May 31st was our last carving day at Downe’s Barn before a move to Gumber, and the rain clouds were low as, on arrival, I negotiated a crowd outside Slindon’s Catholic church – apparently Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols was present for the morning service, the first visit to Slindon by a Cardinal for 500 years. I wonder if Mme. Belloc’s occasional advisor Cardinal Manning ever visited less formally? (see this post) My arrival after a 2 week gap found the top of the block strewn with gorgeous flints and some slate tools, reminiscent of what one might find below a soft-stone cave wall in prehistoric times. Humans have made marks for millennia; to encourage harvest or hunt, to appease gods; perhaps latterly because we feel some inner need to leave something behind. At this stage in the carving, it was positive to find the experimentation; the discovery that flint and slate are both harder than limestone and thus lines left in the stone’s surface made by the implement. [Hopefully when the work is finished, its very presence as a complete sculpture will alert the experimentors to cease!] Alone early in the day, I added some facial markings to several of the masses at the top of the block and suddenly I had company; a silent group presence in stone. Horseriders, walkers, cyclists and runners were less in number and more hardy in the rain today, but many passed with a wave, not relishing a wet mallet and damp stone dust turning to sludge. But as the day dried, we still had 20 carvers through the day, some staying over an hour to contribute their chiselling and interpretation of the forms. Today, a high proportion of visitors from Chichester and Walberton, and some returners from earlier in the year. The varied, intelligent and sensitive responses to the block never cease to amaze me. Remember though, these images are transitory – the block will be turned to a different face before I start to find more permanent imagery, which properly supports our Rise of Northwood. See you on June 13th at Gumber – a nice easy walk from Bignor Hill carpark!