I feel spoiled that I was able to experience the snow that settled around the Emerald Isle while I was back home and now I got to experience it in the concrete Jungle that is London. A pattern began to emerge where unbeknownst to me I started to find red amongst the white snow while getting lost in boroughs and roads I have not seen before.
A previous Kick About saw me reflect upon the uncanny nature distilled around my Dads basement with all its cellar dweller spiders and porcelain dolls. This same peculiar feeling residing in an old creaky house that has always felt under construction and will never be finished transpires throughout its mammoth 4 floors.
I stayed at my dads house in Ireland one night when the show was falling like thick ashes and as me and my brother drove to my Dads looking towards the blinding kaleidoscope of falling snow, I knew the thick snow was going to up the ante and stillness of my Dads with it feeling like a cotton blanket of insulation that quietens all. The fountain having an a new ashy extrusion and the cement lions on the pillars having a new white beard.
The only working shower is for some reason in the upstairs hallway with the blue room in particular feeling very ominous. There is a bright orange sink in the corner of the blue room with the buzz of a magnificent yellow shaver light that bounces off the walls and the vanity with the room being crammed with bric a brac and photos of our past; My Dad is a collector of sorts and takes pride in all the stuff he has collated throughout his travels, a story attached to each.
Above the door in every bedroom is a window and as my room felt crammed with things the only suitable place for the bed was near the door with the eerie window above it, as a young lad I always perceived some thing peering over those windows and watching as I slept, or tried too; the thing would move with the sound of the bubbling fish tank heard down the landing of the stairs with the light no longer as the black catfish cemented to the side of the tank watched on.
I ventured down the road to our neighbour Jonjo’s yard, hot spiced rum in hand where me and my cousins used to get up to all sorts of mischief and where the remnants of hideouts in the trees still remain – a nail here and a piece of weathered wood there. The yard lit in a brilliant orange light to illuminate the little huts like a beacon where calfing sheep or cattle used to give birth in the bitter Irish cold. The falling snow over my camera lens making it look like a bursting sun.
I’ve always appreciated the creepiness of my Dads house, it always sparks my imagination and even through it might seem unfriendly It’s just a facade, its warm, old and careworn. Although the basement is another kettle of fish, with it’s low ceilings you are likely to feel a sticky spider web stuck to your face. Just don’t turn the lights off, things come alive when you do that down there.
This weeks Kick about was Inspired by Ernst Haeckel and his botanical illustrations showing the intricate microscopic organic matter within nature that might otherwise go amiss. I have always felt sensitive to textures and colours but this year I actually had a camera to capture it with rural Ireland really ramping up my perception towards it. The merging of colours within a few feet of land can completely counteract the next a few feet further and always makes for interesting forms.
I love relishing in the patterns and forms that bloom on a log or that is sandwiched between the trenches of rich brown peat, losing a shoe in the quicksand esque mud with shite up to my knee to get some of these pictures is all part of the pleasure.
Witches broom deformities resembling sea urchins, little pastel snail shells with their inhabitants no more and reindeer moss resembling bleached coral reef all part of the treasures that are nestled within the designs resembling Haeckel’s pieces. Sometimes I would lie on the ground and aim up to the sky to get a certain shot of a branch, plant or twig without it being nestled with its family of flora so that it would be easier to edit and isolate the flora against a clean slate of sky.
A lot of the elements within my designs for this kick about were cut and pasted out of images like the ones above, then significantly editing them by changing the colour and then when all the elements came together I merged them as one and erased half of the image and then copied it one more time to then flip horizontally so they were in exact symmetry.
The weather here has turned typical and Irish, grey, misty and mild and with it my mood taking a hit. I am just glad I made the most of the frosty golden hour walks and revelled in the gleams of these photos, showing crystallised ice refracting the sunlight like diamonds and sprouting chiselled white coconut flakes.
Icy Escapades; exploring rural Ireland is a frosty delight. White disk bubble explosions mimicking silver dollar plants being trapped among island like greenery underneath the ice, like little moons illuminating the inhabitants of these nebulas as they hibernate.
Milky swirls interrupted by sprouting spiky brambles that loop in and out of the ice like a dragons tail frozen in time or a serpent sinking below the undergrowth along with the limbs of arachnids reaching for something no longer.
It was lovely and frosty here today, the ground well into the afternoon still having uncracked puddles with white speckly paint strokes and air bubbles frozen in time as icy metallic spirals meander around pebbles.
I continued along the frozen puddles peppered along the backroad until the road disappeared into the vegetation and I where I started to get lost in the forestry ferns, sitka spuces’s and speckled birch trees, where the light of the crisp golden hour evening lit the land in a brilliant gold.
We were lucky enough here to get a small sprinkling of snow, I headed out with my camera and the dogs for a stroll in the bogland where most of the snow dissipated apart from being laid on top of the rich brown peat – mimicking icing sugar on an overcooked brownie. Rust red ferns with melting snow was a swirly delight to photograph – like little leaf portals to a tree dimension, inspired by Phil’s latest stunning frost ferns seen in the latest kick about. I’m hoping we get a proper lashing of snow and that it sticks so that I can go for a gander up the picturesque trail of my neighbours field that overlooks the rest of the countryside, showing a patchwork blanket of varying patterns and colours of the neighbouring nature.
The music of this weeks Kick About prompt over on Reds Kingdom felt very christmasy and warm indeed. To me nothing feels more christmasy than going for a walk in the countryside of Ireland where the invigorating air hits you with pure refreshment and the frost glistens the shrubbery and flora. I spent a lot of my time when I was a young lad outside building rickety hideouts and treehouses with my friends and cousins. Going for a walk near my family home always feels like I am dipping into my memory fault where walking past a particular tree will spark a memory of us building and climbing away, walking through the grasses of the fields reminds me of being cut by barbed wire and being so dumbfounded by having fun that I didn’t realise I was bleeding with barbed wire marks in my palms.
I remember the beehive that was camouflaged into the ground of a particular field in perpendicular view from the balcony of our home, when all us had awoken the beast I can only imagine the sight of seeing us all running and screaming our heads off from the balcony as we ran for our lives away from the angry hive. Memories like that are scattered around the countryside of Ireland, they will echo as I stroll past them and now that I am older I can really appreciate them. Although all the hideouts and treehouses are dismantled, the trails that were grinded down are now full of vegetation again, It’s the clean air and the bright stars that haven’t changed.
Although isolation has for now stopped me from revisiting those actual areas of my past I remember them as I walk through the bogland surrounding my Mams house where I know I would have been in my element too when I was younger. I am still drawn to those picturesque areas and the crisp clean air, and I really appreciate the little bird houses built into the trees to shelter the birds in the bitter winter. I still sometimes walk past a particular tree and think – that would have been a good one.
I’ve always known Ireland as beautiful, particularly the vast countryside where the earthy browns and rust reds of the bogland flora swish and merge in the gentle refreshing breeze. I remember visiting this bogland in the spring time where the now endangered frog spawn would have the time to flourish into full grown vivid green frogs that completely littered the bogland during a trip when it was lashing down, frogs would leap and ribbit throughout the high grasses landing on my wellies and the odd time ricochet off the fur of Prince and Rocksy our golden lab and boxer who were less than impressed. It was a moment something David Attenborough would be proud of and a moment in untouched nature that I cherish.
Trying to find my bearings with some night time photography, I wish I got a hooded figure walking down the ominous staircase! I feel like that is what’s missing. I shall return and I’ll be attempting to catch such an effigy.