Roger Ackling lived on the north Norfolk coast where he collected driftwood. His house was close to the cliff’s edge, which was constantly eroded by the North Sea. Maybe his house is now under the sea. He recorded his time there by making his mark on the driftwood he found on the beach. Using the lens of a magnifying glass he burned sunspots to leave his shadow on the wood. Continue reading “Brought To Light”
Pagliaghju was difficult to find. We drove past it a few times without even seeing the sign. Each time we looked it up the spelling was different. The sign was invisible and the spelling was variable. I’ve seen Pagliaghju, Palaggiu, Pagliaju, Palaghju, Pallagiu and finally Palagahiu. Continue reading “Pagliaghju”
The Royal Oak
The presence of great trees in the city has always been a source of fascination to me as one born in the countryside. I often think of the nineteenth century rural writer Richard Jefferies who, while struggling to make a career in London, took lonely walks in the parks for consolation and once, to ameliorate his home-sickness for the West Country, spontaneously wrapped his arms around a tree. Thus he originated the notion of ‘tree-hugging’, a phrase that is now used to embrace the deep affection which many people feel for trees. It is a tendency I recognise in myself, as I came to realise last week, while prowling around Richmond Park in the frost in search of ancient trees. Continue reading “Ancient Trees in Richmond Park”
Valentine was an amateur priest; he was very unpopular with the Roman authorities because he kept conducting illegal Christian weddings. He attempted to convert the emperor, Claudius Gothicus, known as Claudius the Cruel. The emperor, who had previously liked him, was livid and sentenced Valentine to death. While Valentine was in prison awaiting execution, he discussed Jesus with the jailer. The jailer said, “If Jesus is so great then use his magic to restore my beautiful daughter’s sight”. Valentine managed it – the jailer was instantly converted and went round smashing pagan idols. Valentine would never see the girl again but left her a little love note signed “Your Valentine”.
Valentine was beaten, stoned and beheaded on the Via Flamina on February 14th, 269. His flower-crowned skull is kept in the Basilica Santa Maria in Rome. Other bits of his bones are distributed around the world. The pagan festival of love, Lupercalia, used to fall at this time of year but was replaced by Valentine’s Day. It is the day that birds find their mates, as described by Chaucer in his poem ‘Parlement of Foules’.
A short film about Jonny Hannah, with thanks to the Heart Agency for allowing us to share it.
If you enjoyed this you might like to see a few more of Jonny’s blogposts:
The Rowley Gallery has a new, hand-painted February window. It’s a vibrant cornucopia of visual delights. The notice reads Ouvrez Les Fenêtres De Votre Coeur: A Darktown Valentine’s Window by Jonny Hannah, and wherever you look you’ll find lovehearts on parade. Along the front lower edge of the window there’s a collection of found records, their sleeves lovingly repainted and still containing a vinyl disc, though not necessarily the one illustrated on the cover. Continue reading “Ouvrez Les Fenêtres De Votre Coeur”
A remembrance of last summer, a walk in the shade of olive trees and holm oaks, a green daze for these grey days, a sequence of photos one after another, mementoes of footsteps along a wooded path, winding down into the valley, submerged in the dappled light, a brief antidote until our sun returns. Continue reading “Chapelle St Jean”