There Are Too Many Women in Museums


There are too many women in museums
tucked into corners,
these busts with sad faces and
demurely downcast eyes.
Statues shaped
by what someone else has seen.

But where are all the names, on the
signs
that should have been here
theirs only used for titles, leaving
whole walls blank,
as if no woman had thought
to put anything on them.

I want the women in all these paintings
to be blushing
not of humility but rage.
I demand to see in writing,
all the names that should have made me
think,
mine could be here too.
                                                - Lea Elm


Winter Days

 

I woke up this morning to a flurry of snowflakes falling from the sky, so I thought it was the right day to publish a short piece of writing I wrote earlier this month on how I feel about winter. I was inspired to write it after I got prints back from the photo lab with photographs from my first ever roll of Foma Retropan black and white film. I took them in January when I went home to see my family and most of the roll I shot around our cabin in Sweden and on a walk in the surrounding landscape down by Järnavik, a beautiful stretch of Swedish archipelago that I’m very fond of.

I had just finished reading Kazuo Ishiguro’s An Artist of the Floating World, so I had been thinking a lot about Japan and Japanese art, which, as you might be able to tell, ended up influencing the way I took some of the landscape shots. Anyway, here is what I wrote.

 

I might have come from the North. From the cold and the long, dark months in November, December, January. Maybe it is true that I feel most like myself, wrapped in my long, dark-red woolcoat and a big scarf, gloves covering my fingers.

But winter, like summer, is not where I’m at home. I do not like to be cold, and I am easily cold. I am more tired, more hungry and more grumpy. And even if I like the cosiness, the flickering candles reflected in the window and to sit under a duvet or the soft blankets, the surrender there is in that, to let go and say “okay, we will go into hibernation” then, it still isn’t my time.

For those months I can never really get warm and I long for the coming days of Spring with their fresh winds and a sun you can actually warm yourself on. Or I long back to the autumn and the same kind of days we had then, tempered.

But when all of that has been said, I am still fond of the way the trees stand naked in the winter, the patterns they make against the heavy, grey clouds; that you can see what they really look like without all of those leaves, without all the embellishment, everything stripped back to its essentials. Nothing taken for granted.

I live in the silence and the stillness, and in the mornings, when I withdraw the curtains from the windows to find another curtain outside in the fog that presses itself against the cold glass and in the dark silhouets of the trees that appear nearly obscured on the riverbank behind it, a receding hairline of tangled branches. The way a dried orange leaf left over from the autumn lights up over everything else.
Then I live, not just in it but for it. The winter, I mean.

 

 

 

Shot on my Ricoh KR5 with my 50mm lens on Foma Retropan 320 film, set at box speed.

 

A Day Out

 

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.

 

My Happy Place

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Snow in the Morning

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