England, Scotland and Berwick

Almost as far North as you can possibly journey within the bounds of England lies Berwick upon Tweed, nestled just a couple of miles from the Scottish border.

On Saturday, I made the 65 mile rail journey north with a friend to see Paul Kenny’s latest show open at The Berwick Watchtower.

As we wandered the streets of this garrison town, the sensations we experienced were odd and uneasy, enough for us to discuss it regularly throughout the day…

The mouth of the River Tweed — Berwick on the left to the North East and Tweedmouth on the right to the South West...

The mouth of the River Tweed — Berwick on the left to the North East and Tweedmouth on the right to the South West…

On the face of it, Berwick is pretty. However, it doesn’t take too long to sense a melancholy and fatigue hanging over the town.

There are small pockets where this isn’t the case but, overall, Berwick certainly appears to be a very northern outpost burdened with a tangible raw edge, perhaps the bleeding edge of the ongoing economic crisis.

Buildings look tired with many high street shops closing or, indeed, closed down. Local estate agents, too, seem awash with property for sale.

There is, however, plenty to admire as some of the architecture is stunning, not least the beautifully named Royal Border Bridge — a vital artery carrying the East Coast Mainline, connecting this remote town at high speed with the rest of the country.

The Royal Tweed bridge over the River Tweed, joining Berwick upon Tweed with Tweedmouth

The Royal Tweed road bridge — an East Coast Mainline train heads to London over the Royal Border Bridge in the distance…

To my mind, Berwick’s outpost feel is largely due to its geography, eclectic history and confused identity where, in the modern era, one can still be left wondering, “Is Berwick Scottish or English?”

Embroiled in bitter, bloody border wars for so many years, it’s hard to know.

The Tweed boils beneath the Old Bridge at Berwick upon Tweed

The Tweed boils beneath the Old Bridge…

Technically, Berwick is English after the most recent capture in 1482 but that’s not always been the case.

In fact, it was even recently pondered whether or not Berwick was technically at war with Russia after it was ‘left out’ of the conclusion to the Crimean War in the 1856 Treaty of Paris!

Perhaps you can now begin to see why I describe an eclectic history?

Not helping matters, Berwick Rangers FC remains the only English football club in the land to compete in the Scottish Football League.

Railway Street, Berwick upon Tweed

My kinda street…

All-in-all, an unconventional day out and one to get the cogs turning.

Paul’s show, of course, look resplendent — his Seaworks so appropriately on display at the coast.

Ultimately, though, it was time to journey home and leave this very northern outpost behind, carrying plenty of feelings to digest and thoughts to ponder about this quirky nation of ours…

Berwick upon Tweed Railway Station

Home time — a train rushes through the pretty railway station at Berwick upon Tweed…

Snow Business

Today, the sun’s been shining and the snowy weather is fast becoming a distant memory.

Some scenes captured over the last few weeks as I trudged around in the white stuff…

Wintery view of the snow in Newcastle upon Tyne from Heaton overlooking Jesmond Vale

Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne

Wintery view of the snow in Newcastle upon Tyne looking down the Byker Link

Snow clouds loom over the Byker Link, Newcastle upon Tyne

Wintery scene from Newcastle upon Tyne to Gateshead as seen from the Byker Link

High rise flats bathe in the skinny sunlight across the river in Gateshead

Wintery sunset from Newcastle upon Tyne to Gateshead as seen from Jack Lowe Studio

From my studio, another stunning wintery sunset over Gateshead

Wintery view of the snow in Newcastle upon Tyne from Heaton overlooking Jesmond Vale

From the sanctuary of our home…

Be My Valentine…

Video

I’m not generally one to eulogise about equipment.

Earlier in the week, however, I met the Leica M Monochrom fitted with a Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 lens and fell in love…

Never handled a Leica? I recommend it.

If, like me, you haven’t for a while then it might be time to visit your nearest purveyor of fine cameras, refresh your memory and dare to dream…

Leica M Monochrom

Behold the hand-built lenses…

Another beautiful image from Mark Tucker…

The Draw of the Sea

There’s something about the sea, isn’t there? Something stirring and primordial; to gaze out to the distant horizon is so many things to so many people.

Solace, hope, comfort, adventure and inspiration all spring to mind.

How many times have you driven along a coastline and seen people of all ages taking a stroll or simply sitting on a bench, looking so relaxed in a trance-like state as they stare wistfully towards the horizon?

How many times have you done just that yourself?

Tynemouth 1, Photography by Jack Lowe

Tynemouth No.1

The draw of the sea is strong within my soul. At the moment, it’s not fully nurtured. I miss being among the waves and long to return to my love of sea kayaking some time soon.

Way back when, my father enjoyed a spell in the Merchant Navy and was also a deep sea diver in the North Sea.

Indeed, we spent the first few years of my life living on a beautiful old boat, so I’m sure these are just some of the clues that point to why I love the watery stuff so much.

A while back, I was invited to make a photograph on the theme of emotion for an NSPCC charity auction being held at the The Old Truman Brewery in London.

My choice of subject? To return to my birth town, Aberdeen, and photograph the sea…

Aberdeen, Photography by Jack Lowe

Aberdeen

— My First Photo Book

On seeing his beautiful show at The Zelda Cheatle Gallery, the first photo book I ever bought was The Shipping Forecast by Mark Power.

The cover image still holds the same attraction to me now as it did then…

On the institution of the BBC’s Shipping Forecast, David Chandler writes in the foreword:

“The forecast stirs our residual contact with the sublime, our fading sense of epic scenarios, places where great, life-threatening forces are continually unleashed and where nature’s vengeful power always hovers over the horizon.”

Stirring words that certainly tap into my psyche, capturing the essence of what I still love about Power’s body of work.

— The Sea Collection

Sunrise at Llanbedrog, Lleyn Peninsula, Wales, Photography by Jack Lowe

Llanbedrog Sunrise

The Cobb, Photography by Jack Lowe

The Cobb

As you might imagine, I’ve made many nautical photographs over the years.

You can browse and purchase my Archival Pigment Prints of the sea by clicking here.

Each print is made, signed and embossed by me, shipped to your door to provide a new window through which to wistfully gaze…

Digital Archival Pigment Print of Llanbedrog on the Lleyn Peninsula by Jack Lowe

‘Llanbedrog Sunrise’ from The Sea Collection

— Further Inspiration

Here’s a short film that I’ve always loved, Dark Side of the Lens, and one I’m sure you’ll enjoy too:

“Subtle glimpses of magic others might pass by…something worth remembering with a photograph or a scar.” — Dark Side of the Lens

 

— The RNLI, Saving Lives at Sea

A final word…

You might well have guessed by now that my favourite charity is the RNLI.

As an island nation, the dedicated volunteers around our coastline are vital to ensuring the safety of those at sea for whatever reason.

I’ve been a fan of them since I was a boy. I loved this clip they posted of the Plymouth Lifeboat heading out on a shout in a Storm Force 10 gale at the back end of last year.

Hold tight…!