Salts Mill and the surrounding town of Saltaire are familiar enough to most people living in Leeds, and of course we’ve been here several times. The Mill itself is always interesting – and they serve a decent cup of coffee – even it it is something of a shrine to David Hockney. I appreciate his work (he says condescendingly) and I admire his advances with picture making technology, particularly his use of an iPad. I do confess though to finding it a touch the same, but maybe that says more about my inability to appreciate good art when I see it! I find the building itself fascinating, as of course is its heritage as an industrial venture on the grand scale. The noise of production must have been appalling, but Titus Salt seems to have done his level best to “do the right thing” for his employees, as is well documented.
After lunch in the “Victoria Tea Rooms we wandered (on what really was a bleak January day) a mile or so long the canal bank towards Shipley. Obviously some of these great looming mill buildings have been very creatively restored and are in good and purposive use, often as office buildings I think. Others have yet to be restored and so are perhaps more evocative of their past. Boats aren’t on the move much at this time of year, but there were several on moorings, at least a couple of which were worth a picture I felt.
We strolled around the part of the estate that Salt had built for his workers. Different grades of houses from fine looking detached to rather more snug terraces, presumably appropriate to the station in life of their original occupants. They have in common though that they look well designed and well built – odd little bits of detailing mark them out as having been put up with care. I hope that’s right! There’s certainly scope for individuality now as I guess they are all privately owned, albeit limited by the area’s status as a “World Heritage Site” – we rather enjoyed the very maritime looking collection in one front yard.
The United Reformed Church is a splendid looking building ….. and has in its grounds the mausoleum in which Titus and his family are buried. Thus its cupola is the last of the images which follow:
We’ve been a bit short on walking recently (walking as in proper “days out” that is!) and I’ve been very short on photography for some months, other than the “phone snaps” that I’ve taken of the boat building process. So here was an opportunity to set both of those to rights with a decent weather forecast encouraging us out onto the towpath of the Calder and Hebble Navigation between Altofts and Wakefield.
It’s an attractive walk in characteristic scenery so the usual combination of canal architecture, trees, reflections and of course boats. There was however quite a jarring note at Stanley when we came across the huge accumulation of rubbish and debris strewn across the grass and the footbridge. At second glance this maybe was more benign than it looked at first glance. I hadn’t come across the notion of a rubbish screen before, but the logic is fair enough. The wire screen built in under the footbridge is presumably intended to filter out the rubbish coming downstream in the river and prevent it entering the canal. If that’s correct then it certainly works, and obviously the “collection” has been considerably increased by the effects of the flooding.
What is saddening of course is to look at the huge amount of “stuff” that has been simply tossed in the river – and it’s hard to see that human hands haven’t been involved here! Plastic bottles by the hundred ….. what a waste, and what an indictment!
That apart though, it was an excellent walk, much enjoyed in fresh winter sunshine … a selection of images follows……
We’ve been meaning to visit here since we moved in 4 years ago, and not quite got round to it. It’s a significant “attraction”; the local outpost of the Imperial War Museum in London, and so is important I guess, respectable and somewhat “establishment”. The building is purpose built and rather splendid, on the south bank of the River Aire. The ground floor offers the “Nelson Bistro” which served us a decent enough snack lunch, and the inevitable shop (which we avoided); it leads on to the tower featured in the first four images. This is visually spectacular, viewed either through the huge mirror at its base, of with a cricked neck – or through the moveable screen on the back of the camera! To my eye the contents and the shape become abstracted into a curious, almost spaceship like construction.
Moving into the galleries, the emphasis comes directly on to the weaponry which is at the heart of the museum. We both found there sheer, relentless scale and scope of it all of it all to be increasingly difficult and oppressive. These are implements of death and destruction – obviously – and there was not reason to be surprised by that. I think I was struck by two essentially negative thoughts – the one was that this was about combat at an intimate level, even when considering the considerable number of modern firearms. This is about one person killing another, whether in attack or defence. The second was that these weapons were the result of design and technology – in other words someone has sat down at a drawing board and considered how most effectively to devise and improve the efficiency of them. I remember picking up the thought somewhere that somebody had had the inspiration that lead to the creation of napalm.
These scruples are being expressed by one who enjoys the Jack Reacher novels of Lee Child, and the Bond films et al – and I can’t avoid the charge of hypocrisy! The horns of a dilemma, which I suppose could be seen as the luxury of a relatively peaceful existence in suburban England!
We escaped the emotional tension of that fairly briskly for the open air and I’ve tacked on a few photographs made around the area. It was probably a foolishness to render the interiors in monochrome and the exteriors in colour – but then again, maybe not!
The much vaunted bike race finally showed in Yorkshire – and very successfully too it seems – and is it was passing within walking distance of home, going a taking pictures seemed somewhat obligatory. I find I do, quite irrationally, have a somewhat ambivalent relationship with other people cycling locally since I was forced (for medical reasons) to stop doing so myself, but this was to be a race and an event and a gathering of people so – give it a whirl!
Quite a number of people gathered at the junction of the Ring Road and the A58, and a very cheerful atmosphere developed while we waited for the stars to arrive. As the photos bear out, rathe more in evidence, and definitely for longer, were the various escort motorcycles (mostly police) and the team cars, which made it very clear what a huge logistical enterprise the whole thing really was.
I’m not sports photographer, and the pictures won’t win any prizes, but it was fun, and I hope there’s some suggestion here of the way it all felt ……
Thursday September 11th – we went to see Northern Ballet’s presentation of Bram Stokers “Dracula” at the Playhouse in Leeds this afternoon. It was a quite stunning event, and technically brilliant, the dancing faultlessly athletic and expressive (to my relatively inexperienced and uneducated eyes!). The tension generated by both music and movement throughout and particularly in the final act was very powerful indeed. If Kay and I had a criticism it was the very subjective thought that this was maybe a touch too “classical ballet” for our taste, particularly having grown used to the smaller, more intimate presentations in the compact theatre in the Ballet School itself. These latter tend to be very contemporary in style and concept (and in music which isn’t always as enjoyable as the spectacle!). Very stimulating afternoon though. The Lasagne? Was my choice in Zizzi where we went for a meal after the production – excellent as always, and I decided not to resist the somewhat cliched dinner table image with the iPhone!
The second instalment covers another mile or so, still along the A64. (Incidentally, I’ve realised that the final stretch of what I’m planning is actually along the A63, so I’ll need to rethink the title!) The images can speak for themselves …… or not – let s/he who has ears to hear, etc!
On looking at the last set a friend asked whether there was a theological reflection to go with it. “No” is the answer – I hadn’t seen this in those terms at all. For me it’s first and foremost a photographic exercise, a visual reflection on the different sights to be seen along the route. It might, I suppose, be seen as a ”social reflection”, and I guess the title implies that. There are visual suggestions that the times are not easy; there are visual celebrations that the times are moving on, and in my mind is the need to make this even-handed. There is some evidence of real deprivation along the way, and it would be all too easy to focus on that and produce a lament. I don’t think that would be fair though and I’m trying to show the evidence of life and vitality and genuine striving that’s there too.
Mostly though I’m making pictures and enjoying the act of doing so, and I don’t feel the need to pretend it’s anything more significant than that.
One joyous thing, more so on this second instalment, has been the people who’ve stopped and chatted. I’m ever so grateful to Fritz, for allowing me to make what’s one of my favourite images of the whole bunch thus far ….. and to the “good old boys” working away at the Irish Centre, and even the disgruntled local who wanted to blitz the Star Cinema – between them they made the whole exercise feel as though it has a worth of some sort!
Work in progress! This post is the first “chapter” of what might turn out to be several, charting a “journey” (see below). I’m using the same material to produce (at least off-line) a Blurb book and to experiment with an AV sequence (is that still called a slide show?), and I thought I’d pop them on here too – because I can!
This is the preface to the book – there are some titles / captions planned for the book, but I won’t trouble with them here. The intention really is to produce a visual impression of the journey ……
“This is a book about a journey. Not, in the context of this world, a very long or exacting journey, in fact more often than not it’s a journey I’ve made in the “comfort” of a number 56 bus, travelling free thanks to my bus pass. The distance must be about 5 miles, running from close to the centre of Leeds to the satellite suburb of Crossgates which lies on the eastern curve of the Ring Road.
Looking through the sometimes clean windows of the bus, my eye has been caught by many things that could be seen as “signs of the times”. Some of them are quite literally signs, offering directions, advertising, information and so on. Some of them are signs in that they indicate the way the times are a’changing, to quote Bob Dylan; some are signs of neglect, some of potential, some of hope and ambition.
Leeds is a developing city. It has come a long way on its own journey. It has seen wealth and poverty, peace and war, the vagaries of politicians good and bad, and the creativity and criminality of its citizens. All of these things (at least to my eye) may be seen on this little journey.
The images were made on a number of different occasions in the Autumn and early Winter of 2012. They tend towards the snapshot rather than the work of art, and I make no apology for that. They are what they are, and they speak to me, and that’ll do!”