I must confess that I've never worked through the night; never worked late shifts. I've always managed to avoid them, even when it looked like shift work would come in in one of the printing jobs I had when I worked in that trade. So it was with hesitation that I accepted the task of a painting project in the Guinness Storehouse Gravity Bar which had only very limited times when the work could be done - from 7pm to the following 9am.
I love my bed, you see. I don't like missing any opportunities to sleep. Even after a moderately late night, I feel exhausted and cheated of my rest. To stay up over night is my idea of hell; to stay up all night working is worse.
The Guinness Storehouse has been shortlisted for kind of Oscars of the travel industry. It's up there, competing with the likes of the Parthenon, the Colosseum, Buckingham Palace and the Eiffel Tower. Not bad, eh? So Guinness wanted to celebrate this success with a window painting of the other six candidates as if they were all on view from the Gravity Bar. Very good idea.
And this project did have its excitements. It would be an opportunity to experience the beauty of seeing the sun set and rise again from the best viewpoint in Dublin city, with its panoramic, almost 360° arc of windows. And so I did see it. The attached video is wonderful but it could not possibly capture the full glory of that scene - and it was on one of the clearest and warmest of midsummer evenings.
The video also makes everything look speedy! Creatives in Ad agencies spend a lot of time and energy in trying to get across the story that a pint of draft Guinness takes a long time to pour compared to all other beers. Well, just like an expert Guinness barman pulling a pint of the black stuff, this painting took quite some time to prepare. I drafted in my daughter Mathilde to help. To the creative director and cameraman's dismay (they were there to oversee and record the proceedings) nothing much seemed to be happening for the first couple of hours - just layers of undercoat building up an opaque ground. The creative director, Gillian Herlihy did admit afterwards that she had begun to lose heart at that early stage!
But of course, it all came together wonderfully. With unusual foresight, I had brought a sleeping bag with me and managed to get an hour or of sleep inside the circular bar. Then up at 2.30am to start work again. The funny thing was, I didn't really feel the night passing at all, so absorbed was I in building up the details.
I finished slightly ahead of scheme too and was dabbing on the final touches as the creative director and cameraman padded in after their own short night of sleep. So that's the long of it. I practically lapsed into a catatonic stupor for much of the following week but, like the perfect pint, it's all in the preparation and it was well worth the wait.