Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Seven Years Later

Seven years ago, in February 2007, looking across the allotments from the carpark early one morning, I saw this rather fine, Bruegel-ish scene composing itself before my eyes.  I took a photograph. Then forgot all about it; I hadn't so much as proof-printed it until last night. I must have overlooked it any number of times.  Now I have seen it, I find this hard to believe.

It puts me in mind of a quotation I came across recently, which captures nicely the paradox of seeing versus looking:
If you look at a thing 999 times, you are perfectly safe; if you look at it for the 1000th time, you are in danger of seeing it for the first time.
G. K. Chesterton
As the expression goes, sometimes you just can't see for looking.  Most of the time, for most purposes, that's exactly the way it needs to be.

This element of retrospective discovery has added some necessary excitement to the business of collating an exhibition.  Without it, the process is rather too reminiscent of filling out your annual tax statement, with that wearying sense of not knowing where to find the right documents combined with an acute awareness of the necessity of finding them and putting them in order by a certain date.  Discovering the odd uncashed cheque among the bills and bank statements is a nice bonus.

[Dear HMRC:  this "cheque" thing is just a metaphor...  No, really.]


Rob Fuke said...

....to arrive where we started and know the place the first time, n'est pas?

Mike C. said...


Yes, a difficult poem, Little Gidding, but I particularly like

"Here, the intersection of the timeless moment
Is England and nowhere. Never and always."

That's very much what my pictures of the Viaduct and on St. Catherine's Hill are about -- the working title of the series is "Avalon", but now I think of it "England and Nowhere" may be better...


Martyn Cornell said...

'England and Erewhon' has a nice rhythm to it, also apt alliteration's altful aid.

Mike C. said...


It does, thanks. Of course, I'd have to read "Erewhon" just to be sure what I was signing up for! It amazes me, when people lift a quote from the Web to use as an epigraph, or whatever, without checking its context or the congeniality of the views of its author...