Sunday, 18 April 2010

"Say fromage .... "

A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.
Ansel Adams

A while ago ... actually sometime ago, long before the Yukky Lump appeared, I asked my friend Bubbles a favour. “If I was to die ... would you arrange an exhibition of some of my photos ... perhaps just a dozen of them ...? Of course!” she replied. Then after a moment of two of consideration she said ... “but does the death bit have to be part of the equation ... I would much rather help you do one whilst you are alive and kicking ..."

After I had recovered from my diagnosis in August (well sort of recovered ... I don’t think I will ever really come to terms with it),  I decided to make the most of my involuntarily time out and set myself two goals, and one of them was to do that photography exhibition. Ironically, my new vulnerability had given me the confidence to go ahead with it ... but I didn't appreciate at the time that my photography mojo was going to take a serious bashing.

Photography is one of my true passions. I remember the very first time I was allowed to use a camera. I went on a school trip to the Roman baths in Bath and my mum let me take her Box Brownie. I got on the bus and everyone else had one too ... and I recall being really fascinated by the fact they came in different styles and colours. Since then photography has always featured in my life ... though at some points more so than others. In my early twenties I purchased a 35mm Canon EOS ... but then some years on the children came along and didn’t have so much time ... then I bought a cheap and cheerful digital to record their early days ... before I later invested in some more heavy weight equipment.

My pals are use to me constantly carrying my camera in my hand or around my neck. My bike even has a pouch on the handlebars so I can easily pedal around and whip it out at a moment’s notice. I remember me and My Little Friend cycling around Poitou Charentes a couple of years ago ... at the beginning of the holiday she would look at me and then out at the landscape to where my lens was pointing and wail “I can’t see the picture ...” but after two weeks of observing me ... literally watching me take hundreds of photos ... she got the idea ... and would get really excited as the shutter clicked and would exclaim “I can see the picture!” She and her family even have a special term ... “Oh it is very Paula-resque” ... which they use to describe a photo ... or something that I might take a photo of.

So what has happened with the photography over the last few months? Well not much really. I am not sure why ... probably because I haven’t being getting out and about much ... and on top of that, because of treatment, two of my proposed French holidays were knocked on the head ...

When I went to Wound Clinic a few weeks ago Nurse G asked me when I was due to see Dr J again. I said I didn’t know and so she logged on to the computer and checked. “Oh ... next Wednesday” she said. “No”. I replied. “I am not coming in next week. I am going away next week. Since August I have cancelled two holidays and I am not giving up another one.” “That’s OK” she assured me “it is only a check up we will postpone it a week. Where are you going ... somewhere nice?” “Only Cornwall ... but it will be an overdue break.” She nodded and replied “Cornwall can be lovely ... especially if the sun shines ...”

The first couple of days were a bit grotty weather-wise. Grey and damp ... but on Wednesday I woke to glorious blue skies and sunshine. We drove into Padstow ... now jokingly nicknamed Padstein ... and actually saw the renowned chef walking up the hill ... though it was funny not to see Chalky dancing at his feet. We met up with Lil’sis, her husband and That Ruddy Dog, who had chosen a great day to join us, and we all jumped on the little ferry and rode over to Rock. Once there we walked along waterfront, admiring the beautiful and impressive houses, before settling down at a restaurant for a little alfresco lunch.

Just after our food was served I turned to Lil’sis and said “I had to laugh on our first morning here.  Tinker woke and asked if we had bought some pain au chocolat. He thought we were in France! We obviously spend too much time there!” “Well ... you can hardly talk” jibed S, “sat here with your mussels and glass of wine ... anybody would think you were there too.” And I could have been ... I could have been in Cornwall ... or Poitou ... or even Cape Cod. The sun was shining ... the sea was glistening ... and I closed my eyes and sat back ... relaxed ... feeling happy and content ...

The weather remained good and the following days we did more of the same ... packing picnic bags, books and various bats and balls and went off to Polzeath and Constantine Bay. And ... it was there ... at Constantine ... that I decided to pick up the camera and leave the beach and wander over to the rocky cliff. The huge waves were pounding into the cove ... spraying high into the air ... and ... for the first time in ages ... I was captivated. Which is one of the reasons I enjoy photography so much ... I just lose all my senses ... I become totally ignorant of what is around me ... my mind become totally focussed on what I am attempting to capture ... I enter a world of my own. And, it was there, as I waited for each wave to break, and I sat with baited breath, staring through the view finder, with my finger on the shutter, that for the first time in ages I felt that old familiar photography passion. Later, as I walked back to the beach I thought about a newspaper article I read earlier that day...

Now, even before the arrival of the Yukky Lump, I wasn’t a save-it-for-best kind of girl. I couldn’t understand the point of buying a shiny new car but never driving it just in case it might get dirty or scratched ... or accepting a beautiful solitaire but never wearing it, because of fear that the rock might fall out ... so to me the thought of owning a camera and never using it is unbelievable.

According to the morning paper, camera king Leica has teamed up with fashionistas Hermes, and are going to sell a special edition M7 camera. Just a hundred of them. I must admit they are cute ... clad in special orange calfskin ... delivered in special silk lined and linen covered boxes. But the cuteness comes at a price ... £8,735 ... to be exact. And, what is so sad, is that most of these M7s will remain in their designer boxes ... as just breaking the seal could mean a four grand depreciation. Of course, the fact it is actually a camera is totally irrelevant. It could be vase ... or a picture ... it is a collectable ... something to be admired and not used. What a waste.

Just before my operation I hunted down my friend Caerphilly who works at the hospital and who organises an annual art exhibition. I have entered twice before and have sold a number of photo canvases. It is obviously nice when people say that like your pictures ... but when someone actually chooses to buy one ... and voluntarily displays it in their home ... it is a real compliment. Last year a hospital consultant was so pleased with his purchase that he even sent me a photo of my photo hung in his living room.

I take it you are running the exhibition again this year? What date is it?” I asked Caerphilly. “Oh ... I am sorry ... we are not doing it this year ... I have just sent a note out.” “Oh no ... I was just considering my entries” I said disappointed. “I tell you what” she replied. “the current exhibition at the Chapel gallery is due to come down ... would you like to do your own exhibition there? Your photos would be suitable for such a sensitive environment. There is room for about a dozen pictures. I'll take you down there”.   So me and Bubbles followed her and took a look.

So it is happening. My very own exhibition. And not only that ... an exhibition at my hospital ... at the hospital where I was born ... where my mother sadly died ... where I tragically lost my first baby ... but went on to celebrate the birth of two healthy sons. The hospital where I was told that I have a huge Yukky Lump ... and where the wonderful health professionals have shrunk it ... removed it ... and got me back on track ... to enjoy the things I love doing ... like taking photos ...

So it looks like I am to achieve one of the goals that I set out to do last Autumn. The other one ....? Well ... maybe not ...

So what was it?

Well ... it was to learn French ...and I admit ... I am not progressing so well on that front. I still can’t enquire “What time is the next train to Lyon?” ... or “Do you have this shoe in a size 5?” .... but heck ... I can I get by with the important stuff ..

Je voudrais des moules ... et une bouteille du vin blanc, s'il vous plait ... oooh la la ...”

To see the Cornwall pics come over to mine - click here


  1. Lovely photos love. That is so important to set goals and for fill them. Good for C x

  2. Fantastic photos, Paula. A writer and a photographer, you certainly are a woman of many talents!

    Happy healing!

    M xx

  3. Oh Paula that did make me laugh!!! Nothing like getting your priorities right - who needs a train when there's lovely grub to be eaten??!!
    Good to hear you sounding so upbeat.

  4. I am not sure if my comments are reaching you.... if they are the please ignore this repeat one :)

    Am thrilled about your exhibition - well done!!


  5. Great to see your gems popping up on my Flickr contacts page Paula. I popped by and it sounds like you've got some good stuff going on for you. best of luck with it all - David

  6. Paula i'm so thrilled about the exhibition, where and where exactly??
    I have seriously thought about buying one of your photos, they are so beautiful, I just need to decide which.
    I love the new ones of Constantine. Took the boys there surfing, it what truly breathtaking. I took some "snaps"
    I so envy your talent, well done for sorting the exhibition i'm certain people will really appreciate your talent too.
    How exciting xx


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