Flower head

Whilst out over the weekend leading a photography tour in London, I was struck as many others have been by just how many flowers are coming into bloom.  There’s blossom on some of the trees, and in places not only snowdrops but also daffodils were bursting into life.  Hopefully the impending cold weather will not savage them and leave us with a somewhat colourless spring.

Each year I am struck by the uprising of fecundity which the spring brings with it – even if it is normally a little later than this.  It’s not just the colours, though they themselves are eye-catching after months without them.  It’s also the shapes of the flowers, the delicacy of the petals, and the intense contrasts of tone and hue.

Flower head

Flower head

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Imperfect beauty

I learned a new term yesterday, thanks to my good friend Scott in New York, who commented on yesterday’s image and introduced me to the Japanese phrase wabi-sabi.  According to Wikipedia, this refers to an aesthetic of beauty which is imperfect, impermanent and incomplete.  I have a feeling it’s a term I’m going to find useful!

Perhaps today’s picture of a haystack is another example…those more expert in aesthetic theory than I am will be able to tell me!  I enjoy the contrasts of sky, bales, and slightly untidy scrub in the foreground; and also the way in which the seemingly perfect square of the stack is broken by the slight leaning of the bales, and a few stand proud of the main body.  Or maybe it’s just my obsession with details again…

Haystack

Haystack

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Reflecting windows

At first glance, today’s image looks very neat and symmetrical, but on careful examination it’s full of untidy disruptions to that sense of order.  One of the columns of windows sits slightly recessed from the others, carving a deeper line up the sheer marbled surface of the building.  That line is itself offset to the right of the image rather than bisecting it neatly.  And whilst some of the windows mirror back at us only the bright spring light, the lower ones reflect and distort the leaves and branches of nearby trees.  For me, it is these disruptions which give the picture its interest.

Reflecting windows

Reflecting windows

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In the centre of Amiens

This dramatic war memorial is in the centre of one of my favourite French cities – Amiens – which I am lucky enough to visit quite frequently when leading First World War battlefield tours.  I find the imposing scale of the memorial really impressive (you get a sense of its size from the people beneath it).  I also like the contrast between the hard lines of the stone and the soft planting which surrounds it, as well as with the more historic French architecture behind.

War memorial, Amiens

War memorial, Amiens

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Misty landscape

I spent New Year in Dorset, much of the time amidst driving rain and strong winds, though thankfully not nearly as serious as the devastating weather which has affected other parts of the country.  It was certainly not peaceful weather, in contrast to today’s image which always seems to me entirely still, as if any noise was muffled by the thick drapes of mist.  As the sun tries to burn through, it picks out the silhouette of a few hillside sheep, nibbling at their breakfast in the soft dawn light.

Misty morning

Misty morning

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Looking into the square

Before I moved to London, I lived in a town called Ware in Hertfordshire, where today’s picture was taken.  I’ve been thinking about the town this morning, as they used to hold a Dickensian Christmas evening every year in December (I’m not sure if they still do?).  Thousands of people would pour into the town from the surrounding area; there were food stalls, and a fair, and Christmas lights, and it was all wonderfully festive.

The gate in today’s picture was at the heart of the action, standing as it does on the boundary of the churchyard and the town square.  The square itself, which lies beyond the gate, would be full of the hustle and bustle of the fair; while the churchyard itself was a relative haven of calm, an oasis of dark punctuated only by the light coming from the church windows.  This picture seems to me to speak of a boundary, the gateway framing the way between the gloomy light of the churhyard and the bright expanse of the town square beyond.

Looking into the square

Looking into the square

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Towering pillars

Today’s image shows the magnificent interior and towering pillars of Gorton Monastery near Manchester.  It was designed by Edward Pugin (son of Augustus Pugin who worked alongside Charles Barry on the creation of the Palace of Westminster).  Gorton is a stunning building – I love the sense of height and grandeur, the feeling of space, and the way the light floods in.

Interior of Gorton Monastery

Interior of Gorton Monastery

 

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