Wearing vermilion


All day I’ve noticed
folk wearing vermilion,
but still, since summer,
most of us have been wearing
this year’s fashion colour – black.

(Friday 13 March 2015)



“Vermilion is a brilliant red or scarlet pigment originally made from the powdered mineral cinnabar, and is also the name of the resulting color. It was widely used in the art and decoration of Ancient Rome, in the illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages, in the paintings of the Renaissance, and in the art and lacquerware of China, where it is often called ‘Chinese Red’.” (Wikipedia)

See also: Pigments through the Ages

Trees in the city

Willis Street tree #105 (18 July 2014)

Willis Street tree #105 (18 July 2014)




There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.

(from “All You Need Is Love” written by John Lennon Paul McCartney Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC)

Willis Street tree #106 (18 July 2014)

Willis Street tree #106 (18 July 2014)

Repaint your city

repaint your city

repaint your city




Urban environments offer me the possibility to explore my own sense of space. In doing so, light always triggers me. I’m fascinated by the way light is able to change the geometry of a certain space, which looks different one minute to the next, offering new geometric shapes all over again. (Wilma Eras, on her blog, Erassima)

A photographer friend commented to me recently: “Not many people can appreciate abstracts.” As one strongly attracted to abstract photography – and to abstract art in general – I’m not convinced he’s right. But then, the term “abstract” has different meanings for different people.

“Abstraction exists along a continuum” – as the Wikipedia article on abstract art so succinctly puts it. For me, Rudolph Arnheim’s pithy summation works equally well in relation to abstract photography: “Abstract art uses a visual language of form, color and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world.” (Rudolph Arnheim, in Visual Thinking)

The proliferation of internet-based photo-media makes it increasingly easy for anyone who, like me, has greedy eyes to spend hour after hour in front of a computer screen. But I do have my favourites.

From time to time I look in on Erassima, the blog of Wilma Eras – who hails from the Netherlands. Responses to her image, “repaint your city”, include the following from Richard Guest: “Lovely balance between abstraction and physicality – I really like them!” That balance is something I really value, too.

In February this year, a blog calling itself Red Square Gallery featured a folio of photos Wilma described as “Urban scenes painted by shadows.”

Graffiti, tags and street art seem to be among the current hot attractions for photographers. But few of them seem keen to engage explicitly in the ongoing anger-charged discourse on the subject of “tagging as vandalism”. But that is another topic … for another post.

Bullion bars

bullion bars (13 Jan 2012)

bullion bars (13 Jan 2012)


“This is no photo-opp,” I say. My camera says, “Humour me.”

“Alright then, if you insist … but just one shot, okay?”


“One-shot wonder,” I mumble.

The game’s the thing

(And here the faithful waver, the faithless fable and miss).  (Gerard Manley Hopkins)

Sitting down, today,
to write straight out, unthinking …
I couldn’t finish.

Funny, isn’t it,
how easy it is sometimes …
no trouble at all.

The Hopkins line — from his wonderful poem, The Wreck of the Deutschland (1918) — came to mind, earlier today, as I sat staring at the haiku I couldn’t complete:

Illusion buckles,
teeters, trembles, topples, falls …

There are games we have no possibility of winning … but we still enjoy to play, don’t we?

Crossing the carpark

To learn something new, take the path that you took yesterday. (John Burroughs, American essayist and naturalist, 1837-1921) 

The shortcut across the carpark behind St Peter’s church is not one I take every day; enjoying variety, I have a number of routes home, and take whichever of them appeals at the time. Having said that, I know the carpark and the path beside the church very well.

I suspect it was some particular quality of the evening light that made me notice what I’d always missed before.

But who knows why this particular cross? — it’s a carpark, after all … it has as many white crosses as a graveyard.  

carpark cross (04 Feb 2011)

carpark cross (04 Feb 2011)

Whenever two perpendicular lines intersect, a cross results — a strong graphic image, and one loaded with a considerable amount of cultural and historical ‘cargo’. 

The camera’s 3:4 aspect ratio makes it easy to further ‘condition’ the viewer’s experience of looking at this painted intersection.

The graphic shape is quite familiar, so it is not difficult to look past it into the details of shape and texture.

And that’s what I found interesting.

Dedicated to thoughtful examination …

My art is poetry, I deal in language and incantation, believing that poetry and oratory can invoke change.  Others follow a different path, preferring to draw out the healing properties of plants and salves. (Brother James Wise)

According to a blog I found today, “The Order of Mendicants (OM) is an initiatory, ecumenical religious order dedicated to thoughtful examination of all Faces of the Divine, while training Spiritual Directors to serve the needs of Community. The OM transcends the jurisdiction of any specific dogma, theology or religion toward the attainment of a more holistic approach to Divinity.”

All of which has appeal …

Shaking the tree

What is more mortifying than to feel that you have missed the plum for want of courage to shake the tree? (Logan Pearsall Smith)

I have a new hero! – someone who seems to have said so many of the things I’ve been burning to say “but lacked the courage to shake the tree.”

The plum-tree quotation (which I knew well) came to mind when I was preparing today’s photograph; but I never knew who’d said it … to my surprise, I didn’t even recognise his name.

Trees (08 Jul 10)

Trees (08 Jul 10)

About the photograph: far from being a fine example of technical excellence, it’s a lovely serendipity. The winter twilight’s soft and sombre colours, the gently-shaking branches … a happy accident that captured the moment (and the magic) perfectly.