Almost a year has passed – a creative week on Anglesey (May 2019) – painting, photography, sewing, reading, watching the world go by — dreaming — remembering.
We had deliberately routed ourselves along the Ogwen Valley. A scattering of snow still kissed the shaded valleys of the Glyders , where in our distant memories the mists around Y Garn had opened to give a window across to Devil’s Kitchen . Tryfan stood clear and proud – Heather Terrace distinct; the Ridge silhouetted against the spring sky; specks of walkers. Did they have the courage to jump between Adam and Eve?
I had remembered the hut circles on Holyhead Mountain, visited one damp day of escape from the soaking of Snowdonia. I had remembered the pathway to South Stack. I had watched the TV Climb …. Gogarth …. and the names that conjured mystery …. A Dream of White Horses. I lacked the expertise and confidence to consider climbing on Anglesey …. but I could dream and I still do. I remembered tales of the pioneers of my early climbing days … Joe Brown, Don Willans, Ian McNaught-Davis.
Perhaps it is a mistake to re-visit a place full of such personal nostalgia. Creativity refused to flow, except with the camera. Searches for archaeological sites were unsatisfactory, Yet, remembering eventually prompted a feeling of pensive calm. And, it is good to remember today, when feeling interred in the four walls of the house, as the lockdown continues. Again, I will escape with my memories and dreams and plan new adventures.
I am fortunate that I have had so many opportunities to travel, work and ‘play’. Two years ago we were in Vancouver, appreciating the amazing cityscape before setting off back to the UK. We had re-visited places we where we had been skiing some years ago and were completing our mountains to shore trip (See ‘From Summits to Shore’). I had also been here with my mother a couple of times, so it is a city full of memories. This time we were struck by the contrasts – an amazing city in a superb setting. Yet, there where some streets were the obvious poverty and social needs was so unexpected. How are those people fairing in the current situation?
Just a month ago we were returning from Cardamom House, Tamilnadu, South India. Here we had had the time to read, write, paint and experiment with photography, as well as enjoying superb food and the company of our many Tamil friends. When we go to weddings and other functions I am hit by the number of people I know and the warmth of their friendship, whether we understand what each other is saying or not. I sometimes think I know more people there than I do at home, which is a sad thing to say. Life here can become quite narrow and isolating.
Yesterday a friend telephoned. She had gone to the Estate where she worked. People who were self-employed had lost their jobs, others had lost their work, many could not access the Food Banks etc etc. The government, agencies and charities are trying to respond, but there are so many people in dire need and getting things set up takes time. By contrast, earlier I had received messages about how this kind of blog can prompt positive memories and raise the mood. Later, a friend telephoned to read a poem about friendship. These are such mixed times. I know I must remain positive for myself and for others. …. and I’m not rowing today. I am feeling stiff so I am having a rest day … and my yoga teacher has set up an online yoga session.
There is some good TV on this morning. I’ve just watch the climbing of the Cioch on Skye, in the manner of Collie and Mackenzie, who pioneered the first route in 1906. (Coast on BBC2) I am in awe that anyone could venture on rock in such clothing and with nailed boots. This opened into an exploration into some of our climbing guidebooks. I can visualise many hours being filled in the future weeks exploring these guides and drifting into reliving memories and friendships.
Alongside the Scottish guides was an aged climbing guide to Malta. Ian and I ventured there after he came across a late 1940’s guide, that had been his uncle’s. It had instructions like “climb from the plane’s wheel to the Spitfire engine” – both humorous and sobering. I wish I could find that booklet. So many memories tied up on the book shelves … and some people wonder why I love books.
…. and I’m now watching a programme about a research plot of daffodils in the Brecon Beacons. (A to Z of TV Gardening on BBC2) A liquid is being extracted which can probably delay the development of Alzheimer’s. Amazing! Warning – do not liquidise your own daffs – this is being researched, trialed and prescribed under strict medical research conditions.
I’ve just made a discovery. I was enjoying my late breakfast/elevensees of apple and yoghurt and sprinkled some rice crisps on the yoghurt and it DIDN’T snap, crackle and pop! The things you can discover right here in the house.
It’s time to go out past the tulips and wallflowers to the rowing machine. Today I’m feeling mere energised, although my knee is playing up. I’m hoping to try to make up the distance that I missed out on yesterday. In my mind I’m heading along the shore, still on my way to Southampton Water. It’s a beautiful sunny day, so I’m hoping the going will be easier, provided that my volunteer cox and the fishing friend don’t slow me up too much. It is so good to get feedback from friends, who are reading this blog. Thanks. it raises my spirits and I hope this will raise yours.
It is easy to rush around, grabbing photographs and missing the wonder of the changing dance of light on the surrounding slopes and watery surfaces. I am standing in a favourite spot. Most of the time I am alone. A curious young motorcyclist comes and asks for ‘photograph’. His brief presence adds to the mood of the moment.
The early evening breeze rustles and whispers through the palms; birds seem unfazed by my close proximity; dragonflies pause from their flights. This is the photographer’s golden hour not only because of the magic of the changing soft light, but also because of these special moments in nature.
Many years ago I was flicking through a magazine and came upon an article about Andy Worhol’s swimming pool collection. I was mesmerised by the translucent turquoise; the patterns and ripples that transformed reality into an organic and abstract work of art. I have since been drawn to the liquid art of The Jubilee Pool in Penzance, now thankfully restored. When in India, I have the privilege of watching and recording the transient magic of the Cardamom House Pool. These are just a few examples of images that have been captured and give me pleasure.
Previously, I have designed four ‘portholes’, which I exhibited at Tuppenny Barn, as part of the Emsworth Arts Trail.
At first, my creativity was quelled. Being in the same place for a number of weeks, with the same old views, from the same old positions can stifle the desire to explore. It can also lead to a more intimate awareness of the nuances of light. For the last fifteen or more years I have stared at the skyline of the foothills of the Western Ghats. I have become familiar with the gullies and clefts. I have looked out onto them at all times of day and night, with all manner of skies, and during severe drought and monsoon.
It is only now, that I am beginning to see detail. Using watercolours, the number of interpretations becomes endless. Here are some of my latest renditions.
Back in Portsmouth I may sit down with brushes and paints, but my creativity often feels constrained by other demands on my time and the limitations of my intentions. Having two months at Cardamom House gives plenty of time to try out ideas and experiment.
Here are three different watercolour styles. At times, it has been difficult to come to terms with the vibrancy of the light here, in South India. The abstract on the left was prompted by the colours of the dried up lake bed. It would probably be more effective in inks, but here I am constrained by the materials available to me. This makes me think far more about application.
There are times, with night photography, when I am convinced that I have the perfect shot. On Christmas Night as the full moon rose over the ridge to the east of Cardamom House, in Tamil Nadu, I believed I had had such a success. However, downloading revealed that I may have had a six-sided flash of light, but the ridge was not in focus. Undeterred, I swapped cameras and set up the tripod again.
On Boxing Day Night, wispy clouds floated in the skies, uplit by the rising moon. The six-sided flash of light proved illusive. However, as the moon crept over the ridge, I became entranced by the interplay of cloud and moonlight. The light was so bright that I reduced the shutter speed to 0.5 seconds.
This morning it’s misty. Tonight may be cloudy. I am planning another photo shoot, but I may have to be content with images that I have already captured – the joys and tails and tribulations of a photographer!