INNOCENT LANDSCAPES REVISITED: 16 / OCT / 2009
Posted by David Farrell
It’s somewhat perverse but I actually feel rejuvenated in the autumn. There is something almost perfect about the light, the colour and the length of day. Today I returned to a small park near where I live that became my decompression chamber from teaching this time last year as we slid slowly to naked trees. It has a river and a pond and is slightly wild in parts. I tried where possible to make a number of visits during the months of October through to December to this place - it has a particularly sad beauty that embraced yet another bout of ennui and I became particularly taken with a small corner of the pond where it dropped in height from an upper to a lower level giving rise to a cascade of leaves which accumulated over time - there was an ebb and flow in relation to the trapped material and the continual flow of new leaves from above that (at the time at least) seemed an appropriate metaphor. Although I made a reasonable amount of work there last year I still struggle with its validity - it’s the beautiful landscape issue that maybe we will venture into in the future . Elusive though they may be, there are decisive moments even within landscapes - moments when all is aligned. Today is one, it is so still that one can almost hear the leaves fall. I make a photograph of the ebb. There is an interesting transition from the inner turbulent heart-shaped pool through the hinterland of decaying leaves into outer stillness.
I then went for my usual figure-of-eight stroll around both ponds and magically found myself remembering and re-photographing almost exact framings which activated other memories of other locations on my route. I had however forgotten one thing that was part of my previous routine. Through a small gap in a discreet area I see a man of around my age sitting on a rock and the memory rushes up at me. Every time I went to the park last year he was there, perched, looking off into space - at one point I even thought that I was projecting him into this landscape. I almost don’t recognise him as today he is wearing a bright red jacket , the beard is tightly and neatly shaped and he doesn’t scarper as I pass by, he sits contained, almost content - I continue to walk and make some pictures and as I am about to leave he comes around a corner, walking towards me - we almost make eye contact - a nanosecond of doubt on his part - and there is an aborted half smile of recognition on his face - another year - progress, of sorts, I guess.
Perhaps Thoreau was right when he wrote: "We need the tonic of wildness - to wade sometimes in marshes where the bittern and the meadow-hen lurk, and hear the booming of the snipe; to smell the whispering sedge where only some wilder and more solitary fowl builds her nest, and the mink crawls with its belly close to the ground... we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be infinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature...", even if that wildness is found in a small corner of a local park.