Sunday, 29 August 2010

Sunday, 22 August 2010

revisiting An Caisteal

After my revisiting Strontian post recently, I thought about those other places I've repeatedly found myself in over time, places of regular pilgrimage or simply habitual return, and I thought about how I've found myself making the "same" photograph on the summit of An Caisteal, a Munro near Crianlairich. I've climbed this hill 7 times now, and by the 5th time, realised I'd begun to make roughly the same summit photograph, looking in the same direction towards Beinn Chabhair and the Arrochar Alps, the weather conditions the main variant between them. Once this realisation had been made, I resolved to continue to make more images on subsequent walks up the mountain.

Co-incidentally, I visited a few exhibitions in Edinburgh yesterday and was also struck by the interesting Alexander & Susan Maris show at Stills, where Alexander Maris also returned to and remade photographs from places he'd visited in his past, also often in mountainous, wild terrain. I think there's something akin to my own process here, something altogether more intimate, more biographical, than that found in Mark Klett's formalised re-photographic survey.

Here are the images I made on An Caisteal. There may well have been more images had I been carrying a camera on the first climbs, though I seem to remember only having a low grade mobile phone camera with me on those occasions, and which I rarely used.





Clearly from the images, I've a fondness for climbing it in the snow. Perhaps it's familiarity and close proximity to home make it a good winter hill for me when the daylight hours are short, though I recollect the earlier ascents were in fine warm weather and took in neighboring Beinn a' Chroin too.

Re-creation as recreation.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

strength through joy...?

Looking for some images of the cliffs at Rügen (in order to see images of the famous chalk cliffs Caspar David Friedrich painted but which partially collapsed in a landslide a few years ago), instead, I somehow found myself looking at an altogether different spectacle of the sublime. Built by Hitler as part of the Strength Through Joy programme (basically, a kind of National Socialist leisure industry wing - which also brought us the VW Beetle), Prora was a 4.5km long hotel (one continuous structure) in which all the rooms had a sea view, providing accommodation for 20,000 people on the Baltic Sea. It's also known as the "Colossus of Rügen, and it's extraordinary to think of a "holiday camp" built on such an imposing, daunting scale. Butlin's x 100!

arial view of Prora

Built between 1936 and 1939, it was designed to provide affordable holidays for the average worker, but with the onset of war, construction stopped. The eight housing blocks, the theatre and cinema stayed as empty shells, and the swimming pools and festival hall never materialised. 
During the Allied bombing campaign, many people from Hamburg took refuge in one of the housing blocks, and later refugees from the east of Germany were housed there. By the end of the war, these buildings served to house female auxiliary personnel for the Luftwaffe.

These images by Vegar Moen show the building and it's environs in 2001.

After the war, Rügen ended up in the Russian sector and Prora became a top-secret army base, a virtual university of warfare, where Warsaw Pact troops rehearsed for a Third World War. The holiday camp that Hitler built became a hi-tech military training camp, where Soviet soldiers played wargames to prepare for the apocalypse to come. Out of bounds to locals, Prora disappeared from East German maps. A wild wood grew up around it, hiding it from the sea.

Saturday, 14 August 2010


Samuel Beckett claimed that this painting, two men contemplating the moon, was his inspiration for Waiting for Godot.

He subsequently said that this image, man and woman contemplating the moon was his inspiration, but they are so similar, that clearly the influence was strong.

Both paintings are in the Nationalgalerie, Berlin, and both are identical in size at 34x44cm.

Friday, 13 August 2010


The Perseids meteor shower reached it's peak on Thursday night/Friday morning, though there's still a couple of days more in which to see them. The radiant point for this shower will be in the constellation Perseus. The thin, crescent moon will be out of the way early, setting the stage for a potentially spectacular show. For best viewing, look to the northeast after midnight.