Followers of this blog will have an idea about the number of photographs I have taken of the Cambridgeshire Fenlands. I had many images on this theme and collated them in a book using the Bookwright software. What you will find here is an edited collection and some of these shots you may have already seen. Most of the captures included were taken during the Winter of 2020/21 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic; maybe that is why they are so dark. For me, these are archetypal images of the land I walk across and cycle through every day. It is where I live. Others will see this place very differently but this is a personal interpretation of the landscape, the roads, tracks, rivers, dykes, droves and the wetlands of East Anglia.
Christo and Jean Claude never explained, interpreted or gave meanings to their work; they didn’t need to. We will always obligingly do that for them. Writers and art critics have theorised about their ideas, conjuring a complex set of social, political, philosophical and psychological reasons why we should be interested in the art they produced. If I list many of the customary arguments here, you might consider them to be pretentious, meaningless drivel. And who knows, you may well be right. What I know is, I love the mystery and sense of wonder they created by using the unbelievably simple device of concealment, and for some reason it is far more effective if the object is relatively well known and familiar in terms of scale and shape.
Bram Stoker was inspired by Whitby Abbey to write the story of Count Dracula. Had he visited Ely in the dark Winter months he would have found similar inspiration for a macabre Gothic novel. When glimpsed through the trees from the march on the opposite bank of the river there are few elements of 21st Century life to break the spell. A web of branches and ivy veils the tower, like a child looking in trepidation through half-open fingers.
Normally I process my Fenland images in monochrome, but for this scene, you really need colour. I took this photograph of Ely Cathedral in February 2018 and we are all hoping for similarly beautiful days this year too. Best wishes to all of you for 2021, it just has to be better than 2020.
Marcel Duchamp had a conceptual art piece called ‘Black Widow’, it was a play on the notion of windows and widows, Newnham College in Cambridge is no less surreal with their entry, ‘Autumn Window’. There is an optical illusion taking place here but I can’t quite decide how or why. I guess it has something to do with defeated expectations…we are accustomed to windows as architectural features within the context of a brick or concrete facade These are disembodied windows trapped in autumn undergrowth. The windows appear against a fluid, dissolving and decaying backdrop.