Sunday, 23 March 2014

Jeff the mystic

Camden and Blake

I woke up in the early hours of a morning and travelled up to Camden Town.... It was really strange wandering around at dawn, there were no people and it was quite peaceful, but strange.... I followed the Grand Union Canal and then hiked up Primrose Hill where I watched the sun rise. It was quite murky and un-beautiful...but beautiful still, in its grey vagueness. 

Etched in stone at the top of the hill, William Blake's words 'I have conversed with the spiritual sun. I saw him on Primrose Hill...' and so have I, but in another time, back when the sun didn't hide, back when it was so much easier to find... 

And then the whole week, he kept coming up again in so many different contexts, in conversations, 'tyger tyger burning bright, in the forests of the night....' stranger still, the words exchanged with strangers that still, believe, in him.... I re-met the girl with whom I went to see his grave and the children painted, and the teacher lived there because of him, and the scribbles on the wooden tube and the colour on the walls! TYGER TYGER BURNING BRIGHT! IN THE FORESTS OF THE NIGHT!! Another strange week comprised of unearthly connections: both material and divine. 

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Strange Geometry be taken (a)back
           to a forgotten time
                                     life is but a fine
 chiselled down dream
                                                  vague as anything....


Moon over the Quarry

I'd been meaning to visit my mate Tanya, who lives on the border of Denham Country Park for aaaaagesss. Yesterday I finally made it up and we spent a beautiful day together. After hanging about at her place for a while we packed our rucksacks with snack and drinks and set out on a hike! We crossed Uxbridge Golf Course, wandered pass Denham Quarry and followed the path all the way down to Harefield Marina. When we got to the Marina we wandered around admiring all sorts of oddities; colourful broken boats with oddball names, decapitated stone heads, old motorbikes and plastic butterflies and happy yellow daffodils. After exploring, we sat on a rickety bench in the gold evening shine and had a picnic....

Later we headed back via the Grand Union Canal. As we walked we watched the sunset against a myriad of bogs and wetlands and lakes. On one side the pink sky gleamed neon and on the other the silver moon shined wildly--- pure magic. We made it back to the top of Uxbridge Golf course before dark, we sat on the prim grass legs stretched out in front of us and admired what was left of the sunset sky- a hundred hues of beautiful... soon the stars appeared and we made out way back to Tanya's place... another perfect Saturday.


Tanya and her Boat

Hub Youth Media #Musecology Showcase

Hub Youth Media is an exciting music facility run by Groundwork London for young people in Southwark aged 11– 19 years. The programme is based in the heart of Peckham. I went along to a showcase the other evening to take photographs and learn more about the work. 

The showcase, held at Canada Water Culture Space, gave the young people involved a chance to showcase their musical and spoken word talents. The programme is run by Faron Woodbridge and Brandon George, both musicians and artists in their own right, and it gives young people from different backgrounds the chance to come together to jam, build upon their existing skills and to connect with others. It also gives young people the chance to get off the streets and to channel their energy into something pretty magical... 

The talent displayed at the showcase was incredible! The performances included a rendition of John Legend's So High, original spoken word performances, raps, musical solos and so much more. The profound lyrics, the depth of emotion conveyed and the  chemistry between the members of the Hub Youth Media collective was humbling! An incredible project, which hopefully will continue to grow from strength to strength.

Groundwork and the people at Groundwork are do-ers. They spend more time implementing their projects and less time talking about them! I really really really hope that through my work I can help spread the word and COMMUNICATE some of these truly incredible projects! The diversity of projects being undertaken by Groundwork is mental- and I know it will be a massive challenge trying to convey them, but its definitely a challenge I want to tackle! Watch this space. 

Edible East Feast

I covered this really cool Groundwork event the other evening. Check out more of my work related photography on Groundwork's Facebook Page and def feel free to add me aka Groundwork London as a friend. 

Groundwork London hosted an exciting Edible East Feast to celebrate the success of 20 new Edible East Gardens in their 'free range' garden yesterday evening. Highlights from the jam-packed evening included fantastic live music performances from local musicians, an exclusive Transform Edible East film showing with interviews and behind the scenes footage from the gardens and a feast around the fire! 

The event was to celebrate the hard work of all the participants who have contributed to their local community their time and skills to create a new edible garden in an Olympic Host Borough. 

Groundwork London was also joined by Transform Edible East partners, London Sustainability Exchange and London Wildlife Trust, as well as Project Dirt and Capital Growth and all the food was sourced locally by Made In Hackney Local Food Kitchen 

South Downs Weekend

A mate and I took a trip to the South Downs for the weekend. It was incredible! The sweeping pastoral landscapes, the majestic sunsets, the perfectly carved contours---- the shining moon and gleaming white chalk.

I love the south downs, anyone who's been following my blog for a while will know this. I've explored so many stretches of it over the years, from Shoreham to Arundel, the Seven Sisters, to Devils Dyke. I've visited various churches and memorials and windmills, the white horse, the white man of Wilmington, ... I've followed different rivers; travelled across the ridge in all weather conditions, and all seasons; through pelting December rains, and warm Autumn sunshine, I've watched the sun rise and set over the downs, sometimes alone, sometimes with a friend, sometimes with strangers. I've written so many stories on different characters from all walks of life connecting with the landscape. I once even went for a job interview in Midhurst with the South Downs National Park Authority. The South Downs is a place I go to re-connect with everything.

I fell in love with the downs all over again last weekend....

On Saturday a mate and I drove down to Seven Sisters Country Park. When we got there walked along the winding river cuckmere up to the Seaford head and then down to the bay. As my ecologist mate searched for fossils, I admired the moon again the awe inspiring white cliffs of the seven sisters.

We walked up a bit by the coast... then out of the blue the tide came in and we learned that the path I would always take had now been blocked by the sea. I was shitting myself! After a few failed attempts, we climbed up onto a derelict crumbling board walk with danger and beware signs all over it. Somehow we managed to half climb, half tip toe to the end of the board walk and climb down onto shore, needless to say it was a pretty scary experience.... and so familiar too--- a vulnerability against the forces of nature. The moon, so beautiful and dramatic and grand, then looked almost menacing, causing the waves to pull in and out with such fervour, to tip toe against the slippy mossy broken board walk, the sea waves crashing against the wall beside you- splashing your face- how better else to experience a feeling of humility....

The rest of the day wasn't so dramatic, we followed the river back to the seven sisters country park, and then drove down to Wilmington. We climbed up to the top of the downs, sheep all around, watching the most glorious sunset, comprised of every shade and hue of colour. The landscape looked biblical and empty and so beautiful, the silver moon lit up under the long man of wilmington. It once again looked magnificent; no longer cold and ominous... We finally got to the top, the blustering winds circled us, the views were so remote, so baron and yet comforting.

We headed back to the car and drove to Alfriston, to the ever familiar Alfriston hostel. It was quite surreal being back, in a whole new context, in a different time and in a completely different place in life... We checked in, had dinner, then I hit the showers, later we talked for a bit about all sorts of interesting things. Funny, this mate of mine, I've seen her twice in two years, and yet we could just disappear for the weekend. No real plans, we just connected and shared and laughed, sang along to the tunes in the car- eddie vedder to johnny cash, we could just be ourselves ---- just be. Later on that night we went to the reading room and played fooseball for a while, and read through the weird prehistoric books on the shelves. We spent ages looking through an atlas from 1961, back when Zimbabwe was still Rhodesia and when east Pakistan didn't exist, we looked over places we'd been, places we wanted to go, I was reminded how big the world is and how small life is.

The next day we woke up, had breakfast; met this lovely lady working at the hostel- we began talking about how different it is, country life- the quiet, the beauty, life... We then packed up our stuff and headed off, we drove past Alfriston church and clergy house, the very first site the national trust bought... We drove to Arlington reservoir. It was beautiful, the reservoir almost looked like a small contained sea, the waves ebbed and flowed and the downs in the background changed its shadows. I sat in the bird hide and looked out and afterwards we talked about life back at the London Wetland Centre where me and my mate met, both now away from that world, closer to our own? So strange life, here now-- so strange life.

After circling the reservoir, we went to Lewes. We checked out the town, the castle; we didn't go inside. We bought some lunch and then went to the railway land nature reserve where spotted a squirming grass snake! first I seen. We then hit the road again in search of the glorious Balcomb Viaduct- on a whim of course, the whole trip was on a whim (the whole of life too?) We couldn't find it after much driving, much searching, many close encounters with many dopey pheasants. It was only as we were driving away from the village I saw it, beautiful and grand, from the rare view mirror.

As we went drove to London we saw the sunset from a hill top near Reigate, beautiful, perfect end to a perfect weekend....

Saturday, 8 March 2014

that awkward moment

...when you have to take photos of all the board members...

Friday, 7 March 2014

fair owl, tethered

Brompton Cemetery

I finally got round to visiting this beautiful cemetery last Saturday, such an awe-inspiring place...