…fig role

Today there are three photographs, all taken on a sunny, blustery day walking up from the doctors’ surgery in Tunstall, at about 10.15am. I was in a bit of pain wondering why it was still gnawing at my insides and walking very slowly. Then I was wondering why someone would be so bothered as to use a considerable amount of Tipp-ex to white out the letters ‘any’ on a parking sign in the photograph below.


‘At Time’

What does that mean, it’s quite a nice title for a poem, walking on I began to create phrases in my head which before I got home I had promptly forgotten, but may mull around for a couple of years. I am not instant in writing poetry, however flowing (hmmhmm) my writing looks. some of those you can read on the link here have taken well over 5-10 years to wrought out.

About twenty yards on I began to wonder about my creative actions. In a couple of daily photographs I have featured a white barked birch tree which grows at the end of Bond Street, one of the most deprived streets in the UK. Below are two photographs from today.


It stands set away from a white wall, newly painted by the same people who are doing my cladding, the Victorian red brick covered for ever in pursuit of warmth and lower fuel bills. Until they did the wall I hardly noticed the tree, my old dog Milo always stopped at it, he would anchor himself there and sniff and lift his leg whatever the weather. What has moved me ‘artistically’ is the shadow the tree creates in morning sunlight and the compositional qualities of grey and white.

But why?

What is that makes me want to photograph that and not the Garage/Take-Away a few yards away, which is full of life and colour. What is it that makes us use combinations of words, characters and plot. Our aesthetic, our choice, our humanbeingness. Some may say an outside ‘inspiration’, I don’t believe or see that. Our psychological and artistic lives are created through learning, shared culture, age, class influence. I choose to take the photographs of that tree through a vast number of ‘clicks’ taking place in my brain; seeing the ‘image’ of the tree as I turned the corner, its association with its shadow, the play of dark and light; then the decision to take a photograph and the composition. Do I take the whole scene, move in and use a closer image. All these took only seconds and unusually I only took one picture.


Then, as I crossed the road towards the passage towards my flat, noticed how the damp had created interesting green patches on the bark, so took one more. Where was the long considered ‘art’ in all that? Perhaps my experience, my critical aesthetic, my culture?

Then the reason to take it? Maybe because of the bright day, I pass that place many times a week, or maybe wanting an image for my Daily Photograph quest. Certainly there wasn’t a wish to make any money from it, who on earth is going to buy it for a start and if I wanted to be a photographer who sold stuff then I would have to work in a very different way.

Or most likely I have a conceit for people to like what I do and say nice things, a warm feeling like a good cup of tea and a fig roll (I actually misspelled that at first and used role, is a fig role an actor who doesn’t give a damn about a part?).


3 thoughts on “…fig role

  1. Lovely musings in this tale by photograph. I’ve been on a long trip and I have taken so many photographs of trees – for me it’s the way the light catches their branches, and without leaves, you get this really detailed map of all the work they did, growing through summer. And yes, I love the shadows too. What makes me notice is the contrast – light and dark, bright and cloudy, which maybe a garage doesn’t offer…


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