Alex James: The Great Escape

I've become a builder and I love it
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I had a go at some sculpture on Sunday. It is a satisfying business, musical in a way. As with other forms of self-expression, the important thing with visual art is to have a go. Attempt things and let them say what they will. It is just not right to say "I can't draw" or "I can't sing". You've got to believe you can. Of course you can. You can do anything.

Sculpture is brilliant. I'm working on a few things. I have plans for an obelisk eventually, but I'm learning the craft by contemplating mounds and building barbecues. Barbecues are a good starting point. It's a lot harder to tell if an obelisk actually works. With a barbecue you can tell straight away.

There were a lot of people coming for lunch on Sunday. We were going to roast one of our lambs. I actually felt pleased to be living on a building site, for once. It seemed to make sense all of a sudden. I suppose all homes are constantly under construction to some extent, but we've been overwhelmed since we bought this farm. I signed up for farming, but I've become a builder and I love it. Houses are our monuments. I remarked to the builders some weeks back, when the steel trusses were being craned on to the stone walls of the new bit of the house, that building houses was, in a profound sense, really a sculpture. The steel guy said: "That's not what we fackin call it, mate."

Still, there were plenty of materials around for making a barbecue. Pretty soon, under the birch tree, which caught fire only once, we had a beautiful smoking, working barbecue sculpture. There was an old iron hay wotsit which went well as a base for the coals and a horrible old well grate that's been hanging around annoying me for ages worked brilliantly for the grill. It was a unique thing. I love opening boxes from Homebase and sticking all the bits together, but this was different from the thrill of retail. I felt like I had made art. The only crime an artist can commit is being dull, being rubbish is nothing at all to be scared of.

Even the people from the big house up the road were impressed with my creation. I found another rusty old iron hay wotsit for them, so they could do something similar. They were chuffed to bits.

For cooking, I donned a pair of snazzy chef's trousers with a harlequin print. I'd been saving them for a special occasion, and very comfortable they were, too. They make them only in one size, which is a refreshing approach to tailoring, but they mainly felt good because they had no pockets. For some time this weekend I was without pockets. I'm sure that having no pockets accelerated my feelings of greatness and liberty. It's a kind of nudey feeling, not just because there's a bit more freedom down there for everything to lop about, but as soon as you empty your pockets you are on holiday. You're at once disconnected from the world of money, receipts, telephone calls, tickets, keys and whatever else stops you living free in the moment.

Country life. Love it.

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