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An Ode to the Things that Change

20 Nov

 

We know that most things in life will come and go. That things will change and nothing remains the same. The leaves fall off the trees in autumn, people split up, we move to different houses or a different city, we grow up and we grow apart, from people and interests we once surrounded ourselves with. It’s one of the things I struggle with most in life but it’s also one of the things that fascinates me more than anything else; the impermanence of everything and how we try to hold on to what we have and what we know.

I don’t like change, I do not embrace it elegantly or forgivingly. I try to hold on for as long as possible, even after it seems ridiculous and letting go would be easier. There were two stubborn, shell-shocked weeks in London after I moved from Denmark, where my suitcase remained in the middle of the room with all my clothes in it until one by one, every item in it had been used and needed to be washed. It was only then that I folded them and hung them up in the wardrobe, the smell of fresh laundry filling the before empty wardrobe and suddenly making the room feel more like a home. I let go then and let it become exactly that.

 

 

A few months ago I was scrolling through Instagram when a photograph by film photographer Chi came up on my feed. Chi takes beautiful photographs of flowers in a way I have never seen anyone else do, they are poetic and full of swirling colours and light. The caption under the photo mentioned that it was taken with Adox Color Implosion film and that sadly it was being discontinued. In the same moment I was discovering this film, a film I might like to try to use myself, it was gone. It was such a sad thing to hear, that just as film photography is having a resurgence, some films are going for good.

I bought some rolls of the film while they were still available and inspired by Chi’s photographs and my own preoccupation with nostalgia I went to the church of St Mary’s to shoot my first roll. St Mary’s is a ruined church I have been to before, which was bombed and nearly destroyed by a doodlebug during WW2 and since then have been left to slowly disintegrate into its landscape on the top of a hill in the Kent countryside.

 

If you have been reading this blog for a while you mighy already have realised I have a thing with ruins, both the real and the ones depicted in art and books, especially at this time of year. The slow dissolving of colour and the appearance of a more bared world in autumn and winter always makes me seek them out and make me think of the Gothic and of Austen’s Northanger Abbey. I think there is something both romantic and wistful about these shelled-out, crumbling churches, castles and houses, they are a reminder that nothing will last but that change can be beautiful. We might lose our so carefully build constructions to wars, tragedies and the passing of time but they can transform into magical places of mystery and half forgotten memories. They can live on in a different form, like when nature reclaims them, letting vines grow in the cracks that have appeared and spreading the seeds of daisies over tumbled stone walls, making them beautiful again.

So that is where I went to try out my first roll and experiment with what it could look like. Because what could be more appropriate than capturing an ever-changing, slowly disintegrating place than doing it on a film that is about to disapear. Trying in some way to appreciate and hold on to them both before they are gone. So here they are, my photographs from St Mary’s church in the countryside of Kent, an ode to nostalgia and the things that do not stay the way they are.

 

 

All photographs captured with my Ricoh KR-5 with a 50mm lens on Adox Color Implosion 100 film.

 

A Day Out

23 Sep

 

Sometimes all you need is a day out, a day off. To wake up and only then decide where to go, to get in a car, heading off for somewhere. What you need is a day of mid-May sunshine and heat, walking up the steps of an old, ruined castle to find the coolness waiting inside, the stonewalls crumbling under the weight of so many years.

 

 

Maybe it would be a monday and most people would be at work, so it would just be the two of you, carefully climbing the spiral staircases, watching the uneven stone steps and walking through the passageways. You would try to sneak photos of each other without the other one seeing but the slowness of adjusting the settings on your old film cameras and that loud, mechanic click of the mirror as you press the shutter in the empty, shelled out castle, would give you away.

 

 

A warm breeze would catch you from the open, barred windows, as you walk step by step all the way to the top and into the open air beneath a blue sky. The view from up there, looking over the old city; the spires of the cathedral on one side and the river with its bridge and its piers on the other. People sitting on the grass in the shade under trees on the lawn below.

 

 

That’s the kind of day it could be. Lunch eaten in the shade of a coffee house while looking at people passing by and the traffic of that particularly busy street corner. A walk down the street afterwards, finding Edwardian and Georgian coins in a small, quirky shop, the imprint and the edges worn smooth with use, and three old postcards from three different places, written and stamped by people you’ve never met from a very long time ago; that feeling of having found a treasure. At the end of that street a bookshop, first seemingly small but extending to the back and up narrow staircases with creaking floorboards, through row after row and shelf after shelf of once-used books. A whole maze of these little passages of tall bookshelves, where you would find on one of them an old book about the streets of Edinburgh as they had been walked in once in the 20s, the red clothbound cover faded and worn.

 

 

And that is how the day would end. In the car home, looking through the open windows at the fields outside the city seen from a winding country lane and the treasures of the day put down on the table in the living room once home. It would end with the light and memory of that day, of the two of you sitting next to each other on cold stonesteps on a spiral staircase. And it would end with writing about it a few days later in order not to forget. How lovely it all was.

 

 

A small creative writing piece I wrote about a day trip to Rochester Castle, along with photographs captured on 35mm film.

 

Celebrating 4 Years of Living in England!

16 Sep

 

Today is a special day. It’s a day that will always mark a before and after for me. Because 4 years ago on this day, I woke up one morning in the bedroom of my childhood home and left it with just a suitcase and a cabin trolley. I drove to the airport together with my parents and then I got on a plane, alone. A plane that would take me to England and to a whole new life here.

Even today, I still can’t believe I really did that. That I uprooted myself like that in a way that is so shocking and was so instantaneously; to have everything in my life change with a 2 hour flight. To leave, within the span of just a few hours, the security of my hometown, my family and everything I knew and swap it for a new home, a new city and country, a new school, a new community and friends, a different language and a very different way of life.
That first year would become the best of my life, the most amazing and exciting; the most scary and challenging year of my entire life.
I did it for me, because I had dreamed for years of trying to live in England. I never realised how much I would end up sacrificing when I moved. Or how much I would gain.

 

 

In this country I have built up a life of my own, a life completely of my own making. I sometimes forget that but when I do remember it’s the most empowering feeling; it makes me feel like I can do anything I dream of. I have received and completed an international Danish and English education, I live a shared life with my boyfriend where before I was single and I have a job looking after the heritage of an English castle. I no longer have the social, culturally rich life in London where I lived with my friends and classmates and walked to Chinatown or the museums whenever I wanted. Things have calmed down a bit and while I miss living in London and my life there, now four years later, I do think that the more homely, cosy life I live now is more me.

 

 

I only meant to stay here a year and have ended up being here for four. I still say what I said from the beginning, that I will take one year at a time and then we’ll see where I’ll be.
For now I’m going to celebrate my 4th anniversary of living here with spending the day in Canterbury with my friend Claudia, who I met in that first year.  And tomorrow I will spend me and the boyfriend’s anniversary in London, going to our favourite bookshops and maybe a museum.
And next year? Who knows, I might still be here.

If you didn’t read my blog from the beginning back when I first started writing when I moved to England, you can start right here and read through all 10 months or you can skip straight to the end in June 2014, when I tried to write a conclusion, as that special year was getting to a close.