The bottles appear, one day after another. The first, in the drainage ditch just past the old village gate on the East side of the North Road, near where the black lanterns once hung; the other at the far end of the road, half a mile along, in the drainage ditch just inside the village boundary, on the West side of the North Road. Pristine installations set onto a blank canvas created by a meticulous sweep of the wayside just last week by the voluntary village litter-picker.
The third - that's special. This was the site that so much time was spent on during the very first, the Inaugural litter sweep; an area of old tyres and a deep sense of pause; a place to stop and eat, a place to shed the labours of a morning with a tin of beer, a bottle of wine, a can of cider. There's a pull-out at the open entrance of a field, with mammoth tree trunks laid across it to keep the travellers' caravans out, and perfect for sitting on. Another canvas which was wiped clean last week; to frame the careful placement of the can.
So much meaning already: The story in the North Road bottles of "just passing through", as if they were flung by a driver on their way to work and back, or perhaps to calm an anxious lover, boss or child, on the way to and back from meetings in difficult times. And the Stella, the "star": what does it draw our attention to? The place of rest? The place where rest is denied to the placeless?
And look at the finer details: the easily over-looked subtlties which tie the dispersed elements of the installation into one art-work: one, meaningful whole. The two bottles are from Westons Cider Mill, in the neighbouring county of Herefordshire, which was still virtually free of The Virus at the time of installation; and Stella, from Europe, from Belgium, where the breweries have already been closed, and the cities are on lock-down. A subtle reference to Time; to what is coming?
Look more closely still: The first bottle points North; the second bottle points West; the can of Stella carefully points South. What is missing? What roars eloquently in its absence? The East. The Absence from the East, the Void, the Vacuum, the Ultimate Source of an Anxiety raging through the country that alcohol tries to suppress and the metaphorical defecation of "discards" tries to fling from the frame, from the vehicle of the self altogether.
Add to this beautiful installation the inbuilt ephemerality of a work which will appear to the casual eye to be litter, and will inevitably be destroyed by the litter picker or by the obliterating blanket of time: the twin grim reapers. Open, audacious, and even in your face as a work of art, by a Banksy of geo-installation, a rural genius of conceptual art; but unseen, unrecognised, and gone before the sightseers and art aficionados come. A metaphor for life at the best of times; but exquisite in a time of pandemic.