Monday, January 30, 2012
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Monday, January 16, 2012
This happens to me every year. My partner will spot a photo opportunity and I moan and groan about the light. But I then I go for it and it turns out well. It's shot in the ancient Jewish Ghetto of Rome in one of these narrow streets with artisan shops - and the only light is from the window. With this kind of picture I always wonder about the subject. He was much too absorbed in his search to notice me or my camera. How nice that is. The search for the object is at least as important as its acquisition. And the joy of finding something one was looking for after a long search is exquisite. It really is beyond price and even value. Any collector will be pleased tell you of the journey to find that elusive book, album or print - often at length. It's part of the object's provenance. I like to find a book that has some kind of history inscribed on the inside pages. Perhaps it was a gift and the giver pondered for a long time over how delighted the recipient would be to receive it. That relationship sabotages a gift relationship that demands we give a like object in return. Yet I like to think this man has found something he was looking for - for himself. Perhaps it meant something very special to him. I hope it did - and that he purchased it and took it home joyfully.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
I think this is a symbol we haven't yet tackled on the blog. The bow, no matter what it's form, is all about tension and in all cultures it's an important symbol. It has enormous sexual symbolism since it takes a precise, ordered structure of tension, relaxation and release. Wilhelm Reich, had he taken more interest in the symbolic application of his work on sex and anxiety, would have found much of interest in the bow. It is the weapon of kings and royalty but also of the warrior and hunter. But whereas the arrow is penetrative and clearly male, the string is female. And although we could almost miss the string (as in this photograph) it provides the thrust without which the whole thing is ineffective. The bow derives its whole power from the tension in the string. Anubis, Apollo and Shiva are all depicted with bows as are some figures in Christian art. Archers are masters of our fate and whoever is their target is doomed. But the archer is at the other end of the bow, away from the sharp end. We often talk about having another string to our bow, so the archer also needs back-up support! This crossbow is in a courtyard in the Castel Sant'Angelo in the centre of Rome. You could miss it because it is in a courtyard leading off the main visitor route, so if you do pay the castle a visit, go early and explore everything.
Thursday, January 5, 2012
It's not so often you have such a clear day in Rome, with no pollution obscuring the mountains. It's a fabulous sight. This photograph is taken from the Gianicolo Hill which can be reached easily from the Vatican. You can walk up there if you have the energy. But it's a steep enough climb, so luckily there are plenty of buses. I was looking down at all the places and wondering how long it would take to explore everything in the Eternal City. A lifetime maybe? I also thought that it would be difficult to take a poor photograph from this location! Most tourists explore the famous sites that you can see here, but if you track back through the extensive parkland (much of which used to belong to the Vatican) that extends for many square kilometres, there's interesting places a visitor might miss. Rome is built on hills so there are even tiny farms very close to the centre. I found one as little as a kilometer from the busy roads around the Vatican. There's been human habitation here for around 14,000 years and its worthwhile speculating what it looked like then. I'm sure it looked well.
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Let's start the New Year afresh with this striking plant and the fruit it bears. It's a Queen Palm tree and the fruit starts out green and ends up orange. I was wondering if that's the way we all start out - a bit green. One of Shakespeare's characters, Cleopatra in this case, refers to her salad days, "when I was green in judgement, cold in blood. "That generally denotes youthfulness and inexperience and an inclination to rush into things without thinking. Of course green is much used in sayings. We are green with envy for example. But we are never orange with anything! Orange is such a nice colour and beloved of artists like Kandisky. "Orange is red brought closer to humanity by yellow." It is indeed a happy looking and it's often associated with vivid autumn shades and the Thanksgiving festival. Looking at the picture cheers me up but orange also has negative connections. Agent Orange was much used in the Vietnam War, destroying crops to terrible effect as well as harming soldiers who sprayed the substance. But the herbicide derived its name not from its own colour but from the striped drums used to transport it. It was a case of a dreadful substance shipped in a happy container.