Wednesday 31 July 2019

The Angel Of The North

Following on from my post the other day on Antony Gormley's 'Another Place', here are some of the images I captured of  Gormley's most famous work, 'The Angel of the North':

The immense 'Angel of the North'
The 'Angel of the North' is an immense sculpture, made of steel, that is located in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear. Erected on the site on 15 February 1998, is stands 20 metres tall, with a wingspan measuring 54 metres! Its wings are positioned forward from the body at an angle of 3.5 degrees to give the impression of an embrace. However, this welcoming stance, plus its position overlooking the A1 and A167 roads, led locals to nickname the statue 'The Gateshead Flasher"!

Locals have cheekily nick-named the statue 'The Gateshead Flasher'
Gormley has stated that the siting of the work is of particular importance. The statue stands atop the former Pithead Baths Colliery where men toiled beneath the surface of the earth in total darkness. The 'Angel' having risen from the mines, now stands proudly in the daylight in an act of celebration of the industry, its wings unfurled like a newly hatched butterfly, gaining strength from the sunlight and ready to embrace the future. The mound of earth beneath the 'Angel'' feet also appears like an ancient megalithic burial mound, giving a timeless and spiritual aspect to the piece.

The statue was funded by Gatehead Council, along with the Arts Council of England, the European Regional Development Fund and private sponsorship. Its size and exposed location means the sculpture has to withstand wind speeds of over 100 mph. To accommodate this, the piece is secured in 600 tonnes of concrete and is anchored to a depth of 21 metres beneath the ground. It was constructed, using COR-TEN steel, in three pieces at Hartlepool Steel Fabrications Ltd.

The magnificent 'Angel of the North'
Like much of Gormley's work, the 'Angel of the North' generated a lot of controversy when plans for the piece were first advertised. Give its high visibility along the adjacent roads, the potential for its presence causing traffic accidents were amongst the chief reasons for complaint. To try and alleviate those concerns, trees have now been grown to mask the statue from sight where the main road reaches its closest position to the 'Angel'.

As is usual with Gormley's public art, controversy soon abated after the unveiling of the piece, and the 'Angel of the North' is now recognised as the UK's most famous sculpture. It currently draw around 150,000 visitors to the area each year. It really is an impressive and uplifting work of public art, the sheer scale of which is not given full justice by my photographs.

Tuesday 30 July 2019

Camping Weekend at Llangorse Lake, Brecon

I went camping near Llangorse Lane, near Brecon, with my family and some friends this past weekend. We were spoiled with the weather and the scenery was spectacular.

The lake was particularly stunning and we even had an hour out on its water in a rowing boat :)

Llangorse Lake, South Wales' Largest Natural Lake

The lake, the largest natural lake in South Wales, is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, where both fish and birds are found in extraordinary numbers. Of archaeological interest, the lake also hosts Wales' only Crannog - a small artificial island that are more prevalent in Scotland and Ireland.

Llangorse Lake And Its Unique Welsh Crannog
The crannog is constructed from huge oak plank that were secured deep into the pear beneath the lake, upon which a dwelling platform was constructed from layers of soil, stone and brushwood. Archaeological digs at the site have unearthed high quality textile, an antler comb, remnants of a shrine and an 8th Century bronze hinge. I 1925, a 9th Century dugout boat was also discovered beneath the lake. The crannog, which has been dated to c. 890 a.d, originally had a 3 metre wide wooden causeway connected it to the mainland and is believed to have been the centre of royal administration of the area.

Rowing boats for hire on Llangorse Lake

Rowing Boat, Llangorse Lake
There are numerous folk tales associated with the lake. There have been innumerable sighting of a townscape appearing beneath the rippling surface of its waters and during winter, when the lake is frozen, the groans of the drowned can be heard hollowing from the cracks in the ice.

Rowing on Llangorse Lake
The lake is also said to be home to the mythical water beast, the Afanc. The monster of the lake was first reported by the 15th Century Welsh poet, Lewys Glyn Cothi and is said to have killed anyone who fell into the waters there. The beast is described as being a dwarf-like demon with the appearance of a crocodile. Although folklore records that the beast met it ends at the point of King Arthur's might Excalibur, sightings of a strange creature inhabiting the lake continue to be reported. A replica of the Excalibur, celebrating the slaughter of the Afanc, is now on display near the water's edge.

The sword in the stone. The sword Excalibur is said to have slain the Afanc
The campsite near the edge of the lake is a spacious environment and has some lovely and picturesque country walks in which to while away your time there.

Horse, Llangorse

Swan, Llangorse

Swan, Llangorse

I managed to do a trio of audio field recordings whilst at the camp. These are best listened to with headphones. First up was this recording of the ambient chatter of the campers:

The following morning, I recorded the dawn chorus from a small footbridge that crossed this lovely little stream. Listen carefully and you will also hear the swan I saw there giving itself a little wash:

And finally, this is a dawn chorus recording I made on my final morning of the camp, of the water birds at Llangorse Lake itself:

I enjoyed getting away from the hustle and bustle of modern life for a few days. And last weekend's camp give me the perfect opportunity to relax and do a little more writing on my second draft of Berserk! while soaking up the natural environment about me :)

Working on the second draft of Berserk! whilst camping

Catching up on some reading during a short rain shower

Thursday 25 July 2019

Sunday 21 July 2019

Berserk! The Full Cover

Here it is, the full cover design for Berserk! (pic contains reference gridlines that will obviously not be on the final printout). This has seriously done my head in today lol.

I have kept the text on the back cover to a minimum for this book to concentrate the eye on the artwork and to keep the design sparse.

Saturday 20 July 2019

Determined To Make Progress

Plodding On...

Plodding on with the second draft of Chapter One of Berserk!

Friday 19 July 2019

Red Arrows Passing Overhead

My latest audio recording, taken on July 13, 2019 of the Red Arrows flying overhead my house:

Thursday 18 July 2019

Antony Gormley's 'Another Place'

A short while ago I got the opportunity to visit Liverpool and made Crosby Beach on Merseryside my first stop there. 

It was a long day's drive and the sun was dipping fast in the sky by the time I arrived at the beach.  But I had a good hour or so to spare and I managed to explore a fair few of the 100-strong iron men that make up Sir Antony Gormley's 'Another Place' exhibit, which is located along this stretch of sand. 

The first of Sir Antony Gormley's iron
men that greeted my visit to Crosby Beach

The statues are modelled from 17 different body casts the sculptor made of his own naked body and the resulting figures evidence a variety of both tense and relaxed poses.

The nude iron sculptures raised a lot of controversy at the time of their installation and several groups, including watersport enthusiasts, the coastguard and conversationalists raised concerns against their presence along the shoreline.

Birds scouring the sands for their supper
near one of the iron men of Crosby Beach
Having previously toured a few other countries, Germany (Cuxhaven), Norway (Stavenger) and Belgium (De Panne), the iron men reached Merseyside in 2005. They were then due to move to New York after the local council initially refused permission for 'Another Place' to become a permanent exhibition at the beach.

However, the iron men became a very popular tourist draw over the years and brought a lot of money and trade to the community businesses. This forced the hand of the councillor's when the question of the residency of  'Another Place' returned to the council the following year. And so, to the delight of art lovers and the local trade, the iron men became a permanent feature on the sands of Crosby Beach in 2007.

One of the scarier faces of the
Crosby Beach Iron Men
Gormley's stated intention when he created 'Another Place', was to explore the movement of the tides and the passing of time on the beach and to engage with the day to day life of the habitat there.

An iron man watching the passing of one of the many...

...large container ships that slide along the horizon of Crosby Beach
With the evening drawing in fast, I was a little disappointed not to have the time to explore more of the Crosby iron men as each seemed to have its own distinct character.

But time and tides wait for no man and so I finally had to say a fond farewell to these unique and thought-provoking statues. I really could not leave, however, without having my photograph taken with one of the surreal fellows :)

That's me on the left btw

Monday 15 July 2019

In Search Of Glow Worms..

My wife and I went looking for glow worms the other night. I remember seeing them just a short walk from my house when I was growing up, on some disused land at the bottom of a graig. Sightings of them enchanted me and they were definitely the most magical things I had ever witnessed out in the real world. I do have to admit to being bitterly disappointed when I inspected the glowing critters more closely, however, and discovered them to be rather butt-ugly beetles rather than some kind of supernatural fae creature! 

It has been well over 40 years now since I last saw a glow worm, and my wife has never seen one. And so, finally, after some research on where they are most likely to be seen, we headed out for a late evening walk. 

Our chosen hunting ground was a beach about a half hour's drive from our home and we arrived just as the sun was dipping over the horizon. Parking up near the beach, we walked along the tide-line towards the Nature Reserve. 

Despite the gloom, I snagged this lovely piece
of seaglass from the sands of Oxwich Bay

Evening Primrose and Sea Holly decorated the Dunes that fringed the grasslands Nature Reserve and the sound of crickets that surrounded us made me wish I had brought my audio recorder along with us.

Evening Primrose

Sea Holly

Oxwich Bay at dusk

We waited until darkness settled upon the land before making our way back towards the car, checking for the greenish luminescence of glow works along the route. Alas, there were none to be spotted that night.

Sunset over Oxwich Nature Reserve

Still, we had a very enjoyable walk and the ambience of the night was incredible. I couldn't help but feel a little jealous, however, of the occupants of this holiday home, who had set up camp here for the night:

Camping beneath the stars

Still, both my wife and I had work the following morning, so, with the time now rapidly approaching 11.00p.m., we headed off home for the night.

Sunday 14 July 2019


Continuing work on the second draft of Berserk!

Tuesday 9 July 2019

Monday 8 July 2019

Sheringham 1940's Weekend 2018

Spending a day exploring a few Norfolk beaches in Norfolk last year, we ended up at Sheringham, where we all suddenly felt like we had slipped through a Goodnight Sweetheart time portal into the war years of the 1940's. It was quite an eerie sensation, I can tell you. 

As it transpired, there was no need to panic as all we had really done was to visit Sheringham during its annual 1940's Weekend.

It was a surreal afternoon/evening but the experience was amazing and afforded a fantastic opportunity to photograph something just that little bit different.


And big kudos to Sheringham for having the biggest sense of community spirit I have ever encountered. Cheers for a truly remarkable day.