I’m an architectural photographer.
On my van-life travels through the British Isles I’m building up a word and photo-hoard of material culture that celebrates 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.📸🚐🏛
I’ve shared the final excerpt from the book I’m writing on my photo stories site below. The remaining excerpts will continue in the Patina Editions.
Breakdown leads to light
A skeleton beneath the C12th church at All Saints’, Benington in Lincolnshire found during a regeneration project. I photographed the church’s transformation into a community hub.
More about the find here..
The 12th century church of All Saints, Benington is currently being renovated as part of a rural regeneration project that will not only transform this beautiful Grade I listed church, but the entire community of Benington.
It is said that before entering the sea
a river trembles with fear.
She looks back at the path she has traveled,
from the peaks of the mountains,
the long winding road crossing forests and villages.
And in front of her,
she sees an ocean so vast,
that to enter
there seems nothing more than to disappear forever.
But there is no other way.
The river can not go back.
Nobody can go back.
To go back is impossible in existence.
The river needs to take the risk
of entering the ocean
because only then will fear disappear,
because that’s where the river will know
it’s not about disappearing into the ocean,
but of becoming the ocean.
The Act of Photography
Last week I mentioned Peter Scheele's Maastricht photo magazines. Peter sent me another email and some of his words resonated with me:
In the midst of all the turmoil in the world, I find comfort in taking pictures. Yesterday I was in the Basilica of Saint Servatius to take pictures of the 12th century shrine called the 'Noodkist'. It contains the relics of bishop Servatius. It has been given a new presentation. And then I notice that I can concentrate on the photos and then the peace returns.
It isn't just the place that brings about the peace, but also the act of photography. I used to struggle with describing the import and value of photography - especially in our quick-fire selfie world. Peter has given me reason to hope.
Peter's words remind me of the Polymath, John Ruskin and his attempts at photography in Venice. Ruskin is famed for his interventions with the buildings of Venice and was one of the first to use the daguerreotype to capture them. It was Ruskin who helped me understand the power of the creative act. I remember one particular time (the day before I was married) that I sought out the locations that Ruskin had photographed along the Grand Canal:
It's a cold, crisp and sunny day in February. I head out along the riva, beyond the fish market, until I’m opposite the Ca’ d’Oro. I start to visualise the scene, the act of photography. I imagine Ruskin and his valet edging out the tripod legs, pulling them one way and then the other to set the composition. They ready the silver plate for the camera and for a moment, as it’s passed around, it catches the sun’s reflection and ricochets like a bullet along the buildings of the canal. Passers-by note the singularity of the occasion: Ruskin’s presence an intriguing and unusual sight, silhouetted against a medieval palazzo, curtained by a black veil, exposing the mirrored plate to carefully calculated seconds of light.
Whilst he’s there, waiting for the exposure to finish, Ruskin is thinking of peacock’s and lilies, of croquets and pinnacles. His camera is affording him the time and the place to see.
I was commissioned to photograph a project at Southwell Minster which included some of the iconic views of the chapter house which is famous for its foliate carvings. I'm heading back to Southwell again soon for more commissioned photography.
The Archbishop's Palace
The remains of the palace of the Archbishop of York and former home of Cardinal Wolsey. It was also a place of imprisonment for Charles I.
The North Porch Door
Early C14th oak door with decorative reticulated ogee pattern with quatrefoils in each reticule.
Romanesque door in the south transept.
In the van on Shrove Tuesday - up on a farm south of Carlisle. The pancake got stuck in the pan. The farm had a medley of friendly cats that took over the van - more on my visit to Carlisle next week.
Talbot Express Autosleeper Harmony (1991)
On My Coffee Table
Have I shared this book before? No apologies for doing so again. I do love a sandwich and this is the ultimate guide to mixing and matching your sandwiches. Beware - they do not like sourdough bread. Perfect for vanlife.
From The Charo's
Bought at a charity shop in Manchester - £5 - for a set of four.
Editorial: Historic England’s proposal to celebrate the places where “ordinary people” have worked, lived or socialised is very welcome
‘A group of drinkers with a writing problem’: readers’ favourite literary haunts | Travel writing | The Guardian
From the pubs of Dublin to rural Provence, this week’s tipsters sought out the locations behind the books that inspired them
Film and Sound
📸 If you're feeling troubled by events - check out the Walking With series on iPlayer.
Kate Garraway goes for a reinvigorating walk through the rolling Cotswold Hills.
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the idea and experience of Christian pilgrimage in Europe from the 12th to the 15th centuries, which figured so strongly in the imagination of the age. For those able and willing to travel, there were countless destinations from Jerusalem, Rome and Santiago de Compostela to the smaller local shrines associated with miracles and relics of the saints. Meanwhile, for those unable or not allowed to travel there were journeys of the mind, inspired by guidebooks that would tell the faithful how many steps they could take around their homes to replicate the walk to the main destinations in Rome and the Holy Land, passing paintings of the places on their route.
The image above is of a badge of St Thomas of Canterbury, worn by pilgrims who had journeyed to his shrine.
From the Twittersphere
I love 'hooklineandstitches' response to my tweet below..
Andy Marshall 📸 on Twitter: "Something deep inside, call it instinct if you will, tells me that we should hang onto the grit of this diversity, as if our lives depend on it. I’m not sure why, but my instinct feels right. "
Hooklineandstitches on Twitter: "Right because without diversity we cannot evolve…evolution depends on experimentation, endless combinations of the similar-but-unique…it is from this fertile bed, this rich compost of life before us, that we grow, refine, learn, adapt…without it, we atrophy as ignorant clones… "
Become A Member
I love creating this digest - it’s a labour of love - and it remains free to all - posted out on a weekly basis, more often than not, from my travels in my van. It documents my engagement with our increasingly threatened historic built environment (heritage). I help others form attachments, ties and obligations to place.
From a Victorian trading shack in Oregon, USA to a medieval church in Stratford, England, our heritage is a vital part of our wellbeing - it nourishes us and contributes to a sense of identity. The aim of this digest is to underpin the significance of our heritage and share it with others to confront creeping baseline syndrome and help others develop new ways of seeing and interacting with the historic environment.
It takes a day every week to produce this digest and you can opt in to support my work by becoming a member. There are some juicy member benefits too - become a member here.
Thank You. 📸🚐🏛
A huge thanks to those that have signed up for membership.
As well as the weekly Digests, you’ll also receive an exclusive ‘Patina’ monthly digest at the end of every month. Here you’ll be able to glimpse insights into how my book is developing (with extracts) and also get a link to your free digital download.
New members can access the other Patina digests here. Click on the relevant Patina issue and follow the instructions to read. This is the best way to read my book excerpts from the start.