Catches the eye

Movement from under the trees in the neighbour’s garden; moving very fast, about the size of a small cat.  Then another, by her garden table.

Fox cubs!

The Hairy Muse had seen a couple, he thought, at the weekend, trying to get out through our fence.  “Looked like a small dog,” he’d said. “But wasn’t”.  I’d been a bit sceptical.  He didn’t sound that confident.

They’re on her patio now.  They’re so little.  A bit wobbly.  I think their Mum must have set up home in the neighbour’s shed or something.  I’m torn between really hoping they’ll stay, and really hoping they’ll take off for the woods soon, safe and away.

Oh my god, there’s three of them!

Anyway, to tear myself away from the window…I meant to post about the photographer Claire McNamee.  You might have seen her portraits of writers; she’s based up in Hebden Bridge and has taken many beautiful pictures of the tutors who visit Lumb Bank.  I met her while teaching on an Under 18’s week up there in April, and was lucky enough to be photgraphed, along with Jane Draycott, by her.

She uses a Leica camera (don’t ask me which sort) and is completely analogue.  Intriguingly, she says that digital photos aren’t actually photos.  They are images, or images of photos.  A photograph is so much the sum of the process, the materials…. She seems to improvise, deciding at the moment where she will position you, where she wants you to point your face…  It was a very interesting experience, and (never having done a portrait session before) quite exciting!

I think her portraits are beautiful.  When the students read their own work on the last night, we were presided over by one of Claire’s photos of Michael Donaghy, playing his flute.  Have a look at it – and the other portraits – on Claire’s website.  An impressive body of work.

But I also love her colour work – and there are plenty of examples on the website too.  A recent exhibition,  Ping!, showed just how poetic these pictures are.  I particularly love “Mile End”: just a lampshade, a piece of ceiling, a lightbulb, shadow, but it’s so evocative, for me, of those moments that stay in your mind for no discernable, logical  reason, when you think of a place.  Those seemingly inconsequential images that are heavy with meaning.

I’m looking forward to seeing what she and her Leica made of Jane and I.


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