By 8pm on our final evening in Stiffkey, morale was diminishing.
The sun had long set. The air was becoming cold and damp. Sitting on the staging, illuminated by Neena’s floodlights and Jetstream’s Land Rover headlights, my brush strokes were slowing and shoulders slumping.
Despite immaculate planning for weeks beforehand, it felt like the apocalyptic weather and time had beaten us.
We’d worked so well as a team in such trying circumstances. However, I couldn’t help but gaze at the huge areas of corrugated wall stretching into the night sky that had still yet to be pasted.
Through the struts of the staging, Jetstream asked me how I was doing.
“Heartbroken.” was my single word (and perhaps a little dramatic) response.
“Right, then. We’re going to run a diagnosis procedure which we use in the airline industry called DODAR. In fact, we’re going to use my preferred option of (T)DODAR because the inclusion of ‘T’ gives a very good filter through which to run the rest of it.”
At this point, it’s probably as well to remind you that Jetstream (full name Jetstream Jonny) is a commercial airline captain with many years’ experience under his belt.
Jetstream went on to describe the procedure:
T = Time: How much time do we have — in an aircraft, this usually relates to “how much fuel do we have” but I like this element. Do we have to act right now or can we take our time over this?
D = Diagnosis: What exactly is the problem? Is this overall situation a result of multiple issues that can simply be solved or ignored individually? This is an opportunity to consult others to see what they think the problem is. In an aviation setting, the pilots might think they have an electrical issue but it’s only when they speak to the cabin crew that they get the information that the cabin crew are fighting a fire in the aft galley — seek clarification from other places.
O = Options: Generate a list of what to do — an opportunity to be creative and to solicit the opinion of others. Opinion should be sought using open questions like “Any ideas?” or “What do you think?”
D = Decide: So, what ARE we going to do?
A = Assign tasks: Delegate/off-load tasks that you don’t have to do yourself.
R = Review: Having done all the above take a step back and see if the plan is working. If it isn’t then run the decision making model again.
So, by pausing for 10 minutes and running the (T)DODAR procedure, we came up with a revised plan with which we were all happy.
Between the three of us, we agreed that we couldn’t finish the giant Lucy Lavers poster as originally envisaged but, as long as all elements of the boat were pasted, we could effectively revise that vision on the fly and finish her differently.
Furthermore, we’d agreed a finishing time of 10pm.
(T)DODAR had given us a new goal and an end in sight. As a result, morale was immediately restored.
It was a perfectly-timed masterstroke by Jetstream and one of those moments that, out of nowhere, had suddenly become a project highlight.
FLUIDITY IN THE CREATIVE PROCESS
Although we finished the inaugural poster in a different way to my original vision, I was more than happy with the result.
The whole experience taught me so much about the creative process — reminding me once again that I cannot control everything and that there may be times when I need to relax a little and be flexible with regard to the outcome.
It’s also taught me that I can be more creative when I plan future posters, in that I don’t necessarily have to paste the whole image — certain elements of it may well be sufficient and, in fact, be more powerful for it.
As I pasted the final sheet and stood back, I really felt like we’d made something together, something that enriched the world just as intended.
I soon came to realise that the finished poster was much more interesting not only because its interaction with the building was more obvious but because of the story that now accompanied it.
Furthermore, it was in keeping with the work of Agnès Varda and JR that had inspired me to take this path just two months ago.
It gave me a greater understanding of their work and, in particular, why JR makes his pastings in the way that he does. With this in mind, if I had my time again, I’d likely pare the image back even more.
All-in-all, despite being physically and mentally exhausting, I think it’s safe to say that it was an incredibly rewarding experience for us all.
Once again, as with so many other instances on The Lifeboat Station Project, our true reward is the story to tell.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this first glimpse of the time-lapse — I’ll be writing a public post about our time in Stiffkey soon.
Thank you for all your poster orders too. If you haven’t seen how the new Posters page has developed, it’s definitely worth a visit, if only to see the new instructional wheat paste videos by Jetstream!
Oh, and huge thanks to Harry Cory Wright for making the time to photograph the final poster. We never did get to see the finished result in daylight, so Harry’s pictures are a vital piece in the jigsaw.
That’s all for now.
As always, I hope you have a restful weekend.
More soon and I’ll look forward to your thoughts below…
Keep on keepin’ on,Jack
Newcastle upon Tyne, Saturday 10th October 2020
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