Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Collaboration. Sixth photo.

Dave's sixth photo sent me off on something of a tangent. I was certainly influenced by the fact that I visited a nearby church last year - Ruthwell Church - while seeking inspiration for my photography course. Whilst there I came across The Ruthwell Cross (more info here) which led in turn to a bit of exploration of the cross as a symbol. This made for some fascinating reading covering christianity, paganism, symbolism, swastikas and ritual.
   Consequently when I saw Dave's photo, although my first thought was 'War Memorial'  it was fairly rapidly usurped by other thoughts.It's amazing how a photo such as this ignites so many possibilities and questions that I could write about. Where is this? What is this? Who commissioned / produced/ sculpted / erected this? Why? Who lives in the houses? Why does it need security? What type of cross is it ? Celtic? Anglo Saxon? Christian? Non Christian? and so on.
   I think this was because of the assumed respect/ peace symbolism juxtaposed as it is in the photo with what appears to be some sort of security hardware along the adjacent walls. I realise that my perception may be factually wrong here but that's my interpretation. I kept coming back to opposition - a cross as a symbol of peace versus oppression, and decided to write a poem about different beliefs.
   In addition the black and white aspect makes (to me) the stone look a bit grim and combined with the fact that for some reason I think this is Yorkshire I was also reminded of Emily Bronte's 'Wuthering Heights', a confirmed favourite of mine.
    This is one that I could easily spend a lot of time on but as with the previous poems I've gone with pretty much a first draft.  Earlier this year a 'We are OCA' article about writer Guy Le Jeune led me to his blog here. I was interested to see that (regarding a poem he posted recently) he notes 'This isn’t a finished draft but it feels more intense and honest than later versions' - a sentiment that I totally relate to that applies very much to my poems in this collaboration with Dave.



The village church
is built of sandstone blocks
that bask; a bright arterial fort,
in the lingering fingers of the crimson sun.

Well-loved bones lie stark beneath the tended turf.
Marked with stones,
chiselled and chipped into meaning
and memory.

Ephemeral kaleidoscopic jewels
cascade through aged leaded panes.
They pour through shafts of dancing dust
to colour the cut, pallid lillies
that wait beside the polished pews.

The call of the bell.



The wild moor climbs
to meet the sky at the point.
Reeds reach up, stretching silhouettes
rustling  in the white beam
of the bright moon’s misty halo.
Rain will follow.

Megaliths emerge,
a ring of rough hewn vertebrae
from the land’s thin skin.
Silver-swathed and bathed in ethereal light.
against the blackest backdrop.             

A quiet breeze stirs spindly grassy fingers
And slides across the ground.
On its way from somewhere.
To somewhere.
Sighing through the standing stones
in an ageless song.

The call of Gealach Lan.



  1. Wow! Our collaboration is really showing me the power that images have. Reading your thought process and seeing how the ideas and concepts tumbled and twisted was fascinating.

    As to provenance this is indeed Yorkshire, that is my house in the background. The "security" is in fact decorative ironwork on the wall that surrounds the graveyard of the Jepson Lane Chapel, also known as the Elland Baptist Church. The church was built in 1789 and demolished in 1920 when the road was widened but the graveyard remains and remarkably is still maintained.

    1. Yes it's a fascinating subject - I really enjoy seeing how people interpret/ are inspired by the work of others. Perhaps in the future we should try it the other way round? I'll send you a poem and you produce a photo? Not yet though, I'm enjoying this way too much to change at present.

    2. Your on! Although like you I'm enjoying this way around at the moment. It also fits better with my current domestic situation that is preventing me getting out as I'd like. I need to think about the next image though ...