Discussion in 'Exhibition Lounge' started by Geren, Feb 17, 2018.
Better than naphallm.
On Tuesday I walked up to meet with a fellow photographer to discuss our possible Photo Workshop venture and then on to the local gallery where we're hoping to host it. Looks like things are moving in the right direction on that front at least. Afterwards I decided to nip up to the park because I had arranged to meet some of my evening class there for an Easter Break Walkabout to keep them interested and one had said he thought the park was closed. It is still very much under renovation but as I thought, some areas are still accessible. I've been photographing it on and off during the upgrade and I find the moving barriers fascinating so I took a few shots. As it was absolutely 'brass monkeys' I didn't stay long. It seems drier today so hopefully by lunchtime we may even have some light.
Never in the same place
So many of the trees have had to be lopped. Not sure if there is a plan for replanting anything? Or if there's a plan but no budget maybe?
Can't quite tell if the 'pond' is intentional and will remain as a feature, or incidental and to be remedied.
Currently the only flowering plants I could find in the whole park. They've been there doing their 'thang' since about October.
This was new. I've not seen this section open in a good while. I suspect it was not 'open' to the public, but to allow access for workers so it will be interesting to see if it's still open this afternoon or not.
Back into the woods yesterday. I met up with some of my photography students and most of the time was spent looking at other people's settings etc so I wasn't really there for my own benefit but still managed a few shots. Building up a bit of a collection from here now. Not sure where I'm going with it though.
Students in animal masks as models.
Black and white.
A really really short walk today, just to get me out of the house. The weather has been so cold and all I've wanted to do is hibernate. However I am starting to do some research around the woodland images and as part of that was reminded that Helensburgh is the starting point for the John Muir Way - a walk that goes from Helensburgh in the west to Dunbar in the east. (I had been thinking about 'forest bathing' and how my experience of being in the woods is almost always overwhelmingly positive...and the website I found telling me more about this Japanese kind of 'nature therapy' was littered with quotes from John Muir. Of course, Muir was largely responsible for the creation of National Parks in the USA, starting with my own personal favourite place to get lost: Yosemite. I like the way this is all linking up in my research so far and need a new project to work on so I thought I'd go and have a swizz at what we have here in Helesnburgh relating to John Muir.
The bench and the disc mark the start (or I suppose, finish if you started in Dunbar) of the John Muir Way. I didn't really understand why Helensburgh featured as a starting point given he was born in Dunbar and discovering that he set sail for America from here still makes me think it ought to have been the 'end' of the walk really but no matter. I suppose it was the start of his journey to the US? The start of his environmental crusades? Maybe?
Anyway, this is where you start the walk.
The bench has two inscriptions. This one, and on the other side one which says The sun shines not on us but in us'. I need to so some more research into the hows and whys of the bench and who is supposed to be looking after it now. Looks like it needs a good sanding down and some wood preserver applying! It is also not very useful as a bench unless you're on your own as it's not very comfy for two people. I assume you're supposed to sit on it and look out to where Muir started his travels.
Near the bench is this plaque. It has another inscription: When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe. That seems appropriate given all the links I've been finding between myself, the woods, this town and Yosemite.
Detail from the mural painted by local school children on the side of the old pumping station near to where the bench is sited.
Details from the plinth dedicated to John Muir as part of our Outdoor Museum.
More park pictures again today. I'm developing a rationale for what I'm doing here based on the forest-bathing and territories/boundaries and the question of where people can find a bit of an oasis to get away from it all if they're not able to access real wilderness or possibly even have their own garden. I'm trying to think about doing something more than merely recording what's there and also present something of the feeling of what it's like to be there - how it makes me feel to be in among the plant life.
This last one wasn't in the park but it is one of the street trees, and one of the first ones to be flowering. A lot of the rest don't seem even close to be honest. This one is planted on the street outside a rather austere and grey looking block of flats. It's one of three or four. For some reason it absolutely tickles me that someone, a resident I'm guessing, has strung up blue 'fairy' lights in one of the trees.
I have been a little remiss in keeping this up to date. I haven't walked as much as I'd have liked lately but I have been doing some! Life, as always, has a habit of getting in the way of things and money/job worries and health issues have conspired to leaving all of us exhausted. Things are a little better now.
Back to the park. I was still thinking about the way that being in the park made me feel and also looking at the idea of access to the amenity. My mental health has been taking something of a bashing lately and a lot of it has to do with feeling completely trapped because of a lack of means for escape. We finally reached the point where it was mortgage or eat and at the same time, the car needed expensive repairs. I was scrabbling around for work and having to turn down jobs because I coudn't get to them. It was hard to keep positive but I did find that getting to the park helped and I wanted to capture more of that sense of escapism. I had previously used a combination of motion blur and reflections to get over a sense of the fleeting impressions we take away with us when we visit the city so I was looking for another way to create something of what it felt like to meander through trees when I came across some work by Yoshinori Mizutani.
He has basically shot through things to create blur and it replicated how I found myself drawn to being not just in the park, but right in the trees and the view that I had from there. His shots are much lighter and brighter, more pastel and perhaps optimistic than mine have turned out but that's probably because he was working in much sunnier weather with a lot of people in brightly coloured clothing. Perhaps too his frame of mind was lighter than mine. I am wondering too if there is something I could take from this to address the issue of access to and availability of spaces like this for those who are less mobile, less able, and who probalby need them most.
Obviously it's all still very much work in progress.
There were a lot more pictures that I could have taken of the moveable fences but on this occasion I felt the need to seek out the glimmers of new life that I think we've all been desperately waiting for.
I think there is no doubt that trees benefit our sense of wellbeing.
There is no pressure to communicate, no expectations, no demands.
We are just there, with them feeling the peace.
You speak of moveable barriers. That is positive.
Looking back on my own stuff at a certain time, I see the dominance of split images, strong vertical immovable barriers. Quite subconsciously I took images like that.
It's a great exercise to explore the meaning behind shots, the reasons subconscious and conscious for taking them. There's a freedom in the woods for release of tension. Best of luck.
Most of the rest of April was spent photographing things we were trying to sell to raise funds to get the car fixed. I was desperately aware that the pool of sellable items was finite and that this wasn't an endless resource but eventually we not only raised £400 of the nearly £600 that we needed to fix the car but I also applied for and was awarded Working Tax Credits. I thought I would be unbearably embarrassed about accepting this help but suddenly I no longer had to make a choice between continuing to pay the mortgage or eating. We could fix the car. I could get to jobs. Things seemed immensely brighter all of a sudden. It is hardly going to fund a 'champagne' lifestyle but if managed carefully, we can put fuel in the car, continue to let our youngest play for the local netball team, eat real food and even put a small amount aside for future emergencies. It also meant that I no longer felt guilty about attending my annual get together with my weird internet friends in the Derbyshire woods.
For the last ten years, the early May bank holiday has seen a group of us converge at Rosliston, it being roughly 'in the middle' of where we all live. Of course, it's roughly 'in the middle' of England and not really that close to any of us Scots/adopted Scots, but we haven't complained about that too much. The tradition has been that we all arrive on the Friday night, drink far too much Gimms (speical gin and pimms cocktail that we have perfected over the years) and spend Saturday and Sunday meandering around the woodlands to walk it off again. Last year, I couldn't do the meandering because of an injury and this year, nobody seemed all that keen. I was feeling the need for some time alone anyway so I took the camera.
These are very different woods to the one on my usual doorstep. They are part of the National Forest and there are whole swathes that have been planted in neat, well managed rows. It isn't all like that, but quite a lot of it feels manufactured. Which of course it is. I found it quite interesting to compare what I'd been reading by John Muir about the need for wildernesses with what was actually available to escape to. For a lot of people, true wilderness isn't something we have access to. Things like the National Forest, or nature reserves, or parks are the nearest we can get to it; wilderness 'lite' if you like. I live on the west coast of Scotland but a lack of funds, dodgy joints and precious little time means that I very rarely find myself in a place that isn't accessible by road, littered with pylons or overhead cabling of some sort, in earshot of traffic, or full of other people seeking their own version of tree bathing. (In looking at these images, I'm trying very hard to forget that for a good part of my walk I was being trailed by a family with four kids, the naughtiest one of whom was evidently called 'Harris', because the woods echoed with the plaintive calls of his parents urging him to "Stop! Don't you dare go in there without us! Harris! Stop! Come back. Wait for everyone else. Harris! Harris!" And when Harris did finally loop back to his loud family he was heard to yell that the 'play area' (i.e. the woods) was 'boring'. Fortunately the camera lies. In time the ghost of Harris will leave my association with these images. I hope.
All I generally hear in the forest here is dog owners calling their beasts back from wherever they've gone to! That being said, I'll slip in a woodland shot and give you an interesting quote from the german artist Gerhart Richter.
From the photo group 'A Walk in the Woods'.
"I've never found anything to be lacking in a blurry canvas. Quite the contrary; you can see many more things in it than in a sharply focussed image. A landscape painted with exactness forces you to see a determined number of clearly differentiated trees, while in a blurry canvas you can perceive as many trees as you want. The painting/picture is more open." Gerhart Richter, 1973.
Substitute photo for canvas and you've got my take on 'A Walk in the Woods'. As I see it, the ting about walking in the woods, or The Highlands, or, for me, Sweden/Lappland, is that you can hear your own thoughts (despite dog owners, helicopters and so on!)
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