A dry approach to Messages in Bottles

showing a bottle to a visitor blog

Bonn, the very first dispatch

Those of you who have followed me for a while know that I used to live in Bonn. The river Rhine goes through Bonn and we lived just a short walk away from the shore and a large bridge from where it was easy to drop in bottles. Some only made it to the next bend, others made it further, one almost reached the Netherlands. But the most remarkable thing was a high rate of responses. I don’t really want to count the first 7 bottles which I dropped in without a cork (just a waxed cloth over the opening). That makes 5 bottles put in, 3 found – a response rate of 60%. Even if I count the first 7 – one of those got found – AND for good measure all the bottles I put in over the year a little further upstream at my parent’s at law in Mainz, that still makes a response rate of 6 out of 19 or 30%. Response rates for my bottles overall is 24 out of 99. (Maybe we should make this 24 out of 93, because I entered 5 bottles into an exhibition at the MCBA under the promise of them being tossed into the Mississippi but that never happened as far as I know, and one into an exhibtion in Swansea which suffered the same fate).

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Yours truely, tossing a bottle into the river Trent

So on average I have a response rate of 25%, in the Rhine about 30% and in all English rivers combined this number is slightly above average with 3 to out of 11 if I count two bottles that were dropped in so close to the coast that they were actually found on a beach. If I don’t that brings that figure down to 1 out of 9, and not one of the 6 bottles I dropped into the river Trent were found.

That got me a little frustrated with tossing bottles in here in Nottingham, which in turn results in bottles mainly being tossed in either from English beaches, or when I or Matthias are travelling somewhere.

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Hiding a bottle in a library

Not long ago, I hid some bottles in libraries here, which was good fun and had a surprising result and find, too. (Read more here).

But I just love hiding and leaving out things for people to find. More recently I started to hide painted pebbles around Wollaton, where I live. I don’t post photos of all the pepples, but if you are interested, you’ll find some in my instagram stream. And I still find the idea of hiding messages in libraries brilliant. The problem is that my previous experiences showed that although dispatching them in a dry environment, I would have to make them waterproof nonetheless because the finder is likely to put them in the water.

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new project: eggs and pods

And so I now embark on a new series of messages in, erm, eggs/nests/pods that probably won’t be tossed into the water. I am not turning away from messages in bottles and from this project, I will continue to make these. And the new messages are different in many ways. Actually in most ways:

  • the message inside is always essentially the same.
  • the thing itself is the artwork, kind of, no additional art is included, just the message
  • most of them have no reference to me, no explanation of any kind, some have initials, some have my name. None ask for contact
  • I am not sure people will understand that there is a message somewhere

I am not going to post more about this new project in this space. If you would like to follow it, you could follow me on instagram where I will probably put the odd picture. But there will be no real documentation. While this project is all about the connection with a stranger, this new thing is not. And I feel it therefore doesn’t need documentation. I am still curious to see whether I will ever get contacted about it. And I do feel it is a direct continuation of what began here with this project.

It follows the same idea that I want to spread joy with and about art, and want to share something with people who might not otherwise go in a gallery to see or even buy works of art.

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P.S.: I must admid, now that I went through the figures – I might actually try some rivers again, too 🙂

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