I’ve been planning to make an audio story with friend and painter Gavin Watson for some time.
Gavin’s heading off to Switzerland soon to give a series of talks and exhibit some prints of his paintings. His hosts asked if he could supply a short film about his life as an artist.
It was a request that provided the perfect catalyst for us to do both — record the audio that’s been on my mind for a while and to film Gavin at work in Gaviworld, his home studio in the wilds of Northumberland.
So, I went to stay with Gavin for a couple of days earlier this month. The short film we made can now be viewed at the top of this post.
In time, I’ll compile the rest of the audio recordings into a longer story but, for now, I hope you enjoy this wee film.
Thank you for reading and watching — feel free to leave any thoughts/comments below.
It’s been five years since I posted here. Five whole years. And what a journey I’ve been on in the meantime, quite literally.
Since last tapping some words on this blog (which I started over 8 years ago), I’ve visited 150 RNLI stations on The Lifeboat Station Project.
Once the restrictions are lifted — whenever that may be — I can’t wait to complete the remaining 88 lifeboat stations with renewed vigour.
A SPLENDID TORCH
After such an intense few years, and as we career into Lockdown 2.0, I’ve enjoyed the headspace to lift the dust sheets from these pages and breathe life back into them.
There are still a few tweaks to be made but things are mostly shipshape again.
Then came a timely tweet by Michael Warburton yesterday featuring a clip of Jeff Goldblum impressively reciting a quote by playwright and Nobel Prize winner, George Bernard Shaw:
Here’s the quote in full:
This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognised by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.
I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no “brief candle” for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.
The words really tap into a simple sentiment that I consider to be vital more than ever in times like these — the sentiment of community spirit.
To my mind, community provides hope and, with hope, we can function.
A READYMADE SYMPHONY
Like Michael’s tweet, George Bernard Shaw’s quote seems particularly timely as we settle into our next lockdown.
It had me thinking back to the last one and the weekly clap for carers ritual. It gave me goosebumps every time, making me think I really must record this.
So, on the fifth Thursday at 8pm, I set up my microphones in the garden in readiness.
As it transpired, I couldn’t have chosen a better occasion. The moment was perfect from start to finish, a readymade symphony:
The recording begins with a chirruping bird, then the beat of a distant pan. A lone clapper soon becomes hundreds, dogs bark, car horns sound, tambourines clatter, tubas parp, all emblazoned with fireworks in the middle distance. Glorious!
And, as I listened to so many humans uniting in our extended neighbourhood, I thought…
The original work of the 1850s is often so beautiful. Some of it is shown in their short video, not least a stunning glass negative of an American steam locomotive.
During the commentary, the narrator mentions one of the aspects that I love about wet plate — that each one has a narrative derived from the very hand of the photographer. Every part of a wet plate tells a story in some way, whether it’s to do with the content or the process.
Lovely to see the famous image of Roger Fenton’s Photographic Van featured too.