to try and throw myself in, as it is a favourite local suicide spot.

What was not prevented was the collection of a classic late night shadow. It was of a shadow cast by the railings on the floor of the foot path of the bridge. My friend and colleague Tracey Moberly, who was also in Derry, for the launch of her Text Me Up! book and who would have taken the photo of the graffiti, photographed the shadow instead.

The next time you walk back home late at night check the shadows out.

And so to reflections.

Reflections are also something that I have been collecting for most of my life. Those reflections can be on water, windows, mirrors or merely conceptual. From Harry Worth to the Queen in Snow White, via Alice and Narcissus, reflections have obviously been a powerful part of our shared psyche. It is the mirror ones that have been the most problematic ones for myself. This started at the age of three when my parents discovered me dancing naked infront of the full-length mirror on the inside of the door of the wardrobe in my bedroom. There have been chunks of my adult life where I have banished mirrors from my home. Waking up and not having to confront oneself in the mirror is one of the best ways to start the day.

For the past ten years I have been knowingly using my regular visits to barber’s to confront my own reflection and address my aging self as to what I have achieved or failed to achieve since I last sat in a barber’s chair. Last week I was working in Kolkata (Calcutta), India. While there I took the opportunity to have a shave in a local barber’s for a bit of addressing myself. The photographer Nilayan Dutta, who I was working with and was aware of my interest in reflections, took some photos inside the barber’s shop. The photographer that I have chosen to accompany this text, captures the power of reflections in a way that is very difficult to deny.

As soon as I have hit the send button on this to Caught By The River, I will see if they have the opening section from the Harry Worth Show on You Tube.