In Tandem: Poetry to Imagery

Just before lockdown I shared a quiet couple of beers with Harry Owen and we talked about trying something new for the Virtual National Arts Festival. Seeing as we had lots of poetry and imagery between us why not collaborate? Here’s a taste of what we have been working on.

Aorta – Harry’s unpublished poem was initially prepared with Coming Home: Poems of the Grahamstown Diaspora in mind. It’s the first one that we worked on and has all of the elements that we have stuck with. There’s a voice-over to a sequence of images followed by the written text of the poem. A soundtrack backing the voice-over is the final strand of what we have put together.

The second piece is from Coming Home. It’s Gillian Rennie’s lovely small poem ‘Bots Aloes’. Harry again is the reader. Coming Home is published in East London by Amitabh Mitra’s The Poets Printery.

The last poem took a while to complete because we really wanted to track down the author – Hannah Armour – to get her reading of ‘Now’. She wrote this when she was ten and eight years have passed since then. It’s published in For Rhino in a Shrinking World: An International Anthology, edited by Harry Owen and published by The Poet’s Printery. Thanks to social media and our network of FaceBook we found her and she kindly gave us the voice-over.

We still have three more In Tandem videos that we are working on. They’re all longer than the ones we have done so far and consequently more complex. Watch this space!

 

When the wave breaks

Towering over our townships, like a wave ready to break, was this huge cumulus cloud. Ominously pink in the late glow after sunset the top of the cloud was rising fast and, blown by the winds, looked like a crest hovering over Grahamstown’s townships below. This was taken a couple of nights ago, a week after the lockdown began, and mirrors my feelings of apprehension.

Cumulus clouds breaking over Makhanda's (Grahamstown) townships during the Corona virus lockdown

When the wave breaks

Technically this was a tricky photo to take. It uses the Olympus’ Live Composite mode – in this case it’s seven minutes worth of half-a second exposures superimposed (a total of 840 frames).  But it was really quite dark at 6:40 pm so I adjusted the ISO to 1000 and opened the lens up as far as possible to F2.8. The bright white lines in the sky are star trails. The moon was playing hide and seek in the clouds whilst I took the picture and that gave an unpleasant bright smudge in the sky that I have edited out.

A cathedral, seven churches and two chapels: 10 heritage prints of old Grahamstown

There are 70 Heritage Sites in the central parts of old Grahamstown. Take a look at the map and you will see that the 10 religious ones featured here are mostly found between the Chapel of St Mary and all the Angels (on the Rhodes University campus) eastwards through the CBD and down to Sunnyside where you find St Bartholomew’s Church. Then to the east, and looking down from opposite sides of the Kowie River, are The Old Wesleyan Chapel on the Fort England ridge and St Philip’s Church at the bottom of Fingo Village.

Chapels, Churches and a Cathedral, old Grahamstown heritage sites

Chapels, Churches and a Cathedral, old Grahamstown heritage sites

The Chapel of St Mary and all the Angels has a lovely tranquil setting in the St Peter’s grounds of the Rhodes University campus. It was built in 1915 and consecrated in 1916. Inside there’s a beautiful altarpiece of the Madonna and Child that was painted between 1924 and 1929 by Sister Margaret.

Chapel of Saint Mary and all the Angel's, Rhodes University, Grahamstown

Chapel of Saint Mary and all the Angel’s, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, Makana

The Cathedral of St Michael and St George is a most impressive building, and one of old Grahamstown’s icons. Situated right in the centre of the town it towers above Church Square and acts as a counterpoint to the Rhodes University clock tower. It was built between 1824 and 1911 in the neo-gothic style which makes quite a contrast to the basilican style of the Chapel of St Mary and all the Angels.

Cathedral of St Michael and St George, Grahamstown, Makana

Cathedral of St Michael and St George, Grahamstown, Makana

Just around the corner on Hill Street lies St Patrick’s Church. It was built between 1839 and 1844 by the Royal Inniskilling Fusliers who were stationed nearby. It’s another building that makes the most of its situation even though today it is slightly overshadowed by the Public Library next door.

St Patrick's Church, Hill Street, Grahamstown, Makana

St Patrick’s Church, Hill Street, Grahamstown, Makana

Commemoration Methodist Church was built on High Street from 1845-1850 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of landing of the 1820 Settlers in Algoa Bay. You get a fine view of its neo-gothic facade from the junction of Bathurst Street and High Street.

Commemoration Methodist Church, High Street, Grahamstown, Makana

Commemoration Methodist Church, High Street, Grahamstown, Makana

A little further down High Street are the Shaw Hall (also known as the New Wesleyan Chapel) and next door lies the Sole Memorial Church. Shaw Hall became the home the Methodists in 1831 (previously they held services at the Yellow Chapel in Chapel Street) but by 1844 their congregation was too large and so Commemoration Methodist Church was built. Shaw Hall is named after Rev William Shaw, who was the founder of the Methodist Church in South Africa and in 1864 it was where the Cape Parliament was opened – the only time it ever sat outside Cape Town. Next door is The Sole Memorial Church that was built between 1838 and 1843. Originally a schoolhouse it’s named after John Henry Sole.

The Baptist Church on Bathurst Street will be celebrating its Bicentenary in 2020. Although the church was built in 1843 the congregation had moved from their first meeting house that was on Bartholomew Street in Sunnyside.

The Baptist Church, Bathurst Street, Grahamstown, Makana

The Baptist Church, Bathurst Street, Grahamstown, Makana

St Bartholomew’s Anglican Church and St Philip’s Anglican Church are still almost visible from one to the other. St Barts was built in the suburb of Sunnyside in 1857 and St Philip’s in Fingo Village in 1860.

My final picture is of the Old Wesleyan Chapel at Fort England. it was built in 1861 just outside the barracks on what was then known as East Barrack Hill. The school house adjacent was built later.

Wesleyan Chapel and Hall, Fort England, Grahamstown, Makana

Wesleyan Chapel and Hall, Fort England, Grahamstown, Makana

As 2020 – the bicentenary of the 1820 Settlers – gets closer I will be making further ‘occasional’ posts (with pictures) in this heritage style.

If you are interested in buying a print or purchasing image rights then please use the Contact Me form and I’ll get back to you straight away.

 

 

 

 

King Proteas – four studies

There are some King Proteas blossoming on Mountain Drive at the moment. Though they are not as many as last year – when they seemed to go on flowering for a very long time. As Spring gets nearer the days are getting a little longer so there’s just a bit more time to photograph them. Sunset’s a great time for this. I wanted to make a few studies showing them in different light and these four pictures are what I have got. They were all taken in the early evening – often straight into the light so a lens hood was essential!

When they are fully open you can get the most beautiful pink shades as the sunlight streams through them. Some, however, are almost bleached in colour and the tightly furled buds can also reveal very delicate shades of pink.

 

 

1820 Settlers’ Sunset …

Little did I know when I was finishing work on my exhibition for this year’s #NAF19 that I was previewing the name change debate of the 1820 Settlers’ National Monument. I’ve got a panorama, taken from the cuttings above the N2 bypass, that’s entitled 1820 Settlers’ Sunset. I’ve since been told that it looks apocalyptic.

1820 Settlers Sunset, Grahamstown Makhanda

1820 Settlers’ Sunset

That was before the name change became so topical on social media (Grocott’s Mail is a good place to read about this controversy).

The second picture is an unusual shot taken from inside the Monument building. You have to imagine that you are lying on your back with your head at the base of the giant yellowwood sculpture in the Fountain Court and your feet at the fountain. So you are looking up an inverted cross past the Skotnes murals at the ceiling high above.

Fountain Court, 1820 Settlers National Monument

Fountain Court, 1820 Settlers National Monument

In this picture I’m definitely asking you to see the Monument from a different – and challenging – perspective.

They both look much better framed and on the wall as they are large images. You can see them in my solo exhibition ‘Reflections’ at the Johan Carinus Art Centre, Beaufort Street, 27 June – 7 July.

The green wood hoopoes

There’s an Illawarra flame tree just outside my studio window where the green wood hoopoes go fossicking for insects. With the noise they make it’s easy to hear them, pick up the camera and try and get some pictures from the stoop. They don’t keep still for more than a moment or two but they stay in the same tree for quite a while prowling the branches and dipping their tails incessantly. Once their cries reach up to a crescendo they flash off elsewhere.

They have the most striking curved red beaks and rich metallic green and blue feathers. I didn’t manage to get a shot of their distinctive, barred long tail feathers – perhaps next time!