Stepping Stones

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In March next year I am going to be 60, not that old, but a milestone or maybe better a stepping stone to the future. Of course it seems not that old now, but looking back to when I first went to art college in 1970 something which was hard to imagine and I don’t think I even tried. Quite rightly too.

On my Pinterest site a few weeks ago I set up a ‘board’ I’ve called ‘Places I’ve never been; things I’ve not seen or heard – and could easily and should have…’ . Long winded I know. It came about when I saw a poster for Kubrick’s 2001- A Space Odyssey, and realised I had not seen it either in the cinema or on TV/DVD. It would be very easy to watch it, unlike when it first came out. Films were only on at the cinema, and in a city like Stoke-on-Trent which had 3 main cinemas and about 6 smaller ones in the late 60’s, if you didn’t go that week, then it was hard luck until many years later they may appear on TV.

I went to Boots in Hanley to buy David Bowie’s single Space Oddity which of course came out at the same time in 1969. Without me noticing the assistant put the single from the soundtrack of 2001 (Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra) in the bag, which was selling many more and in the Top10. Luckily I looked in the bag before I left the shop and they changed it. So that was the closest I got to the film.

My ‘board’ is an odd collection of things and places, it certainly isn’t a wish list and I may just be stubborn and not bother making all these things ‘right’. Would a visit to Stonehenge, Bolton, Southampton or Sunderland change my life? I deliberately based my story The Report in Bolton, a Bolton in a Nazi run Britain and I have set a number of chapters of an unfinished story in Venice. These were helped by Google maps, so who needs to actually visit a place nowadays!

Would listening to the whole of Never Mind the Bollocks make me change my life? At the time it came out I had bought quite a lot of punk music, but felt The Sex Pistols were a sham and punk by that time just a fashion, so never bothered, heard all the tracks over the years but never listened to it as a whole as no-one I knew owned it.

So reaching milestones is a useful time to assess things. I certainly do not have a list of things to do before I die, or a wish list of things to see/read/hear, places to go. Things will turn up. My regrets are having missed exhibitions such as Ben Nicholson’s at the Tate, which will never be repeated, and all those personal regrets like not asking things of now dead parents or taken actions which may have led to different outcomes, but then realising that I would not have experienced people, places and things if I had made a different decision. Changes to my life in terms of finance has meant I have had to look towards other things. My not working has given me the great opportunity of developing my own work which working put on hold. Even in ten months of taking more photographs I can see development and aim to concentrate more on refining my ‘eye’ which had wandered off course a bit! When I write, draw, photograph, create, even watch, read and listen, I don’t do these as a form of relaxation, they are far more intense, I do them in the terms of an artist.

Today’s photograph comes from January 1979, taken in The Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco on Ektachrome with my OM-1 using the standard 50mm lens.


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