I’ve just spent the weekend surrounded by flood water in Gloucestershire, it’s quite some sight, much more amazing than you get from seeing it on the news. The water is both imposing and incredibly calming at the same time. Standing by the fields upon fields full of murky water, you hear the beautiful noise of moving water at your feet, but you are reminded that nature is ultimately the boss, even though our actions over time have caused this we really have no control of it now. There was something rather lovely about seeing nature take back our very human possessions; roads, dustbins, goalpost, bossy English signs and treat them with no respect. It reminds me how small and insignificant humans really are when faced by big mummer earth, she’s in control big time.
My solo show opened last week part of the Hereford Photography Month, a series of exhibitions and events to generate support to hopefully reinstate the Hereford Photography festival next year. I showed The Wye project, which is the commission I won at the last Hereford Photography festival. The commission was awarded every year to one photographer to create a local project. I looked at Hereford’s local waterway; The River Wye. I spent many months travelling along the river, walking a great deal of it. I discovered it was not as much a hub of activity as I had first imagined, at times it was the complete opposite, spending many lonely days along the riverbank: just me, my camera and a backpack for company.
Here are some images of my show, and also a link to more info. If you find yourself in that neck of the woods between now and the 22nd November please take a look, also on show are Sophie Gerrard and Dan Haworth-Salter, amongst other great shows & talks.
I’m back for my latest, and my final, visit to the island. It’s always lovely to be back. Again this time as like others, the island has changed. There is only a couple of people on the island now and has a very much end of season feel to it. There are a few builders staying who are building a new visitor centre for day trippers to the nature reserve. It kind of spoils the peace having a JCB digging away throughout the day, but then in other ways it’s just what happens around here, daily life continues and things change, even on islands. I’m loving all the seals that have arrived, many are giving birth daily, with new pups nearly everyday. Every time you sit on a rock you realise you have an audience, they love to watch you and follow you around, then duck under the water when you look at them. I have found myself this trip taking this place and its way of life a bit for granted, like I have become accustomed to it. It’s strange how quickly we as humans get used to things, I have to keep reminding myself just how amazing this place is, and the fact that I get to come and stay on here. So I’ve just been out for a lovely night time walk round the island, it’s a strange feeling walking around the island seeing the distance lights on the mainland, it makes you realise how isolated the island really is, and quite how special it is. It’s truly beautiful and I will miss it greatly.
I back on the island again, and it’s a very different place this time. It has a completely different feel, it feels empty and stark. It’s deserted of people and most of the seabirds have departed too. What wildlife is left is having a hard time of it, though maybe it seems harder to me as I’m a city girl and not surrounded by this all the time. As I write this I’m watching a baby gull that has lost or been abandoned by it’s parents peck at a carcase of a rabbit that’s died a painful death from Myxomatosis. The gull is starving and is likely to be ‘Dead By Monday’ as they call them on the island. It’s very tempting to feed them any scrapes of food you have to stop this, but really it’s only prolonging their death and nothing else. It’s hard not to help when they make the begging for food noise they would have made to their parents, it’s heartbreaking. Maybe I’m just too soft when it comes to animals, nature is a bastard but it’s just nature. I don’t even like gulls, they kill the puffins on the island, so really one less gull would be a good thing. The worst to watch is the rabbits, Myxomatosis has spread rapidly throughout the island. Where you used to see thousands of rabbits darting into their borrows there is now a deadly silence, or a diseased rabbit struggling to walk and banging into things as their eyes are so swollen and painful they can’t see anything. Unfortunately the only thing to do is kill them then, which is hard to watch, even through a lens (I had to photograph it with my eyes closed!). Nature seems to be one big struggle. If it’s not the last few Pufflings trying to leave their nest and find the sea for the first time getting lost and panicking, then it’s the dying rabbits banging into walls trying to escape their imminent death, or the staving gulls, or the puffins having their fish for their young stolen by the gulls or worst being killed themselves by them, it’s all one massive battle. It’s not quite the fluffy idyllic island I experienced last time, where all the chicks were hatching and the island was bursting with new life. It’s more realistic this trip, and it really pulls at your heart-strings. As I write this over my breakfast cereal I give in and share the last few mouthfuls of it with the staving gull by my feet, maybe he will be Dead By (next) Monday now instead.