the endless shapes of nature

Images: Gustav Willeit. Words: Gustav Willeit & Melanie Kettner-

“For after all what is man in nature? A nothing in relation to infinity, all in relation to nothing, a central point between nothing and all and infinitely far from understanding either. The ends of things and their beginnings are impregnably concealed from him in an impenetrable secret. He is equally incapable of seeing the nothingness out of which he was drawn and the infinite in which he is engulfed.”
Blaise Pascal

Gustav: The sublime according to Immanuel Kant is the sense of awe that man feels when faced with the greatness of nature – when it shows its more peaceful side, but even more so when unleashing its dreadful forces, making each and every one of us feel our smallness, our extreme fragility, our finitude. Yet at the same time, right when becoming aware of that, we intuit the infinite and realize that our soul is capable of far more than our senses can grasp.

Gustav: The mountains, depicted in their architecture of incredible variants and infinite chromatic shades, unveil another essential yet invisible element: silence – the kind of silence inviting the viewer to listen to it. This silence is not disturbed by the presence of the human figure, which is placed in these landscapes like an attempt to present a familiar and graspable element. Yet the effect is quite the contrary: the human figure is not reassuring but escapes reason by raising a feeling of senselessness.The choice of composition is expressed in a harmony of lines and volumes. The shots are set in the wild lands of the North: the dimensions broaden, vast deserted areas stretch among rocky formations. A straight line is separating the plains from the mountains. The latter rise towards the horizon, which is still intangible, seeing it as a chromatic distinction from the sky is impossible.

Melanie: Silence. Probably the most important inspiration we can get from the encounter with nature. Due to the outer noise around us we aren’t capable anymore to find our inner silence regularly, a place where we can find some quietness, peace and regeneration. We do need this silence more than we know. Often these days people fear the solitude and stillness. We should face them, as we need to be in harmony with our own strong parts that foster us best. We don’t get to know them if there is too much noise around us.

Melanie: “our soul is capable of far more than our senses can grasp”, Gustav has written. This is so true.We often underestimate our own capabilities and inner or outer resources. And at the same time we overestimate the power other persons have on us with words or deeds as well and what an impact difficult experiences have on us too. We can learn a lot from nature in this sense. Nature is regenerating soon, nature has a strong will to fight, nature is full of pride and self-esteem. We should concentrate and trust on our positive energy without focusing too much on bad events, bad news, fears, future.

© all pictures Gustav Willeit with kind permission

Really touching Gutav’s work. Very Interesting is Gutav’s  series, named PERSPE, originated from a fragment of the German word “Perspektive” (perspective), it’s a statement alluding to the composition work, which is based on digital technology. The artist traces an unnatural perspective that is  invented, that creates “different” places, thus reaching perfect symmetry often disrupted by a discordant element. Absolutely stunning to learn more about it dear readers:

More about Gustav’s impressive work and his wonderful book here and here.

As every year we are having a break in December. I love it when the rhythm of time is getting slower before Christmas. I’ll be back in January. Take very good care of yourself my dear followers! Happy to hear from you, thanks so much for all your kind messages! I’ll be back in January. Yours, Melanie

the hidden place

Images & Text: Minna Rissanen-

Because of my childhood experiences, a close connection to nature is an essential part of my identity. Hiking trips with my family, where I learned to embrace wilderness, launched me on a lifelong journey. I live with the environment and landscapes, observing them and reflecting on my observations. I wander the forests by myself or with my dogs, shooting fowl in the woodlands and the taiga. All my roles give me a wide perspective, which makes the landscape a wonderfully rich experience.

 

The main theme of my photography is the experiential nature of landscapes, which I approach by spending time in the great outdoors. Going slowly—a stone’s throw away from my home or further, off the beaten track—I survey the matter of terrains. Bushes and thickets, forests and open uplands inspire me to an adventure with images. As a visual artist, I prefer photography as a vehicle of expression. The camera is an extension of my body and a document of my experiences. A swift medium that catches the moment, photography is the optimal medium for me.

Making art and leaving for the outdoors are similar experiences for me: I feel inspired and look forward to what is going to happen. I approach the landscape from the perspective of a human, phenomenological geography, which examines experiences, emotions, and meanings related to places. I am awed by the objects of admiration that ordinary-looking terrain and environments can offer. I try to find the boundary between the imaginary and the real. My focus is on something I like to call the hidden place. When looked at again and again, with an open mind, a hidden place discloses new visual scenes. A familiar hidden place is not empty or uninspiring for me. With my photos, I reflect on the concept of a place as a lived situational experience. In addition to its properties that can be perceived through the senses, I explore the images, atmosphere, and genius loci—the spirit—of a place.

My interpretation of the landscape is not based on movement only, while documenting the passing and changing view. Instead, my photographs also transmit the feeling of a standstill and immobility. The northern, Arctic environment, both natural and cultural, is my spiritual home and frame of mind. The visually fascinating Utsjoki area in the northernmost Finnish Lapland and the Varanger Peninsula in northern Norway attract me with their silence. Surrounded by the rich nuances and forces of nature, life is uncluttered and simple and allows living quietly in the moment. Utsjoki and Varanger are not far apart, but their sceneries are widely different. A sparsely populated upland, bare or covered only by dwarf birches, changes into a green pasture for sheep and then, closer to the Barents Sea, a void and barren moonscape. The Sami native region is a fascinating mixture of contrasts and variation. The cultural variety, changes in the seasons and weather, and variations in the amount of light attract the eye to the landscape over and over again, unforeseeable and puzzling.

© all pictures Minna Rissanen with kind permission

The North enchants and, like a physical force, has infected me with an incurable Lapland madness. Photography is my way to empowerment and longing. Melancholy is a feature of my imagery. I watch the open sea and the infinity opening from the top of the fjeld. Slightly melancholic and sad, I examine the landscape using a “romantic look”. A romantic look, for me, is a peaceful and personal, spiritual relation between the experiencer and the object. When examining the landscape, I notice I am looking at myself. The landscape is my experience and my mirror.

Minna is a visual artist from Finland, specialising in photographic art. Her work has been on display in art museums all over Finland. Items from her photo series Herbario Mystique will be shown in the Lappeenranta Art Museum in Finland as part of the Kaakko2018 exhibition in early 2018. Herbario Mystique is an intimate praise of plants—blossoming, withering, and dead—and the mystery of nature. At present, she is working on her Vuonnabahta photography series (working title).

More about Minna here.

Take good care my dear readers, follow us on Instagram in the meantime for more inspiration here.

Yours, Melanie Kettner

ethereal sceneries

Images: Maegan Brown. Words: Maegan Brown & Melanie Kettner-

Maegan: Through my research, Iceland looked so unfamiliar and the landscape so visually diverse, I was instantly captivated and knew I had to get there. My partner and I travelled around the whole of Iceland for two weeks in winter, where we slept in a Jeep Wrangler and lived off baked beans, tuna and hot chocolate. Most of our adventures usually involve us being uncomfortable or in sub 0 degrees Celsius, so roughing it for two weeks in the middle of an Icelandic winter seemed completely normal. It was the best way to experience Iceland as the freedom allowed us to be more spontaneous and flexible with how and where we spent our time.

Iceland is a really incredible place, it’s extremely beautiful yet dangerously powerful, defined by its dramatic landscape with massive glaciers, volcanoes, geysers and geothermal hot springs. The sheer size of the mountains and volcanic landscape made me feel small, which I absolutely loved, because it provided me with a fresh perspective of how big the world is and how tiny our individual lives are. I think it’s so easy to get caught up on the small things in life, and it’s very easy to become overwhelmed with the amount of content we’re consuming every single day… sometimes you just need to get away somewhere remote, away from all the noise and just hit reset. We could all do with a gentle reminder to broaden our minds and not sweat the small stuff – it’s incredibly refreshing and liberating! Being amongst the Icelandic landscape and sleeping in a 4WD, I really experienced the true force of nature (the strong chilling winds, snow etc) and it heightened my senses. It made me feel completely alive and vulnerable – I felt alert, free, terrified, anxious, liberated and calm. You realise that nature is much more powerful than mankind.

Melanie: Wilderness and lonesome nature endow you with a distinctive peace of mind as it shows us that we are not as omnipotent as society is suggesting us. This omnipotent conceitedness is delusive and misleading and main source of all the different faces stress is inflicting on us. If we aren’t as mighty as it erroneously seems, we can trust fate, fortune or the true force of nature and our veritable inner voice. So, then we can relax as obviously it isn’t up to us to decide everything in every single situation. Sure, planing and organizing and in the end deciding is an important part of our practical life. But our society is definitely exaggerating in this direction and people have forgot to let things evolve, to let time unfold the direction we should follow.

Nature is the most impressive reminder to keep in mind, that deciding is nothing we can manage exclusively with our intellect. It isn’t wise to push forward and react immediately to every single stimulus. Sometimes it is far better to take your time and wait. Wilderness forces us to accept to hold on, as we have to consider simple facts as darkness, freezing, guidance and solitude. While looking at Maegan’s breathtaking pictures it crosses through my mind, that art obviously has the same power as nature to remind us of pausing and contemplating.

© all pictures Maegan Brown with kind permission

Maegan is an artist located in Melbourne. More about her otherworldly and magic work of untouched and deserted landscapes here. Her eye captures abstract patterns and textures found within etherial sceneries, often taken from aerial heights, these mysterious and otherworldly compositions challenge our senses beyond the familiar.Follow her on Instagram here.

Take good care dear followers! Yours, Melanie Kettner

observing the traces of humans

Images & Words: Joakim Blomquist-

Whenever I travel I bring my camera with me, at all times. Travelling is by far my biggest motivation and inspiration. The people you meet and the new environments you experience is for me the trigger to do more work. My main priority when documenting my surroundings is observing people and traces of them. For many years now I have been documenting the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France. A lively beachwalk with tourists all year round but also a natural promenade for people resident in Nice. What interests me is the everyday life and the contrast between the people living here and the visitors. The clash of the extravagance and the ordinary.

I am also curious about what happens to this kind of destination when the beach restaurants have closed and when there’s rain instead of sunshine. During autumn and winter there aren’t much people and tourists. But still, the ones that are there, they go out regardless of the weather. I am now working on new projects exploring new destinations but also to dig deeper in human’s prescence in nature. The behavior we have when travelling is extraordinary and the need to document our stay is remarkable and often quite funny. The interest in beach environments started in Nice some years ago. People are very relaxed and in their own universes not aware of their surroundings. I also think that it is aesthetically beautiful. The images displayed here are all part of my photographic journey.

© All images by Joakim Blomquist

Joakim Blomquist was born in Zurich, but he grew up in Gothenburg, Sweden. He currently works as a photographer and Creative Director in Gothenburg, Sweden. He has a Bachelor’s degree from the School of Design and Crafts in Gothenburg and has studied Graphic Design at Camberwell College of Arts in London. He has been photographing all his life but has developed his photographic expression during the last ten years.

More about Joakim here and here and contact him for inquiries: joakim@joakimb.se

He had several exhibitions in the last years in Sweden.

Hope your are all well dear readers! Take good care! Yours, Melanie Kettner

fragments of poetry that survived

Images: Petros Koublis & Words: Melanie Kettner and Petros Koublis-

Words: Melanie Kettner:

Derek Jarman changed my world. I bought his book „Derek Jarman´s Garden“ in the 90s. Since then I carried it with me, can’t tell how often I read it, reading it was like meditation, so calming. Derek Jarman, mythic film director and artist died in 1994, only 52 years old after a long battle against disease. In this year my little son was born. Soon after my son’s birth I discovered Dereks book with the wonderful pictures of Howard Sooley. In the 80s, Derek Jarman already sick, bought Prospect Cottage, a tiny fishing hut from 1900 in Dungeness, Southengland, located in the midst of no man’s land, a stony and desolated area, near the sea and in sighting distance of a nuclear power station.

He found this cottage, a little treasure in a forbidding desert, while traveling through. Always having been a passionate gardener, his first book came to his mind: „Beautiful flowers and how to grow them“ and his childhood garden in the Villa Zuassa in Italy: A gorgeous garden full of peonies, lupines, camellia. He decided to buy Prospect Cottage. The landscape of Dungeness, forgotten, lost in revery, touched him awkardly, yet deeply. In the middle of this inhospitable desert of nowhere, on a dry, unfertile soil he cultivated a blooming garden while loosing his eyesight and facing near death. A flowering desert garden full auf meaningful sculptures of metal or wood, objects found on long walks on the beach or built by himself or friends. A garden full of magic signs, meaningful circles of stones and flowers, spearheads, dreamy objects of steel, a garden seemingly created by a Druid. Gorse, sea kale, salvia, sea pea, fennel, lichen, lavender and thyme magically began to grow. While working in his garden, Derek wore a Morrocan caftan and gloves to protect his skin, as he became light-sensitive. He indeed looks like a Druid. Maybe he was one?

Derek’s seemingly senseless struggle for a blooming garden near a nuclear power station, he soon would loose anyway, was so inspiring to me. He knew he would die soon, but Derek managed to grow on this unfertile soil magnificent flowers and plants. He gave life to a lifeless desert and created a garden with meaning. „Paradise haunts garden“, Jarman wrote in his diary. I think this garden was an attendant to him on his way. And it still is to so many people, still making a pilgrimage to Dungeness to see this wondrous place. Derek Jarman cultivated a garden pointing to death, yet holding life in it, indeed a cottage with the prospect of hope.

Words: Petros Koublis:

There are some stories that stay with you. They leave a strong impression and become a reference that influences the way we think. A story like this one: In the late nineteenth century, near the city of Oxyrhynchus, in Upper Egypt, an ancient rubbish dump was discovered. It was an incredible discovery as it brought into surface thousands of manuscripts, containing countless of Greek and Latin literary works. Seventy-five large volumes of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri have been published since then and the restoration of the findings continues to this day. Something extremely interesting happened along the way.

About a year ago, Dirk Obbink, a papyrologist at the University of Oxford, announced that two new poems by the Greek lyric poet Sappho, born in the late seventh century BC, have been recovered. A poem about her brothers and another one about unrequited love. Every new discovery of a work from ancient literature is always welcome as a miracle. Sappho’s poetry was collected into nine books in the library of Alexandria. Unlike the First Folio, the selection of her poems was lost and today only fragments of her poetry survive. Her legend is mostly based on the reputation she had in antiquity, been known as the Tenth Muse. The most famous fragment that managed to reach our times is also the most indicative of her pioneer vision and unique contribution to our civilization. It is the Fragment 130:

“Ἔρος δηὖτέ μ᾽ ὀ λυσιμέλης δόνει, γλυκύπικρον ἀμάχανον ὄρπετον”

In English it is translated like “Once again Love, the loosener of limbs, shakes me, that bittersweet irresistible serpent”. There is something unique in this verse, indicative of Sappho’s immeasurable importance. In these very words there is a manifestation of a whole new aspect of the human experience, a revelation of a magnificent dimension of our spirit, the most touching realization of our consciousness. It is not the sensuality of the poem, but a certain aspect of it. This is the first time in known history that someone uses the word “bittersweet“ to describe an emotion. Art always preserves within its core an abstract dimension, something that surpasses the effects of form and the significance of the content. It unfolds its power slowly, with a cosmic persistence. A work of art is also a trace. It encompasses aspects of the human experience and creates a vehicle for them.

We cannot tell who exactly was the one who decided to write down her words and there is no way to track the journey of this fragment through the eons. But her words survived. And they have changed the way we fall in love for eternity.

© All images with kind permission Petros Koublis

Text source Petros Koublis here. And read more essays of Petros here.

So grateful to have found Petro’s whispering images and his essay that tell so much about finding a treasure in a seemingly nowhere’s land. His words have the nucleus of the magic sense of the written word as the book of Derek Jarman has. Both little stories symbolize for me the urge of a hope in a vastness, that our condition as human beings actually is, a vastness in which we need some hold, facing the question of life and death.

Petros is a New York and Athens based photographer. He discovered photography in 2000, after having been a painter before, which the beholder can sense when looking at his magic pieces. His work has been presented in exhibitions, and frequently published on international Art & Design platforms and magazines. More about his work here.

Derek Jarman’s book is published by thamesandhudson. It can be ordered here.

Take care dear readers! Yours, Melanie Kettner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

finding myself in front of the silence

Images & Words: Olga Segura-

I have always been very shy. I liked to be alone in my room drawing and imagining my stories. I loved listening to piano music while I wrote down all that passed through my mind in that moment. But my unconscious art interest told me that I hadn’t found yet that type of artistic expression that would make me feel alive. It was then, that I discovered dancing. I danced about six years, years that let me release my fear of expressing myself freely without thinking about what people might say, a period in which I met people that had the same curiosity like me, I learned to see the world differently and to express my feelings when I felt alone. I wished to make a living of art because that was what I needed to be myself. In that moment appeared in me a strong connection between me and art in a general term.

One summer, on a trip in Tunisia, I met a woman who considered photography as an essential source in her life. She told me: “photography is my magic, it captures these little and special moments in our lives and save them as a little treasures of our existence”. Hearing these words, I suddenly realized that I wanted to learn photography. My father gave me his analog camera, a yashica Fx3 and two 35mm expired film full of dust that we found inside a box in the attic. Then, I bought my nikon d90 that it’s still works perfectly, so this way I discovered my photography passion.

All my learning process was self-taught. Magazines, books, exhibitions and a lot of practice. I had the luck to meet three special people who are currently still present in my life. With them I discovered the outdoors beauty. I began to go outside more and more every time I could, until it turned into a need. How many things I urged to learn, discover and explore! A whole world full of magic and mystery, that despite the fact that the years went through, would be at the same place, so I could go back every time I wanted. This need to escape from the world of my routine was getting more urgent in my life, not just with the aim to photograph my environmet but for myself as well. I needed to feel good with myself, to believe that I was on the right way.

The fact of finding myself alone in front of the silence that emerged from each landscape made me realize that time was more valuable than I thought. The time flies away very quickly and I need to keep all memories that I can without letting them go. I’ve learned to observe, to be patient, as if each photograph could become a picture on the wall. It has always been difficult for me to express myself, so instead of speaking I communicate through my art. Meanwhile I prefer to write some words about what I feel in these moments. It has been about one year that I’ve developed interest in writing about my photos. Every time I upload a picture on Instagram, I write some lines, always in Catalan, my native language, about what this pic makes me feel. It’s like creating memories. And maybe, you will ask where my inspiration comes from? I don’t know actually or maybe I’ve never asked myself. But as I said before, my strong connection with music let me disappear in some way, my mind completely goes blank when I’m taking photos. I put my headphones on and the music starts, like if someone had switched off the light of the whole world and only me and my soul exist.

Talking now about this selection of pictures, I’m trying to make people sense what I was feeling in that moment looking at the beauty of those landscapes. I was trying to create a mystery mood playing with the fog, the light and shadows, and the mountain shapes that emerged before my eyes. I wanted to get this pure air in my pictures. It’s like climbing up to the highest mountain and at the top breathing in for the first time with the sensation of being the king of the world. This pictures are taken in two differents places, both in Catalonia, Spain, but both with the same aim: to escape from reality or even lose every notion of reality.

And I would like to end with the most valuable advice that a very special person gave me one day when I went through a bad time in my life, and I repeat it to me every day of my life. “to have artistic restlessnesses is not being lost, to have artistic restlessnesses is the best that can happen to you.”

© all pictures Olga Segura with kind permission

More about Olga’s wonderful work here and follow her on Instagram here.

Take good care dear readers! Melanie Kettner

another planet by Morgane Erpicum

Pictures: Morgane Erpicum & Words: Melanie Kettner-

Iceland is a country full of ancient stories, fables, fay, and nordic spirits. It looks like an island of another and mysterious planet, the moon maybe or a region where some other beings hide. Some of us obviously can’t stop looking at this landscape, either as traveler or as beholder of magic pictures as the following ones of Morgane. She captures this mystical atmosphere of the legendary region in her significant images. She shares with us her Icelandic winter atmosphere with soft and icy powder colours. Morgane was born in Brussels and is shooting film since 2015. She is still seduced by analog photography’s grain, textures and majestic latitude. For her pictures she is in pursuit of a sensation of belonging and serenity, that you can feel, when looking at her magic pieces:

Iceland was formed for about 24 million years and is thus relatively young at age, the plateau is located in the North Atlantic Ocean between Greenland and Norway. The island is centered on the boundary between the Eurasian and the North American plate, above a hotspot, the Iceland plume, which might be the cause of the formation of Iceland itself. On Iceland you see volcanism, rift valleys, basalt formations, seemingly unreal craters and geothermal phenomena such as geysers, the island is one of the most active volcanic regions on Earth. Iceland’s wide mass of rivers and lakes are the result of glaciers melting.

It seems as if Iceland changes the visitor in some way. It activates our inner stories, voices and dreams. It helps finding our inspiration and it grounded us at the same time, as the wild nature there is so strong in its appearances that the island fixes you focused on the human essentials, stories and provenience. The Icelandic culture is grounded on the storytelling and the many legends and myths are fascinating us. Interestingly the nordic countries are on the first places in the global happiness rankings for 2017. Norway has jumped from 4th place in 2016 to 1st place this year, followed by Denmark and Iceland. Surely intriguing to seize the reasons for this happiness, personal and social. Maybe to overcome the struggling with a strong nature full of different adversities let you cherish life more, a life that by implication is embedded in the rhythm and presetting of nature.

©all pictures Morgane Erpicum with kind permission

I really love the magnitude of the North, its pride, its dominance that let you humbly accept that a single human being is always connected to nature. This insight draws you to more inner calmness and to celebrate daily life with all its seemingly negligible details.

More about gifted Morgane and her fascinated work here and in the Northletters archive. More about the happiness report here.

Take good care of yourself dear followers! Yours, Melanie Kettner

delicate fables of our soul

Images: Silvia Perez Zarza & Words: Melanie Kettner-

When dreaming we get in contact with the unconscious, trying to tell us what we cannot see or feel or understand when we are awake. When we are busy with our daily tasks we don’t have the capability of attending to our inner voice, there are so many stimuli keeping us occupied with responding, with organizing our day. Besides there are feelings we don’t want to accept deliberately, sometimes we try to avoid to handle some issue in our life. Then our dreams resume the challenge to inform us, trying to “talk” to us with a language wich we might hopefully understand. But as it seems, this is a kind of algorithmic and figurative language not always so accessible to us, that needs to be deciphered.

As a psychological coach I worked with my clients on their dreams. It was a rewarding assignment, a privilege to be the person hearing these very personal narrations of seemingly unreal night stories, but not so unreal in the end, rather delicate fables of our soul. I worked with my own dreams too, to learn to adopt dream interpretation. It was a magic time, because the more you work on your dreaming, the more your dreams are talking to you. Behind the dream the unconscious is trying to communicate with our mind.

When starting with dreamwork it is important to have a pencil and sheet of paper near your bed, so that you can make some notes regarding your memories directly, otherwise you often will forget immediately what you have dreamed. The following day you can work with your notes. If you forget the content, your unconscious might send some kind of messages to you nonetheless, nearly  or totally unnoticed by your conscious level. These may be some “signs” as the Freudian slip or forgetfulness, some detail you see, but you can’t get what it means to you.

When we dedicate mindfulness to our dreaming, we will probably be rewarded at times with some significant message. I had a few dreams that were announcing important occurrences in my life. Not so unusual, because we often feel what might happen in before. It is just our brain that is not capable to combine. When we work attentively on our dreams, we learn to grasp the meaning every once in a while and the dreams deliver us oftener with meaning.

Sometimes we dream a dream again and again. Every now and then we just see landscapes in our dreams, or we sense certain smells, hear special sounds or voices, see colours. They might be a hint to something beyond, that we need to understand. If we do, we stop dreaming this dream over and over again.  If we don’t catch the sense, the dreaming will go on. The unconscious doesn’t stop talking to us. Maybe the most important access to your dream are the little details and the feeling you have while dreaming.

In the end, dreams can be disturbing and frightening, no doubt about that, especially if we can’t catch their message. On the other hand they can forecast developments in our life and give us the best advice we can get, as this guidelines consider our unconscious urgent needs, our fears, deepest requests and soul nourishing outlooks and possibilities in our life.The night before I met my husband the first time, I dreamed of a man diving with a dolphin and me attending them in peaceful calmness. My husband is photographer and filmmaker and he loves diving, especially with dolphins. Unbelievable this occurrence, especially as I am not the type of person who loves deep water. When he send me a picture of him diving with a dolphin, I knew that he would be my husband.

© all pictures Silvia Perez Zarza with kind permission

So grateful for Silvia’s wondrous images that are so perfect for this issue, learn more about her here.

Take good care of your dreams and yourself dear readers! Yours, Melanie Ketter

once upon a time, there was an artist

Words & Images Laura Lereveur-

‘THE MOMENT YOU DOUBT THAT YOU CAN FLY, YOU CEASE FOREVER TO BE ABLE TO DO IT- CLAP IF YOU BELIEVE!’

– Peter Pan

It’s quite the confession. Summer has always been my favourite, the time I was desperate to find, the collection of days that always passed painfully quickly and set the light for my life’s film. Perhaps it’s partly because I grew up in a village on the coast. Summer meant rock pools and picnics of food so nice it’d have us running from wasps. Sand encrusted toes and the pleasant misery of trying to put them back into shoes. Wild salt-shedding hair. White cotton on my small gold shoulders. And then as a teenager, by the same rock pools, this time camping and collecting firewood and cliffs by torchlight. Finding good dents in the grass of fields to hold whiskey bottles upright, and achingly walking home in the morning followed by cows. I was born on the day the books call the height of summer. It was in my very bones.

 

But now… Summer’s different. It’s too humid. It barely arrives and when it does it isn’t the same. The light is different, perhaps because it’s trying to shine across years. It’s waiting for storms to break the pressure of headaches and clay drying too fast to be useful. It makes bed less comfortable than a field of Roman piles and whiskey bottles. So I think I’ll choose to be the Autumn child I was meant to be. I came into the world early, you see – I was meant for October. The same day as my Mother and Great-Grandmother. Maybe the reckless impatience that saw me born in August and live for Summer has grown up. Now I want knits and teapots and spiced apples and lamplight and dark nights. I want kitchens and hearths and mist and drying seed heads. A huge scarf to wrap around my face and layers of linen and wet boots and warm toes.

 

There is a kitchen in my memory. It’s part of some I’ve known and some I’ve heard of. My Grandma’s with all the love, safety and respect that came from it, the door still open to the washing line and smell of rain. My Mama’s, and all the days of growing up (which includes today and tomorrow), my books at the table, my feet by the fire, my first taste of tea. The stories I’ve been told of her Grandma’s kitchen, the hearth of the family, and Auntie Jen’s imitation of it for the following generations. Stories of many-sectioned agas and stoves where dozens would be fed in the morning ending a party, an apron tied over jet beaded finery and the endless table stained with bacon grease and errant champagne. Then there are the ones I’ve only visited. Grand old kitchens in grand old houses, with copper pans, vast surfaces, and fireplaces the height of rooms. Benches and hanging herbs and the sounds of efficient mania still in their flagstones, just whispers now. They tell of the same tasks as the small, dark kitchens of the simple livers. Like Alf. He lived across the road from us with his field of a garden, ever worked; an orchard, a vegetable garden, a plain front path and low lintel over his weathered door. He was small. Always dressed in flannels, tweeds, thick boots and a cap. His kitchen was little more than a table, two wooden chairs that sat unevenly on the flags, and a dresser even older than him. On its top sat a pedantic scales. We’d call in after school for vegetables and Mum seemed at home there, I suppose because it had the ancient functionality of the farm’s kitchen. That peace and purpose is in the very word kitchen, for me. It unites them all. And it’s what I will gather to my own kitchen.

I think back on my twenty eight years and see my creatures in so many places. Now my mind notices them, they wave and flutter at me from windowsills and bookshelves. I’d make beds for Night Visitors from jewellery boxes, matchboxes, from carefully folded and tucked toilet paper. Some in dormitory lines for families not wanting to be separated and others suspended from curtain poles and tieback hooks, in case they were more solitary souls. I’d make caterpillars from tight daisy chains, take them on adventures, and inevitably hold funerals for them when their petals shrivelled. Lollipop sticks and shells marked their graves. I’d leave my sewing pins and threads undone at night so the fairies could steal them without trouble as fairies are wont to do. And I’d knit patches to leave in warm corner shadows for moths to nestle amongst and eat. I had a moth, too. I named him Cyril and he lived in my bedside lampshade. So did Cyril II, Cyril III, and more noble descendants. I’d write stories for the creatures my cats caught, if I couldn’t rehabilitate them from tall leafed jars or straw filled shoeboxes; in them, I’d write into being all the things they might have dreamed and not accomplished in their brief, dappled lives. Then I’d throw the papers to the wind in the field so their families could know everything heroic they’d done. I dressed my rabbit in navy velvet and took him for walks. I made books small enough for Small Things to read when I realised how heavy and cumbersome a single page of mine must be, and how terrible it must be to be denied the wonder of reading. I built an insect hotel. It was a grand place, something Poirot would be seen in were he a polished yet rotund beetle. I named the local rooks and devoured the Flower Fairy books my Grandma bought me – their costumes, their tales, their expressions! They were a set of conceptually beautiful things. A collection of curiosities. I collected buckets of snail shells and lined them up in rations for whatever purpose the Things might need – a bird satchel, perhaps, or lanterns for mice. I studied dead finds and cried for their pain and emptiness later. I let an owl guard me at night and found wolves in the shadows of the trees, there above my bed to chase nightmares and goblins away. In antique fairs I’d spend my pocket money on abandoned figurines. Set them on dusted flour or icing sugar in gatherings and imagine them coming alive when I was gone. Sure enough: they left trails.

‘Adventure’: Through my head ran a clicking show of adventures. Of following starlings and turning ankles, ignoring maps and jumping waves. It’s all changed. My legs don’t do the same things and maybe they never will, but I’ve been on another kind of adventure. It doesn’t need boots or first aid kits. It doesn’t leave woodsmoke in my hair or belong on rattling trains in other languages. It asks me to live and to do it alongside my ever present awareness of endings. It’s eased my fear of time when it should be exacerbated, when Auden’s clocks should ridicule me. It’s my worthiest challenge and happiest risk and scariest comfort. It’s made of everything an adventure really is, this business of being in love.

© all images with kind permission LAURA LEREVEUR

Dear readers, Laura builds the most poetic, dreamy and pure creatures. Have a look here.Or follow her on Instagram here.

Take care! Melanie Kettner

so small as we really are

Images: Matthew Tucker & Words: Melanie Kettner-

I will never forget the moment I first saw whales on the South African coast. It takes your breath away und you have no words to describe the pure and wild joy about the actual existence of these magic creatures. I don’t forget my heartbeat, my surprise and the facial expression of the few other people standing around us on that  rock whispering and looking proudly out to the sea in expectation. My husband said it’s a matter of luck if some of them are showing up. We were all silent in awe, never daring to expect too much. Then all of sudden a female whale and her calf leaped out of the sea, playing obviously. In this moment your mind goes blank. Everything stands still and is focused on that moment. We all felt a deep respect in this face-to-face- encounter with wild nature. This image Matthew Tucker took from two whales sliding through the Australian ocean is a wonderful symbol for this moment.

 

Matthew’s drone photography let you sense the beauty of our planet and changes your perspective literally. We appear so minute as we actually are in the universe and it soothes the soul, as it makes clear what we should already know, that nature is majestic and by far more mighty than the human being is. We are only a tiny part of it and it’s good this way. It’s like lying beneath the night sky full of mysterious stars, whispering stories of something beyond our human existence. Another unforgettable experience for me was visiting the Namib desert in Africa und to get to know its vastness. Our expedition group behaved like hilarious children climbing up the very high and soft dunes, eventually falling apart here and there. Some had surfboards for sand and were sliding down screaming and laughing. Before sunset we were all sitting on a dune, quiet, exhausted and drinking beer. Around us just sand dunes, as far as we can look. At some point our guard told us that now we had to hurry up, when there is no sunlight anymore you get lost in the desert. These images of Matthew of the Australian coast are symbolizing our playful encounter with the desert perfectly:

© all images Matthew Tucker with kind permission

More about Matthew’s stunning Photoraphy  here.

Matthew grew up in Sydney.  He had never picked up a camera in his life until a couple of months ago.  As it happened he bought a drone and started taking photos wherever he went. What you see here on these images is his view on Australia. So important to be in nature once in a while, to breathe its magnitude in and to realize the dimension of our own life as a part of something by far more extensive and powerful.

Take good care dear readers, Melanie Kettner