One Year – Week 45

One Year is a project through which I intend to construct a daily photographic record of a single view: the view from my study window at around 8.00a.m. each day when I sit down to work.  One Year will annotate each picture with a note of the weather for that morning and the morning’s main news headline from the BBC News site.  In addition, there will be a note taking a key sentence or two from my daily journal.

HPIM400325th July 2014

Dream Malmö

 

 

 

 

 

HPIM400726th July 2014

Imagine Malmö

 

 

 

HPIM401027th July 2014

Lament Malmö

 

28 July 2013

 

 

28th July 2014

Light cloud

Bidding starts for fracking licences

I am a stranger in my own land

29 July 2013

 

29th July 2014

Sunny intervals

Migrant benefits to be tightened

We drift along as if in a dream

 

30 July 201330th July 2014

Sunny intervals

Bank to unveil bonus clawback plan

Blaming the victims once again

 

31 July 201331st July 2014

Light cloud

Israel calls up 16,000 reservists

Life as we know it, Jim, a fragile layer upon a lonely, spinning rock

 

Artist Statement

… “natural history” has no actual existence other than through the process of human history, the only part which recaptures this historical totality, like the modern telescope whose sight captures, in time, the retreat of nebulae at the periphery of the universe.

Guy Debord – Society of the Spectacle

The purpose of this project is to explore continuity and change.  Over the course of a year, I will build up a daily visual record of the same view.  Despite my best efforts, though, I will not be able to replicate the ‘same’ view each day: it is subject to changes in the environment, such as the weather or the time the sun rises.  But it is also affected by changes caused by me, the observer.  For instance, my feelings that morning may change the way I hold the camera or, inadvertently, the image may show my breath on the glass from getting too close to the window.

Looking out at the view on this, the first morning of One Year, I see a scene comprising sky, trees and rooftops.  I don’t see much evidence of human activity just yet, but that may come later in the year when the leaf cover begins to thin out.  Being on a flight path, we also see the odd vapour trail or aeroplane light in the sky too.

Some of the changes that will become evident will be pretty obvious, such as the seasons.  Other changes will be more subtle.  My daily notes will give some insight into what is going on inside my head that morning, from my journal entry, and there will also be a record of what is happening in the world in general, from the news headline.

But the ‘view’ I am recording in One Year is not neutral, it is selected and framed by me.  Similarly, my journal extracts are selected from a much larger body of work; it is the ‘insight’ into my thinking that I choose to present.  Even the ‘news headline’ cannot be regarded as neutral, for it is subject to BBC editorial bias.

But there is a third party in the One Year process, one that is outside of my control. That person is you, the reader of this blog, the interested observer of the project.  I want people to bring their own interpretations, views and insights to this project.  All comments received will be reproduced in my weekly project reports.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

One Year – Week 44

One Year is a project through which I intend to construct a daily photographic record of a single view: the view from my study window at around 8.00a.m. each day when I sit down to work.  One Year will annotate each picture with a note of the weather for that morning and the morning’s main news headline from the BBC News site.  In addition, there will be a note taking a key sentence or two from my daily journal.

HPIM391618th July 2014

But when the observer is away

 

 

 

 

HPIM390319th July 2014

Copenhagen

 

 

 

 

HPIM392120th July 2014

Still Copenhagen

 

 

 

 

HPIM398521st July 2014

Not Copenhagen

 

 

 

 

 

HPIM398722nd July 2014

This Malmö

 

 

 

 

HPIM399323rd July 2014

Hej Malmö

 

 

 

 

HPIM399724th July 2014

Still Malmö

 

 

 

 

Artist Statement

… “natural history” has no actual existence other than through the process of human history, the only part which recaptures this historical totality, like the modern telescope whose sight captures, in time, the retreat of nebulae at the periphery of the universe.

Guy Debord – Society of the Spectacle

The purpose of this project is to explore continuity and change.  Over the course of a year, I will build up a daily visual record of the same view.  Despite my best efforts, though, I will not be able to replicate the ‘same’ view each day: it is subject to changes in the environment, such as the weather or the time the sun rises.  But it is also affected by changes caused by me, the observer.  For instance, my feelings that morning may change the way I hold the camera or, inadvertently, the image may show my breath on the glass from getting too close to the window.

Looking out at the view on this, the first morning of One Year, I see a scene comprising sky, trees and rooftops.  I don’t see much evidence of human activity just yet, but that may come later in the year when the leaf cover begins to thin out.  Being on a flight path, we also see the odd vapour trail or aeroplane light in the sky too.

Some of the changes that will become evident will be pretty obvious, such as the seasons.  Other changes will be more subtle.  My daily notes will give some insight into what is going on inside my head that morning, from my journal entry, and there will also be a record of what is happening in the world in general, from the news headline.

But the ‘view’ I am recording in One Year is not neutral, it is selected and framed by me.  Similarly, my journal extracts are selected from a much larger body of work; it is the ‘insight’ into my thinking that I choose to present.  Even the ‘news headline’ cannot be regarded as neutral, for it is subject to BBC editorial bias.

But there is a third party in the One Year process, one that is outside of my control. That person is you, the reader of this blog, the interested observer of the project.  I want people to bring their own interpretations, views and insights to this project.  All comments received will be reproduced in my weekly project reports.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

One Year – Week 43

One Year is a project through which I intend to construct a daily photographic record of a single view: the view from my study window at around 8.00a.m. each day when I sit down to work.  One Year will annotate each picture with a note of the weather for that morning and the morning’s main news headline from the BBC News site.  In addition, there will be a note taking a key sentence or two from my daily journal.

11th July 201411th July 2014

Sunny

More weight loss ops for diabetes

In the mid-journey of our mortal life

 

 

12th July 201412th July 2014

Sunny

Lord Carey backs assisted dying

I wandered far into a darksome wood

 

 

13th July 201413th July 2014

Light cloud

Israel strikes hit Gaza security HQ

Where the true road no longer might be seen

 

 

14th July 201414th July 2014

Sunny

Germany win fourth World Cup title

Lost amongst murmuring trees

 

 

15th July 201415th July 2014

Sunny intervals

Hague quits as Foreign Secretary

There is no natural landscape; the simple act of looking changes it forever

 

16th July 201416th July 2014

Sunny intervals

Israel warns Gaza ahead of strikes

Out of sight but not out of mind

 

 

17th July 201417th July 2014

Suddenly Copenhagen

 

 

 

 

Artist Statement

… “natural history” has no actual existence other than through the process of human history, the only part which recaptures this historical totality, like the modern telescope whose sight captures, in time, the retreat of nebulae at the periphery of the universe.

Guy Debord – Society of the Spectacle

The purpose of this project is to explore continuity and change.  Over the course of a year, I will build up a daily visual record of the same view.  Despite my best efforts, though, I will not be able to replicate the ‘same’ view each day: it is subject to changes in the environment, such as the weather or the time the sun rises.  But it is also affected by changes caused by me, the observer.  For instance, my feelings that morning may change the way I hold the camera or, inadvertently, the image may show my breath on the glass from getting too close to the window.

Looking out at the view on this, the first morning of One Year, I see a scene comprising sky, trees and rooftops.  I don’t see much evidence of human activity just yet, but that may come later in the year when the leaf cover begins to thin out.  Being on a flight path, we also see the odd vapour trail or aeroplane light in the sky too.

Some of the changes that will become evident will be pretty obvious, such as the seasons.  Other changes will be more subtle.  My daily notes will give some insight into what is going on inside my head that morning, from my journal entry, and there will also be a record of what is happening in the world in general, from the news headline.

But the ‘view’ I am recording in One Year is not neutral, it is selected and framed by me.  Similarly, my journal extracts are selected from a much larger body of work; it is the ‘insight’ into my thinking that I choose to present.  Even the ‘news headline’ cannot be regarded as neutral, for it is subject to BBC editorial bias.

But there is a third party in the One Year process, one that is outside of my control. That person is you, the reader of this blog, the interested observer of the project.  I want people to bring their own interpretations, views and insights to this project.  All comments received will be reproduced in my weekly project reports.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

One Year – Week 42

One Year is a project through which I intend to construct a daily photographic record of a single view: the view from my study window at around 8.00a.m. each day when I sit down to work.  One Year will annotate each picture with a note of the weather for that morning and the morning’s main news headline from the BBC News site.  In addition, there will be a note taking a key sentence or two from my daily journal.

4 July 20144th July 2014

Light cloud

UK planned to train Syrian rebels

I bet he’s even funnier in Spanish

 

 

5 July 20145th July 2014

Light cloud

PM ‘wants answers’ on abuse dossier

I keep going back again and again to Caroline Bergvall’s VIA

 

6 July 20146th July 2014

Sunny intervals

Lord Brittan ‘quizzed on rape claim’

I love to hear her read in that strange, compelling Danish/French/English accent

 

7 July 20147th July 2014

Sunny intervals

May to address MPs on sex abuse claims

Of course it’s really Dante’s poem, but then that’s the whole point

 

8 July 20148th July 2014

Light cloud

Claim ’20 top figures were abusers’

Forty-eight Dante variations: layer upon layer of different translations of the same few lines

 

9 July 20149th July 2014

Sunny intervals

NSPCC wants law on covering-up abuse

Along the journey of our life half way

 

 

10 July 201410th July 2014

Sunny

Public sector workers in mass strike

I found myself again in a dark wood

 

 

Artist Statement

… “natural history” has no actual existence other than through the process of human history, the only part which recaptures this historical totality, like the modern telescope whose sight captures, in time, the retreat of nebulae at the periphery of the universe.

Guy Debord – Society of the Spectacle

The purpose of this project is to explore continuity and change.  Over the course of a year, I will build up a daily visual record of the same view.  Despite my best efforts, though, I will not be able to replicate the ‘same’ view each day: it is subject to changes in the environment, such as the weather or the time the sun rises.  But it is also affected by changes caused by me, the observer.  For instance, my feelings that morning may change the way I hold the camera or, inadvertently, the image may show my breath on the glass from getting too close to the window.

Looking out at the view on this, the first morning of One Year, I see a scene comprising sky, trees and rooftops.  I don’t see much evidence of human activity just yet, but that may come later in the year when the leaf cover begins to thin out.  Being on a flight path, we also see the odd vapour trail or aeroplane light in the sky too.

Some of the changes that will become evident will be pretty obvious, such as the seasons.  Other changes will be more subtle.  My daily notes will give some insight into what is going on inside my head that morning, from my journal entry, and there will also be a record of what is happening in the world in general, from the news headline.

But the ‘view’ I am recording in One Year is not neutral, it is selected and framed by me.  Similarly, my journal extracts are selected from a much larger body of work; it is the ‘insight’ into my thinking that I choose to present.  Even the ‘news headline’ cannot be regarded as neutral, for it is subject to BBC editorial bias.

But there is a third party in the One Year process, one that is outside of my control. That person is you, the reader of this blog, the interested observer of the project.  I want people to bring their own interpretations, views and insights to this project.  All comments received will be reproduced in my weekly project reports.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

One Year – Week 41

One Year is a project through which I intend to construct a daily photographic record of a single view: the view from my study window at around 8.00a.m. each day when I sit down to work.  One Year will annotate each picture with a note of the weather for that morning and the morning’s main news headline from the BBC News site.  In addition, there will be a note taking a key sentence or two from my daily journal.

27 June 2014June 27h 2014

Thick cloud

EU summit set to confirm Juncker

As Morrissey put it: ‘We hate it when our friends become successful, and if they’re northern, that makes it even worse’

 

28 June 2014June 28th 2014

Heavy rain

EU leaders offer Cameron hope

Thanks for asking, Guardian Weekend.  My ideal dinner party guests would be: Ed Reardon, Count Arthur Strong and Albert Steptoe

29 June 2014June 29th 2014

Light cloud

Iraq receives first Russian jets

Religious belief and militant atheism share an absolute faith in something that cannot be seen or known; one believes it’s definitely there and the other it definitely isn’t

30 June 2014June 30th 2014

Sunny

Isis rebels declare ‘Islamic state’

Perhaps agnostics are the Liberal Democrats of faith, neither one thing nor the other?

 

1 July 20141st July 2014

Sunny

Israel vows firm action after deaths

Why not try shaving foam for a low-fat version of strawberries and cream?

 

2 July 20142nd July 2014

Sunny

Sarkozy placed under investigation

Mark E Smith once said the typical Fall fan is a middle-aged bloke in a windcheater sitting in a pub drinking bitter and moaning.  Rubbish, I don’t even own a windcheater

3 July 20143rd July 2014

Sunny intervals

Tighter security for flights to US

Just like The Tiger Who Came to Tea, I’ve drunk all the water in the tap and all of Daddy’s beer from under the sink

 

Artist Statement

… “natural history” has no actual existence other than through the process of human history, the only part which recaptures this historical totality, like the modern telescope whose sight captures, in time, the retreat of nebulae at the periphery of the universe.

Guy Debord – Society of the Spectacle

The purpose of this project is to explore continuity and change.  Over the course of a year, I will build up a daily visual record of the same view.  Despite my best efforts, though, I will not be able to replicate the ‘same’ view each day: it is subject to changes in the environment, such as the weather or the time the sun rises.  But it is also affected by changes caused by me, the observer.  For instance, my feelings that morning may change the way I hold the camera or, inadvertently, the image may show my breath on the glass from getting too close to the window.

Looking out at the view on this, the first morning of One Year, I see a scene comprising sky, trees and rooftops.  I don’t see much evidence of human activity just yet, but that may come later in the year when the leaf cover begins to thin out.  Being on a flight path, we also see the odd vapour trail or aeroplane light in the sky too.

Some of the changes that will become evident will be pretty obvious, such as the seasons.  Other changes will be more subtle.  My daily notes will give some insight into what is going on inside my head that morning, from my journal entry, and there will also be a record of what is happening in the world in general, from the news headline.

But the ‘view’ I am recording in One Year is not neutral, it is selected and framed by me.  Similarly, my journal extracts are selected from a much larger body of work; it is the ‘insight’ into my thinking that I choose to present.  Even the ‘news headline’ cannot be regarded as neutral, for it is subject to BBC editorial bias.

But there is a third party in the One Year process, one that is outside of my control. That person is you, the reader of this blog, the interested observer of the project.  I want people to bring their own interpretations, views and insights to this project.  All comments received will be reproduced in my weekly project reports.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Psychogeographic Review’s Recommendations – July 2014

This past month Psychogeographic Review has been reading:

HoneycombeGordon Honeycombe – ‘Neither the Sea Nor the Sand’ (1971)

I first read this book when I was a teenager.  It was probably the heady combination of romantic love and zombies that appealed to me then.  But reading it again now, I am able to appreciate the quality of Honeycombe’s writing; his unblinking, controlled style which never wavers and never judges.  Two lonely people fall in love and marry.  They swear their undying love for each other, and soon after come to realise the full horror of that oath

 

131

Julian Cope – ‘One Three One’ (2014)

Not just a musician, or a respected antiquarian, but now a novelist too.  I feared disappointment when I sat down to read Julian Cope’s ‘time-shifting gnostic hooligan road novel’, but I needn’t have worried, it’s a glorious, soaring theme-park ride for the mind.  Bursting with ideas, inebriated with language, Cope’s first novel grabs the reader from the first sentence and keeps a tight grip for the next four hundred odd pages

 

 

Bright TravellersFiona Benson – ‘Bright Travellers’ (2014)

A first collection of poems from young Anglo-Scottish writer, Fiona Benson.  She writes of motherhood, of love, art and of the natural world; she sees the mystical that fringes the everyday world.  But there is never a hint of fey lyricism in Benson’s poems; instead she embraces the shit, the blood and pain that shadows every living thing.

 

 

 

Meanwhile, we were listening to:

FramptonPeter Frampton – ‘Wind of Change’ (1972)

Somewhere between his time as a pop teen-idol in The Herd and Humble Pie and the unlistenable bombast of his Frampton Comes Alive! period, Peter Frampton made a very good solo album.  This is that album: a collection of songs with melody and light and shade.  With some superb musicianship too; including Klaus Voormann on bass and some bloke from Liverpool called Ringo on drums

 

skell 2Julian Cope – ‘The Skellington Chronicles’ (1993)

Reading One Three One led me to dig out my old cassette copy of Skellington.  Julian Cope turned out this album in just two days immediately after the recording sessions for My Nation Underground.  He was frustrated by the over-produced power pop his record company were encouraging him to produce. In reaction Cope channelled all of that energy and anger into this stripped-down masterpiece: short, spare arrangements of killer song after killer song

Lowland HundredThe Lowland Hundred – ‘The Lowland Hundred’ (2014)

The third album of a trilogy by Aberystwyth’s Paul Newland and Tim Noble. The Lowland Hundred refers to the mythical submerged kingdom beneath Cardigan Bay and the album casts its net over land and sea to explore the sonic landscapes of Mid Wales.  The four pieces have no titles, as if emphasising its artistic integrity as an album, rather than a collection of pick and mix tracks

 

and watching:

 

MeadesThe Jonathan Meades Collection – BBC (2009)

Jonathan Meades makes films the way he talks, writes and lives his life: with passion, anger, humour and humanity.  This collection includes some of his finest work for the BBC, including Abroad in Britain, Further Abroad and Magnetic North.  Meades is a writer and film-maker with a unique talent for sifting out the meaning behind the natural and built environments we live within

 

 

 

BLD-URBANIZED-POSTER-FRONT‘Urbanized’ – Gary Hustwit (2011)

Who designs our cities?  Who decides what is built and for whose benefit do they make those decisions?  Urbanized is the third part of Gary Hustwit’s Design Trilogy and looks at the development of the modern city, interviewing some of the key decision-makers along the way.  Cui bono?

 

 

 

London Babylon‘London: The Modern Babylon’ – Julien Temple (2012)

For over thirty years Julien Temple has used film to give a voice to the rebels and refuseniks of London.  His body of work embraces punks, poets, ranters and ravers.  In some ways, London: The Modern Babylon brings all of these disparate elements together.  Temple takes a time-travelling journey through twentieth-century London, sweeping with his lens to embrace the immigrants and home-grown bohemians who have made London the city that it is today

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

One Year – Week 40

One Year is a project through which I intend to construct a daily photographic record of a single view: the view from my study window at around 8.00a.m. each day when I sit down to work.  One Year will annotate each picture with a note of the weather for that morning and the morning’s main news headline from the BBC News site.  In addition, there will be a note taking a key sentence or two from my daily journal.

20 June 2014June 20th 2014

Sunny intervals

Fierce battles for key Iraqi sites

A medieval bridge with two squat arches, its sandstone blocks glowing pinkly in the early evening sunshine

 

21 June 2014June 21st 2014

Sunny

Family ‘heartbroken’ by jihad video

The river water was warm and viscous, its whole surface dotted with a generous sprinkling of flies

 

22 June 2014June 22nd 2014

Sunny

UK Syria fighters ‘a long-term threat’

They walked on in silence, an inexplicable sadness hanging over both of them

 

23 June 2014June 23rd 2014

Sunny intervals

Iraq ‘loses western border control’

She held it reverently and slowly, carefully began to examine its pages

 

24 June 2014June 24th 2014

Sunny

Iraq key refinery ‘seized by rebels’

He squinted to try to force his smarting eyes to see

 

25 June 2014June 25th 2014

Sunny intervals

Hacking jury to resume deliberations

Like four horsemen, solemn harbingers of tribulation, the chimneys of the power station dominated the western riverbank

 

26 June 2014June 26th 2014

Light cloud

Savile hospital abuse reports due

All of his senses were real: he felt the water on his skin, the sunshine on his head and discerned the scent of newly-mown grass in the air

 

Artist Statement

… “natural history” has no actual existence other than through the process of human history, the only part which recaptures this historical totality, like the modern telescope whose sight captures, in time, the retreat of nebulae at the periphery of the universe.

Guy Debord – Society of the Spectacle

The purpose of this project is to explore continuity and change.  Over the course of a year, I will build up a daily visual record of the same view.  Despite my best efforts, though, I will not be able to replicate the ‘same’ view each day: it is subject to changes in the environment, such as the weather or the time the sun rises.  But it is also affected by changes caused by me, the observer.  For instance, my feelings that morning may change the way I hold the camera or, inadvertently, the image may show my breath on the glass from getting too close to the window.

Looking out at the view on this, the first morning of One Year, I see a scene comprising sky, trees and rooftops.  I don’t see much evidence of human activity just yet, but that may come later in the year when the leaf cover begins to thin out.  Being on a flight path, we also see the odd vapour trail or aeroplane light in the sky too.

Some of the changes that will become evident will be pretty obvious, such as the seasons.  Other changes will be more subtle.  My daily notes will give some insight into what is going on inside my head that morning, from my journal entry, and there will also be a record of what is happening in the world in general, from the news headline.

But the ‘view’ I am recording in One Year is not neutral, it is selected and framed by me.  Similarly, my journal extracts are selected from a much larger body of work; it is the ‘insight’ into my thinking that I choose to present.  Even the ‘news headline’ cannot be regarded as neutral, for it is subject to BBC editorial bias.

But there is a third party in the One Year process, one that is outside of my control. That person is you, the reader of this blog, the interested observer of the project.  I want people to bring their own interpretations, views and insights to this project.  All comments received will be reproduced in my weekly project reports.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

One Year – Week 39

One Year is a project through which I intend to construct a daily photographic record of a single view: the view from my study window at around 8.00a.m. each day when I sit down to work.  One Year will annotate each picture with a note of the weather for that morning and the morning’s main news headline from the BBC News site.  In addition, there will be a note taking a key sentence or two from my daily journal.

13 June 2014June 13th 2014

Sunny

Obama: All options open on Iraq

Nut brown malt, winking foam

 

 

14 June 2014June 14th 2014

Sunny

Obama to ‘review options’ on Iraq

Fluffy words and clunky sounds, all on a Saturday night

 

15 June 2014June 15th 2014

Light cloud

Blair: ‘We didn’t cause Iraq crisis’

Dewdrop sits alone, his bitterness before him

 

16 June 2014June 16th 2014

Light cloud

US considers talks with Iran on Iraq

Gender Admin – a sawn-off room

 

 

17 June 2014June 17th 2014

Sunny intervals

US deploys Iraq ‘military personnel’

It was a right how do you do

 

 

18 June 2014June 18th 2014

Light cloud

Baghdad residents stockpile food

Such unexpected beauty

 

 

19 June 2014June 19th 2014

Light cloud

Obama ‘to bypass Congress over Iraq’

He holds his gaze in that zone of safety between the table top and a rheumy-eyed middle distance

 

Artist Statement

… “natural history” has no actual existence other than through the process of human history, the only part which recaptures this historical totality, like the modern telescope whose sight captures, in time, the retreat of nebulae at the periphery of the universe.

Guy Debord – Society of the Spectacle

The purpose of this project is to explore continuity and change.  Over the course of a year, I will build up a daily visual record of the same view.  Despite my best efforts, though, I will not be able to replicate the ‘same’ view each day: it is subject to changes in the environment, such as the weather or the time the sun rises.  But it is also affected by changes caused by me, the observer.  For instance, my feelings that morning may change the way I hold the camera or, inadvertently, the image may show my breath on the glass from getting too close to the window.

Looking out at the view on this, the first morning of One Year, I see a scene comprising sky, trees and rooftops.  I don’t see much evidence of human activity just yet, but that may come later in the year when the leaf cover begins to thin out.  Being on a flight path, we also see the odd vapour trail or aeroplane light in the sky too.

Some of the changes that will become evident will be pretty obvious, such as the seasons.  Other changes will be more subtle.  My daily notes will give some insight into what is going on inside my head that morning, from my journal entry, and there will also be a record of what is happening in the world in general, from the news headline.

But the ‘view’ I am recording in One Year is not neutral, it is selected and framed by me.  Similarly, my journal extracts are selected from a much larger body of work; it is the ‘insight’ into my thinking that I choose to present.  Even the ‘news headline’ cannot be regarded as neutral, for it is subject to BBC editorial bias.

But there is a third party in the One Year process, one that is outside of my control. That person is you, the reader of this blog, the interested observer of the project.  I want people to bring their own interpretations, views and insights to this project.  All comments received will be reproduced in my weekly project reports.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Second Meadow: A Healing Landscape

To bring the dead to life
Is no great magic.
Few are wholly dead:
Blow on a dead man’s embers
And a live flame will start…

Robert Graves, To Bring the Dead to Life

Archie Hill was born in rural Staffordshire during the depression of the 1930s.  His family were extremely poor and Archie’s father was often only able to put food on the table by going out poaching with his friend and neighbour, Konk.

Hill grew up undernourished and barely educated.  But he developed an abiding love for nature and the countryside instilled to a great extent by Konk.  The neighbour was slightly older than Archie’s father and became something of a mentor to the boy, teaching him about the plants and animals of the countryside and, of course, how to catch fish and game without being apprehended by the gamekeeper.

HPIM2992Konk features heavily in Hill’s 1982 book,The Second Meadow; his voice speaks to Hill from somewhere inside his head, guiding him through a period of self-imposed exile from society, helping him to live off the land.  In many ways Konk represents a character akin to that of a Fagin or John Silver; the transgressive father-figure who beguiles a lonely boy.  Or, in the case of The Second Meadow, a lonely boy now approaching fifty.

Konk was by no means a dangerous criminal, he only poached game for the sport of it and to feed his family.  However, he served time in prison on several occasions and Hill’s life seemed destined to follow the pattern of the older man’s when he spent two years in jail for theft in his twenties.  But he discovered in prison that he had a talent for writing, and the course of his life was irrevocably changed.

HPIM2958Hill embarked on the project that resulted in The Second Meadow for both financial and personal reasons.  He was a jobbing writer who needed work and living in the wild for three months seemed like promising subject matter.  He also felt the need to step outside  his everyday life for a while.  Indeed, he had previously attempted a more permanent stepping out with a suicide attempt that had resulted in him spending five days in a coma.

I suppose the pleasure of country life lies really in the eternally renewed evidences of the determination to live.

Vita Sackville-West, Country Notes

Hill called in a favour from a major Staffordshire landowner whom he had first met when working on a radio documentary about poaching.  The landowner was completely unfazed by Hill’s unusual request and readily agreed to him living wild for three months on a remote corner of his estate, far from public footpaths and roads.

So, on a September morning Hill set up camp in a small woodland clearing.  He had an army pup-tent, a Toledo steel bowie knife, a .22 air rifle, some snaring wire and very little else.  He would wash and take drinking water from a stream and survive by gathering the Autumn’s harvest of nuts, berries and fungi and catching small game and fish.

Hill didn’t go hungry during his time in the woods; he used the skills taught to him by Konk:

Having pitched, I telephoned Old Konk the poacher through my memory banks.  Konk, who’d taught me the tricks of poaching and survival through my boyhood and early manhood years.  I phoned: he answered.

But Konk emerges from this book as more than just a mentor and father-figure to Archie Hill.  He personifies the land, and it is the land, with its woods, meadows and streams, that provides Hill with the solace and the healing he was looking for.

Archie Hill had lived a decidedly grim life: from labouring work and a spell in the RAF Police his life spiralled downwards into mental illness and living on the streets as a down-and-out, surviving by stealing food.  He drank to ease his pain and, almost inevitably, became a chronic alcoholic.  In prison he wrote poetry: ‘anguished yelpings in rhyme’. After his release Hill scraped a living by writing magazine articles and radio and TV scripts.  He also wrote a number of books about his beloved Black Country, several of them autobiographical.

But he was still a troubled man, even though by the time he wrote The Second Meadow he had been sober for several years.  Hill’s first marriage had ended in divorce and his second one was now in trouble.  He was still dealing with depression and the demons of his past, and struggling to come to terms with his new responsibilities for his disabled step-son.

What was I really seeking here in the nature-stillness of woods and fields, I found myself asking.  Was it just a holiday, a selfish opportunity to shun domestic responsibilities for a while?  … in my youth I used to say that it wasn’t too bad to wake up and ask, ‘Where am I?’; but that it’d be a real shock to wake up and say ’Who am I?

With ink from fungi, pigeon feather quills and birch bark parchment, Hill began to note down his thoughts over the course of his time in the woods: brief observations and impressions to be expanded upon when he returned home.

He spent a lot of time sitting and watching the wildlife about him, struggling to reconcile his own place in existence.  His favourite spot was at the very edge of the wood, looking out over three meadows, each giving way to the next by means of a gate in the hedge.  The first meadow, the one nearest the woods, teemed with wildlife; birds fed here and rabbits foraged and played.

The second meadow, however, only seemed to be visited by birds.  The rabbits appeared to feel safer from predators in the first meadow, close to the sanctuary of the wood.  Only the more adventurous ever wandered into the second meadow and very rarely did he ever see a rabbit in the third meadow, though the pickings there, with so little competition, must have been richer.

HPIM2607Towards the end of his time in the woods Hill seems to reach an epiphany; he felt the baggage falling away and his life became simpler, clearer:

The three meadows, stretching before me as I looked from my tent, gradually gave me a sharpness of mind I’d never experienced before.  Other people might have done, but never me.  The meadows were symbols of inner acres of knowledge, wisdom and experience.  Gone away from me was the noise and bustle of ordinary living, the whine and roar of street traffic, the petty irritations of routine life.  The values that I’d held dear in the years behind me suddenly seemed remote and of no importance – rivalries in commercial advancement, the daily clock-urgencies of appointments to be kept and tasks to be done.  Suddenly these seemed to have no importance and no value.

Beethoven, John Donne, Jesus – all of these and others, argues Hill, ventured through the second meadow and into the third.  Maybe Hill was light-headed due to malnourishment and a very limited diet, or perhaps just suffering the effects of prolonged isolation.  But he was clearly changed, one might say healed by the land. The Second Meadow does not tell us how he fared with this new sense of clarity when he was plunged back into the world.  But, as a work, it is saved from the excesses of cod philosophy by Archie Hill’s sharp landscape observation, sparkling prose and manifest sincerity.

71PGXTkF52L__SL1500_

Archie Hill, The Second Meadow (London, Hutchinson, 1982)

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

One Year – Week 38

One Year is a project through which I intend to construct a daily photographic record of a single view: the view from my study window at around 8.00a.m. each day when I sit down to work.  One Year will annotate each picture with a note of the weather for that morning and the morning’s main news headline from the BBC News site.  In addition, there will be a note taking a key sentence or two from my daily journal.

6 June 2014June 6th 2014

Sunny intervals

Leaders gather for D-Day anniversary

But the huge expanse of sand he had walked over was now gone.  In its place, but for the odd sandbank, was an expanse of grey water

 

7 June 2014June 7th 2014

Heavy rain

Ukraine’s Poroshenko to be sworn in

Time is doing strange things,’ said Captain Metcalfe to his Mate as he struggled to hold a steady course while he steered the ship up the estuary

8 June 2014June 8th 2014

Sunny intervals

Gove apologises over row with May

He stood up straight and pulled back his shoulders, as if willing himself to be decisive

 

9 June 2014 (2)June 9th 2014

Light rain shower

‘Gunfire resumes’ at Karachi airport

The cliff was the colour of terracotta plant pots and was made up of countless weathered slabs

 

10 June 2014June 10th 2014

Sunny

Divide over ‘no notice’ school checks

Out of context one might call my pictures crap.  I call them unique, original

 

11 June 2014June 11th 2014

Sunny

Tens of thousands flee Iraq’s Mosul

The question hung in his mind; an echo of doubt

 

12 June 2014June 12th 2014

Sunny

UN condemns Iraqi militant attacks

But if you knew they were just voices inside your head, and not something that was real, not another person with their own existence, did that mean you were alright?

Artist Statement

… “natural history” has no actual existence other than through the process of human history, the only part which recaptures this historical totality, like the modern telescope whose sight captures, in time, the retreat of nebulae at the periphery of the universe.

Guy Debord – Society of the Spectacle

The purpose of this project is to explore continuity and change.  Over the course of a year, I will build up a daily visual record of the same view.  Despite my best efforts, though, I will not be able to replicate the ‘same’ view each day: it is subject to changes in the environment, such as the weather or the time the sun rises.  But it is also affected by changes caused by me, the observer.  For instance, my feelings that morning may change the way I hold the camera or, inadvertently, the image may show my breath on the glass from getting too close to the window.

Looking out at the view on this, the first morning of One Year, I see a scene comprising sky, trees and rooftops.  I don’t see much evidence of human activity just yet, but that may come later in the year when the leaf cover begins to thin out.  Being on a flight path, we also see the odd vapour trail or aeroplane light in the sky too.

Some of the changes that will become evident will be pretty obvious, such as the seasons.  Other changes will be more subtle.  My daily notes will give some insight into what is going on inside my head that morning, from my journal entry, and there will also be a record of what is happening in the world in general, from the news headline.

But the ‘view’ I am recording in One Year is not neutral, it is selected and framed by me.  Similarly, my journal extracts are selected from a much larger body of work; it is the ‘insight’ into my thinking that I choose to present.  Even the ‘news headline’ cannot be regarded as neutral, for it is subject to BBC editorial bias.

But there is a third party in the One Year process, one that is outside of my control. That person is you, the reader of this blog, the interested observer of the project.  I want people to bring their own interpretations, views and insights to this project.  All comments received will be reproduced in my weekly project reports.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment