Monday, 25 May 2009

High Key

On a blazing blue-sky afternoon in late May, walking in classic English chalk downland, what more typical sight could there be than a vineyard basking on a south-facing slope? A what?? Seriously:

Climate change, diversification, EU subsidies, sheer agricultural lunacy -- whatever the reason, it gave me one of those vertiginous moments when it's not quite clear what the hell is going on here ... True, I did assiduously lay the chemical groundwork for such moments in my youth... My partner is always amused whenever I ask whether something is "really there" as, on one famous occasion in France, "Is that really a monkey on a tricycle over there?!" (I'm not going to say what it actually was). But that actually is a vineyard on a chalky hillside in deepest Hampshire, visible from the hillfort on Old Winchester Hill.

I'm celebrating the receipt of an artist's proof copy (oh, yes!) of the latest Raymond Meeks book Doctrine of an Axe, direct from Mr. Meeks himself. I think Ray Meeks is one of the most interesting artists using photography and the photographic artist's book working today, and if I could afford it I'd buy everything he has to sell as someone once described buying manuscript poems from Dylan Thomas, "like packets of cocaine straight from his wallet."

He has a way with delicately toned high key black and white that is magical, and repays repeated viewing. By way of tribute, here is a recent high key image of my own.

I know why the cast-resin bird scowls...

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