the blue stocking

aug-21 | #inmystudio #foxfield #selkirk 
#contemplativephotography #conceptualphotography #abstractphotography #paintingwithlight #softfocus #macro #visualpoetry #visualhaiku

The Blue Stocking is a series I created as part of an ongoing healing journey in my relationship with my body, much of which has been focussed on a profound ambivalence toward (and distorted perception of) my legs.

When I was 17, I received the highest mark in the whole of New Zealand for my final year national University Entrance English exam. But this was the late 1970s and I was a (very) good girl so when my father sent me to secretarial school instead of higher education, I didn’t question it. My younger brother went on to university but I became a shorthand typist because my father didn’t want me to be a ‘blue stocking’ which the dictionary defines as ‘an intelligent and well-educated woman who spends most of her time studying and is therefore not approved of by some men’. It was certainly not a path he approved of. He probably also had (unspoken and unacknowledged) fears about the sexuality of these (in his mind) highly unconventional and deeply unfeminine women.

It is so easy to look back in hindsight and see how clearly this set me on a trajectory toward 13 devastating years of chronic bulimia, with all the low self-worth and body-image issues that accompany such an illness. The parallel between these early experiences and the extreme measures I have taken over the years to keep my legs (and intelligence) hidden is not lost on me. I was 60 before I allowed myself to wear a (short-ish) skirt and stockings confidently in public but it is extremely symbolic that when I did so, it was on a visit to the Glasgow Women’s Library.

Exhibited as part of the Whose Body Is It project, curated by the We for Women collective.

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tides

mar-21 | #onmywalk #stabbs #berwickshire
#contemplativephotography #conceptualphotography #abstractphotography #paintingwithlight #softfocus #macro #visualpoetry #visualhaiku

“Every day the sea
blue gray green lavender
pulls away leaving the harbor’s
dark-cobbled undercoat

slick and rutted and worm-riddled, the gulls
walk there among old whalebones, the white
spines of fish blink from the strandy stew
as the hours tick over; and then

far out the faint, sheer
line turns, rustling over the slack,
the outer bars, over the green-furred flats, over
the clam beds, slippery logs,

barnacle-studded stones, dragging
the shining sheets forward, deepening,
pushing, wreathing together
wave and seaweed, their piled curvatures

spilling over themselves, lapping
blue gray green lavender, never
resting, not ever but fashioning shore,
continent, everything.

And here you may find me
on almost any morning
walking along the shore so
light-footed so casual.”

Mary Oliver | A Thousand Mornings

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hold yourself closer

jan-21 | #foxfield #selkirk #scottishborders
#contemplativephotography #conceptualphotography #abstractphotography #paintingwithlight #softfocus #macro #visualpoetry #visualhaiku #womenofpower

“I am thinking of how I’ve been talking about mental health for so long now, I am thinking of how I intentionally created women who looked like me, with names like mine; with histories like mine. I am thinking of why I did it, what broke inside me to create this powerful voice I have. Something has to break in us, something has to give. I am thinking of how cold this year might have been to many, how our bones felt loneliness and tried our best to hide it. How many are unearthing traumas without the necessary tools to deal with it. I’m thinking of heartbreaking and loss. Of love that rots, when you can only sit and weep because nothing makes sense.
“I am thinking of the process of beginning again, how many loves you can give yourself. I am thinking of how many people woke up today and decided that despite it all, they will add another day. I am thinking of those who decided not to and how that doesn’t make them any less brave.
“I am thinking of love; how many ache for what was. How not been given it from your own family can leave you grieving for years. I’m thinking of how many continue stifling who they are, who they love and what they truly want to be. I am thinking of how the culture of silence harms. How defying the culture of silence can be a privilege only a few can afford.
“I am thinking of how honey heals wounds. How the sun finds its way into the sky after the night. But sometimes, it is too weak to shine. You are still the sun even in your despair. I am thinking of how the night can bring us closer to who we are. I am thinking of how we have to be soft to our wounds.
“Hold yourself closer; this year has broken so many.”
Ijeoma Umebinyguo

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girl on the shore

dec-20 | #philiphaugh #selkirk #scottishborders
#contemplativephotography #conceptualphotography #abstractphotography #paintingwithlight #softfocus #macro #visualpoetry #visualhaiku

“She’d left for the shore,
exploring the sea-washed bones,
frayed nets, faded buoys,
her own independence.

Now I’m tilting a telescope,
and find her, a small figure
making her way inland,
the Minch wild behind her.

I twiddle the focus,
see how she jumps
a ditch, climbs a fence,
wind-blown, elegant and free.

I can find no adjustment
on the scope,
to still the vibrations
from a quickened heart.”

John Plunkett Poems | A Melody of Sorts

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your life’s work

dec-20 | #inmystudio #selkirk #scottishborders
#contemplativephotography #conceptualphotography #abstractphotography #paintingwithlight #softfocus #macro #visualpoetry #visualhaiku

“Everyone has his successes, his moments of success. For example, some people find it it a success if they are able to get up in the morning, go to work, and get there on time – even if they barely make it. Success is a time-punched card inserted at exactly the right moment. That is a moment of success. Sometimes they can live off that for one whole day. No matter how dull the work that follows.

“Bad art, you can tinker with it and turn it into high art with your life’s work. Life’s work – that’s what it’s really all about. You must have produced something decent with within your life. Actually, those are Heaven’s directives. Otherwise, Hell.”

Martin Kippenberger | The Photographer’s Playbook

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otherworld

oct-20 | #inmygarden #selkirk #scottishborders #heuchera #earlyautumn
#artistswhowalk #artistswhowander #walkingartpractice #miksangphotography #contemplativephotography #mindfulnessphotography

“I often walk the gardens in the early morning, taking my tea or coffee with me … and always my camera. Often, I come across fungi and am reminded of the Otherworld, that which is all around, above and below, and indefinable. It has become commonplace now to enter a state of timelessness, as though becoming a part of Nature herself … betwixt and between … between worlds.”

Colette O’Neill | Walking Between Worlds
@Bealtaine Cottage Press

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becoming animal

sep-20 | #onmyislandwalk #isleofskye #scottishhighlands
#artistswhowalk #artistswhowander #walkingartpractice #miksangphotography #contemplativephotography

“Owning up to being an animal, a creature of the earth. Tuning our animal senses to the sensible terrain: blending our skins with the rain-rippled surface of rivers, mingling our ears with the thunder and the thrumming of frogs, and our eyes with the molten sky, Feeling the polyrhythmic pulse of this place – this huge windswept body of water and stone. This vexed being in whose flesh we’re entangled.

“Becoming earth. Becoming animal. Becoming, in this manner, fully human.”

David Abram | Becoming Animal, An Earthly Cosmology

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wife and mother

aug-20 | #inmygarden #kilncroft #selkirk
#latesummerstorm #gardenview #artistswhowalk #artistswhowander #walkingartpractice #miksangphotography #contemplativephotography

“One of my graduate students several years ago was part of the second wave of feminism inspired by Betty Friedan’s 1963 book, The Feminine Mystique. My student directly experienced the soul-destroying lifestyle of dutiful wife and mother of the 1950s and early 1960s. Turning her frustration into anger, and her anger into action, she battled with her husband to share in household tasks and childcare so she could have a professional career. She, and her her peers, struggled against a rigid patriarchy and the cultural standards of the day. In the end, her husband left her and she forged the life she wanted, but at a great cost. 

“When I met her, she was pursuing a MFA in photography at the age of 70. Her graduate thesis was making portraits and doing interviews with her peers, who were mid-century women who had massively uprooted their home lives, took a firm stand against cultural norms, and courageously sought career opportunities to become contributing members of society. Their portraits depicted great bravery and strength along with a deep sense of resignation and grief over what they had to sacrifice.

“I found the photographs exceedingly strong, and she graduated with honours.”

David Ulrich | Zen CameraIMG_8678IMG_8693IMG_8680IMG_8695

seeing

aug-20 | #inmygarden #kilncroft #selkirk
#latesummer #lateevening #artistswhowalk #artistswhowander #walkingartpractice #miksangphotography #contemplativephotography

“I love Sunday mornings. I wake up early enough, but not too early. The first thing I notice is how quiet it is outside my windows. The endless stream of cars heading to their destinations has ceased. I realize that I do not have to put my daily regimen into gear. I can put in the clutch and coast for a while. I can move at my own pace, free of external influence, and let the day unwind in a natural rhythm. I feel a tremendous sense of relief, together with a basic sense of wellbeing and contentedness.

“Because I have noticed and appreciated the stillness of the Sunday morning, I can allow myself to open out into a world of possibility. There is room for me to take my time and examine my choices for what I do, and when I do it, and choose according to what I want. Instead of the usual relentless sense of trying to be somewhere and do something, I have room to breathe, to renew myself, and refresh my being. This sense of freedom is a wonderful feeling. On Sundays for me it arises out of the recognition and appreciation of stillness. When we slow down, unwind, and just be, we can have a quiet mind. There is all the room we need to relax and enjoy ourselves. In this space of openness, all things are possible.”

We can begin to truly see.

Julie DeBose | Effortless Beauty

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standing still

jul-20 | #ettrick #philiphaugh #selkirk
#midsummer #earlymorning #artistswhowalk #artistswhowander #walkingasartisticpractice

“Spirit always stands still long enough for the photographer It has chosen.”

Minor White | 1908-1976

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rhythm of walking

jul-20 | #ettrick #philiphaugh #selkirk #multipleexposure
#midsummer #lateevening #artistswhowalk #artistswhowander #walkingasartisticpractice

“The rhythm of walking generates a kind of rhythm of thinking, and the passage through a landscape echoes or stimulates the passage through a series of thoughts. This creates an odd consonance between internal and external passage, one that suggests that the mind is also a landscape of sorts and that walking is one way to traverse it. A new thought often seems like a feature of the landscape that was there all along, as though thinking were travelling rather than making.”

Wanderlust, A History of Walking | Rebecca Solnit

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allean

jun-20 | #alleanforest #strathtummel #perthshire
mid-summer, early-afternoon, solstice

Exploring the ruined ring fort that served as a homestead and lookout point for a family of Picts who lived here more than a thousand years ago, on the day before archeologists announce the discovery of a neolithic circle of deep shafts near Stonehenge. Constructed 4,500 years ago, they describe the find as a ‘masterpiece of engineering’ and that it provides evidence that these ancient peoples had ‘developed a way to count’.

Surely we are ready to rethink our assessment of how these incredible structures were actually built and of the people who created them? There is some hope in the words of Dr Richard Bates, St Andrew’s University who acknowledged: “Yet again, the use of a multidisciplinary effort with remote sensing and careful sampling is giving us an insight to the past that shows an even more complex society than we could ever imagine. Clearly sophisticated practices demonstrate that the people were so in tune with natural events to an extent that we can barely conceive in the modern world we live in today.”

When you stand within the structure created at Allean – which is situated on surely the most perfect plateau on the whole of Strathtummel – how could anyone think these people didn’t know exactly what they were doing when they chose to make their home here?

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