Tread Lightly My Child.
National Review of Live Art, Third Eye Centre, Glasgow. 1990.
1990 - my first son, Billy, was born. Amazing.
And I didn't really feel like making any 'art' to be honest.
Or working in general.
Besides being tired all the time I was really in awe of this tiny baby and Catherine.
Everything else faded into the background.
Our universe became just the three of us for a while, which was cool.
Tread Lightly My Child was perhaps an attempt to sum up my mind set at that moment and some of the journey up to that point. I think my own childhood became the backdrop as well - rural, working class, boxing...
Oh yes, there was also the vulnerability, the hope, the anxiety and the joy, that was flying about at that time in our universe of three!
Tread Lightly My Child was basically a large ramp made from planks (version one) and later re-made using solid wood panels (version two). (Version one collapsed after taking a hammering in Glasgow!).
I made a tree out of white fabric, a sort of 'soft sculpture' if you like, that was suspended, but it floated just above the ramp.
The tree had some fruit... Two pears cast in white plaster, one hung by a red ribbon, one hung by a blue ribbon. (Subtle boxing analogy - my Father had encouraged me to box as a young boy. I was rubbish, 'cause my nose always bled!). There was a tiny pair of boxing gloves just discarded on the ramp as well.
There were also a number of small black and white photographs of me as a very young boy hanging in the branches. No nostalgia there then Stephen!
There were piles of hay in the branches of the tree and even more underneath the ramp - lovely smell.
The room was very dark and illuminated by a powerful single spotlight and a disco glitter ball.
Version two had an additional image of my son being breast fed projected onto the ramp.
The audio element was a pre recorded soundtrack by a musician friend called Bill Vince (he was in some great bands - Left Hand Right Hand and The Glass Hammers), augmented by a series of hidden contact microphones attached to the underside of the ramp.
Now, this was the trick - the ramp had the phrase 'tread lightly' stencilled on it... So you did, and then your delicate footsteps were played back to you at a deafening volume via a delay device and amplifier hidden away...
The piece had also featured in The Sheffield Media Show earlier in the year, at Sheffield Polytechnic, Psalter Lane site... and at a couple of other venues in Sheffield.
In essence it was a sort of manger, disco, boxing, West Country, fairy-tale mash up.