Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Fragments

These broken, carved fragments lie on the ground outside St George's Church, Bloomsbury, which is emerging from the tail end of major restoration. It's a great church in a small space, tucked between other buildings on a busy street. I'd never seen it, or at least never looked at it, before. I didn't visit the grand interior that day. Now that it's entered my consciousness, I'm sure I will. Instead, I paused in the rain and looked at these fragments lying in the fenced-in yard that faces a narrow back-street. They were compelling, full of shape and texture, each one a pattern and a story and together a complex, labyrinthine pattern of stories.

Opposite the church, across the narrow back-street, are the offices of the London Review of Books, whose resident designer and art critic, Peter Campbell, has written about the history and restoration of the church.

I've been reading quite a lot of poetry recently, slowly feeling a little bit less of a stranger to it. I thought: the church is like a grand, classic novel and these carved fragments, grouped here on the ground, are like poetry. They're a different use of stone, a different, freer but more concentrated use of visual language, spiralling through many layers of connection and meaning.

More photos here.

(This post became my contribution to Edition 8 of the >Language >Place blog carnival - featured theme: 'the poetry of place')

14 comments:

marja-leena said...

Oh, I love these, Jean! Just the kind of subject matter that intrigues me. Lovely and timeless in black and white, like ancient marbles.

Lucy said...

Yes, poems, not sermons, in stone!

Sandra Davies said...

I'd need to check but I'm pretty sure it is one of those churches whose records have been well-transcribed - several ancestors of my husband's were baptised there, possibly.
Enjoyed looking at these images.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Marvellous! And I did think instantly of Marja-Leena's subject matter.

I know that street and the LRB shop of course but am ashamed to admit I never took notice of the church - must do so now you've brought it to life.

Beth said...

Ah! What marvelous photographs. I'm very happy to hear about the restoration, and looking forward to visiting the church when we come to London, because this is where I went for several Christmas services back in the 1990s. It's a Hawksmore church, isn't it? And was in terrible shape then, with worried parishioners, so I'm glad if they've managed to put together a restoration plan. Will look up what I wrote about it in my journals...in the meantime, thank you for this!

Rouchswalwe said...

There aren't any such old and great churches around here, so I very much enjoyed reading this. Your photo and that last sentence of the post are a perfect match!

marja-leena said...

Revisiting your amazing images, a thought occurred to me - what will happen to these 'fragments' - will they go to a museum? I wish I could take a piece home, like an archaeologist stealing home an Elgin marble, heh.

Jean said...

Marja-Leena, I've no idea, or indeed what they are fragments of. I'll have to try and find out.

earlybird said...

Nice observations and beautifully captured images. Particularly effective in black and white

toomuchaugust said...

"a great church in a small place" . . . "with worried parishioners".

what great poetry right there(!)

this reminded me of a time when i met family in a small town in the middle of nowhere montana, we gathered for the afternoon in the shade of a "small church in a great place". often when i think of a church, i think of what is inside, but your post reminded me of the greater grounds to be gained by roaming the outside.

sherry o'keefe

Vivian said...

I love the image in both photos and words about the stone fragments being like poetry.

Laurie Kolp said...

Beautiful metaphor and pictures... happy to be a part of the carnival with you.

Jen Knox said...

Lovely photos. I often feel like a stranger to poetry myself, like I lose some magic when I've not read enough.
This is such an interesting post. thanks for sharing it.

Martin said...

Fine entry - thoroughly enjoyed reading this - both the words and pictures. The images are a poem in themselves, pleasing repetition and variation, uniform texture but the ornamentation provides a metre and a structure to the photo essay. It has made me think of poetry in a different way. Nicely captures the notion of poetry and place. Thank you for offering this to us all.