Had he heard Duke at all? That whispering/muttering was it Duke? Or was it all in his mind? The message had been sent to Charlotte about Mr Melia and he had received an immediate response “He taught me. He really inspired me. I messaged him to tell him.” He turned to Duke and spoke quietly, “Think I might have found a link to Kevin Melia.” Duke just stared menacingly forward and refused to answer. “I’ll get the kettle on. Tea?” SWITCH My make-up is dry and it cracks on my chin SWITCH “Morning!” The cleaners both looked at him and smiled as he ascended the steps to the studio. They responded in unison to his greeting, “Morning Duke!” He was already on his way in through the door and although he wanted to correct them he couldn’t be bothered to chase back down the stairs. Everyone seemed to be confusing him with Duke lately anyway, what was the point in fighting it. The light blinked into the room and there was Duke waiting as usual. “I need you today, I have something I want to try. It’s just an idea but might be a good way of rounding everything off before Flatpack.” Moving over to the kettle he flicked the switch and prepared the two mugs accordingly. He had his back to Duke but continued to chat, “The cleaners said to say hello by the way. They mixed us up again, I didn’t say anything…” He paused and turned to face the silent figure who was in his usual position on the other side of the studio, “sometimes Duke…sometimes I get mixed up myself…do you find that?” The whisper-muttering seemed to fill the room again but he couldn’t make out anything that would form the words to answer his question so he walked over to his desk to turn the music on. Pressing random play he was greeted by the sound of the new Temples album. He had only managed to listen to it once and so wasn’t familiar with the song titles yet, the sound was pleasing though and he responded by dancing his way back to the kettle to complete the preparation of the tea. Whilst he jigged with the teaspoon in his hand he picked up on a couple of the lyrics “We are laughter, nothing more to answer. From the depths of today we encounter, we shouldn’t care of what we see.”  He put Duke’s mug down next to him without a word and then sat down at his desk with his own mug held tightly to his chest. He scrolled to the song titles and read “(I want to be your) Mirror” SWITCH Working in silence he and Duke crafted a series of performance images that had a connection to some of the text he’d been reading on Bacon. “…never shown before is the disintegration of the social being which takes place when one is alone in a room which has no looking glass. We may feel at such times that the accepted hierarchy of our features is collapsing.” John Russell SWITCH It was the end of the day and he looked at his notes, two student groups were coming in to look at the work next week and he had to prepare for that tomorrow. After gathering his sketchbooks together and getting his bags sorted he looked at the desk and saw the images that he had printed off after the morning’s work. He selected a gap on the wall and taped the images into place, there was a red pen next to the tape and he quickly made a note underneath the images before grabbing his coat from the hook. “See you tomorrow.” Duke didn’t reply, turning the light out he left in silence. SWITCH He hadn’t seen the blue-eyed lady, the old man or the hipster for a good while now and Charlotte hadn’t got back to him about Mr Melia either, making his way from New Street Station he pondered the implications surrounding all these people that seemed to impact upon him so significantly and then disappear just as he was getting to see who Duke was, or might be, just when he needed them they slipped away. He arrived at Margaret Street and walked through the doors at the BMI before making his way towards the studio. “Morning June, how are you today?” June was cleaning on the main staircase and turned to acknowledge with a big smile. “I’m fine Duke. You?”  He continued his journey without stopping but responded to June cheerily “Good thanks, lots to do today.” Opening the door he hit the switch and looked into the studio. Duke had his back to him and the images that he had taped to the wall the day before had been torn down and lay on the floor in a crumpled mess. He tutted and walked over to pick up the prints, “What have you done that for?” SWITCH Yesterday’s student group had been really good and responded well to the film. Dr Connie had been on form with her enquiry during the Q&A and it had helped to draw some interesting ideas out from the group and he had a lot to think through from the responses. He was now walking through town with his colleagues, Maggie and Anna, on his way to the next talk for a second group of MA students. They chatted generally and as they approached Margaret Street he suddenly felt his footing slip and his right ankle buckled in a gap in the pavement. To Maggie and Anna’s horror he careered into the road and landed flat onto the hard surface with an ungainly clatter. He bounced up quickly, embarrassed but fine, Duke had made sure that he hadn’t hurt himself. “You must have hurt your hands, I heard them scrape on the road?” Anna’s concern was genuine but he was able to ease it immediately by showing his unblemished palms, “Look…fine…it’s ok, I know how to fall.” They carried on their journey to the BMI for the afternoon talk. SWITCH The responses were good from the second talk and the way in which the film had been interpreted really gave him confidence in it. He’d been honest about Duke and the students had asked questions about the figure he shared the studio with, “Is this Duke in front of us now?” and “How do we know when we are talking to you or Duke?” The discussion flowed and it lifted his spirits – he felt the work he’d undertaken was standing up. The two days of presenting and talking about what he had been doing had served to galvanise his thoughts and consolidate his belief in the work. SWITCH Shara Nelson’s voice filled the studio. Upon arrival he had gone straight to his playlist and selected Massive Attack’s ‘Blue Lines’ album. The opening track ‘Safe From Harm’ rhythmically pounded the air and as he moved over to the kettle to make his routine brew he felt the power of the sound penetrate his thoughts. He stood for some moments absorbing the sound. Initially he had lifted both mugs, but as he centred in on the secondary vocal line “I was lookin' back to see if you were lookin' back at me to see me lookin' back at you” things altered. In what felt like a small act of defiance he turned Duke’s mug over and prepared just the one drink. He knew Duke had seen him do it but he didn’t turn round to witness the response – he knew Duke wouldn’t utter a word anyway. SWITCH It had been a week since he’d presented the work to the MA students. They were still curious about it and he had spent the day in tutorials discussing their work but also, inevitably, answering further questions on Duke. “I don’t think you should kill him off…what’s he ever done to you?” “Killing him off would be a masterstroke.” “I can't stomach watching it.” SWITCH Zoe Lippett was due to visit the studio and he had arrived keen to get on with some more work. Suzanne had been in hospital…and he was running on nervous energy, the love of his life was fine and now at home recuperating but he hadn’t had a lot of sleep and he knew that he wanted to be sharp for Zoe. They had last worked together at New Art Gallery Walsall and, just like Dr Connie, Zoe had been an important part of developing the practice through review and discussion. He opened the door and threw himself into the studio, dropping his bags he headed for the kettle, “Sorry Duke, I’m not making you tea today. I want to keep the mug clean for Zoe.” Flicking the switch on the kettle he headed back to his desk and got the sketchbooks out. SWITCH The e-mail had come through in the early hours…”You’re big in Bahrain!” The attached image showed a vast space with huge screens floating like waves in a sea of projected films. There was Duke’s third film – it looked great and he knew that Jonathan had done the work a huge justice. SWITCH Zoe’s studio visit had been a welcome addition to a positive week of presenting and discussing Duke’s films. Following the end of the residency at New Art Gallery Walsall in 2013 he’d had to adjust to not having Zoe’s input, he’d missed their weekly meetings. Today though, they had both agreed that the reason that the dialogue had flowed so freely between them during this visit was exactly down to the time that had elapsed since they had last convened. “I can see how your practice has moved on and it feels really strong.” He felt delighted inside, that was what he had hoped Zoe would see and it was in line with Dr Connie’s assertions too…he’d take that all day long! SWITCH He was so tired he could barely keep his eyes open, the train journey home had been relatively uneventful and the rhythm of the carriage had gently rocked him in and out of blurry consciousness. He slumped into the chair and Sonny paused the game he was playing on his xBox and got up “Do you want a cup of tea?” he responded instantly “Please.”  As his eyes started to close again he suddenly pictured Duke in his mind, looking back at him from outside his dressing room. Frozen in a rare, intimate moment backstage. His eyes opened and he shouted through to the kitchen as the kettle burbled away. “Sonny? Can you make me two cups of tea please?” His son appeared in the doorway with a teaspoon in hand and a quizzical expression on his face, “Two cups…why do you want two cups?”  He stood up and looked in the mirror above the mantelpiece. “It’s just easier that way.”