*Please pause the slide below before you continue*
*Please pause the slide below before you continue*
The South Stairs leading up from the entrance
As you might have seen in one of my latest posts, I decided to spend my birthday this year in my favourite bookshops and at the British Museum. That’s my new thing now, photographing museums. While I spend most of last year trying to freeze fleeting everyday moments with my film camera, my new obsession this year has been to not only wander through museum galleries but to photograph them as well.
If you had asked me a few years ago if I liked the British Museum I would have said that I liked it as much as the next person. If you had asked me if I was interested in history, I would probably have given the same answer. As much as I would like to claim to be an independently minded woman, it has taken my boyfriend’s interest in history to realise how interesting both can be and it’s become a place we visit together.
Even though they always tend to be overcrowded, my favourite rooms are the galleries with the Greek sculptures. Daniel on the other hand tends to seek out the Middle Eastern galleries, particularly the ones with the huge Assyrian gates, Lamassu and friezes. Because the weather was unseasonably bad the day we went, it wasn’t as busy as normal and it was nice to be able to walk around more freely.
We know that most things in life will come and go. That things 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. 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 don’t embrace it easily or elegantly. 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 and as the smell of fresh laundry filled the room 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 and which was bombed and nearly destroyed by a doodlebug during WW2. And since then it’s just been left to slowly disintegrate into the landscape on the top of a hill in the Kent countryside.
If you have been reading this blog for a while you probably already know I have a thing for ruins, both the real ones and the ones depicted in art and books. They make me think of all things Gothic, of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey and the ruins often depicted in Turner’s paintings. Especially at this time of year, the slow dissolving of colour and the appearance of a more barren world in autumn and winter makes me want to seek them out.
I think there is something both romantic and wistful about these shelled-out churches and crumbling houses and castles, they are a reminder that nothing lasts but that change can be beautiful. We might lose our so carefully build constructions to wars, tragedies, natural disasters 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 where they will begin to bloom up.
So that is where I went to try out my first roll of Adox Color Implosion and to 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.
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.