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“I have always longed to be part of the outward life, to be out there at the edge of things, to let the human taint wash away in emptiness and silence as the fox sloughs his smell into the cold unworldliness of water; to return to town a stranger. Wandering flushes a glory that fades with arrival.”
J A Baker. The Peregrine.
A Year in the Life.
I speak often of the difficult periods in my life and I find that getting it out there helps put things into perspective. In sharing my story I hope that, in some small way, others who are experiencing a meltdown, anxiety or depression can see that there is a path through it all.
From the ground zero of my breakdown there came about a remarkable journey of enlightenment, of change, of fresh perspectives. Out of the flux of the horror of finding myself cocooned on my bedroom floor, there emerged a new person.
I remember the terrifying feeling of not being able to move, but my other senses were fluid and hyper sensitive - even down to hearing the scrape of my eyelashes on the carpet.
Roof slates saved the day. I followed the pattern of the diminishing courses on the roofs out of the bedroom window and then worked my way onto the eaves and around the windows. It took my mind away from my condition and released the breaks on my paralysis.
That moment started a quest to find out why and how I became attached to the buildings outside, and it took me from my job as a very tired CEO of a building contractor, to a new vocation as a self-employed architectural photographer.
But here’s the rub.
The architectural photography was just a front. It was a conduit to get me into places that calmed my mind. The reality is, that whilst I was out and about on commissions, my inner self was seeking out the answers as to how certain buildings and places could bring me to a sense of awe and wonder, and ultimately provide the salve that took me away from breakdown and depression.
Don't get me wrong, I worked twice as hard on every commission I took. I still do, but photography has helped gift a socially sensitive soul permissive rights to enter buildings and places where I could continue my journeyman therapy. Ultimately I found that there were places that impacted my wellbeing more than anything else.
Out of the intangible came a tangible thesis on Genius Loci in Architecture from my post grad dip in Historic Building Conservation. But it wasn’t enough, I had barely scratched the surface.
And so I started to write a personal digest - a creed that might find the patterns in what I was seeking. My personal digest turned into the Genius Loci Digest and spun the axis towards sharing my journey with others. With you.
Recently I felt the urge to re-visit the stories behind my quest for an answer. This way I might find a pattern in the places I visited and how they impacted me.
I chose to re-visit the year of 2022 - a year of remarkable discovery that is now imbibed into the molecular of my self. Every minute of that year seemed to give me strength and purpose and I shall never forget it.
I've now collected my experiences from 2022 into A Year in the Life.
I hope that these 12 months taken from the core of my experience might lead you to new paths and new discoveries. I encourage you to go and visit these places and share how they impact your own story because, ultimately, we’re all in this together.
All the entries for A Year in the Life can be accessed at the end of this digest.
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"We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time." T. S. Eliot.Become A Member
2022 - A Year in the Life..
And what did I find in my 12 month journey? I discovered places that spoke of continuity, saturated with meaning and rooted in the past. They held a collective memory rich in their narrative, which helped shape my identity. Some locations conveyed sadness, bigotry, hardship, and fear. However, despite these challenges, inherent in the messages they left behind was a thread of hope: one of striving to overcome the flaws of human nature through the aggregate human attempt at reaching for the sublime.
Places Visited - in no particular order.
London, Warrendale Knots, Llanelieu, Cambrian Mountians, Cheesden, Lincoln, Carlisle, Wreay, Kettlewell, Starbotton, Grimwith, Southwell, Stow, Caernarfon, Y Foryd, Arncliffe, Wickham, Winchester, Hubberholme, Old Hatfield, Grassington, Waltham Abbey, Windrush, Burford, Barnstaple, Stonehenge (vaguely), Warwick, Malham, Barnack, Stamford, Ketton, Pennant Melangell.
I travelled over 22,000 miles in 2022 - all of them in Woody my campervan. From the drystone walls of the Yorkshire Dales in England to the snow capped Black Mountains in Wales.
The birds kept me company - I particularly remember the rooks of Scotland Lane flashing and shimmering in the raking light. But all the birds weren't kind*: my drone was taken out in Barnstaple by an Oyster Catcher - quite a shock - but not as shocking as an attempted mugging in London.
But, I had my maps to help me navigate through the difficulties of that time.
My maps didn't prepare me for the death of friend and mentor, but I carried his memory with me along Mastiles Lane in Yorkshire.
As the leaves unfurled in early spring, I was overwhelmed by the leaves of Southwell and the magnificent sight of spandrels of light through the chapter house tracery.
From Hatfield Old Town to the Cathedral Close at Carlisle - the light brought about revelations of a kind that induced a sense of awe and wonder.
But this was, of course, not just a journey of miles, but a journey into the self - an extension of my exploration into how and why I had overcome one of the biggest challenges of my life.
Woody was my home throughout my travels in 2022 - a warm cosy space in the winter (especially for farm cats).
The van became my studio and office - expanding out into a complex in the summer - giving me access to outdoor life.
A Year in the life...
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I put my heart and soul into the Genius Loci Digest and it takes a day a week to produce. With your support, I’m able to keep this digest free and public facing. 📸🏛🚐
Photographs and words by Andy Marshall (unless otherwise stated). Most photographs are taken with Iphone 14 Pro and DJI Mini 3 Pro.