The harbour bridge, obscure
As a city that is so concerned with itself as a spectacle, the current dustcloak that is choking Sydney must be doubly disorienting. There have been some amazing shots of the dust storms - the above is probably my favourite (taken, I assume from the Rocks end of the bridge) - but there are some other jaw-dropping efforts contained in these two Flickr galleries.
Edit: A fantastic piece on this from Dan Hill of City of Sound. (Cheers to John Coulthart for the tip on this).
place, nature, landscape
Late August sunshine, the first walk for ages. I head out of the Victoria Inn in West Marden, trailed by a small cloud of chutney-maddened wasps, up a steeply inclining lane. There is a brief passage of unsteadiness as my feet arch over old stones and I wait for the muscles to remember. It comes, eventually.
I walk, no cower through a farmyard. No matter how many times I do this I feel like an interloper. These places hold a special, eerie power born maybe of old public information films, but also from something deeper, something to do with the fact that all this machinery – the ribcages of old ploughs, the fluted cones of grain dispensers – seems forever unused, hung in a state of paralysis.
I lose the path for a time and come across a pheasant enclosure. The first intimation is the small green feeders, arranged around the place like small, squat rockets; then the intense activity in the surrounding scrub, dense beneath oak trees: the odd frantic scitter here and there, the rising screeches of near by alarm calls. As I approach a huge fenced area, elaborate with pheasant-only gateways, the activity increases with literally dozens of birds emerging all around me, rushing for the impossible entrances, babble-shrieking into the air. The interior is thick with ferns and bracken, the torpid air alive with the movement of bodies.
Beyond the woods I enter a field of corn, its colour in the sun is harsh to the eyes. I pass across a sunken track, the shaded areas clagged with mud, pools of water lie in the great tractor wheel depressions. On a dim, clammy path with a broad swathe of young sweet chestnut poles on my right, a scraggy fox passes 10 feet in front me, following its twitching nose.
North Marden Church: the interior is thick with shadow, the walls white cold, heavy with memory. The chancel with its softly semi-circular rear wall seems to draw the light. You sit briefly, creak the pews and leave. Outside, a bench stretches most of the distance of the outer wall of the nave. As I lay back, I hear the distant roar of farm machinery; I catch a sharp stab of sun off a reflective surface. I awake to a top-heavy hollyhock I hadn’t noticed before, now swaying in a light breeze. The sky has thickened with grey.
North Marden barely exists – two farms, a collection of flint-clad houses. I hear my hollow footsteps as I walk along a newly tarmaced road. At a crossroads, a fresh cut field is alive with hundreds of rooks and jackdaws. Something spooks them and they rise as one – grakking and popping in high devilling swirls.
I come to Up Marden Church at the end of a pitted lane. It sits in a broad patch of bright green grass, a stand of yews to the right hand side, a knot of oaks to the rear. One of the church’s cold flint walls – giving way to planked wood and a squat, square tower - backs on to the field of corn I’d shielded my eyes from earlier. The interior is unlike any church I have been in before – spare, spartan even, the white walls of the chancel brilliant in the afternoon sun. That great reverential church-going weight is absent, instead there is a simple sense of shelter, of the sanctity of accumulated belief. I experience a kind of pain in leaving.
A good portion of the path back is a long slog up to Telegraph Hill. As I tire I think of the dead August air, absent of the piped silver of bird song, the only company the occasional explosive wren or the propulsive tick of an angry robin. The background hum is all of farm machinery as the long haul of harvest is begun; sometimes as I pass a field being cut, the air thickens, swarming with seed heads and crop debris. As I descend back into West Marden I come to a point where four paths intersect. Above is a great upright crescent of pillowed cloud. I stop to let a great clattering combine harvester cross, the driver, high in his cabin, nods a greeting.
There is an interesting piece on the downland churches by Simon Jenkins. It originally appeared in the New Statesman, this PDF version is available online.
A strange, haunting video shot by Jorge Ballarin in Berlin, featuring disconnected and grainy images of the city - mainly by night. On their own the images would be enough but with Leyland Kirby's (otherwise known as The Caretaker) 'a longing to be absorbed for a while into a different and beautiful world' as a soundtrack it becomes a thing of quiet beauty. The track is taken from a triple LP/CD set, due out on Type in October. You can hear various samples of it on Kirby's excellent website - History Always Favours the Winners and at the older Brainwashed site, where you'll also find various of his other recordings available as free downloads.