Friday, 21 May 2010


Here is a pleasant scene. In the foreground a foal is feeding from its mother. Behind the white horses, other horses are feeding. Another foal is busy walking away from the horses in the foregroun. Behind the horses, a boat is moving to the right (towards the north). Behind the boat, a cyclist is busy cycling to the left (towards the south).

The man in the boat seems to be busy pointing something out to his right. The cyclist is concentrating on where he is going. Nobody sees anyone else, or at least none of the actors show any signs of responding to the others in the scene. The cyclist, the man in the boat, and the horses could be in separate worlds.

There is some interaction. The mother horse is aware of the foal. The man in the boat would not be pointing unless there were someone nearby who can interpret his gesture. But what is remarkable is how little interaction there is.

Does this constitute a modern pastoral? If each of the actors in the scene is independent of the other, does this affect the overall harmony? In any case, who says there is harmony? The man in the boat could be shouting - he is pointing rather energetically. The cyclist is not on an afternoon outing; he is far too dedicated to his cycling for that. Even the horses are all busy. No actor in this scene has any time for reflection. Is this then an intrusion into three or four discrete, self-contained worlds, that by sheer coincidence lined up in a single photograph without interacting in the least?

Wednesday, 5 May 2010


Well, it's a kind of buttercup - actually a marsh marigold. It was flowering in great profusion near some water, near the River Wey, to be precise, just to the south of Guildford. Now Guildford has well-kept public gardens, but it's hardly a city you would imagine with wild flowers growing. It is very built-up, there is a lot of traffic, and you wouldn't immediately imagine anywhere near the centre where large areas of wild flowers could grow freely. But here by the water, less than a mile from the centre of Guildford, the marsh marigolds were flowering in exquisite profusion. I took several pictures, but this one, a close-up of the flowers, seems to capture them best. There is something magical about the shiny leaves contrasted with the powerful yellow of the flowers. Even though the plants are not in water, they give the impression that there is a lot of water about. And they call attention to themselves from a long way away; you don't walk past them without noticing. Those lovely curved leaves  - why aren't they straight? It means the flowers emerge as if from hiding.