Kirkcarrion, early morning

Kirkcarrion early morning

By the River Tees in County Durham is a bronze age burial mound – Kirkcarrion. The trees, planted in the 1930s, create quite a landmark. A rather ominous bull was guarding the scene, making it vital to blank all thoughts of Alan Garner’s Thursbitch if I was going to keep my porridge settled…

Kirckarrion, early morning 3a

Kirkcarrion, early morning 4

Kirkcarrion, early morning 2

To the lighthouse

About six months late, but this is a beautiful little film that went with Bat for Lashes’ album last autumn. I’ve been listening since Fur and Gold but overlooked this – probably too much going on and was thinking it would be a little bit too introspective at the time… it’s not, because having bought it at last it’s great stuff, with lots of light and air. This is probably a bit long for a blog post at 15 minutes, but even just the landscapes and lighthouse are worth it I think.

Everything shining bright

1941

April 2013. A memorial on Dartmoor to a Royal Air Force bomber which crashed here in 1941.

Relic

There are a few of these posts scattered over the same area: I’m told they were put here during the war to prevent enemy planes from landing.

Jay

Jay’s Grave: an eighteenth century suicide, a girl ruined by a local squire. Fresh flowers appear here every few days, something of a local legend. Whoever places them there is brushing up their act with picturesque daffodils in a glass jar. I always remember it usually being an old margarine tub with a few wilted polyanthus chucked in. Not the most uplifting captions are they? But the sun’s shining like I promised. At least I didn’t get in the bit about the friendly community burying the poor girl at a crossroads so that her doomed soul wouldn’t be able to find its way home.

Pathway

Countryside Commission voiceovers can audition here…

Paws

Whose prints?

Spring again

My prints.

Ponytree

The lightning tree.

Sprung

Resurrection.

Daffodils

Blah blah golden host blah wandering etc., etc.

Incendiaries in the Suburbs, Henry Carr, 1941

Henry Carr, Incendiaries in a Suburb, 1941, IWM

A painting from the Imperial War Museum in London. Many of the pictures they hold seem on the fringes of what tends to get shown in galleries: like an overlooked subculture – or maybe it’s just that these images are being viewed in one place. Nevertheless, there’s something quite interesting about the fact that these paintings often deal with people dealing with everyday tasks, albeit within the context of a shattering period of history. There are women in factories, queuing for rations, men and women from every class engaged in the processes of war and aftermath. It’s not just the images of generals or battle which some perceive about the museum.

Evelyn Dunbar, The Queue at the Fish Shop, 1944, detail, IWM

Evelyn Dunbar, The Queue at the Fish Shop, 1944, detail, IWM

Often these images have been labelled as ‘recordings’ and not put on an ‘art’ pedestal. Perhaps the gatekeepers of culture of much of the 20th century saw little profound in images of people going about the detail of everyday life, of what would then be termed the lives of ‘ordinary’ people. (Yet even in the 1970s, an oft-repeated TV documentary series called ‘The Family’ filmed an ‘ordinary’ family with a real sense that looking at this ‘ordinariness’ was something unusual to put before a viewing public. Not to say directors like Ken Loach, kitchen sink dramas and Coronation Street didn’t exist to challenge this of course.)

That, however, is a WhistlesintheWind ramble. I just wanted to post a nice postcard from my desk and then do some work. I love the Henry Carr image – the city sky is beautiful, but with a bitter taste because it’s the work of the worst aspects of humankind and not sun or moon or weather. You can stare into the painting and see so much in a moment captured, not to mention the red post box exaggerating the routine and calm of order shattered.

Villagers – waves in the diamond sky and the pleasures of music in the hand

There aren’t many albums that you really look forward to, but Villagers’ Awayland is one of them. I loved the first album, but have seen them play once in Bristol and twice at festivals since. They’re much more visceral than the Mercury Prize acoustic introspection they might have been tagged with, and the set featuring the new album at the End of the Road Festival last September made me feel a bit like A A Milne and the bears in the zoo. I could quite happily bypass other bands and just sit outside their cage for a bit. Conor O’Brien also achieves that rare detachment, as if sideways or above of the world’s noise.

Villagers Awayland Artwork 2

And then there’s this affirmation of how great it is to hold music as a physical object. HMV include these postcards, which makes it all a package of earthly pleasures. The artwork’s beautiful – kaleidoscopic geometric peaks of rock and mountain rise from landscapes, like all the invisible static of life in our century. (Artwork is credited to Conor O’Brien, Matthew Cooper with Rory McGuigan.)

Here’s a wander through Paris with an acoustic version of The Waves.