Constant Renewal

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Photography & Text by Derek Clark

Constant

ADJECTIVE

Occurring over a period of time.

Remaining the same over a period of time.

(of a person) Unchangingly faithful and dependable.

NOUN

A situation that does not change.

Glasgow, like most cities, is changing rapidly. But you may have noticed that the older something gets, the better the chance of survival. The Provan's Lordship is the oldest house in Glasgow. It's a stones-throw away from Glasgow Cathedral and was built by Bishop Andrew Muirhead for the chaplain of nearby St Nicholas Hospital in 1471. I was lucky to have the place to myself when I visited recently and I have to say that it was more than a little eerie. You can practically feel the history in each room as you make your way through the house.

Nearby graves at Glasgow Cathedral have alphabet gardens growing in the engravings of the tombstones. Nature takes back everything eventually and here the soil has blown into the channels, followed be seed. constant growth; Constant renewal. Nothing ever stands completely still.

A short walk towards the city centre reveals the latest area for architectural renewal. Glasgow College and the surrounding area has seen a massive change in the past few years with building after building being erected at great speed (at least for someone who lives outside the city). But if I had to put my money on which of these buildings would still be standing in 100 years, The old Provan's Lordship would win hands down.

An old London bus passes by the modern architecture, the rattle of the Diesel engine cutting through the quiet like a chainsaw. It heads toward the Provan's Lordship. A link between new and old.

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All Still

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By Patrick La Roque

January is usually a quiet time of year, but 2019 is different. My calendar is filled with judging, writing and shooting assignments, including a few days in Toronto at the end of the month for a rather important gig. Combined to holidays that were little more than a seven-days-a-week-xmas-playlist blur, the sense of renewal and opportunity for reflection are missing this time around.

I’m meditating again (or trying to...the brain is one crazy nervous beast) and over the past weeks I’ve searched, actively, for images that would bring me peace. Therapy through photography. It’s much too easy to get caught up in busyness otherwise—as Kevin and Dominique both expressed very well in their last essays.

So here’s some stillness...an illusion, while we gather our thoughts.

The Hidden Lane

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PHOTOGRAPHY AND TEXT BY DEREK CLARK

DECEMBER 20th, 2018

Back in March this year, I shot some pictures of The Hidden Lane. This post has been sitting as a draft since then as it didn’t tie in with whatever we were doing around that time on Kage. Although it’s a bit out of season, I thought it would be a good idea to put this out as my last Kage post of the year. Sort of clearing out the cupboard so to speak.

When I revisited this post I was struck by how bright and colourful it was. I’m not sure if it was denial or a sense of false hope, but it surprised me that 2017 was not all doom and gloom (even though most of it actually was).

MARCH 20th, 2017

Like the wardrobe leading to Narnia, a typical close on a Glasgow street leads to the Hidden Lane. To be honest, there is actually a sign telling passersby it's there (businesses gotta survive), but it's still a bit of a surprise when you go through the close and arrive inside the Lane.

Brightly coloured doors and even a large building painted in the brightest yellow paint let you know you have arrived somewhere a little different. Different for Glasgow at least as we're not known for bright colours on buildings (although some of the islands off the west coast do embrace that sort of thing). There is actually a slightly odd feeling of stepping into another country, no doubt helped by the sudden appearance of sunshine on the day I visited.

I stepped into the tea shop and ordered a cup of tea and a piece of walnut cake. Sipping my tea from an old China cup that reminds me of visiting my granny as a child, I chat with the waitress about the lane. She tells me that one of the offices belonged to an MP from the Green Party and another was used for restoring antique furniture. I ask if it's ok to take a few pictures inside the tea room and with permission, grab my X-Pro2 and X100F and shoot a few photographs. The waitress comments on my cameras and asks if they are old film cameras. I wish I had brought the Hasselblad as I had intended, but wanted to travel light as I would probably be doing a lot of walking today.

I step out of the tea room and into the cold air, I turn right and enter an alley with brightly coloured doors. The second door is open and I look inside to see a young woman restoring an antique bench. Stepping inside, and with her permission, I shoot a few pictures and chat to her while she works. The bench is around one hundred years old and when she has finished it will hopefully be in use for another hundred or so. Isn’t that what we all wish for? That our work will live on after we’ve gone?

100 Years And Still As Stupid

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By Derek Clark

The war to end all wars. Obviously, that was just a suggestion and not something to be taken too seriously, because it’s fair to say there have been a few wars since the first world war ended exactly a century ago on November 11th, 1918. I looked at the Google Machine to see how many wars there have been in the last hundred years, but it’s nearly impossible to get an accurate number. The number of deaths due to war in the 20th and 21st century is also hard to work out, but between 118 and 187 million, give or take.

It’s hard to figure us humans out as a species. We watch movies (for fun) that are mostly about killing each other. Lone gunmen shooting crowds of people are becoming the norm and each time it happens there’s an outrage (for a very short time at least), but we don’t bat an eye when thousands die every day on the other side of the world.

I went to the Remembrance Day parade in Glasgow on Sunday. It was busier than previous years obviously, due to the 100 anniversary of the end of WW1. It’s an emotional experience and an important event. I have so much respect for the men and women in the forces, but not so much for the powers that be, who send them to foreign soil based often on reasons far removed from those of World War II, but more to do with power or money.

We commemorate. But we don’t seem to learn.

Tokyo Mannequin

BY BERT STEPHANI

I’ve just spent 4 jet-lagged days in Japan, followed by 2 hours in a bus, 3 hours at the airport and 13 hours in an airplane seat that was designed for garden gnomes. My mind is still somewhere over Siberia so I’ll just put up the few pictures from the trip that I’ve managed to edit on the plane and I’ll follow up with more soon.

Rubicon

A limit that when passed or exceeded permits of no return and typically results in irrevocable commitment.

By Patrick La Roque

I don’t understand anything anymore. How facts suddenly become fluid and the educated suspect. I don’t understand the hypocrisy, this failure of empathy, hellbent on the annihilation of others. I don’t understand the messianic appeal of an indecent, cruel and profoundly imbecilic buffoon on anyone, let alone millions of people. Not now. Not after almost two years of verifiable lies and daily obscenities. Not after bomb threats and the murder of innocents. And yet, enough Americans still stand and cheer at those “political rallies” to stoke the fires. Sparks to dry kindling. Hatred and vilification elevated to spectacle and bloodsport. Lock her up. Lock him up.

Lock everybody up.

Tomorrow the future will shift, one way or another. And if the pendulum doesn’t swing back towards decency, if unhinged anger, racism and conspiracies should win against truth, respect and civilized discourse...a new world order will be complete. Because unlike 2016, this time the choice will have been made with eyes wide open, with the full knowledge of what the man truly is—and what he stands for. This time, it will signal validation.

There’s a river ahead, red with blood, burning crosses lining the banks on the other side. Move away, please. Regardless of political leanings, help steer the ship back.

I still want to believe in humanity.

Signs Of Life

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PHOTOGRAPHY & TEXT BY DEREK CLARK

I held my sister up as she waited for her final pill of the day, the eighteenth. We were alone and she looked at me and shook her head. I asked her why she was shaking her head and her reply was “What kind of life is this?”. 
This was the first time she sounded like she'd had enough and I struggled to muster an argument for the defence. But before I found one she said: “I suppose it's a life”. I nodded my head, unable to speak. But this time was not because I didn’t have an answer, but because emotion hit me in the back of the throat without warning. Emotion that chokes your words and throws out awkward silence for all present to endure.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was chatting to Steve and his wife Amanda about alternative treatments that he and my sister could/should try. We were at Photo Talks, which Steve ran with Phil Paine in St Albans. I had flown down and had the honour of being the final speaker on the final night. Photo Talks had been a great success, but due to Steve’s cancer diagnosis and Phil’s imminent move to Wales, it was coming to an end.

Shortly after that, we invited Steve to be a guest writer/photographer on our June 2017 issue. Steve’s essay was called ‘I Live To See Another Day’ and as it turns out, was published one year before his death. Steve was already writing his personal blog and telling his very private story in a very public way. He showed great bravery and courage in that blog and It’s well worth sitting down with a coffee and reading Steve’s story in his own words. 
My heart sank when I read the following words in his post titled ‘Playing To The Gallery’.

“My liver is failing. This is the end game, and this will be my last post. Nobody can quite believe it, but I know I have days not weeks.”

That indeed was Steve’s final post, but his work will live on for many years, which thankfully we will be able to consume soon. Neale James is in the final stage of editing a documentary film about Steve which will be coming really soon. Books of Steve's work are already in the pipeline too.

**UPDATE** The film by Neale James can be found at the foot of this page.

Cancer is the worst of diseases, but it brings out the best in people. I see it all around me right now. My parents and my brother in law rise to new heights each day with their compassion, strength, love and unwavering commitment. Falling apart will have to wait for another day because today is about care.

Human kindness is overflowing,
but I think it’s going to rain today
— Randy Newman

P.s.
I’m not sure this set of pictures fits with the text. My idea, as the title says, was to show signs of life without actually having any people in the pictures. I also wanted to take a walk in the streets with my camera, as Steve did in his final months and made sure to include a few bikes as Steve was a keen cyclist.

UPDATE 21st July 2018

This is the film by Neale James that I mentioned above.

Live In The Moment

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PHOTOGRAPHY & TEXT BY DEREK CLARK

I’m a housefly called God and I don’t give a fuck...
...I’m the atomizer
I’m the vaporizer
I turn everything to crud
I like it here in your flesh and blood
I’m the elevator man don’t you see?
— Nick Cave

Live in the now. Live in the moment. That's what I'm constantly telling myself these days. But that's not always easy when you have a cloud hanging over the future as you know it. But I'm trying hard.

We tend to blame the past and put too much expectation on the future. But the past is gone and can’t be changed, and the future is uncertain and might not even exist for some of us. The present is a gift that should not be squandered. It might even be possible that the present is as good as it will ever be.

My kids are ten and twelve and in a few years they will fly the nest and start their own family. We will see them less and less as they move forward in their lives. I'm conscious that this is just a stage in my life and it's by no means a long-term thing. I can keep thinking about the good and the bad things that lie ahead, or I can open my eyes and see everything that is perfect at this moment in time.

Waypoints

Waypoints

Surry Hills, my suburb in Sydney, is a bit different to everywhere I've lived before.

The history of this area is much more visible, in the buildings and streets that surround me every day; and being so close to the centre of Sydney means I spend much more of my time walking from place to place, spotting little details that haven't changed in a hundred years or more.

So my mental map of this city, built up over the last five years of living here, is based on these markers, these waypoints - the old church, the loading dock, the grocer - that tell me how far it is home, where to turn, which block this is…

L'ÂME GRISE

BY VINCENT BALDENSPERGER

Maître de thé et artiste sensible aux multiples talents, Rizü Takahashi donne vie à la matière. Bercé depuis l'enfance par l'essence du wabi-sabi, il quitte un beau jour et par amour sa montagne de Mizunami et s’installe dans un petit village au cœur du sud-ouest de la France. Atelier, pavillon de thé et four traditionnel anagama, c’est un voyage au levant, une rencontre rare et inspirante, la découverte de l’Âme grise de la céramique japonaise…