Redland springs – and some thoughts on owning rivers

I’m getting really interested in the beginnings of rivers, and especially springs.  I’ve never really thought about them until recently, but when I did, I imagined them as something like the Source of the Malago, rather than the oozing of water that was the other Dundry stream source that I saw with Tracy when we were exploring the beginning of the Malago (and more!) back in February.

I’ve been doing a lot of pouring over my OS maps, looking at the sources of rivers, and looking for Bristol waterways, and last month I went walking through Redland, to see if I could find the Cranbrook, the little stream that starts out at Redland Green and disappears underground.

These aren’t great photos – I’ve broken my film cameras, so was playing with my friend Cee’s camera, and some are mobile shots – but they’re like it looked, if that makes sense.

The beginning of the Redland secret stream

Redland secret stream

Unfortunately, the stream itself is behind huge spiky fences, running along the bottom of the Redland Green Allotments, and although the snow had only melted the week before, it seemed pretty dry.  But walking along the fence, looking to see if I could take some photos, I found a spring.

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Avon Stories Podcast #21: Photography, film, heritage and more, with Dr Shawn Sobers

I met Shawn Sobers when I was doing my Photography degree at the University of the West of England, and he was one of my professors.  But that’s just one of the many strings to his bow – Shawn is a filmmaker, photographer, writer and curator, and I always found his community-based practice and his range of interests to be completely inspiring.

We went for a walk along the Avon in Lacock, exploring the landscape where Henry Fox Talbot lived and created processes that gave us modern photography.   While we walked, we talked about teaching photography, Shawn’s film practice, his work with National Trust sites helping communities research their links to Transatlantic slavery, and his own role in running a heritage site, curating the Tafari Gallery at Fairfield House, where Emperor Haile Selassie lived in exile in Bath.

Please do forgive the patches of audio problems in the recording.  We were walking in the March snow, on a day full of weather warnings, and it proved a bit too much for my audio equipment!

Find out more about Shawn on his website, which has a selection of films we talked about, including his 1999 film on Haile Selassie, Footsteps of the Emperor, his recent art film about the sinking of the SS Mendi, a ship carrying Black South African Labour Corps troops to serve in World War I, and Under The Bridge, the 1990s film for HTV exploring Transatlantic slavery in Bristol, including the River Avon:

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Footprints on the Avon mud, and other Thursday photos

On Thursday Vik and I met in town and walked round the Harbour for the Suffragette talk at the Bristol Archives.  We were early, so went to the very edge of the Harbour to look at the river, one of our regular walks.

Avon silt bank, looking like a deep sea creature

The first thing we enjoyed was this tiny glimpse of one of the silt islands, looking like a whale coming up for air, or a sea monster lurking on the bottom of the river.  And an aside – if you look on the maps on Know Your Place, you can see there have been silt islands here since the 1880s, including this one, which I find fascinating.

Of course we went to look at the mud that banks up in what used to be the Brunel lock, one of my very favourite places.  There are almost always bird footprints here, but I’ve never seen as many as then.  I don’t know if it was a flock on in the middle of migration, or something special had been left on the mud after the spring tide, or it was just that the conditions were extra good for retaining footprints, but it was delightful.

Footprints, Avon mud

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Snowy walk along the closed Avon path

Last Saturday the snow was still around, and I went walking in it with my friends Kate and Tim.  They’d never been down the closed part of the Avon footpath, or seen the Netham Weir, which is there to try to stop the Avon being tidal, so off we went.

Map of our walk:

And photos too.   If you mouse over/click on the first photo it should open the slideshow, or you can go directly to the flickr album.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BOC Gas

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Thinking about my photography practice

For the past few months, my photography has felt to me like it’s been changing, and not in a good way.  I get my rolls of film back, and there are very few that jump out at me as ones I love, and that’s frustrating.  There are some different reasons behind that, and I’m not sure they’re all bad, but they’re interesting to me.

One of the things I realised recently is I’m not experimenting as much as I have in the past.   “Experimenting” is maybe the wrong word – maybe it’s that I’m not taking as many abstracts, or just shooting for fun.  One of the reasons for that is I’m definitely feeling the pinch, financially, with camera film and processing so expensive, so I’m putting pressure on myself to make every shot count.  I could use digital, but I can’t have fun with it in the same way I can with film:  on one hand, it’s too clean, the images are too crisp and perfect; on the other, I get caught up in looking at the photos as they happen, whereas I can use film to get into a kind of meditative place, where I’m looking, and shooting, and not thinking about how they’ll turn out.  I know, technically I could not look at my digital photos until I get home, but that’s really hard for me to do, because I know I CAN see them.  I could try to work on that.

But the other thing I’ve been thinking about is how my practice has been changing.

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Walking the River Trym, February 2018

My friend Tracy Homer puts up with a lot, walking with me, from clambering through ditches and up slopes, to battling knee-high brambles, walking after dark and in torrential rain, and more.  It’s a good thing she likes me, but I don’t want to push my luck, so on Wednesday’s walk with her, we walked a gentle route with no possibility of getting into scrapes – an urban nature exploration, following the River Trym from Southmead, where it first appears in Bristol, to Sea Mills, where it joins the River Avon.

The map of the walk is here:

And the photo album is here (mouse over or click on the first image and it should take you to the slideshow, or click through to flickr)

Looking back to the start of the River Trym, in Southmead

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Portishead railway and the footpath to Clevedon

I try not to repeat walks too frequently, but I really loved exploring the disused railway line in Portishead, and it’s ideally a winter walk, as it would be tons harder when covered in undergrowth, and with the plans to reopen the line, I wanted to do it again, while I still can.  So Vik and I went back last Saturday to see the line, and then walk down the footpath along the Bristol Channel to Clevedon.

The map of our walk is here:

and I have an album of photos on flickr, and below.  If you mouse over or click on the first image, it should bring up a slideshow, or use this link.

Portishead lighthouse

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