I spent a couple of hours walking in the Sussex landscape today -with the hope that it would clear my confused mind.
It was a cold afternoon – especially just after arriving from Seville – just the kind of weather where it is so tempting not to go anywhere, instead to sit at home and plan moving to somewhere with a decent climate.
But landscape is so healing. After an hour and a half of stupid thoughts and frustrations I just stopped, and carefully watched what was in front of me. I took this image, the only photo I took in the whole day.
There’s nothing special about the image, it just reminds me of how calm I felt. It was starting to sleet, I was totally alone but for the first time my mind just stilled.
It’s an amazing process. I took all of my emotional baggage into the Sussex hills and walked – I didn’t fight my mind, I just walked – and eventually something within me responded to the beauty and presence of everything around me.
So healing. I should do it more often.
Today is the last day of my vacation in Seville and by far the highlight has been learning Tango with Joao Alves.
I have so enjoyed our time together – Joao was accompannied by Begonia – a talented dancer who has only been learning for 8 months – and the two of them combined to provide the ideal learning experience for me.
I loved the studio – it really is an urban space, somehow that just fits with what attracts me to Tango. I attended a beginners class, a workshop designed for absolutely complete beginners as part of a cultural day at the centre – and private lessons.
I have of course only just started my own journey in learning Tango – but such a positive experience has made certain that I will keep going, and I will certainly be back to continue my learning experience with Joao.
Thank you so much to both of you for making my time so enjoyable and positive! You are not just talented dancers but also great teachers and warm and friendly people – I promise I will both practice hard and learn some Spanish before I see you both again!
Seville – Semana Santa – so much is about the processions and the masks, the deliberate concealment of individuality.
But within the crowds and the pageant I find myself always drawn to intimate gestures – the small expressions of ‘myself’ that make such a difference to us all.
I look for these everywhere, and that’s only natural. We are all looking for connections, and meaningful relationships can only be made with individuals who have the courage and integrity to express themselves in a world that so often presents easier options.
Personally I am now on a journey to find that sense of who I am in so may different areas. It is one of the most rewarding and fascinating journeys anyone can take – getting to some basic level of competency in fields that then have enough depth to turn everything back on you – suddenly you are not learning the basics of a discipline, but instead immersed in what that passion can teach you about yourself. There are so many areas of life that are deep enough – art, dance, yoga, writing.. so many creative arts..
Or perhaps teach is the wrong word – it seems to be that you and the discipline move together, illuminating each other – dancing around each other in an intimate circle of discovery.
Visiting Seville for the Easter Week ( Semana Santa ) is going to force anyone to confront their impressions of the power of the church here, and their influence on ordinary lives.
I worry at seeing masked children being led to the parades by devout looking parents. What kind of impact does all this have on such impressionable minds?
How wonderful to see that when the mask slips, children are still children.
I think it is always difficult to be fair and balanced as an outsider – we just have our fleeting impressions. But I can’t help feeling saddened by these dark churches sheltering anonymous, guilt-ridden people, particularly when they make signs of the cross to wax figures draped in gold..
Spent some more time in the twisting and turning streets of Seville.
I am going to post separately on the Semana Santa parades, and the general mixed up emotions the religious side of Seville causes me, so here are just a few images on reflections, thoughts, humour and music to keep things light.
After my first 24 hours here this is one of the best places I have found in which to get enjoyably lost!
The place is a maze of alleys and sights – images are everywhere. With Semana Santa starting on Sunday – street parades every day for next week – it should be a great chance to get some fascinating shots.
I will also try to get some images from my efforts to continue my beginners Tango lessons – it was great to drop in on an advanced class last night just to say hello and meet the teacher. It’s in a great urban space – I added one image to the set above – which somehow really suits the kind of Tango I would so love to dance one day – but for now it’s all about trying to find a way to learn fast enough, so I can stop laughing at myself every minute ..
I spent Saturday morning in a rainy Brighton on a street photography workshop with Natasha Lythgoe
The workshop was fun and informative – some interesting exercises were
- Asking 20 people in 20 minutes if I could take their picture
- Looking for inside out shots ( from inside an environment through to the outside world )
- Looking for architectural elements combined with Street – so not so much about people
- Taking 20 steps, shoot, another 20 steps, shoot – to encourage you to look for images from wherever you are
These are some of the shots I took – despite the rain Brighton is always a source of great ideas.
Thanks very mush to Natasha for the course – I certainly plan to attend more of her workshops if I can.
There is a heightened atmosphere when it starts. I always miss the build up – somehow my appearance seems part of the collective first breath out. I never hear the lights come on but an electrical discharge hangs in the air and collects in small pockets around the stage.
This evening the start is gentle, which helps me get into the flow. It’s hard without anything to go on. The dislocation from nothing to this is so demanding.
Your early moves are complex, fluid and full of grace – my instant replication is always simpler, two dimensional. I am warmed up now and I follow you effortlessly. I enlarge and contract, flow along the surfaces. I am thrown to the side and impossibly stretched along the wall, it is no effort for me, just a slightly annoying lack of definition at the edges.
I sense the audience over your shoulder, I enjoy their focus on us.
I wonder about myself. No volition, no apparent history. Yet there is a sense that I am your shadow again, just as I was before. For a short while our relationship is perfectly complimentary – we share the same body until the coming darkness separates us once again.
[Image is of David Hughes found on a Scottish Arts Council Archive]
I pause with the toothbrush in one hand. She stands next to me, draped in one of my tee shirts, playing with the old small vase, her smooth finger delicately tracing circles over the worn surface.
My eyes are alive, yesterday she said they sparkle when I smile, laughing with me, her fingers playfully teasing my cheek – but now in the harsh light of the mirror the flaws and lines in my ashen skin are everywhere. On even this first morning the end already seems inevitable. I will mentor her, be interesting for her, but I cannot in the end fulfil her. She will move forwards while I continue to decay, to soften at the edges. I am trapped in what I am, the vessel is as it is.
I turn and get into the shower, grateful for the time alone in the soothing warmth before my optimistic pretence continues.
Behind me the girl gently puts the old vase back on the shelf, and turns to go back to the bedroom.
During todays flash fiction workshop with Wendy Ann Greenhalgh we were set several tasks. This one was to write a flash fiction piece inspired by an image to push us to incorporate images into our work. I chose an image of an old bronze pot. The workshop was my first experience of flash fiction and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Feb was a weird month for me.
On the writing front I am continuing with my second creative writing course, working on the weekly exercises and the general assignment of completing a short story in the 10 weeks that the course lasts for.
Photography has been a bit of a none-event due to a combination of a lack of visits and pretty rotten weather. However I really enjoyed a Lightroom course with Anthony Sinfield at Park Cameras.
My basic problem is that I have added learning Tango to my interests – and that has taken some time away from my other passions. I have always loved dance, and adding Tango to my creative spectrum is wholly appropriate – but it is a time consuming activity, especially for the first year when of course I am a hopeless beginner facing a steep learning curve.
March is domonated by my exciting trip to Seville – to catch the Semana Santa. This is realy exciting for me, I am hoping to have over a week of photography and writing inspired by such a significant week in a beautiful city. I hope to make a lot of progress with my first novel – ‘Third Angel’ – which is passed the first 10 percent at almost 9,000 words and is looking interesting.
I also will be finalising the June trip in the next week or so – it looks very much like Istanbul as that fits with all my criteria – unknown, interesting, historic – but part of me woud like to bury myself in France and learn the language again – so some remote language schools there are looking interesting..