… or, how one thing leads to another.
I blame Tish Farrell for this line of thought – it was the story of the allotment bottom test that had me thinking of Donald McGill and smut 😉
I walk into a shop in Hexham and announce to the lady behind the counter – “I am interested in your bust” – pregnant pause – “Ah, yes sir, you mean the one in the window”. Smirking like a schoolboy, “But of course, what else”. That’s more or less how it happened which goes some way to explain why our house resembles a Scandi Noir crime scene (and that came from an exchange with the wonderfully creative Katherine Anne Griffiths at Photobooth Journal).
To explain – there is a torso in the bedroom created by Dennis Kilgallon and the aforementioned bust. In the second bedroom there is half a head attached to the wall, a cast from a statue at either Belsay or Wallington Hall, I forget which. In the lounge there is another bust and in my study/playroom, a pair of lips act as a paperweight.
Stay with me – as regular readers of this blog will be aware, I have spent three years persuading Nikon they needed to exchange my flawed Nikon D600 for the D610 and eventually they came good. So here I am with the an expensive and very fine full frame DSLR supported by a variety of equally expensive prime lenses and what do I do – spend £26 on eBay buying a Holga pinhole lens and attach it to the D610. These are the results:
The inspiration for pinhole photography came from fellow Blipper – Flashcube.
On an entirely different topic, I was back in Newbiggin again yesterday – more golf in perfect condtions. Having levelled some criticism at the Couple for being inaccessible in the previous post, I was told there is a land based equivalent, so I went looking. I was not disappointed and yes, John Updike would be delighted to know, there are Couples:
PS – in conversation with a local, I learned they are known locally as Eb and Flo. Opinion is still divided; this particular resident would have preferred a miner and fisherman.
Now I have your attention, I confess it started with something much more mundane – a trip to Newbiggin by the Sea to collect a waterproof jacket and trousers from the golf club. An entirely appropriate purchase given the links were empty, the rain coming down sideways, the skies forbidding and the gulls struggling to maintain their flight plan.
We have been meaning to see the Couple for years, and so it works, public artworks attract visitors. On the bitterest of days we walked the prom and the beach to see them staring out to sea:
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.
When first installed, as with most public art, opinions were divided but I would be surprised if many now object; they are part of Newbiggin’s fabric, not just the couple but locals. If I have a criticism it is that they are too inaccessible – Sean Henry‘s works are finely detailed and should be seen up close but this remains the preserve of strong swimmers and gulls.
And what came next was a desire to give the couple a permanent residence on this blog – so after nearly five years the theme has has been replaced and they have joined a number of images that randomly appear in the header – a change was long overdue.
A late addition:
The term “HyperNormalisation” is taken from Alexei Yurchak’s 2006 book Everything was Forever, Until it was No More: The Last Soviet Generation, about the paradoxes of life in the Soviet Union during the 20 years before it collapsed. A professor of anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, he argues that everyone knew the system was failing, but as no one could imagine any alternative to the status quo, politicians and citizens were resigned to maintaining a pretence of a functioning society. Over time, this delusion became a self-fulfilling prophecy and the “fakeness” was accepted by everyone as real, an effect that Yurchak termed “HyperNormalisation” – Wiki.
Here is my small contribution to “fakeness” – it occurs to me that none of my images reflect reality. The same field in July, December and February:
The same “fakeness” is at play in this video:
When you’re asleep they may show you
Aerial views of the ground,
Freudian slumber empty of sound.
Over the rooftops and houses,
Lost as it tries to be seen,
Fields of incentive covered with green.
Steve Hackett, Tony Banks, Anthony George Banks
As someone who has dabbled with pole photography (don’t Google that – you could come away with entirely the wrong impression 😀 ) – it was inevitable/compulsory that some day I should acquire a drone. With wide open spaces and unrestricted airspace I am ideally placed to practice being the Red Baron. These were taken on my second flight – on the maiden ascent I used video but the still camera produces much more interesting and better quality results. In enlarged view you can see as far as the bridge at Corbridge and there is even a selfie – the white dot to the left of the arched window is me with the controller 🙂
The first surprise has been evidence of ancient ridge and furrow farming in the surrounding fields, something not at all apparent at ground level.
Expect the sequel to Golf in the Wild to include a host of aerial images 🙂
It was like grasping water to think how quickly the years had passed here. They were nearly gone. It was in the nature of things and yet it brought a sense of betrayal and anger, of never having understood anything much. Instead of using the fields, he sometimes felt as if the fields had used him. Soon they would be using someone else in his place. It was unlikely to be either of his sons. He tried to imagine someone running the place after he was gone and could not. He continued walking the fields like a man trying to see.
John McGahern – Amongst Women (1990).
I last walked these fields in March 2014, how quickly the years have passed. Nothing much has changed in the land between the Wall, Hangman’s Hill and Davy’s Brig Well. On that occasion I had recently watched Pat Collins’ Silence, a remarkable, meditative film about loss, silence, history, memory and exile. In a similar moment of coincidence, today I was brought back to the words of John McGahern by this film, A Private World. I am indebted to Poetry and Environment for posting this video and reminding me of McGahern’s great art …
All we have is the precious moments, and the hours, and the days.
Sunrises and sunsets are a photographic cliché but this doesn’t stop me rushing for the camera every time I see one. If they occurred with the infrequency of the northern lights it would stop us in our tracks.
We are fortunately placed, with a near uninterrupted view of the sun rising across the high ground above the Tyne Valley. These images were taken a short time apart – above the valley the mist has burned off to a gin clear day while down in Hexham, there is fog on the Tyne. If you look closely to the right of the video, you can see the fog bank shifting along the valley – these time-lapse videos have a certain sameness but I admit to compulsive habits and this is just one of them:
The young man had memories like mine and more. Staying out too long for one last cast across inhospitable waters, he never made landfall again.
This assumption from the previous post was based on vague memory and the fly rod sculpted into the headstone.
I am always astonished by the kindness of strangers – in this instance, Mary from Scullomie Pages and Iain from the Melness Social History site who, giving their time, uncovered the sad truth behind the headstone at Melness cemetery.
The body of a youth drowned while creel-fishing from a north Sutherland clifftop on Thursday, was recovered yesterday. Nicholas Wyper, 18, was washed into the sea while hauling in lobster pots from Port Vasgo, near Talmine.
Taken from the Sunday Herald at the time.
This from Iain:
Nicholas lived with family in Melness and there is still family there. I have attached a few photos for you as there is another memorial at the spot where it happened. Sadly the stone and the cairn is broken, like the hearts of his family. By all accounts he was a fine young lad who loved Melness, its beauty and freedom. The site looks benign in the September sunshine, but there are dangerous undercurrents and deep water round the inlet and Stac Dhu, so a good place for lobsters, but very hard work to pull up pots on uneven ground.
The images are reproduced with the kind permission of Iain C Morrison www.melness.org.uk
The words on the cairn memorial read as follows:
WHO WAS SWEPT
FROM THESE ROCKS
29TH JUNE 1989
AGED 18 YEARS
A YOUNG MAN
WHO WILL ALWAYS