Tuesday, 26 January 2016
Ridiculously, I'm still struggling to make a book out of the photographs I've been taking in the past few years at Hockley Viaduct, Twyford Down, and St. Catherine's Hill, including the M3 motorway and the Itchen Navigation canal for good measure. It ought to be a project that makes itself, dictated simply by the geography. If you look, say, at Google Maps, you'll see how these all cluster in a few square miles south-east of Winchester, in a tight clinch of transport networks within and around the ancient and modern landscape.
I think one problem is that I've been too "programmatic", in the musical sense. As well as the obvious topographical aspects, there are many stories to be told and historical links to be made – to take just one at random, this is where Keats took the walk in 1819 that resulted in his "Ode to Autumn" – but it's proving to be more difficult than I had thought to present them in a primarily visual book. I should probably set aside some time to review what I've got (which is rather a lot) and let a book sequence emerge, rather than impose a narrative. In fact, what I really need to do is to go back to my old technique of playing games of Patience with actual 5" x 7" prints, instead of fiddling around with hundreds of postage-stamp sized renderings on a screen.
The other problem is that we are still regularly tramping over those fields and paths, and every time we go out I seem to come back with something new and different that changes everything, even if only slightly. Somehow the sky and in particular clouds have recently become more significant elements in the game, for example. More subtly, I've also become a better photographer in the four or five years since I first ventured between the arches of the viaduct, and crossed over the motorway footbridge to Twyford Down. The temptation is always to revisit old successes, and make them even better.
Will it never stop? I had thought the "restoration" of the viaduct would mark a natural conclusion, but it seems not. Have I embarked on a project with no end? I need to remind myself of that useful adage, that the best is the enemy of the good. The "obvious" may be what is needed. And perhaps we should simply find somewhere else to go at weekends...