In 2019 I walked the length of Hadrian’s Wall, from west to east, taking photographs as I went along. It was a great experience, and one I’d recommend to anyone with a basic level of fitness and some good walking shoes. In lockdown in the first half of this year I turned my photographs into a little hand-made artist’s book, and from there printed this softback book with a short piece of writing about the experience. It’s available for just £6 from my photography website.
On Tuesday December 10th I went to the British Library in London to receive the 2019 Michael Marks Award for illustration of a poetry pamphlet. I’ve written a bit more about this over on my photography website chrisroutledge.pictures, but the short version is that this was for the photographs in Carousel, my collaboration with poet Rebecca Goss, published by Guillemot Press.
Receiving the award was a wonderful way to end 2019, which has been quite a big year for my photography. Back in October I had my first solo exhibition, at the Heaton Cooper Studio Archive Gallery in Grasmere (there are still some copies of the accompanying limited edition book available). I also exhibited at the Liverpool Art Fair, and I have two limited edition prints in the dot-art gallery’s Liverpool Collection, which you can see (and buy from there) until January 18th. The two prints are best seen in person, but if you want to take a look they are Mersey Docks and Harbour Board (Mann Island) and Futurist.
It’s been quite a while since I posted anything here. There are several reasons for that, but the main one is because 2019 has been a year of photography, and I post about that over at chrisroutledge.pictures. Since deciding to concentrate more of my time on visual art late in 2018, around the time of Carousel, I’ve had several projects on the go.
Firstly, I have work at the Liverpool Art Fair, which is being held this year at Liverpool’s Metquarter shopping mall, a space with remarkably good light for looking at pictures. The five pieces I have on show are all Liverpool based, and four of them come from my ongoing “Reflections on Liverpool” series. The fifth is the popular “Futurist” print shown here. I was interviewed recently for a short Q&A on the perennial subject of ‘photography as art’ over at the Liverpool Art Fair website.
There is a huge variety of interesting work on show at the art fair, all of which is for sale, and I highly recommend having a wander over to the Metquarter if you have some time to spare in Liverpool this summer (the show closes on September 1st).
Indeterminate Land. Heaton Cooper Studio Archive Gallery, Grasmere, October 9th-November 3rd.
My main project for the autumn is “Indeterminate Land,” a solo exhibition and book exploring our relationship with the landscape of the Lake District through the aftermath of ‘Storm Desmond’, a violent and destructive storm that struck Northern England and Southern Scotland in December 2015. I began photographing a short section of the river Rothay, near the village of Rydal during the storm, and in the months that followed, and the exhibition will include around 30 pieces of work looking at changes made to the landscape by the storm, and severe flooding. Working with various approaches to image making, including pinhole photography, I have also tried to explore the feelings of shock, and to some extent trauma, that followed from the storm, and to think about how the much mythologised landscape of the Romantic poets and painters manages to defy myth making. More information about Indeterminate Land is here. A signed and numbered limited edition book based on the project is now available to pre-order.
Indeterminate Land runs from 9th October to 3rd November 2019 at the Heaton Cooper Studio Archive Gallery, Grasmere.
The Jupiter Project is something I’ve been working on intermittently for quite a few years now with the poet Rebecca Goss; I take the pictures, she writes the words. This has never been a central project for either of us, but we are starting to gather a body of work now, and starting to think of where we might take it from here. With that in mind we’ve published our first 2017 post on the project website today. Click the image below to read the poem.
It is almost a month now since I attended the European Beer Bloggers’ and Writers’ Conference (EBBC) in Brussels and a blog post about it is long overdue. EBBC15 is the fourth conference of its type that I’ve attended (there have been five altogether) and the first to take place in continental Europe. The opportunity to learn about Belgian beer was irresistible.
Probably the best thing about these conferences is the opportunity to try a lot of different beers from a single geographic location, and of course to discuss them with knowledgeable, enthusiastic people. That’s probably why most of my photographs from the weekend are of people talking in bars, and people pouring beer. The few seconds it takes to pour beer into a glass are are always filled with joyful anticipation, so watching people doing it with skill and evident pride in what they are pouring is a great pleasure.
For the Belgian Family Brewers this was an opportunity to tell the world about their new cooperative venture, bringing together 22 longstanding brewing families to promote their beer and to show us “the rich diversity in our beer scenery.” As recent convert to Belgian beer, being able to taste many different beers close together, and to hear about them from the people who make them, was a great learning experience.
Of course the beer itself is what we were there for and throughout the weekend we were treated to the full range of what Belgium has to offer, from the fruitiest Kriek to the sourest Lambic. De Brabandere Browerij, producers of Petrus even showed us how they are reinventing the Belgian tradition of blending by suggesting drinkers do it themselves. All conference organisers should consider doing something similar to this. I’m looking forward to these blending packs appearing in the UK.
For me though, the highlight of the trip was the excursion to the Lambic breweries. Even though we had to cut it short to catch the train to the airport, the visits to Drie Fontainen and Boon breweries were an education and a privilege. Thanks to everyone who made the conference so enjoyable; it was great meeting old beer friends again, and making new ones. Reuben Grey at Tale of Ale has a great roundup. Here’s to next year.
A quick note to say that I’ve been awarded “Highly Commended” for a photograph of mine in the 2013 Bare Hands Poetry and Photography Competition. I’ve been enjoying Bare Hands’ mix of photography and poetry for about a year now and if you’re a fan of either of those things I recommend taking a look. The monthly journal is primarily web based, but there are also occasional anthologies. I should also say “thank you” to Rebecca Goss, who encouraged me to enter.
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There are only a few places in Britain where you can see red squirrels in the wild. Most have been driven out by the larger American grey squirrel. I snapped this one last weekend at Whinfell Forest near Penrith, Cumbria. I’m pleased it worked out so well shooting handheld in low light with a long-ish lens. Click the picture to make it bigger.