Thursday 26 May 2016

The Colour Collaborative: May: Photograph

When we first agreed on this month's theme, I did a little secret cheer inside. Another excuse to raid the archives! I love looking back through my photographs and choosing some of my favourites.

But then I thought, do I choose just the one (impossible) that embodies the whole concept of capturing colour in photography? No. I considered why I choose to photograph certain places and subjects in terms of their colour. And I came up with lots of reasons.

There are many 'pet subjects' which I like to capture whenever I get the chance: carousels, boats, vintage cars. But closer to home, on my walks and around the house, colour speaks to me in different ways and there are several aspects of colour, even particular colours themselves, which inspire me. So without further ado: a photo heavy post with few words. Just the way I like it.

Oh, and you may already have seen one or two of these perennial favourites already.

Colours: Orange
I can never resist. Yet strangely enough it's a colour I don't wear. At all.

Subject: Roses
Particularly pink ones. Even better, those with a bluish or lilac tint.

Colour: Verdigris
That blue-green. I have a real Thing for it and am attracted to even the tiniest flash.

Subject: A splash of colour in unexpected places
I'm a lover of murk. Drizzle, damp, moody light. Sometimes you'll catch a glimpse of brightness and it begs to be photographed.

Colour: Yellow
Mustard or sulphur, I adore yellow.

Subject: Dark skies, bright foreground
Up here in the Pennines we get our fair share of ominous, battleship-grey skies. They provide an incredible foil for whatever stands between you and the clouds.

Colour: Blue
Kingfisher, cobalt, sapphire. The identification spray on the fleece of a sheep, the unexpected blue eye of a skewbald horse.

Subject: Colour in decay
There's something about the colours of flowers as they wither and become fragile; some seem to concentrate all that pigment so it becomes even more vivid, whilst others (hydrangeas being a favourite) fade and take on a sepia-like quality.

So there you have it: a lot of pictures which I hope illustrate my relationship with colour when I'm taking photographs. No one particular image which, to me at least, is colour perfection. But I'm looking forward to seeing how my fellow Collaborators have chosen to interpret the theme...

Don't forget to visit the other Colour Collaborative blogs for more of this month's posts, just click on the links below.

What is The Colour Collaborative?

All creative bloggers make stuff, gather stuff, shape stuff, and share stuff. Mostly they work on their own, but what happens when a group of them work together? Is a creative collaboration greater than the sum of its parts? We think so and we hope you will too. We'll each be offering our own monthly take on a colour related theme, and hoping that in combination our ideas will encourage us, and perhaps you, to think about colour in new ways.

Thursday 19 May 2016

Anatomy of a hedgerow

Of course, May is a month of cow parsley and fruit blossom, wild garlic and bluebells. But it's also a month where the hedgerows come into their own.

When I told you about Joe and I walking down the lane to preschool: well, there it is (in the top photograph). And today I took my camera so that on the way back up, I could take a closer look at the hedgerow which borders one side of it.

Right now the hedgerows are so dense and green. All those layers, from the moss-covered earth mound and gnarled old hawthorns which are, in a sense, the very backbone...

To the constant renewal of plant life. Leaves unfurling and ferns uncurling. 

The hawthorn blossom is only just opening in this part of the world.

There are tangled networks of brambles and purple tinges on leaves amongst the nettles.

Rosy new shoots appearing... 

A few surprises, such as currants, and rogue saplings. Honeysuckle too. And close to the ground, roots and miniature leaves and flowers. Rosettes and fronds, pebbles and moss.

And the lush verdancy that only May has. 

Yesterday we walked along in the fine drizzle. If anything, the hedgerows seemed even more lush and I think I actually preferred the damp.

Of course, the good thing about hedgerows is they have occasional gaps for you to peep through.

 So what does this particular hedge on this particular lane have to offer?

Hawthorn, nettles, buttercups, dandelions, holly, many varieties of grasses and mosses...

Herb Robert (which I just discovered is a member of the Geranium family), cleavers, brambles, beech, rosebay willow herb, ferns, dock...

And those saplings I mentioned: horse chestnut, ash, sycamore...

Alongside the old hawthorn branches are the odd man-made structure too. Decaying fence posts, rusting barbed wire.

The hedgerows tell a story. Form and function. Native plants and the odd impostor. Layers and layers, a green tapestry.

Often we'll drive past them, a blur on either side of the car which obscures our view of the landscape beyond. But just walk and explore.

I'm sure I must have looked a bit odd to those who passed me as I poked the camera into the twigs and branches. But that's the thing about taking photographs - you have to try and lose that feeling of self-consciousness. You are conducting important business: that of investigating and being curious.

I plan, perhaps when the new site is finished, to write about how I work. The printmaking process, from little field trips to inking and rolling. 

One part of that process is identifying plants. I love to consult books (I have many) which are illustrated with pictures of native plants, trees and flowers. They have to be illustrations, not photographs. And I learn names and habitats and all kinds of interesting facts.

I suppose that it's all about noticing what's around you. Walking past that hedgerow in the mornings is now part of our routine, but if you manage to slow down for ten minutes and look closely, you discover much about the seasons and what grows where.

And for the frazzled mind, a bit of green therapy.

Monday 16 May 2016


I've taken so many photos lately, and had intended to do a couple of posts about seasonal flowers. But sometimes I don't stick to my plans. Often I'll just write about what's on my mind, so instead: a post about Joe.

Of course, he's always on my mind. Whether he's with me or not (I went out with friends for a meal on Saturday night and we ended up looking through pictures of our little ones and discussing all the sweet - and not so sweet - things they do). 

This morning I decided to opt out of the chaos that is the preschool car park. Instead we walked down the steep, narrow lane and I realised how lucky we are. Hedgerows and stone walls on either side of us, wildflowers and woodland, the moors rising up ahead. We talked about when leaves change colour, and what buttercups are. We picked dandelions and blew the seeds away. We stuck cleavers ('stickybobs') onto our sleeves.

He starts school in September. It's not very far away now. The thought of it makes me sad.

I know that even though he'll only just have turned four, he'll be fine. I've anxiously sought out advice from the preschool staff, from family members who teach. But still... He'll be so little. He still makes a dreadful mess when he eats. He still has the occasional 'accident' when he's too absorbed in playing to bother going to the loo. He's cuddly and silly and thinks everyone in the world is harmless.

I toyed with the idea of holding him back for another year, but the reality is he's bright and curious and within a few months he'd be climbing the walls with boredom and frustration. His peers would have all gone off to school and he'd be left playing with the toddlers.

And I need to work. A few snatched hours here and there isn't enough. I need time to deal with the technical side of things, to make my work and promote it. I initially thought that once Joe was nine months old, maybe a year, I'd go back out to work. I couldn't see me ever being maternal. In fact, it worried me.

Turns out I was very wrong. I wanted to stay with him and yes, have a frugal couple of years if that was what was needed. It's a very personal decision and one I don't regret for even a moment.

Yes, there are times when I feel exhausted, provoked, angry, exasperated. That's what children do to you. I sometimes look back wistfully at those pre-motherhood days when I could enjoy a lie-in and a quiet weekend with a book. 

But he's my boy and we're part of each other. We go on adventures and make one another laugh. He brings me feathers to put in my workroom and makes me 'dinner' in his toy kitchen. We have fun and learn about things. 

School simply means he's getting bigger. This phase of his life is coming to an end and a new one's beginning. We've got lots of memories and photographs and stories, and I plan to make these last few months of his being properly little count. September will be here before we know it. I read a quote somewhere recently about motherhood: that the days are long but the years are short.

So we'll keep having fun, and buying that new uniform can wait just a little while longer.

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