Winter 2011. On my boat in Cherbourg Northern France. Money running out. Three months work available in the UK. But I don’t want to do it. I’m a cabinet maker, yes, but I want to work with driftwood, reclaimed timbers and recycle ‘stuff’.
So I took my remaining euros, headed south via train, bus, ferry and bus and arrived at a little beach on the North East coast of Ibiza. I’d run out of money-but I’d found my beach, small, idyllic, free and beautiful, but I had no money. Oh well!
I had a bag of tools, a hammock, a few clothes, toothbrush and a new home. I felt free, but as usual, having no money brought its own stresses. I made a few bowls, a couple of signs-but didn’t sell ‘em. I found an oak pallet washed up on the beach. I found 5 euros in change next to a rubbish bin and brought a coffee, a packet of biscuits and half an hour on the internet.
The oak pallet had potential and whilst on the internet I looked up the shortest version of the Lord’s Prayer. I decided to make something real smart, something to be really proud of and something I could sell on for a fortune!
It took me a week. Three days on the beach and then another three high up in a forest overlooking the bay. Some friends had leant me a tent and I finished the carving with my Stanley knife as my only tool on the floor of the forest with pine needles as my sweet smelling companions, birdsong as my radio, ocean views as my television.
Gallons of water were drunk. Friends supplied the odd sandwich when I visited them down on ‘their’ little beach. Each letter carved increased my resolve, each word completed heard a triumphant little cry. When finished I knew I had done a good job-and then came the moment to sell.
Two hippy markets claimed good comments and talk of God-but no euros. I was loaned money to get back to Cherbourg. I dismantled the pallet and wrapped up the planks of words, far easier to carry and bussed it, ferried it and trained it back to my boat, then trained it ferried and trained it back to Dorset. I found another pallet, prized off the planks and replaced my words. Pallet restored.
Displayed for one year in a ‘healing garden’ and the owners move on. My pallet comes back to me, yet it still won’t sell. Etsy, e bay maybe onto car boot sales. But it’s worth more than that. It’s the most rewarding piece of artwork I’ve ever done. Reduce the price? No way, I’m going to triple it and more. It’s now up for sale for £1,200. It’s worth every penny.
The pallet prayer has a home somewhere-but it’s not in my bedroom where it is at the moment. Big wide world-who wants my pallet prayer?!