Staying at JHQ and exploring the local area.

For me not being used to military life it was slightly daunting to come and stay at JHQ for a two week duration while working at ARK School. I am so used to my freedom and autonomy as an artist, military life is almost the exact opposite I imagine.

I have been allocated a room in Cassels House which is available for members of the military to stay in if they have work to do at JHQ or are passing through on their way to another base.  The building is just like all the others here, solidly built in the 1950’s and updated with double glazed windows and fresh coats of standard issue magnolia and steel grey paint.  I have been made to feel so welcome by the staff here and they have been so helpful, making my job easier while I am here.

It all goes on in the courtyard area, people congregate here in the evenings and I love hearing about how people ended up in the military, what their jobs are and what their plans are for the future.  Being here as the base is closing down gives me a slightly different insight into military life I am sure.  It can’t be great not knowing where you will next be posted when you know that BFG is closing down more bases than previously thought, it must however bring these ‘last men standing’ together knowing that they are all pretty much in the same situation.

I was really interested to talk to who is working here in Cassells House.  He is an artist working predominantly in 2D and is hoping get a place in Dusseldorf or Berlin to study further.  Having read on another blog about how working within the military was an opportunity to get out to Germany and get work to support his art practice he applied to work with the NAAFI.  He now shares a studio with a well known picture framer and is able to continue with his art practice while working for the NAFFI.

I was able to borrow a bicycle and take a ride through the lovely countryside here and have supper in a local restaurant.  It was a German Bank Holiday on Wednesday and there were loads of people out and about on bikes enjoying the great tracks and paths available to them.

On my day off, Head Teacher Mike kindly took me to Dusseldorf, a thriving city with a rather chi chi look about its inhabitants!  It all seemed quite glossy and smart and very very busy!  We cycled from a small village with a windmill following dedicated cycle paths to a ferry crossing to get to the east bank of the Rhine – a really wide river with a strong current and plenty of big ships transporting goods.  From there we cycled the 12 km through orchards and lovely countryside into the outskirts of the city then past the university into the city centre.  I am much better in woods and fields on a bike than I am in the city!  After a lovely lunch in the oldest bar/restaurant in town we decided to take the tram back part way with the bikes, this was mad! got off as soon as we were in open air and cycled the bumpy path alongside the river back to the ferry.

It was great to explore the countryside like this, the cycle paths and footpaths being so well marked out and maintained made it an easy option.

Sunday is a day of rest and recreation in Germany, I am not allowed to do manual labour so will get cracking with design work for the next commission in Oxford.

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