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Inspirations in the Artist's Den

After a crazy hiatus of some weeks setting up the social accounts I am back here in my comfort zone. It always takes longer than you think. Nice now its done, and its lovely receiving the feedback, very validating, thank you everybody.

Please find links to my Flickr Photo Page and my Twitter Page below in the footer on this website.

Right back to business. Above is a typical shot of what happens at my work station. When I am researching for any background material for my poetry, or the history of a place that I have been or going to go to with my camera I will retreat up to my studio in the loft space. Up here in my den I can excuse myself from the world, leave things out all over the place and immerse myself in the current project I am doing.

Because you never know....

I will often gather things together that inspire me at the time and that might be something just because of its colour! Or something from the past, bringing back a memory. I used to prefer to work in silence sorting through images but now the poetry has been making a strong appearance in my work I find that listening to music helps that process along a lot. I think it helps the brain relax and lets the real thoughts come. I have eclectic tastes though!

Let the imagination out of its box...

There is usually a book or two in the mix because nothing in this world is ever going to replace for me the tactile joy of opening up a book and turning the page. And if its a photographers work I am looking at so much the better. And in this case I was doing some notes on a photographers work that I had rediscovered.

Simon Marsden had the ability to capture what he was feeling as well as seeing. He said that he loved the "..interplay between light and time", which can conjure a reality where perhaps not all is as it seems. Edgar Allen Poe was his greatest inspiration, and he identified with the poet from a young age.

He was not specifically interested in capturing spirits on film, rather what haunted him was the atmosphere of certain places and sites. He shot mainly in black and white using infra-red film, but also sometimes in colour. I think because of his particular sensitivity, he found a way to photograph that halfway state of being in one world and the next. He believed that a spiritual parallel domain exists alongside our earthly plane, that sometimes in the right conditions we can see and experience it. And sometimes he did experience it, and it was not always benign. But mostly he loved to go to these places to experience the peace and contemplation it gave him.

Simon passed into the next world in 2012 at the age of 63, which is so sad when I think of the photography he might have carried on making. I had one book of Simon's in my own collection and I looked at this again with a new intensity, and followed it up with purchasing another of his. Simon's photography reached out to me again and I understood what he was trying to achieve at a whole new level in light of my own experiences.

And then there was the music..

On this day when I was working on my notes I was listening to The Joshua Tree by U2, my old cd copy from years back, and I was just enjoying them all over again after not really catching up with them for a while. Then my brother said have you got The Unforgettable Fire? Which was his favourite. Well I hadn't, so I got that and laughed out loud when I saw the cover.

The cd cover looked familiar. The cover U2 used included a credit to a photographer, one Simon Marsden, "..based on a concept by Simon Marsden". This image was of the ruins of a once grand house in Ireland, of which Simon had photographed at one time.

I think we can call this synchronicity.

Bono's lyrics are poetry set to music; how could I have forgotten how beautiful they are? These lyrics from the song 'A Sort of Homecoming' October 1, 1984, have all the group contributing. For me, these words are particularly apt,

"And you know its time to go

Through the sleet and driving snow

Across the fields of mourning to a light that's in the distance.."

I feel like I have come full circle. Thank you Simon, thank you U2, and thank you to my brother.

Books Featured:

Memento Mori. Churches and Churchyards of England.

A Personal Selection by Simon Marsden.

Published by English Heritage.

First Published 2007.

ISBN 978 1 905624 270.

This Spectred Isle. A Journey Through Haunted England.

Published by Barnes & Noble Publishing Inc.

2006 Edition.

ISBN 0 7607 7983 X.

CDs Featured:

U2. The Joshua Tree. 1987 Island Records Ltd.

U2. The Unforgettable Fire. [2009 Remastered Edition] Universal Island Records Ltd.

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John Hewitt
John Hewitt
26 ago 2022

You're so right Shelley. Taking stock of the books and music and even art we have in our collections is a fine way to determine who we are. It's more than just a matter of taste, but a snapshot of our personality and character at a particular time. By the way, I must try to get hold of a copy of "This Spectred Isle". It looks wonderful.

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Shell's Blog
Shell's Blog
26 ago 2022
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Thank you John, and yes, I think you would enjoy Simon's books very much. He wrote with such sensitivity; this man really knew his craft.

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17 ago 2021

I completely agree with your comment about books. Thanks for letting me know about a photographer I hadn’t heard of.

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