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I'm an architectural photographer. I travel around Britain recording and interacting with special places that have a spirit about them. I work from my camper van called Woody and I share my experiences via this digest.
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The First Member Funded Photography Shoot!
So excited to share with you that the first member funded photography shoot is to take place in June. The shoot will be of an historic building in Broadwell in Oxfordshire. Members will be party to live information and extra content during and after the photo shoot - including exclusive viewing of the final images.
Here's the Members Only Project Page for Broadwell.
These photo shoots are funded by Members and wouldn't be able to take place without you. I'll be posting out specific details of the shoot to members in the coming days.
Can you become a member and help fund further photography? More here..
Next week I'm on holiday, but I will post out a special edition of the Genius Loci Digest.
This pillar box cast in 1856 in the shape of a doric column at the eagle foundry of Messrs Smith and Hawkes, Board Street, Birmingham, is one of a pair installed at the east and west gates of Warwick.
Had I not seen the Sun
I could have borne the shade
But Light a newer Wilderness
My Wilderness has made—
Had I not seen the Sun - Emily Dickinson
Yes They Do
I'm in the room where I had my breakdown. I’m curled up in the corner of the bedroom again, and my face is hard pressed against the corded ridges of the carpet. I’m so close and present in this palpitating bubble, that I can hear my eyelashes scrape against the carpet when I blink.
I’m not there - I know I’m not. I tell myself I’m having a nightmare and, in a strange dream within a dream-like state, I start to hover over the room as a separate entity. I can see my body bent shrimp-like on the floor.
Nineteen hours earlier, before this fretful night, I’m pacing up and down the kitchen. It’s 6am and I’m waiting for a phone call. I’m booked in for an interview on a radio station about a project I’ve been working on. It’s a heart and soul video about my local community. The interview goes well, but I say something that makes the interviewer laugh. I tell him that the streets ‘speak to me’.
Nineteen hours later, in the midst of my nightmare, words echo around the room.
"What did you say? The streets speak to you? Are you crazy?"
I shout back from my hovering entity: "It's the grammar of architecture!"
There's laughter in the room, and I feel like a dandy, a flaneur.
“They speak to you?”
I scream into the room, and whilst I’m shouting and hovering, I see my doubled-self rise from the floor. He steadies himself on the sideboard and looks up to the ceiling, and with his eyes hardening, says: "Yes, they do."
If ever there is an argument for a building that might dispel the disbelief of a radio jock, then it is the Beauchamp (pronounced 'Beecham') Chapel at St. Mary's in Warwick.
In the working of the room and the placing of certain things this building speaks. The chapel is a powerful expression, not only of the ambition and might of the Beauchamp family, but also of the human condition.
The narrative isn't just within the material artefacts - it is also in the space that holds a certain resonance, a spirit that raises the hairs. There are things unseen going on here, and it focuses upon invisible lines and messages that are as powerful as those at Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland or St. Edmund's in Falinge.
"The narrative isn't just within the material artefacts - it is also in the space that holds a certain resonance, a spirit that raises the hairs. "
The message hangs upon the invisible. It stems from the eyes of Beauchamp and is channeled by his raised hands along the telling void between him and the depiction of God above the east window.
For me this chapel, constructed from the finest materials and fashioned from the most revered artists, is held together by that gaze.
This effigy of a man who became one of the most powerful people in England has, through the centuries, unbecome. Time has washed the 'old tenantry' away and the gaze is all that is left. What remains is that which cannot be corrupted by time: the human condition diluted into that stare - the yearning to connect, to envision and to hope.
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St. Mary's Warwick - The Beauchamp Chapel
All images taken with iPhone.
And so I find myself, over three days, encapsulated like a fly in amber within the bounds of that gaze. Had I not known of it, I could have borne the shade, but now I'm transported into another world, and during my process, my lens is drawn like a magnet to the hands and the line of contact between Beauchamp and the east window.
At times historian, Tim Clark, is with me and he augments the space with stories rooted in the material. He is a warm, articulate and welcoming person, passionate about the church and chapel. People like Tim, (mostly volunteers) are responsible for sewing the stories and fabric of these places into a more secure future.
"...the only medieval chantry that stands comparison with Henry VII's chapel at Westminster."
Simon Jenkins. England's Thousand Best Churches.
The tomb of Richard Beauchamp is a marvel.
The chapel was built in the C15th to house the tomb of Richard Beauchamp, the Earl of Warwick. It also houses the tombs of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, his brother Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick, and Robert’s son, the “Noble Impe”.
The tomb is made of gilt-bronze from a model by John Massingham. The stiffness of the repose is brought to life by a remarkably accurate depiction of the anatomy of a body including muscles and veins. Each strand of hair is beautifully depicted.
The weepers that encircle the tomb are also remarkably life like - but in miniature. Each detail is precious - they are the letters that form the sentences to the narrative at play.
The East Window.
I don't think I've photographed a window quite like this: the structure adorned with figures and the medieval glass by John Prudde bejewelled in the winter light.
At the top of the window, and returning Beauchamp's gaze is God in majesty.
Members can view several remarkable 'up close and personal' vistas of the Beauchamp tomb and chapel in glorious VR here:
Ambrose Dudley (d.1590)
Robert Dudley (d.1588) and his wife Lettice.
Robert Dudley was a favourite of Elizabeth I.
Members can view exclusive out-takes and videos from my three days spent at St. Mary's Warwick by clicking the box below:
Each day of photography starts with a routine. At Warwick I arrive first thing to bag my parking place next to church. I love this time of day - especially in an urban place: the glow of the shops. Cafe Nero was open at 7am - so latte and a decent view of a gorgeous timber framed building of 1634 on Market street. Geometric delights.
When you spend a long time in a single place it tends to get under your skin, and this place at Saint Mary’s in Warwick has certainly done that.
It has been hard work - a prolonged focus on a particular place is mentally and physically draining - plus setting up home in the van everyday. But it has been a real privilege to work inside this national treasure alongside the eternal gaze of the Earl of Warwick.
All subscribers can follow my journey to Warwick (and beyond) via an interactive map on Polarsteps:
On my van podcast list:
The Ghost Angel at St. Mary's Warwick.
I'm quite a hardened church crawler, but I couldn't help but be moved at the sight of this ghost angel on the blind arcading in the Beauchamp Chapel in St. Mary's Warwick.
It's quite common for medieval paintings to be hidden behind a coat of limewash - often painted over during periods of iconoclasm - such as the Reformation or the English Civil War.
As the wash fades, more of the angel appears - I'm told that the eye came first some time ago.
The Ghost Angel is on my Treasure Hoard Gazetteer:
Strap yourself in, let Woody do the time travelling...Members' Area
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Photographs and words by Andy Marshall (unless otherwise stated). Most photographs are taken with Iphone 14 Pro and DJI Mini 3 Pro.