Monday 31 December 2012

Saturday 29 December 2012

Haiku retreat

(21/12 - evening)
Narrow and muddy,
the lane tunnels through darkness -
a blue front door.

(22/12 - morning)
Six o'clock bell,
the hooting owl dissents -
not yet morning.

(23/12 - morning)
After a stormy night
the trees sigh, heavy with water,
sodden fields exhale.

(23/12 - evening)
The spiral staircase -
as we walk up and down
something is rounded.

(24/12 - morning)
That wailing wind
is a hard song to follow -
the rain just whispers.

(25/12 - morning)
Every tree
hung with Christmas baubles -
sunshine on raindrops.

(25/12 - afternoon)
Billowing blue -
dark branches bend and stretch
towards the sunset.

(26/12 - morning)
Driving rain
hurled from a pallid sky -
not much comfort.

(26/12 - last evening)
Black velvet night
stippled with white cloud -
floating moon-flower.

Friday 28 December 2012

Fire and water

Suspended above the road to Devon on 21 December, the solstice sun was a huge disc of many colours. Down there, it rained A LOT, and when it stopped both sun and moon broke through with astonishing clarity.The sodden countryside was as peaceful and resonant as I have ever known it (not so great for the farmer out in that downpour working to unblock a ditch or the three bedraggled ostriches in a field just up the lane). Owls hooted all night in the rain and a rabbit danced in the morning on the wet grass. In this enclave of quiet and freedom, among others loving it too, lost longings and affinities resurfaced. I dreamt of floods and wrapped myself to meditate in a flaming orange blanket. Fire and water; self and no-self. The journey home yesterday was long. At every motorway junction, the traffic slowed and clotted - too many of us.

Friday 21 December 2012

Looking to the light

Solstice, midwinter, Christmas:
wishing all who pass this way renewal and new light

Thursday 20 December 2012


Trees reflected in a the blanked-out window of an empty shop - a momentary image that evokes some old and faded photo or gravure.

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Sepia sunshine

Winter afternoons,
the sun in your eyes, then gone -
childhood memories.

Tuesday 18 December 2012

The birds

Trees around the lake in Peckham Rye Park. I've never seen this there before (which doesn't mean much - only taking photos has made me a bit less lost in a world of my own) and don't know if they're just roosting, as the light starts to fail already at about 3 pm, or preparing to leave - too late surely for migration, a week or so after the first strong frosts?

Sunday 16 December 2012

Under and over

It's more than two years since I took the last batch of photos of pedestrians reflected in the wide paved expanse of Trafalgar Square. This only works when the surface is very wet and shiny, and the light also needs to be right - low, but enough of it. On the previous three occasions it was raining hard. This time I arrived just as the rain stopped, so it was a less damp and uncomfortable experience. Perhaps that accounts for the somewhat looser style. These new ones are more varied and some of them more impressionistic. This is a small selection, with loads more here.

Saturday 15 December 2012

Accidentally, in the rain

As the rain trickled to a halt, I saw the strong reflections in the pavement next to St Martin's, stuffed my umbrella under my arm and groped in my bag for my camera. Then this guy stood right in front of me. Tsk. Oh, maybe not tsk. And then I realised where I was, and that it had just stopped raining. The photos will take me a while to edit. They're a little different, I think - less literal. And then I went to a wonderful, wonderful exhibition. Seduced by Art: oh, yes I was, and by reflections in the rain.

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Inside and out

This is the lovely building where I stayed recently in Cambridge. Sometimes there are no words - or none that you want to acknowledge or engage with - but always there are symmetries and colours, textures, shadows, light and form. These made me happy.

More photos here.

Monday 10 December 2012

Icy lights

Christmas lights are not my favourite thing, but these are nice - a simple, satisfying piece of art, really.

Sunday 9 December 2012

Friday 7 December 2012

Bridge in black and white

See also Another bridge in black and white - not far from the other Cambridge.

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Tuesday 4 December 2012

The right trees

Old college has expanded greatly since my day - all of it outstanding modern architecture and enhanced by an inspired choice of trees, which are lovely when leafy, but lovely like this too. 

Monday 3 December 2012

Familiar view with frost

The photo wasn't tweaked. These are the colours of our odd, muted, fluctuating climate on a suddenly much colder, frosty Saturday morning: along with frosted silver-white, the blue, the green, the black polished by low, bright, icy light.

Home last night from more than a week in Cambridge. I've been too rocky in recent months to deal with travel, clinging for dear life to things close to home, even as they hem me in. Still couldn't deal with the idea of anywhere new, so removing myself the short distance to a city that warms me always and where my old college provides a comfortable room to alumnae at not too extortionate cost seemed ideal. Something in this city is always vivid and embracing, for all it's ever-growing tourist hordes and commercialism and it's dreadful traffic. Almost nothing, on a conscious level, feels the same as when I lived there as a student so very long ago. Much has really changed - it was a quiet and isolated place then. And the things that haven't changed - the historic buildings and gentle views of grass and trees and water - are so much more to me now, emotionally and aesthetically, than they could be then. But there's a subliminal familiarity that means a lot in a life with too little inner sense of home.

This was a good time, in a low-key sort of way. No writing done. A little work. A little reading. A lot of walking. And even when I feel pretty numb, it seems, photos can be taken - an eye that continues to notice and respond and tell me something is alive in there. A strange time. A plumbing of depths, perhaps. Back in London, something, anyway, feels different.

Sunday 2 December 2012

Saturday 1 December 2012

Friday 30 November 2012

Thursday 29 November 2012

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Monday 26 November 2012

Saturday 24 November 2012

Thursday 22 November 2012

Somewhere else

Even though I'm too tired, too fat, too scruffy to leave home. Even though I lack clean clothes and need a hair-cut. Even though I'm not really here enough to have a clear idea of being elsewhere. Even though I seem to have lost touch with wanting anything. Throwing an insufficiently thought-out and probably just plain insufficient selection of clothes and books and techie bits and pieces required for work into a small back-pack. Leaving tomorrow for a week (not very far) away, escaping the migraine-inducing paint fumes that the otherwise pleasant and considerate decorator is about to start creating in the confined hall-and-staircase space outside my front door. Perhaps a small detour to somewhere else will be... something else.

Meanwhile, Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Ernest Cole

In the current Barbican exhibition of photographs from the 1960s and 70s (too big, too much, too disparate, but some wonderful stuff), I saw for the first time the beautiful light and form of humane, often angry, often unforgettable photos by black South African photographer Ernest Cole. I'd never heard of him and watched with difficulty the old and clunky US documentary on show in an adjoining room - with difficulty because the film included an interview with Cole and I thought perhaps I'd never such seen a personable, articulate, determined man so nervous and unable to look at the camera. What a hard story to contemplate: superb work done against all odds all over Apartheid South Africa; his banning and exile; the publication of his book, The House of Bondage; the acclaim, the grants, the commission not completed; the too-early death of that haunted man in the old film and the disappearance of his negatives, found and shown and admired only in recent years. I hope his work will continue to be exhibited and published and appreciated.

Saturday 17 November 2012

This is yesterday

Reason for no blogpost yesterday: computer mouse died. Died attached to netbook at house of friend. Friend lives close to large computer chainstore. Went there on way home and bought new mouse. Small, sweet, wireless mouse. Home with mouse, spent half an hour with various knives and scissors fighting way into seamless, super-resilient, moulded-plastic packaging. Further half an hour opening battery cover. Same again to close it. Instruction leaflet shredded in course of battling way into packaging. Reassembled leaflect with sticky tape and read. Plugged minuscule thingy into USB drive. First three attempts to install driver software 'not successful'. Computer says fourth, and identical, attempt successful. Mouse, however, not working. Tried things suggested in leaflet - not easy to read due to being lots of small pieces stuck together with tape. Mouse still not working. Went online with difficulty using netbook touchpad - hate touchpads. Read several help forums on reasons wireless mouse may not work. Decided rather buy another mouse - not wireless - than start uninstalling and reinstalling possibly clashing software. Picked up mouse one last time and prayed for inspiration. Noticed very small 'connect' button on base of mouse looking battered
after increasingly violent attempts to open battery cover. Poked connect button with end of scissors. Mouse now working. Very late by now. Very bad mood. Disinclined to blog. Sigh.

Thursday 15 November 2012

The Art of Sleep

Preoccupied as I am with getting enough sleep, how could I resist Zarina Liew's small book, The Art of Sleep, when browsing the stalls at the Comics Festival? The heroines go to bed to brood, read, eat, web-surf, love, bicker and dream their own fantastic tales and tableaux - a painted dreamworld for grown-ups that I felt very drawn to. She's a commercial fashion artist, as well as producing her own online strips,comic books, postcards and prints. Her work - often stylised, elongated drawings painted in wonderful colours - is polished, technically accomplished and almost in the commercial mainstream, but with a spark of eccentricity and moodiness that make it something more touching and provocative than most. I'll be keeping an eye on Zarina's work via her website, blog and online strip, Le Mime.

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Tuesday 13 November 2012