Blessings

Near a small brook in Wiltshire, an oak grows adjacent to the path leading upwards through fields of wheat in summer to the West Kennett Long Barrow. Hanging from its branches druids tie ribbons in thanks for good fortune or to celebrate a blessing.

Climbing the hill I fell into a reverie recalling a favourite oak that I would climb which grew in a local park near the playground as a child. It was shady in summer, and bare in winter, after losing its leaves and acorns in autumn. How I loved to fill my pockets with the acorns as a boy, and, even as a teenager collect them on my way to school to carve tiny faces in them with my pen knife. One day I discovered that nails had been driven into the playground oak to make it easier to climb. I recollect feeling wounded for the tree, and saddened by the harm inflicted into its bark.

On reaching the barrow, I returned from these reminisces to enter the ancient tomb. Inside flowers had been left and a few coins by druidic visitors. As you do, and hoping it would not be found, I left a coin on a high shelf in a dark corner in thanks for the blessings of being alive, having a wonderful partner and children, visiting the long barrow and neolithic henges, and for the wonder of oak trees and acorns.

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Tomb entrance – West Kennet Long Barrow
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Material concerns – Avebury Henge
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Freak out – Stonehenge

All photographs taken using a Holga PC 120 on Ektar 100 film.

 

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Portraits, posters and the past

Street art and bill posting, deliver art to the streets romantically keeping artists hidden, inspiring ideas and encourage comment and debate. During Revela-T the streets of Vilassar de Dalt came alive, not only with people and photographers, but also photographic art.

Around the Biblioteca Can Manyer, a former factory restored to become a public library, portraits of former textiles workers who once labored in the local textile manufacturing industry graced the walls, in a tribute breaking the silence that follows economic restructuring and globalisation. All that is left, as the artist’s (Joglar & Kaesler) stated, is the thread poignantly woven into society from these long abandoned factories, of the interpersonal relationships created through work that builds communities in time and space,  and “generates experiences, haste, feelings, challenges, fears, friendships, joys…  modeling our personality.” The silent factories remain like “ships stranded in the streets of Vilassar” and conceal within the memories of hidden exertions, of toil, a once busy place, where now the portraits of those workers restored to the exterior walls of the old building uncover the anonymity of days past.

Elsewhere, in a decaying old shop come gallery, Els Rajolers,  the artist Juanan Requena had installed a lifetime of images, of memories, of an unconscious coming and going that is revealed by the tides of feeling and emotions, perhaps as vacation snaps uncover all that is left, the bare bones of a story or endeavour left in time, 10, 20, or even 50 years ago.

Nearby, on the exterior of a church along the Carrer Angel, bill posters were attached using starch and water asking the question “but who or what are we dealing with?” Perhaps when guerilla artists are revealed and we think we know who we are dealing with, it becomes easier to dismiss identities no longer hidden,  but subtexts and causes still remain at play.

What is it that is really being dealt with when portraits confront us on the street of former workers, by humorous or political posters on a church, or by abandoned factories or shops installed with exhibitions? Perhaps it is the voice and record of the past and those that work humbly in the shadows, never to hold the limelight except in our remembrances or struggle to maintain a future that can resonate in solidarity with their achievements of social justice and the communities they imagined, modeled and built for us, and where we live today.

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Retratos del Textil – Biblioteca Can Manyer
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Portrait of the artist Juanan Requena
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Silent ship – Fábrica de Cal Garbat
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Bill posters
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Serious faces (or, live long and prosper) – Revela-T team
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Hidden within

All photographs taken on colour infrared film using a Chamonix 4×5 view camera, a pinhole mounted in a Compur shutter, and a 6×7 roll film holder.