So the summer holidays draws to a close and with it our final theme set by the kids of Memory, a lovely theme on which to close as we look back over the last few weeks and hopefully remember the good times we’ve had, days out, laughs, perhaps foreign climates, adventures, family, fun, good food etc. This has definitely been my experience of the summer holidays and I hope it has been for you as well. When the final theme was announced someone said how do you photograph a memory, which is of course a good point but at the same time we use photographs to capture our memories all the time and there are many things that remind us of them, whether that memory is one freshly made or from a lifetime ago. Smells, colours, clothes, jewellery, places, food, everyday objects, things around the house, stuff stuck on the fridge door etc there are constant reminders all around us of our memories and these have been beautifully captured in the collection of images that came in this week. Of course whilst many memories are shared they are all personal to us individually and this I think was captured beautifully both by the war memorials and the photographs of children, some who have now grown into adults while others are newly born. I thought this was a lovely way to end this summers series.
I’ve actually put one of my photos at the top this week, I’ve never done that before so I hope you’ll forgive me indulgence. For me music is an important part of my life and acts as a trigger to so many memories some momentous and important others mundane. For example whenever I hear The Whole of the Moon by the Waterboys I am transported back to a wet and cold evening standing waiting for a train on London Bridge station ! I’ve been a fervent gig goer for many years even if now it’s only on occasion that I go to see a band as opposed to the several times a week when I was younger. Ticket stubbs get stuffed in pockets and left on the side somewhere but I ended up sticking lots of them in an envelope, where many still are, but a few years ago I got a picture frame and put a collage of some of them up on my wall. It might not be to everyone’s taste but each ticket contains a powerful memory.
As always huge thanks to those of you who play along interpreting the kids themes, sending in your photos and making it all so much fun, we really enjoy and appreciate it. As ever click on the gallery to open it and you can see the photos in full. Do let us know which ones you liked. So that’s it for another year, we have done three years of this now and it’s always been great fun. We will I expect continue to do the other holidays – half term photo fun; christmas photo fun etc and will occasionally just throw in a random weekend photo fun so if you like the idea and want to join in just follow me on twitter (@ianstreet67) which is where the themes get announced. I’ve also toyed with the idea of doing some sort of exhibition of themes and the whole photofun idea, not sure if I’ll ever get round to that but it could be good fun I think.
The kids chose Texture as the penultimate theme of this weeks SummerPhotoFun which was a great theme I thought. I like it when the themes they choose can be interpreted in so many different ways depending upon how you see the world and texture is a classic sample of that, everything you see or touch has an element of texture to it be it part of the built environment or something natural. What could me more natural than an animal and the photo of the octopus is surely an amazing example of the variety of textures contained with the animal kingdom. Texture can also bring out the absolute beauty in the simplest things that we take for granted, brick, slate, wood, plastic, sand, wool, stone and plastic all look amazing when looked at as they are and then of course they change again when constructed into something, the incredible shape and texture of the bullring in Birmingham or the sand sculpture of Einstein for example. I really enjoyed this weeks theme and as always huge thanks to everyone who contributed.
Click on the gallery to open it and you can see all of the photos individually in full size, there really are some crackers this week. Apologies if I’ve missed anyone out, if I have just let me know.
Simple was the theme set by the kids this week for our summerphotofun project and as ever some lovely, thought provoking and funny pictures came in. Many of you used the theme of simple pleasures with things stripped back to their essence, nature, food and experiences featuring strongly along with a couple of very moving but simple memorials. You hear a lot about wanting to live a simple life as an antidote to the perception that life is now too complicated or fast paced. I’m not sure personally that I buy into the over complication argument but I also know that I live a simple, slow life in many respects and have done a long time before the slow movement became a fashionable thing. For me to enjoy life all you need are to concentrate on the simple things, time with family and friends, good food, spending time outdoors and enjoying new experiences, get that right (and I don’t think it’s difficult to do) and you have a path to contentment. All things outside this are just distractions, ignore as many of them as you can. I think when you look at the photos that have come in this week a lot of them are perfect slices of this way of living, none more so perhaps than the photo at the top.
As ever thanks go out to all of you who have contributed and come up with such a lovely varied gallery (I loved the oil and water shot), just click on the gallery to open it and see the photos full size. Do let us know which ones you liked in particular this week. I hope I haven’t forgotten to include any but if I have let me know and I’ll amend the gallery.
Sometimes when you enter a bookshop and lose yourself to browsing, magic happens, you stumble across a book by accident, no idea why you have been drawn to it but this book will make an indelible mark upon you. So it was for me recently when I came across Stoner by John Williams. I’m not sure what drew me to the book but what a novel this is, a book of such quiet beauty and power, beautifully written, but also one of the saddest books I’ve ever read.
The book charts the life of William Stoner, born 1891, the son of impoverished small hold farmers who till the soil day after day knowing that it will be to the soil they will return. His father has heard of a new course in Agriculture at the University of Missouri where Stoner goes in 1910 never to leave. While taking a compulsory course in Literature as part of his studies he becomes entranced and confused by the subject and changes his studies to English Literature. He remains at the university as a teacher until his death and the book charts this unremarkable life. He marries Edith in haste and repents at leisure (a more difficult female character I’m not sure I’ve come across) and becomes estranged from his daughter, he finds love through a relationship with a young student / lecturer but he has few friends and becomes embroiled in internal faculty politics when disagreeing with Professor Lomax who then spends the next twenty years in bitter conflict with Stoner doing everything possible to make his university life difficult. As Stoner looks back on his life he sums it up thus:
Dispassionately, reasonably, he contemplated the failure that his life must appear to be. He had wanted friendship and the closeness of friendship that might hold him in the race of mankind; he had had two friends, one of whom had died senselessly before he was known, the other of who had now withdrawn into the ranks of the living.
He had wanted the singleness and the still connective passion of marriage; he had had that, too, and he had not known what to do with it, and it had died. He had wanted love; and he had had love, and had relinquished it, had let it go into the chaos of potentiality.
And he had wanted to be a teacher, and he had become one; yet he knew, he had always known, that for most of his life he had been an indifferent one. He had dreamed of a kind of integrity, of a kind of purity that was entire; he had found compromise and the assaulting diversion of triviality. He had conceived wisdom, and at the end of the long years he had found ignorance. And what else? he thought. What else?
What did you expect? he asked himself
However there is another angle to all of this which perhaps we should all reflect on, Stoner had stoicism and integrity that he acted upon all his life, he had a life long friendship, found love (both physical and intellectually through his love of literature) he worked all his life at a job he loved and escaped the grinding poverty of upbringing. How many of us can say the same ?
I think what is particularly remarkable about this book is that whilst the period of Stoner’s life covers some of the greatest upheavals of the twentieth century via the great depression and two world wars, by looking at the minutiae of Stoner’s life you realise that we all have our triumphs, tragedies and disasters and that it is these that perhaps have a greater effect on us and shape us opposed to the world events that we live through.
The writing throughout the book is hypnotically simple and beautiful, it goes along with Stone’s character but at the same time a picture is painted of the seasons changing as life goes on within the university. The university is depicted as an asylum there to keep the real world out while providing sanctuary to those who would struggle to survive or fit in to the world outside it’s gates.
Ultimately this book is about two things for me Love and Work, Love in all it’s forms from finding a love of literature and it’s ability to accompany us through life’s journey through to finding love in another human being, the love contained within a life long friendship and a love of work. Stoner gets up every day throughout his life and goes to work, initially on the farm and then in the lecture theatre, he never ceases to learn and never complains even when his integrity means that his working life is made intolerably difficult perhaps because he loves what he does, he loves literature and teaching and he hopes to find the spark to inspire others as he was once inspired.
Perhaps this is what Williams is aiming at with this book to emphasise the power of love in all it’s forms and the remarkable ability of literature to inspire. This is a truly astonishing book that I cannot recommend highly enough.
I always enjoy the themes that the kids choose and over the last few years we have been playing around with this they have got progressively better at choosing themes as they think about what might come in. They like to come up with a theme that is both definitive in nature but gives lots of scope for interpretation. I often think that some of the best themes they have chosen are colours or geometric shapes but this weeks theme of Curl was definitely one of the best they’ve chosen and there have been some brilliant interpretations that have come in from you all week.
We’ve just sat down to go through them and there were so many we enjoyed and it gave a real insight into how individuals can take a simple word and interpret it but also how photographs can make you think of the world around you, whether that be nature, art, jobs etc. I loved the photo that a cardiac nurse sent in of her stethoscope entitled ‘tool of the trade’ and the curl of the blade runner is also a very powerful image. As always our photofun would not work without all of you who take part and we’d really like to pass on our thanks that you take the time to do so and make it so much fun. When the pictures are all put together in the gallery they create a vibrant tableau of the world around us. As always click on the gallery to open it and you can see the photos as they came in, do let us know which ones you like. Lots of crackers this week we thought.
We kicked off this summers photo fun a week late this year due to holidays etc but while we were away in Ithaca the kids got planning on some themes for the remainder of the summer. They are getting dab hands at this now and come up with lots of ideas to form a long list and then whittle it down to give a good mix. As always I was unsure if people would play along with us but sure enough the Balance photos started arriving during the week and there have been some lovely photos and interpretations. The wedding ring photo for example was sent in by someone on their 10th anniversary who said that to succeed in marriage you need to strike the right balance which I liked very much. There were a few of you who enjoy Yoga and of course bikes feature which brings to mind Einstein’s great quote “Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance you must keep moving”. I particularly liked the cheeky photo of cricketer Gary Ballance scoring his 100 the other day which was certainly not a photo I’d have anticipated which is why we love doing this so much, you might think you know what will come in but we are always surprised. I didn’t imagine a car stuck up a tree either.
As always this idea only works if you take part so a huge thanks to all of you who have submitted photos, I think the gallery looks great. If you just click on the gallery you can scroll through each photo in the correct size. Some of the Balance is obvious but some you’ll have to think about. Do let us know which ones you like. I’ve been having a few technical issues so I do apologise if I’ve missed any of your photos out, if I have let me know and I’ll update the gallery.