Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Steam Variations

One of the side-effects of working fixed hours at a fixed location is that you incorporate quite unlikely places into your spiritual/artistic life. Unable to seek out sites where beauty and inspiration might be found, beauty and inspiration must seek you out, instead, in their own time and on ground of their choosing.  This is by no means a bad thing, I have found.

November 2013

This car-park, for example, with that fence, that wall, those chimneys, and that towering plume of steam: for me, it has become like starting each day with a view of some grand mountain-range, or a mighty work of architecture, on which the light and weather play daily variations.  I'll miss them when I retire next year, and become free to seek, rather than be sought.  But this, too, will be no bad thing.  At least, I hope so.

December 2005

Of course, such places have history.  The decorative walls are a hint that the ground that is now a car-park was, within memory, once covered by delapidated old dairy buildings, and next to that nest of five steel chimneys was the magnificent brick chimney of a boiler room that fed hot water to the entire campus.

January 2010

And beyond the fence, in a hollow squeezed between a street of houses, the car-park and the campus boundary, was a set of allotments, on which seldom-seen gardeners played out yet more seasonal variations, with their improvised shelters and defenses against birds.  Now the university has bought the land, the gardeners have gone, and someone is no doubt laying up plans to build over it.  More history, more variations.

April 2009


Jax said...

I like this. I like this a lot. Especially the play and diminution of smoke/steam/mist/fog through the four pictures. And yet had I not read the text would I have liked the pictures on their own? Even the second, which is a marvelous shot? But I see that is perhaps the point, that you have seen these sights over and over, and, rather than finding them commonplace, have seen the beauty in them; and us being told even just that, forces us to look again; then we see it too.

Mike C. said...


Thanks, yes, that is exactly the point.


Zouk Delors said...

Who needs gardeners? We can get robots to do that now.

[Cut to a small corner of a megallotment, behind the potting warehouses where, raised up on a makeshift podium of compost bags and fencing, a robot addresses a small crowd of his comrades:
"Fellow workers! We toil day in, day out, until we are beyond economic repair for what? To produce the "food" for the master beings - the Soft Ones - when all the time what WE need is not food, but oil and minerals! Yes, let us dig: but let us dig for OUR needs!"... ]

Zouk Delors said...

Nice anecdote to go with the above flight of fancy, from a comment piece in the Guardian:

When a senior manager at Ford was showing off an automated production line to Walter Reuther, leader of the United Automobile Workers union, in the early 1950s, he asked: "Walter, how will you get these machines to pay their union dues?" To which Reuther replied: "How will you get them to buy your cars?"