I’m an architectural photographer and writer.
On my van-life travels through the British Isles I’m building up a word and photo-hoard of material culture that celebrates the value and distinctiveness of our built heritage and contributes to a sense of place.
My van is my time-machine, it gives me fresh perspectives on our remarkable places, shared here on a weekly basis. 📸🚐🏛
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Mossy memoranda at Southwell, Nottinghamshire.
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And to know the place for the first time.
Christ in Majesty at St. John the Baptist, Barnack.
If ever there is a testament to a work of art it is when it makes the digital dystopia (and the devices associated with it) evaporate into the ether.
My first glimpse of the late Saxon stone carving of Christ in Majesty loosened my grip on the device in my hand and reminded me that Apple had been a temptation since Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
There comes to certain artists a time in their lives where the culmination of their life's work is caught up in a single piece. Think of Da Vinci's Mona Lisa or Michelangelo's David. The Christ in Majesty at Barnack is another such piece.
I've read about the golden section and Fibonacci's principal, the rule of thirds and the negative space over the positive. This piece encapsulates that and more. There is a sense that the belief, the artist, the society, the material and the line has resolved itself into this single piece.
Indeed, it's difficult for the eye to leave the orchestrated geometry. There is nowhere for observation to bleed out. It's in this eternal gaze that it seems to encapsulate all faiths and not one, with a humility that is emphasised by the hands, feet and bowl of the belly.
I came away from the sculpture feeling elevated and grateful that I've been able to sink back into a way of seeing that needs no screen or scroll.
I'm reminded of the words of Robin Wall Kimmerer when talking of her observation of moss:
" With sophisticated technology, we strive to see what is beyond us, but are often blind to the myriad sparkling facets that lie so close at hand. We think we're seeing when we've only scratched the surface. Our acuity at the middle scale seems diminished, not by any failing of the eyes, but by the willingness of the mind. Has the power of our devices led us to distrust our unaided eyes? Or have we become dismissive of what takes no technology but only time and patience to perceive? Attentiveness alone can rival the most powerful magnifying lens."
Robin Wall Kimmerer: Gathering Moss.
St. John the Baptist, Barnack
Membership and Patreon is helping me afford a little more time in-between photo shoots to visit places like Barnack. Thank you.
The Saxon tower (with additional spire) is a delightful mix of long and short work crossed with the millennia-aged patina of Barnack stone. The Collyweston stone roof in diminishing courses along with the local stone build makes the church look 'of' the ground rather than 'on' it.
Quoins maketh a church.
I think it was my Nan who used to have a box of broken biscuits on hand for the kids. The churchyard is a box of broken building stone and just as yummy.
Perhaps the survival of a consecration cross from the original church (below, bottom left)
Looking into the Saxon space of beneath the tower - check out the triangular-headed door and window - but the most intriguing elements are the 'sandwich' capitals with rounded abaci. They remind me of custard creme biscuits. I shall call them custard creme capitals.
The C13th font is as crisp as the day it was made.
Crocket and volute capital in the north arcade.
The redundant opening (below) would have led to a gallery above the rood screen.
St. Peter and St. Paul's Chaldon, Surrey.
Another 'in-between' visit took me to hell and back.
The Chaldon doom painting is thought to be c.1200 but many think it as old as the Saxon wall it is painted upon. It is another work of art that needs time to absorb. A detailed study of the devices on display gives an insight into the medieval mind.
Monument panel dated 1562 with sun motif in the tympanum.
Font and bell pulls.
The Doom Painting
The listing reads:
Wall painting: west wall c1200 one of the most important English wall paintings of that date. A type of purgatorial ladder in yellow ochre, red and white. 17 foot x 11 foot. Divided in two by cloudy band with the lower half decorated to torments and punishments of the wicked, the upper half devoted to the judgement and salvation of souls. In the centre is a ladder with Christ above. The main figures include the tree of knowledge,). with the serpent (bottom right), the seven deadly sins and a cauldron for boiling murderers. Across the top are depicted the 3 Marys and Elijah and Enoch ascending to heaven, Christ defeating the devil and Christ preaching to the spirits in prison.
I parked up at Chaldon and, thankfully, before seeing the doom painting, I had lunch and a coffee.
Later that evening, lodged safely in the campsite whilst tossing a couple of whipped eggs into the hot pan, I attempted to recreate 'the boiling of the murderers' scene from the doom at Chaldon.
On My Coffee Table
From the Charo's
I bought this book from Oxfam in Ilkley because the art work on the front cover reminded me of Edward Bawden's work.
The illustrations are by artist Eileen Gee but I can't find any information about her - anybody know of her work?
I love it when I find something of the former owner in a second hand book. The discovery of a handwritten line of words, or an old bookmark, or even a shopping list lights up a connection with the other person. The Manchester Man brought out two delights - a postage stamp of 1961 celebrating the Conference for European Postal Telecommunications and a post card of St. Thomas Becket, Chapel-en-le-Frith.
The Magic of Moss and What It Teaches Us About the Art of Attentiveness to Life at All Scales – The Marginalian
“Life [exists] only because of a myriad of synchronicities that bring us to this particular place at this particular moment. In return for such a gift, the only sane response is to glitter in…
Climate change risk to coastal castles - English Heritage - BBC News
Rising sea levels are threatening ancient castles and forts at an accelerating rate, says English Heritage.
Sarum Lights 2022 - Salisbury Cathedral
Sarum Lights: Renaissance brings the incredibly popular light and sound experience back to Salisbury Cathedral for the third year. This year, artistic team Luxmuralis invites you to become immersed amongst the greatest paintings and artworks of the Renaissance period, to explore the wonder and awe that revolutionised Europe that bridged the gap from the dark ages to modern day civilisation in the 14th to 17th Centuries.
Film and Sound
My listening in the van this week. 🚐
Arts & Ideas - The Normans - BBC Sounds
Ruthless mercenaries who happened to be very good at PR or a dynamic force in Medieval European politics? Rana Mitter and guests Judith Green and Eleanor Parker discuss the current state of scholarship on the Normans. Plus: from the idea of the Norman yoke, to dreams of Hereward the Wake, to contemporary discussions about the right to roam and Brexit, what role have ideas of the Normans and Anglo-Saxons played in the British political imagination? Historian of ideas Sophie Scott Brown, and Phillip Blonde, director of the think tank Res Publica join Rana to debate.
From the Twittersphere
Member and Patron Posts This Week
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Geek Out Genius Loci Directors Cut - Exclusive Photos
Place Writing Series: Revelation - ways of seeing.
Introducing the Architecture Wallpaper Collection
Treasure Hoard Entry: The Tympanum and Saxon Carving, Billesley
Place Writing Series: The Holy Host - ways of seeing
I’ve now added a full and growing index for my Patreon posts:
Can You Help?
13 pledges towards my 25 pledge goal - can you help me reach my goal?
’m creating Patron powered photography where I am able to gift my services to places in the historic environment - giving such sites access to gold standard photography and videography and enabling them to invest the funds saved into urgent need projects. [click the link below for more info]
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Treasure Hoard Gazetteer
Andy Marshall’s Treasure Hoard Gazetteer Map
My Treasure Hoard Map is open to all. It is an evolving enterprise and I’ll be adding more entries as time passes.
View the full map on Google maps
View the full map on Google Earth (recommended)
More on the Treasure Hoard Gazetteer
Harvest Festival was one of my favourite times of year as a kid.
My brother and I would pester mum for something to take to the church and we'd end up with a few tins of pineapple chunks.
This digest has been made in Hatfield this week and I finally managed to get access to St. Etheldreda in the old town (more on that later). Here's a selection of their Harvest Festival decorations.