Our creative thinking – our creative heart – is never static, it is continuously evolving. It works in partnership with our Eye. One of my favourite quotes is from Joseph Campbell, a US writer, author and mythologist. He wrote: ‘The eyes are the scouts of the heart‘.
Those eight short words distill a profound concept. The eye cannot see without an active beating heart, and an eye that has yet to find its focus can never communicate effectively with its heart.
But when our creative heart is alive and inspired by exposure to the work of fellow artists, and our Eye is sharp, then life gets interesting. No visual journey is ever straightforward, there is never a defined destination and periodically we go ‘off piste’ as a skier might say. We have projects, we explore ideas, we get side-tracked. We change course, temporarily.
I have two projects that are active, and that for the time being are interrupting my usual ‘flow’.
The top image is evidence of one project. My two favourite seasons are Spring and Autumn, and currently in the northern hemisphere it is now Autumn. For me, the beauty of Autumn exists both in the broad sweep of a forest, and in an individual leaf, and if I had to choose what I prefer to photograph, it would be a single leaf. I agree with John Dunne, an English Poet (1572-1631) who wrote: ‘No spring, nor summer beauty hath such grace, As I have seen in one autumnal face‘.
I had an idea to take a fallen leaf and bring it home and photograph it like a botanical specimen. For background I’ve chosen the kitchen floor. Every leaf or small fan of leaves is different. The markings, the colours, the decay are all different. I see the end product as a gallery of small images on an A3 print – maybe nine or so. All the same type of leaf – Oak as in the two images above. A bit like the way Andy Warhol displayed his prints of Campbell Soups. So far I have about 50 images, mainly of Oak and Sycamore.
The other project is from my archive. As well as belonging to a local camera club, I also belong to one at the Royal Society of Medicine in London. Recently we had one of our regular members’ meetings to which we bring images to discuss, and one of our members explained how he had ‘photographed’ his collection of transparencies. Not by scanning them, but by projecting them onto a screen (as we all used to do in the past) and photographing the projected images. The results were surprisingly good. I have already successfully photographed all my exhibition-sized B&W prints, and some of those have appeared here on this blog (click on Post by Category and then Print Archive in the Rt Sidebar to view some examples), but I had never thought of doing a somewhat similar thing with transparencies.
I have now dipped a toe in that particular project. I didn’t give myself an easy image to start with – the image below was taken 22 years ago from the summit of Mont Blanc. A day etched into my memory – I climbed it with my son, who was aged 17 at the time. A thrilling but quite daunting experience (we both got back down in one piece), and a very long day – leaving the hut at 0100 hrs and finally back in Chamonix at 1830 hrs. It’s only when you look back at a set of images that you spot the glaring gaps – we never got an image of the two of us on the summit! How stupid was that – I blame the altitude.
I did a rough count through my archive – about 6,500 transparencies! No, I won’t be photographing them all, but the project has the potential to breathe new life into images of our children’s childhoods and of events and holidays stretching back to the early ’70s, and before then. And it will be so much faster than scanning them all. This project will be ongoing through this winter and in winters to come.
I’ll let you know how I get on with both these projects.