Yesterday we finished installing my exhibition of works from the project 'Untitled (22 Walks Through Leeds at f22)' at Trinity Church for part of my Arts @ Trinity residency. Continue reading Walking Photographer Leeds Project, Residency & Exhibition
It was a sunny bank holiday Sunday and our only obligation for the day was a BBQ in the early evening. Having wanted to check out Harewood House for quite some time, this the perfect opportunity. Encouraged by a discount for people arriving on foot we decided to walk. Parking in Bramhope we started our Harewood House walk. The walk begins on Breary Lane East, which possesses an eclectic mix of houses, all of which seem to have no linking characteristics other than that they all look like they cost a rather large amount of money! After walking through several large fields with enough sheep to send the hardiest insomniac to the land of nod, we reached a point where we could either continue onto Harewood or make a detour via Eccup Reservoir. I'd heard rumours on twitter that Eccup was a bit of a wildlife hotspot and the fact that we were sandwiched between two large walking groups (clearly taking the direct route to Harewood) made the decision that much easier! When we made it to the reservoir we realised walking round it and making it to Harewood House may be a little too ambitious, so we settled with sitting on the reservoir wall eating our Branston pickle and roast chicken sandwiches before getting back on track to Harewood. For those unfamiliar with the area of Harewood (near Leeds), the Harewood Estate is (to me at least) mahoosive! The grounds (and house) have been in the Lascelles family since it's completion in 1771. The landscape within its expansive borders is both vast and diverse, with many views looking like they've been copied and pasted straight from a Constable painting! Lancelot ""Capability" Brown is the man to take much of the credit (not to mention the contemporary grounds staff, who I'm sure should take a good slice of credit too!) for the stunning scenery. Brown designed these grounds that have undoubtedly influenced many artists including Thomas Girtin. It's a funny realisation that something we now consider to be so natural is, in fact, very manufactured! We appeared to arrive tantalisingly close to the house, yet couldn't find an entrance! It seems (as far as we could tell) you can only enter through the main entrance, which is accessed via the main road. By the time we had walked the boundaries and made it into the village of Harewood we had missed the last entrance to the house. Inevitably, armed with this knowledge, we simply went into the first pub we came across! After a refreshing pint and packet of roasted peanuts in the Harewood Arms Hotel we headed back to Bramhope; via the direct route! By the time we made it back to the car the BBQ was in full swing, and by the time we made it home we were very tired, hungry and feeling particularly unsociable. We opted for some hot food and some bottles of Ilkley Pale on the sofa while watching Swedish crime drama on the internet! While you could be tempted to label this walk a failure, not achieving any of our aims and then missing our only social commitment of the day, it was still a very memorable and enjoyable walk. A pub was frequented, beer and bar snacks were consumed which for many (myself included) constitutes a successful outing! Some people may also be interested to know that on this walk we passed by the set of Emmerdale which lies within the Harewood Estate. The route offers great views of Red Kites who were (introduced to Harewood as part of a very successful conservation initiative). Other wildlife highlights included a Yellow Hammer and spotting two hares bathing in the sun near Weardley. (I know, awesome name for a small village!)
5am on a Saturday morning in Leeds (sober) is quite a sight. Driving past the station reveals an eclectic mix of people: party goers, big drinkers, workers, deliverers, travellers and me, a photographer in search of some golden light! I was looking to expand my folio with some garden and flora photographs at Golden Acre Park. Dawn is a great time to photograph plants and flowers, as you get that low, warm coloured light which cuts across the land, casting harsh shadows and exposing patterns normally invisible when the sun is high. Sunrise can also reveal natural wonders, like dew or a frost, which can make the morning's battle to get out of bed all the more worth while. On this occasion however there was no dramatic sunrise or golden bursts of light. It just got light from behind thick cloud. To say I wasn't slightly miffed by the unrewarding nature of the weather would be a lie! But this was the situation and I had to make do, photographers often dismiss the 'flat' light of a cloudy day, but the soft light can be used just as creatively. I walked around Golden Acre Park and got absorbed in the abundance of beautiful flowers, soon forgetting the disappointment of the sun's no show!
Last weekend I visited the Armley Mills Museum to see an exhibition there by Lord Whitney. The exhibition is really cool and well worth checking out, as is the museum itself! In approaching the Armley Mills museum entrance you walk over a bridge that crosses the Leeds and Liverpool canal. This picturesque scene captured my imagination and I was armed with my trusty Canon G11. So on leaving the museum, I took a very short walk along the canal... I couldn't of walked more than a few hundred metres before I had to turn around and rush back to go pick CB up from work; but It's encouraging to see how getting out with a camera for just a short while can spark the imagination and generate some new ideas!
If you're anything like me, you'll know just how dangerous 'popping out' for a coffee is. My most recent coffee excursion led to a browse around Waterstone's (or Waterstones as I believe they are re-branding themselves). Anyway this 'browse' led to the purchase of £30 worth of OS maps and a rather cool book on Yorkshire Dales walks. No wonder I got an espresso maker for my birthday! The following morning I woke up like it was Christmas, all excited about doing a new walk in the Dales from our new book, using my new OS map. Caroline was more like the parent at Christmas, who would like just five more minutes in bed and wishes the kids would go and quietly entertain themselves with their new pressies. Anyway a quick wash, a round of toast that barely touches the sides and we were off! Or so we thought. It seemed the car didn't share our enthusiasm for the Yorkshire Dales, so 10 minutes into our journey we had to turn back and book the car in for a check up. Luckily due to my premature, or arguably immature, overexcitement it was still relatively early. Remembering that we had been given an AA Walks Around Leeds and West Yorkshire book for Christmas we started hunting through the walk cards looking for a walk that was relatively accessible on public transport. We found one that started and finished at Burley in Wharfedale train station. The walk begins on Hag Farm Lane leading up to and through the farm, over some fields that offer the residing sheep lush panoramas and on through a variety of gates that remind you that you still haven’t burnt off as many of those festive calories as you would have liked. The highlight of the walk is Burley Moor. This relatively busy heath provides some great views, even on a hazy winter’s day (is that a Simon and Garfunkel song?) with low thin cloud you could still take in the sights. We took a moment as we crossed the moor to take in the scenery. There were plenty of different paths that offered interesting diversions and investigations. Pretty soon the moor quietened down as people went off exploring their own routes. We came across a beautiful icy stream cutting its way through the hillside, which was particularly fascinating. The walk then took us back onto a B road and a country lane, and then over some pretty lowland fields that we’d previously been looking down on. We eventually ended back amongst some pretty impressive houses that surround Burley in Wharfedale station. This was a very enjoyable walk, not too short and not too long with some lovely scenery and a good mix of terrain. Typically my keenness to photograph EVERYTHING meant we missed the hourly train by 5 or 10… But with every cloud… Rather with every missed train there is usually a good pub and Burley in Wharfedale is no exception, we headed into the village where we went to the friendly Red Lion Hotel for a pint of Midnight Bell from Leeds Brewery while resisting the mouth-watering specials on the board! A wonderful end to a day that began rather ominously.
And so it happens every year, that familiar feeling of anxiety, so far removed from just a few weeks ago. With a sharp intake of breath I hit submit on the HMRC self assessment form and utter a quick prayer. A rush of doubt and worry floods in momentarily, followed by annoyance. I decide to go out for a quick walk before Caroline got home. Kirkstall is a 15 minute drive away, and I had only ever passed through, so I jumped in the car and set off. Parking in Kirkstall Abbey Walk, I went for a quick stroll around the ruins. The Abbey was founded around 1152 and occupied by self-sufficient monks and nuns (Cistercians), later to be disestablished by Henry VIII. It was also a popular subject for many painters including JMW Turner. The eclectic range of structures that play home to a large number of birds are pretty impressive. Although skeletal, the ruins retain enough form to make it easy to imagine the Abbey in all its glory some 800 years ago. Having wandered through the Abbey ruins I went for a very short stroll along the river Aire that runs alongside. I was struck by the stillness of this section of the river as it approaches a weir. The river bank stroll felt very similar to my amble round the abbey; while there were elements of unquestionable intrigue and beauty, they were slightly marred by the actions of visitors who possibly feel little attachment to the area, leaving obvious signs of disrespect. Not that this would put me off a revisit, it just made me wonder what could make people feel so disconnected from this environment. Not long after and it was time to go home, get dinner on and pour myself a glass of Hob Goblin (Wychwood brewery) and I realised that all thoughts of the evil self assessment had drifted away.