Wednesday, 25 March 2015


Summer for thee, grant I may be
When Summer days are flown!
Thy music still, when Whipporwill
And Oriole—are done!

For thee to bloom, I'll skip the tomb
And row my blossoms o'er!
Pray gather me—
Thy flower—forevermore! 

(Emily Dickinson)

Friday, 13 March 2015

Belfast street odyssey: The Entries

I love these narrow city centre alleyways. They date back to the early seventeenth century, and they've been decorated with strings of bare lightbulbs. That is enough.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Pink ranunculus

Yesterday afternoon I had a little floral photoshoot in my back garden. The light was good, but the wind was a bit too much for my delicate stems and nice wee vintage glasses and vases. One of my favourites ended up smashed on the ground, and then it cut my finger while I was clearing up the smithereens....

This was not conducive to a good creative mood. But then I had a moment of inspiration and brought out one of my dad's oil paintings to use as a backdrop for the two pink ranunculus that were proving the most photogenic of the flowers. I'm pleased with how this has worked - I was using a very shallow depth of field, so it's not in focus, but the colours and the loose brush strokes give the images a painterly quality that I like. 

Irving Penn is one of my favourite flower photographers. I'm going to guess that he didn't spend much time shooting in his garden, with his backdrop on his knee, his flowers clutched in one hand and his camera in the other. Missed a trick there.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Fishy #3: Styxfish

For the last month I've been a bit of a fixture at the St George's Market fish stalls, searching for interesting fish and getting the stallholders to help me pick out the prettiest ones. I got some great cooking advice too, and, though I started out feeling quite squeamish about the whole thing, eventually I settled into a pattern of using the fish as models in the morning and making a delicious dinner in the evening. John Dory was my best discovery - it's quite a fearsome-looking creature, but fabulous pan-fried with butter, lemon and white wine.

But I'm not really here to dispense cooking advice: I wanted to show you a few of my favourite images as I finish this project. I know they're weird and maybe even a bit disturbing, but I think that they're beautiful too. Small fish have a jewel-like quality that's lovely to look at.

I was discussing the project with a goldsmith friend, who talked about the practice many cultures have of placing a coin over the eyes of a dead person, to "pay the ferryman", originally Charon, carrying the souls of the dead across the river Styx, in Greek mythology. The idea struck me that these were the fish of the Styx, paying their way to the other side with abandoned buttons from the river, fallen from the clothing of the other travellers. Styxfish....