Wednesday, 1 January 2014

New year wish


 
may the new year
have many doors and windows
reflect some sweet dreams

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

 

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Dark sunlight


 
The early fog never quite lifted today. When I went out later something of it lingered - not really a mist, not even a blurring, but a softening of light and colour that I'd never seen before. Everything soft and thick like velvet. The low, low sun strong but diffused. A faint but distinct sheen on walls and pavements. And the sky such a dark blue. Not dark like a storm or dark like dusk, but a new shade. Some things can't be predicted or described or encompassed. Some things, some days are just astonishing and lovely.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Planet stirring


 
Wild storms and flooding from the sea. The news of all this interrupted for the announcement that the bright light of Nelson Mandela has gone out. And around our little lake the rampant vegetation shrinks and cracks and flares as it shades into winter.


 

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Thick

 
 
Thick might seem an odd word for these, for the big, pale, blurry, fragile images taken with a pinhole camera, for the standing figure, outside one picture, inside another, both solid and transparent. It was an exhibition of works by Karen Stuke, depicting places described in Sebald's masterwork Austerlitz about a man brought to Britain from Prague on a Kindertransport, his adult discovery of his past and voyage into it, the huge effect upon his personality and life, his recounting of his story to the narrator. It's a long, pale, swirling story, hauntingly glimpsed in these photos (see them all here), which were deeply atmospheric in themselves, all the more so in the harsh beauty of the Wapping Project, a cavernous, largely windowless former hydraulic power station, and all the more so to the captivated reader, like myself, of Sebald's work.


 
 

 


 
I was thinking of the way that social scientists, ethnographers, speak of 'thick description', a build-up of multiple layers and perspectives through which we may arrive at new insights. It starts with the book, a meandering, but intense and gripping narrative. No, it starts with the real places, historical narratives and found pictures that the book evokes and the visceral, unbearable, memories attached to these. And it spreads, alludes, moves and inspires, as writers and artists continue to make works in response to Sebald's; as readers and viewers are drawn in, tossed around, left floating, yearning, glimpsing pictures of our own, like this one through the window of the old power station on my way out.
 
 










Wednesday, 20 November 2013

To frame or not to frame













A big thing in 'street photography', I suppose, is the lack of a frame, the freedom from it, the capturing of a random, unboundaried flash of space and time that is in some way affecting. But the point here, of course, is precisely the frame of door and window shapes behind the figure. She's walking past the front entrance of Tate Modern and the framed figure fortuitously evokes the pictures inside - perhaps was only noticed because, approaching the entrance, I was already 'seeing' the paintings I'd come to look at.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Tipping



 
Why this impulse to tilt the camera - experienced before, but only in autumn? I suppose it's the sensation of trees meeting the ground as the leaves keep falling, of being tipped inexorably into winter.


Thursday, 14 November 2013

Sea-pink


 

  Beached on the wet footpath - as pink, damp and fleshy as a creature from the sea.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Vermeeresque again


 
Oh dear. Since I saw the film about Vermeer, they're everywhere: quiet, luminous women, reading or writing by a window, looking like a painting. What a cliché. But a sweet one, and all the sweeter when so many sit or stand or walk absorbed in their phones or tablets: that absent, abstracted indifference to surroundings and compulsive inability to put the damned thing down. Seeing someone read a book or write in a notebook never feels as alienating. Yes, of course they may be equally abstracted, and of course good stuff, as well as mindless or super-stressful, proceeds through all those 'devices'. Still, a proliferation of dwellers in the global city who evoke an old Dutch painting seems no bad thing.