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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⚡️ The next Genius Loci Digest will be out on the 22nd July. I'm away on holiday next week.
The feet of Christ on the back of the Sutherland Tapestry.
It is one of my most memorable photo shoots. A commission to photograph the Sutherland Tapestry (the size of a tennis court) at Coventry Cathedral - from behind and from the scaffolding in front. I became fascinated with the rear of the tapestry - the hidden and the imperfect, the little signs of the human hand.
Photographing an iconic textile [click for more..]
"Remember that just writing is an act of bravery. You have the courage to do what it takes to give your voice the chance to be heard. Don't do it because you want to be the next Maya Angelou or Margaret Atwood. Those are already taken. Do it because your voice is unique. Only you can take this chance. No one else will ever be you, or tell your story the way you can. So writers, write: with joy and love. You may not all take your stories as far as you'd like to take them. But write them, and send them into the world like dandelion seeds on the wind, because love and joy exist to be shared, and maybe, one day, they'll come back to you."
Joanne Harris - (Thanks to Nicola Fisher Writer)
Whispers within the walls.
I start my day at the medieval bridge over the river Windrush at Burford. It’s an idyllic scene of golden cotswold stone over a meandering river. From there I visit St. John the Baptist in Burford. I’ve photographed this church on numerous occasions. It’s a church that sits besides the Windrush at the bottom of the village. As soon as I enter, I see the graffiti. The marks are barely visible - masked by the washing of time, or hidden within the shadow of a hood-mould.
I’m fascinated by the stuff. Etched within and without the officious walls of our churches are the vernacular whispers of ordinary people that found a way of making their mark without others seeing. For me, these marks say “We are here, we matter, our feelings and beliefs matter.”
Take away the massing, the stones, the roof slates and the lead at St. John’s and imagine only the marks left behind. There would be, in front of us, a vast matrix - a scatter pattern of words and deeds and symbols that articulated a belief or admonished a fear. There’s so many here in Burford that they soften the liturgical straight jacket cast in rood and quire.
Many of these marks remain hidden - unseen for centuries.
Photographing them seems like an act of releasing the memory.
I have a photo shoot in the nearby village of Swinbrook and lodge near to Burford. All photos shot on iPhone (apart from aerial photo - shot on DJI Mini 3 Pro).
A short aerial video of St. John the Baptist and Buford.
St. John the Baptist, Burford.
St. John the Baptist at Burford is one of those idyllic churches, nestled at the bottom of the village next to a river. It is an ancient site with a complex plan. Originating in the C12th it was heavily restored by G. E. Street in the 1870's which led to William Morris founding the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.
A lot of the medieval material fabric, however, survives.
I love the story of change writ large on the tower wall. Several revisions to the roof and fenestration of the nave.
This church is full of graffiti of all types, including what looks like an angel in the porch.
A depiction of the church on the back of a memorial.
Possible consecration cross.
Look carefully and you can just make out medieval Gothic script etched on the wall of the crossing.
C12th Font with later C14th carving. The interest lies in the sculpture work and also the graffiti left on the lead lining which reads: 'Anthony Sedley 1649 Prisner'
Sedley was one of a number of soldiers who mutinied and were later caught and imprisoned inside the church at Burford.
Oh! The joy of fonts of the wordy type! Even if they are encased in underpant shaped boards. Looks like a line of washing.
Our churches are vast repositories of typography - its evolution and design.
Word of the day: New-Pewed. I shall use it every time I fee refreshed. As in "I'm feeling 'new-pewed' this morning..."
Elizabethan Gothic Script (From Romans Chapter 13) in the side chapel.
The Tanfield Monument
The tomb of Sir Lawrence and Lady Tanfield - installed in the old St. Katherine's Chapel. Northern Renaissance in style - with effigies on top and cadavers beneath. Curiously, one of the stone carved cadavers has a human femur inserted.
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The Harman Memorial
This is a wonderful memorial in terms of its prescient design. It is of c. 1569 but some of the carvings look remarkably modern - with the Gill-like indigenous peoples in the relief.
The Buildings of Burford
Burford is a psychogeographer's delight. Start your dérive at the bridge and zig-zag up The Hill in and out of the ginnels and streets that follow the lines of the original burgage plots. The streets are a museum of architectural history - with several centuries of vernacular and polite architecture on display.
Parking is free - behind the church. Public toilets are also on the site and I noticed some overnight stoppers in one of the segmented car parks.
The Doors of Burford.
Some places can be a little overwhelming, so I focus my camera or device on the detail. Buildings, like nature, are nested. Look closer and you see more detail - more clues as to who built or lived in the place. Doors are the perfect little microcosms - they are the boundary between public and private - a threshold of sorts. What do the doors of Burford tell you?
Just a few minutes from the free car park at Burford is the Bakery On The Hill. I walked the streets at around 7am and the bakery was full of hustle and bustle - working on the days bread. The best coffee in Burford too and the pastries are a delight.
I took my haul from the bakery back to the van and worked on the Digest with the spire of St. John's as inspiration.
My bread knife is from Ilkley and the chopping board is from Grassington. I pick these things up as I travel in the van - the van becoming, itself, a material hoard of memories.
Lovely little sky blue bay VW camper van on the the high street in Burford.
On My Coffee Table
From The Charo's
A look under the bonnet: why are we still so obsessed with the Regency era? | Jane Austen | The Guardian
Whether it’s the new Persuasion adaptation or the counterfactuals of Bridgerton and, er, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, we just can’t seem to shake Jane Austen’s world of dances and drawing rooms
‘It’s quite a commute’: climbers scale Salisbury Cathedral to repair stonework | Heritage | The Guardian
Team requiring no scaffolding – just ropes – called in to work on statues, transepts, tower and spire
Film and Sound
A walk along The Hill at Burford
Do you ever go somewhere, and have a strong emotional response to it, such as happiness, nostalgia or fear? Have you ever wondered why we look for meaning in places and develop stories or legends about them over time? Well these behaviours are known as a sense of place.
From the Twittersphere
Andy Marshall 📸 on Twitter: "What a difference a day makes. Filming and photography in Burford at the mo. Photographed the ancient bridge at Burford yesterday. Come back for first light and part of the bridge is gone. Seems like a car accident. #Burford https://t.co/zXSq6R8C1J" / Twitter
Oxford Mail on Twitter: "@fotofacade Hi Andy, could we use your pics of the bridge please? It's the Oxford Mail/Witney Gazette.." / Twitter
Henry Harker 🇺🇦 on Twitter: "@fotofacade Blimey what a shock! Hopefully they can salvage the original stone!" / Twitter
Nicola Fisher | Writer on Twitter: "@fotofacade That makes those remarkable photos. How sad though that the bridge is so damaged." / Twitter
Liz Dobson on Twitter: "@fotofacade @SallyBadham Hard to imagine how an impact of that magnitude could be generated against a bridge parapet unless there was a lorry involved 😳 Hopefully salvageable stone available. Hopefully driver also 'repairable'." / Twitter
Julie Penny 🇺🇦 on Twitter: "@fotofacade @CBRycroft Bearing in mind the bridge is traffic light controlled, and there is also always day and night so much traffic through Burford, hard to imagine how this happened and large vehicles are not allowed through. How sad and will be difficult under circumstances to fix it as so narrow." / Twitter
Chris Owens on Twitter: "@fotofacade I wonder if the contrast in surface tones on the first image is purely coincidental, or that segment has been reconstructed in the past following a similar incident. That aside, what a beautiful bridge 😍." / Twitter
SEC on Twitter: "@fotofacade Happens all over the country, local highways spend thousands repairing old bridges that cars/lorries have driven into." / Twitter
Les Newman on Twitter: "@fotofacade Not the first time of course - a Sherman tank ended up in the Windrush in WW2!" / Twitter
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I’m a niche photographer in a niche business and you are helping fill in the gaps, in a challenging climate, to help me maintain my advocacy of the historic environment.
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