Tindarra in Black and White

Morning Sun-portrait

Tindarra was the farm I grew up on in New South Wales, just west of Muswellbrook. When I explain to people in the city, and to many outside Australia, that 500 acres is not enough to make a living on, they are often incredulous; but the soil was poor and the area had its share of drought and it was just enough to keep about 80 beef cattle. My parents chose the name Tindarra because it was an Aboriginal word meaning place of shallow water: the creek never went dry, but it barely flowed outside flood or heavy rain.

When we moved there thirty years ago it rained enough for farmers to plant wheat and oats and milo and lucerne as rotational cash crops or for hay. Wheat was my favourite, sprouting out of the Autumn plough ruts to grow through the Winter and ripen in Spring.

Everyone hoped for the rain to stay away in the weeks before the harvest to keep the kernels hard and stop them from sprouting in storage, and then for a big storm straight after so there would be fresh grass for their stock over summer. We never had crops, but some seeds would get caught in the wind and every year you could find one or two wheat stalks growing near the house.

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Alcazar Seville-Watermark

A reflection is never substantially there, but an image created on the surface of a material unwilling to give up the secret of its depth. It invites … reflection – a re-bending of thought … about the impossibility of an undisturbed external world that lies outside its border, and the possibility of what lies invisibly beneath it. It lets us see from the other side of the mirror.

Water reflections are the most urgent, fragile and melancholy of all. Easily disturbed by the wind, frozen white by the winter, or evaporated by the sun, they give us only a moment to see and look and watch and think before they, like us, disappear. Continue reading

Sunset over Brooklyn

Sunset over Brooklyn

A fact of travel

It is a fact of travel that one type of photographer will want to want to shoot another in possession of a palm-sized camera – to observe, imply or accuse them of indiscriminately documenting a trip without having experienced travel, or for just getting in the way.

Seeing a trip only through a camera lens may increase focus on subjects of interest, but it does so at the expense of perspective and instinct – most photographs are still two dimensional and their limited angle of view cuts out the chance of experiencing something unexpected in our peripheral vision.

Yet it does not follow that indiscriminateness leads to illegitimacy of experience. Continue reading

The Jewels of St Peter of Montmartre

The Church of St Peter of Montmartre (L’Eglise Saint-Pierre de Montmartre) dates back to the ninth century. Its most longstanding building, a Benedictine Abbey built under the order of Louis VI between 1133 and 1147, was destroyed in the French revolution and rebuilt in the 19th century.

St Peter of MontmarteThe delight of its glass is the dappled light that shine onto the walls of the apse. A stone bench flattens the light from the window opposite and creates the impression of a figure of jewelled light seated against the wall, an apparition that blithely appears and fades with the position and intensity of the sun.

When I look at this image, I see the ghost of Michelle, who I created 20 years ago one afternoon while writing a one-movement symphony for a graduation portfolio. It is one five vignettes on an idea taken from a poem by Whitman, Sometimes with one I love.


The glass 

Michelle watched the drop of wine fall back into the glass. Glass had mesmerised her from the time she started entering churches. Now as it made a ripple in the red pool she began to gently cry.

Michael put the tear on his finger. He knew that when she saw the stains from the outside she could see no way for light to enter. From the inside she could see no way of escape.

The same idea about living came to him when he shaved in the bathroom.

Through a glass darkly: the stained glass of Reims Cathedral

Christmas is timed around a solstice festival for polytheistic heathens. In Australia it has almost passed on as a religious festival to become a secular holiday dressed up in gift-wrap reds for Christmas Day and cricket whites for the Boxing Day Test.

It makes the idea of facing church a bit like looking through a glass darkly; but the dark absorbent glass set into church windows offers some rare jewels inside, as the posts this week will try to illuminate. The first are in Reims.


A day trip from Paris

Reims Cathedral-1

Reims is a day-trip from Paris and many people who visit it on these terms know it mostly for its Champagne Houses: Tattinger, Veuve Cliquot, Pommery and others; and there are many more in nearby Epernay.

Reims offers much more. It has witnessed the exchange or settlement of power, or a symbolic reconciliation between political antagonists, for over a thousand years.

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A bright moon from right of picture illuminates this factory demolition on Albert Street, Brunswick. The pole dividing the picture thrusts up through the centre of a window like a lance goring out the disused remains of local industry. It also emphasises the picture’s perspective, which alludes to a vanishing point beyond the horizon of the factory roof. The picture leaves open the question of how far the factory wall extends, and how much is still left to tear down. The chimney and air vents on the left stand straight, in defiance or support, of a building that looks certain to collapse.

This image is from my Brunswick by Night collection. Brunswick is a suburb of Melbourne’s inner north, and the collection invites you into its quiet nocturnal character. Visit danielhouse.com.au to see all the Brunswick by Night photographs.