Sunday, 19 November 2017

Frames and spaces

A high, beautiful space in the centre of Belfast. It's full of ghosts, emanating in layers from its Victorian brickwork. And every corner's a frame for a view, out or through.

We're upstairs in, appropriately, the old Frames snooker hall complex, once Robert Watson's beautiful furniture warehouse. It's stood through world wars, troubles, development and devastation and at least once it's been on the brink of demolition. Now it's waiting for its next act - perhaps an office space, perhaps an apartment.

All around us are faces, torn from magazines, preserved in the aspic of their heydays. It makes me wonder, randomly, how much I'd pay for the chance to look out of these high windows and see the old Belfast they saw. I'd give a lot.

Later, we're in another empty, lovely space. This is the Carnegie Library on the lower end of the Oldpark Road. It's also ready for new life and love, but full of the old energy of its hundred years of reading and learning. 

The architectural details are beautiful. The institutional pink paintwork, a pale, delicate version of the famous Baker-Miller pink, adds to the feeling that we're surrounded by benign spirits, wanting only to sit at a long mahogany table and take their turn with the day's newspapers or request a new Greek primer from the shelves.

You can find out more about the plans for this building here.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Ophelia Day

Unexpected bonuses - and counting my blessings very gratefully as I thought about people who hadn't been so fortunate in her wake - of Ex-Hurricane Ophelia's sweep through Belfast were a day off work and some beautiful light. The afternoon sun was warm and low and the clouds were busy and dramatic.

I went for a long walk round part of the west side of Belfast Harbour, exploring the area round Corry Road, Dufferin Road and McCaughey Road. I was hoping to find some subject matter that would fit the theme of 'Infrastructure', a forthcoming competition round in my camera club. I'm still not exactly sure what will count for this, despite lots of helpful advice. I suspect I'm focusing too much on the details that go on around the infrastructure and not enough on the infrastructure itself. And now that I keep saying and thinking of that word, it's beginning to sound wrong and strange, the way words do when you concentrate too hard on them.

But whatever with the infrastructure, it was an exhilarating walk. There were no other pedestrians round, just one guy on a bike, who winked at me and called out, 'Good luck!'. With what, who knows. But thank you very much.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Everytown blues

You look behind Main Street.

You let the shadows sink deeper and the cracks show more clearly.

You see the words which hang empty and painful at the back of beyond.

You find the blues of everytown, the sad/beautiful poem that's different and the same every time.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Becoming sculpture

Beauty, heritage and decay - three words I keep returning to when I'm thinking about my photography practice. I haven't found better ones to define what appeals to me.

I've been to some places which represent this combination of qualities perfectly. Old Car City in White, Georgia, is one. This is another. It's the old gasworks at Carrickfergus, now a museum and visitors' centre.

I was there a few weeks ago. The guided tour was very interesting, but I fear I wasn't a terribly good visitor, always lagging behind everyone else, taking photographs while the rest of the group was already at the next station listening to the guide. Sorry about that.

It doesn't take much for an industrial installation to become sculpture. And it doesn't take long for disused industry to become a secret gallery of old masters. Such a privilege to round a corner and see such beauty.