Categories
Photography Poetry 'n Prose

In The Dreamtime

C_bM0B7XgAE6xWZ.jpg_smallIn the dreamtime
I saw you in the reflection of the sunset,
as the auburn red and gold
began to light up the night.

Categories
Photography

Turner Sky

Categories
Photography

White Light

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We dream of waking,
of really seeing each other’s face
in intense white light;
split seconds of reverie,
and pain – we shy away.

We dream of waking,
expecting and not expecting some catastrophe.
If it happened – the first impulse
would be to disbelieve it,
keeping balance,
believing
and not believing.

We dream of waking,
more spontaneous,
a state of consciousness,
self-transcendence,
so clear,
we see the contours of our lives
before the mist slowly gathers in.

We dream of waking,
as we poke our heads above the murky current,
as deep sea fishes – lungs filled
with laughter, the explosive gas
of exhilaration

We dream of reuniting
If not in this world, then in the void
Of nothingness, and we’d see our light illuminating
The darkness that kept us apart.
Then we’d dream of waking,
In the white light.

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Categories
Art Photography

Sand Man

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a live sculpture in ever shifting sands

Categories
Photography

Edale to Kinder Scout

The walk from Edale to Kinder Scout (in The Peak District) is a walk like no other. This heart of Derbyshire has become my home from home for many years. The ‘Dark’ Peaks offers such an array of terrain, which provides an endless source and inspiration for many of the poems, artwork and soundscapes found here at 67 paintings.

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Categories
Photography

Lovies

I am forever proud of you both. If time was endless and space was boundless I could show you how much I love you…

Categories
Photography Poetry 'n Prose

Orchard of Dreams

We come back to the orchard again
a blue silence has fallen on us,
a moment’s curling breeze sways
ripening fruit, lifts leaves,
ruffles ferns and lilies,
clusters long underlying grasses.

We no longer know how we arrived here
or along what paths we meandered along,
as scents of something wild and beautiful,
like the passing breath of hope lingers
in its wake.

Still we walk in the meadow between roses
budding and the first leaves burgeoning,
the air belongs to the Larks who sings
for the sun, splashing colours towards sunset.

Categories
Music Photography Poetry 'n Prose

Carousel

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Following this post, I received a wonderful poem from Mary Yaus, who wrote these lines:

Round and round she goes
thinking about,
nobody but she knows
but have no doubt
it is deep within her heart
radiating into her soul
holding on to life
with gentle hands
feeling vibrational bands
she looks deep into the eyes
reflecting of all her tomorrows
you can almost here her sigh
through thoughts in contemplations
not sorrows
round and round the carousel takes her
dreaming into the silence of words
waiting for her thoughts to be heard
she’ll grab the brass ring
and her heart will open and sing
letting the world see the grace she shall bring

Thank you Mary for adding your own wonderful contribution.

Lee and Isabel.

Categories
Photography

Pictures of Italy

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Categories
Art Photography

Black Mountainside

Black Mountainside

There are no dead, they walk the air we breath,
they speak through the tomes of ashes in their mouths.

Though numbed by passing and surpassing fear
and bound to being on this trembling ground

I stand on all the while you spin me round
the axis of a passion or a year –
giddied I listen, having no choice but hear

your song composed of noteless silent sound
as if unhemmed, and your whole nature crowned

in hints caught up in waves – now blurred, now near.
the lapping waters absolves
my deepest fears

running my fingers through your body
over the waters, shimmering, a face

I’ve half thought yours appears to smile and call,
and back I call, Time – come – I am the space

you long to lodge in and take over all
the darkest corners from and light in grace
unsure if still I stumble, rise, or fall.

Categories
Art Photography Poetry 'n Prose

The Boy With The World In His Hand

The Boy...

He’s a stream, that talks to the ocean
He stops where the flow meets the waves.
Loaded with laughter, with you beside him
Listening to the surf he picks up a slick pebble
Holds it up to the light for you to see
He is the boy with the world in his hand.

Categories
Photography

By The Waters Edge

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In endless lapping
across the lake; a master
in haiku circles

Categories
Art Photography

The Girl With Bubbles In Her Hair

Nine o’clock after a storm of tears
and bed time, soothing talk
of things to do tomorrow,

and a laugh about the things
we did today, followed by a story
from a book with pictures,

then she settles down,
her arms around my neck,
and pauses between questions

as she thinks her way to sleep
with bubbles in her hair.

Categories
Art Photography

Rockface

Categories
Photography Poetry 'n Prose

A Momentary Sunrise

When clenched, muted
and hesitant

what there is to rise to
is a tenderness

following the morning
sunlight

everything comes into
its own

loosening up, breathing,
one by one

the waves lapping
over us.

Categories
Art Photography Poetry 'n Prose

Oxleas Woods

You can always find me there walking in slow motion… waterlogged in irascible compassion, a drowsiness throughout the frame: nowhere to go, no object of desire. The veins filled a moment, voluptuary beating, an image took my breath away. We are alone, and there is no fulfilment to desire, only it can be stunned and dulled while something else in us takes wing, feels better, turns if possible to affection, with relief. Lead in all the limbs. It is absurd this sense of immobility, one’s life essentially a standing still obscured by frantic motion. Standing still and slowly one’s body changes, matures and decays, and all around are similar slow events. And at times weighed on by a sense of it, knowledge, mesmerised by the stasis, uninformed wonder ending in extinction — how this recurrent sensation of truth parodies our imaging of a journey.

Despairing of truth and glory I am inclined to give myself over to the compensations of the passing moment, but this lifelong urge to be elsewhere — no matter how innate, how conditioned — is not so easily thrown off. So I find my satisfaction looking up, among these trees, we are at one, how solid and lively we are, a whole world around us, whole worlds belonging to us, different scenes we have lived among.  We all hold each other together, the presence caught for ever on shiny colour paper stops us floating off into space;  soothing, that jagged discomfort of existence is almost lulled away. This sense of surrender, of helpless passivity, a Pagan state of mind harmonises with my erratic journey over dim terrain in fog, maybe lost after all, or constantly re-crossing our tracks; at best, a spiral.

Categories
Essays Opinion Photography Reviews

Mindful Pilgrimages

Dear readers I confess. I affirm and attest that I am a more than occasional countryside rambler. Because of that I understand that our relationship with the land is not a straight forward one. It can inspire and infuriate, it can scare us to death and nourish our spiritual needs. It can take us on a journey to places far beyond the literal surroundings of where we happen to be at any given moment, whether it’s a feeling to escape from crowded, chaotic lifestyles or just the feeling of a fundamental connection within ourselves.

We have words and phrases that allude to this magical, mystical quality: genius loci, ley lines, Cynefin and hiraeth (Welsh), psycho-geography, terrior and La France Profonde (Deep France), Aboriginals relate to it as ‘Songlines’ and more recently ‘spirit of place’ – a term coined by the Australian singer songwriter Shane Howard in his seminal folk-rock outfit Goanna.

These words might have different meanings, but they are all rooted in the belief that landscapes, like you and me, can speak to us in some way. I recall excitedly reading Lyall Watson was all the rage in the seventies with his best-selling books ‘Supernature’ and ‘Lifetide’. This scientist, biologist and spiritual thinker’s role in life was to build a between scientific investigation and mystic revelation. He profoundly opened the door to many around animalistic beliefs, stating “I have no qualms about seeing the soul in a rock and attributing awareness to a tree… I think the whole Earth is intelligent and we simply are the most vocal part”.

I don’t mind admitting that it took me over a decade to become converted. However please let me assure you I was no spaced out hippie leftover from the sixties. I consider myself to be scientifically sceptical and experimental in my existentialism. But I accept there is something more out there that we can possibly define or claim to have one source, one maker, one belief system.

A few years back I’d gone to Carreg Cennen Castle, an abandoned stumpy-toothed ruin perched on a cliff in the desolate Black Mountains region of the western Brecon Beacons. The ruin had such an unsettling – but not altogether unpleasant – effect on me. I cannot properly explain it, but a postscript to my journal at the time read “It feels as though a stronger light is on me, I feel dizzy,  as though a sledgehammer punch has just been dealt”. I was frightened, tearful and yet exhilarated. The only other time I have felt that was standing at the base of Uluru, in central Australia (climbing up the rock is believed by tribal Elders to be an act of desecration).

Each time I have come away with uncontrollable shivers down the spine. Like Lyall Watson I believe that the reach of landscape extends way beyond the stuff that fills the confines of Ordinate Survey maps, it is alive; animate and articulate a repository of folk memories, war and peace, life and death, fire and rain, love and sorrow. And you don’t have to be a loopy mystic to join in. It’s out there (in simultaneously in there) for everyone.

Mostly I feel lucky in Britain, for the island is latticed with highly charged Celtic trails, ghostly highways (there’s one outside my door), old Roman roads and drover’s routes that can take us further than we’d ever imagine. Unsurprisingly the landscape is a constant source of literally and artistic inspiration, it’s the backdrop of a vast library that continues to expand our consciousness with a momentum that paradoxically seems to increase the further we distance ourselves from our primal past, the days when crops gave us our daily bread, not computers (yes I’m a Luddite but rather than slipping into that territory, I’ll get back to point).

Sadly some books I read have not always treated our landscape as the starting place of spiritual journey. In 1920’s Daniel Defoe of Robinson Crusoe fame wrote A Tour Thro’ the Whole Island of Great Britain, finding the mountains to be “a horrid and frightening place, even worse than those mountains abroad”. OK Defoe didn’t like mountain then. But what’s not to like? They are primeval and magnificent, a magnet for any red-blooded man or women. However thankfully, and not a moment too soon, the travel writer and Observer columnist, Robert MacFarlane has but all this straight in his wonderful contribution ‘The Mountains of the Mind’.

It’s odd though, Defoe’s view was not in industrial Britain either, he was writing in the days before urban slums, teeming new towns, belching chimney smoke, huge furnaces and coal mines, when the mountains were only seen in terms of danger and death. As depicted in the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, the industrial revolution changed everything, ushering in a new dawning of an age and a major shift in the relationship that we had with nature. The wild nature that scared Defoe now inspired different emotions. Nature became sublime, an escape from the harsh realities of a new, ugly, unforgiving “march of progress” of the industrial age.

William Wordsworth eulogised his beloved Lake District – romance was in the air and on the canvases of JMW Turner and John Constable. The doors of perception, possibly of Blake’s mystical vision – of a New Jerusalem, were beginning to open and we’d never look back on the landscape the same way again. It became a benign retreat, a space to breathe for the urban masses, leading to the creation of The Nation Trust, which would never ‘prevent wild nature having its way’. I don’t suppose Daniel Defoe would have signed up as member.

So here we are, in the early 21st Century, with Darwinists like Richard Dawkins telling us fundamentally there is no God (and maybe his scientific argument is correct, even if his method of persuasion isn’t), however look closely and you’ll notice how science is coming up with ever more astounding revelations, binary codes, the mathematical language spoken by computers, transforming everyone’s live as the giants of Facebook, Apple and Microsoft slug it out for world domination. Who needs magic and mystery in all this? The probable answer is: most of us. There are other meanings and realities out there for the grabs, you don’t need to believe in science fiction, bug-eyed Martians, UFO’s, parallel universes to be touched by them. The evidence is much closer to home.

After my Uluru and Carreg Cennen baptism I headed west to southern Ireland. To Burren, that moonscape of fractured limestone rock just south of Galway. It’s an otherworldly grey dome of apparently barren landscape, except for the rare plants that grow in its fissures. The wind howled in from the Atlantic Ocean and the sun blasted through the clouds like some biblical searchlight as I approached Poulnabrone Dolmen (Standing Stone), the skeletal framework of a Neolithic tomb balanced on the limestone pavement. Those were only the elements of the scene. The sum of the parts between the rock, sun and man was somehow much greater. Something lifted up inside me, an energy – a synergy, that wants to escape my flesh and blood.

AE Housman’s ‘blue remembered hills’ from his ‘Shropshire Lad’ cycle of poems evoke a potent vision of Englishness and country life, tinged with a lost youth:

What are those blue remembered hills
What aspires, what farms are those
That is the land of lost content
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways were I went
And cannot come again

Reading this also takes me back to the work of the seminal TV dramatist Dennis Potter (remember when, in the good old days, TV plays were about something other than shouty social realisms). Anyway his words are suffused by a spiritual sense of place, in his case his native Forest of Dean, just down the track from Housman’s Wenlock edge. Potter pinched Housman’s ‘blue remembered hills’ as the title for his 1979 play featuring adult actor taking the part of children romping about the forest, a location that cropped up in ‘Pennies From Heaven’ (1978) and the Singing Detective (1986).

The Forest of Dean is one strange spooky place, a high plateau on the road to nowhere, bypassed, ignored, arcane and insular. These ancient Oak woods, laden with memories of the forest as King Canute’s royal hunting ground, begin to incongruously at the back door of the industrial terraces. Spirits even exist underground as one of the free miners of the forest once told me about the tradition going back to the 13th Century “this mine is a living thing for me, with a language of its own. It’s always telling me something”.

Then there”s Wye valley on the border of Wales and Herefordshire. Close by is a walk up to Hergest Ridge from nearby town of Kingston. One day I went up the graded slope and was met by wild horses. There they stood on the ridge so ethereal, perfectly still, I could not tell if they were really there or if they were an apparition of my mind at the time. I sometimes feel as though the mind does play tricks and yet when it happens I don’t mind; dreams and legends, hopes and fears all make up the tapestry of the land. It is a subjective world and such journeys can shine the brightest imaginably light, not only on the lives of our pre-historic ancestors, but it also offers an atavistic revelation bathed with an umbilical sense of connection to our lives today.

If any of this sounds too trippy for your taste, let me assure you again that I’m a level-headed kind of guy, for most of the time. Lots of New Age mumbo jumbo leaves me stone cold. I don’t do hallucinogenic drugs, instead dark ales and single malts spirits are my poison. And I don’t feel any great need to believe in pixies, fairies and the like, but I respect those I know who do. But I do believe when you follow an old drover’s road or pilgrim’s trail, those footprints that went before you, although long gone, leave behind a legacy. Such experiences lie on the surface and just below we have relics of timeless history. Their residue reveals a sense of attachment, or perhaps a higher purpose to life or it can leave us in solace and comprehension of the every-changing nature of things, the Tao, within our busy lives. It’s the same when you come across a place that immediately speaks to you in a language can – and yet can’t – understand.

Where next then? One day, I’ll travel up to the Orkney Islands, maybe in my favourite time of year mid-winter (it’s the only time to go, you know). I hope to end up, as you do, at Skara Brae, Northern Europe’s best preserved prehistoric village. My efforts to trace my family tree, reveals that I have Scottish ancestry near this lonesome part of the world. It’s a remarkable site that became known to the world, following a great storm in 1850. Before then it was lying buried beneath the sands for more than 40 Centuries. It’s not that I desire to simply poke about the dark confines of the dark low, covered passageways and well-preserved. For me it’s a spiritual journey to my own hereditary past. a nation of people I never knew, like Shane Howard, unearthing the roots of deeper cultural connection and sense of belonging, my spirit of place.

Recommended:

The Old Ways: A Journey On Foot
Robert Macfarlane (Hamish Hamilton, 2012)
A brilliant account of what can happens to ramblers in-between the country pubs.

‘The Other Side of the Rock’,
Shane Howard.
(Goanna Arts, 2012)
A great new album which illustrates how communities of Mutitjulu, Imanpa & Kaltakatjara, in central Australia have retained a strong connections to Uluru.

For Albert, my companion in the pilgrimage.

Categories
Photography

Faith

Categories
Photography Poetry 'n Prose

The Other Side Of The Sea

Was it reflected sunlight?
Celestial lovers?
Or just swimmers
Out of there depth?

Getting out of mine
I wade in
With open arms
Out towards the light

Never getting any closer
For the lover’s orb
Lies far beyond
The other side of the sea

Categories
Art Photography

Mam Tor

Categories
Art Photography Poetry 'n Prose

Butterfly’s Dream

Sometimes you are like
a butterfly reflecting
a colourful world

Categories
Photography

Mam Tor

Categories
Art Photography

Stoneman

Stoneman

Categories
Photography

Tree of Life

Categories
Photography

Blue Sky Thinking

Whenever light fades
To darkness, your love becomes
My blue sky thinking