Victor & Hestor

Victor & Hester is an artist collective established in Glasgow in January 2010 by Amelia Bywater, Emma Fitts and Kistin Carlin.

Victor & Hester publish Journal, a monthly publication produced in conjunction with an exhibitions programme, giving artists the opportunity to test out ideas in both the gallery space and in print format. Through inviting a diverse range of artists and writers to present their work in exhibitions and journals.

Victor & Hestor Journal 11

39°43’ 20’’ N

 

Peering through my theodolite I take a measurement of the horizon’s angle. It had snowed heavily last night. The freshly felled trees describe the day’s labours, indicated by the fallen dark tree trunks against the white landscape. A team of labourers take their lunch-break as I complete the morning’s reading. We are accurate to within a quarter of a degree of true west. Moving my tripod twenty feet back I take another reading through the theodolite. Leaving my equipment momentarily I walk past the labourers and mark three more trees. “Few more to do after lunch I’m afraid.”

We are situated at the edge of a beech wood. Turning around and facing eastwards, past the tripod and my satchel, a straight line has been cleft through the woodland as far as the eye can see. Cut up segments of beech tree form ramparts on either side. The workmen pick themselves up and saw through the few remaining trees which had blocked the way.

I’m glad to be out of the woodland, now we have a clear run of gently rolling prairie land until the start of the Alleghenny mountains.

 

Continuing westwards the group sets a steady pace. Every couple hundred yards I plant down my tripod and take another reading before resuming onwards. At one mile intervals plain square stones are placed as markers. Every 5 miles larger engraved stones are positioned. The stonemasons had been behind schedule but due to the delays incurred during our passage through the wood they have had time to complete the next boundary marker. The larger stones stand 4 feet tall by 1 foot wide. Intricately carved upon the north and south facing sides are the crests belonging to each of the landowning families. Both of the landowners have sent their own stonemason to undertake this task.

 

As we approach our next 5 mile point the two stonemasons move their way to the front of the group. They carry the stone wrapped within a piece of large canvas cloth. One hand on each side, they lumber forwards swaying clumsily as they place the stone into position. Having removed the cloth the whole group inspects the stone. This occasion is one of the highlights of our journey. The northern crest has a wreathed swift in flight with a moon above it and a pair of muskets on either side. The southern crest depicts a large conical glass work factory with smoke billowing out of its central chimney and below it a fish curled into a ‘c’ shape with a ring in its mouth. Each of the 5 mile markers have slightly differing details. I hadn’t picked up on this until around the 40 mile stage. The thing that attracted my attention was the changing cycles of the moon upon the northern crest. It has been waxing for the past 60 miles. Today’s is a full moon. Certain elements rarely change but now I see that the smoke from the glasswork blows slightly to the west whereas it has always, blown directly upwards as on a calm, windless day.

 

After 200 miles and 4 months of travelling west along the 39 43’ 20’’ N line of latitude we place the final boundary marker. For the labourers and stonemasons this is the end of the journey. But as head surveyor I must repeat the entire 200 miles going in the opposite direction to ensure I end up at our exact start point.

Victor & Hestor Journal 9 (in collabortion with Sam Kennedy)

© 2017 by Thom Walker