Christmas 1973 – and so to church…

St Peter's, Tiverton

Winter light, early afternoon at St Peter’s Church, Tiverton, 2013. A gallery of hassocks, appreciated by someone enough to raise them from the ancient floor so they can greet visitors with all the flourish of a medieval pageant. The subjects are wild and varied, many birds and even Saint George tackling a dragon. In particular their are owls. Many owls. (Currently owls are all over our high streets, from stylised 1970s versions staring saucer-eyed from tea towels to teapots, doorstops, notebooks… this is definitely the decade of the wild wood. If only people loved the real thing as much.)

Owl 2

Only in winter. They’re the most convincingly shy owls I’ve met.

owl 3

I wish you could buy this kind of light as an electric bulb.

St Peter's Church, Tiverton

At one end of the church is this wall painting, a pristine postcard from the early seventies, a trail through centuries of townspeople. It’s folk art perfection with more than a hint of medieval heaven and hell. There’s so much to see – from the artist’s effort to write the times into the face of each decade to the turn of each head. And it ends in louche, 1970s perfection. You can almost read a quiet, assertive knowledge in the girl’s face: ‘Look how far we’ve come’. Where did we go?

Tiverton 4

I could almost be going home to watch the 1973 Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special, for here’s the Queen Mother. In this corner of Devon she’s still graciously doing her thing.


Photos taken on holiday around Aran Fawddwy in Wales.

The inside of the farm outbuilding looked like a scene from the last century, not ours – I didn’t see how a book that looked pre-war would still be sat there, as dry and clean as if it was on a kitchen table, twined with a piece of rope. It seemed too contrived to be true.

I also loved what I assumed was a chapel but I seem to remember they are something other on reading up. I poked my lens through a gap in the door, into darkness, and the camera picked up more signs of life not quite departed – the ancient bicycle in particular. This photo was grainy and smudgy so I put it into Photoshop to see if I could help it. Adding a cross-hatch filter revealed some great patterns around the blocked-up arched doorway and along the dado rail which couldn’t be seen before.