We’ve just returned from another holiday to Cornwall, a place I regard as my spiritual home. We stayed in St Ives as we often do, but during this visit Tate St Ives was closed as they are completing their current refurbishment. I realised recently that I had written several posts for this blog, but never actually posted them, so here is one looking back to a visit from a couple of years ago.
Last year (2014) whilst on holiday in Cornwall my partner and I visited Tate St Ives, the exhibition that was showing at the time was The modern lens: international photography and the Tate collection.
One image stood out for us, a photograph by Claude Cahun showing her with her arm through a hole in an old gate post stone. It was striking, and it resonated with both us.
Later that week we visited Tregeseal Stone Circle, and then moved on to find the row of holed stones near by; foolishly I had left the details of where they were behind, but we thought that since we had visited them before they wouldn’t be too hard to find. Well, we wandered up and down a few paths, and in and out the prickly gorse, before meeting another couple who had seen us by the stone circle earlier. They directed us to where the stones were, and in doing so made a comment, that the holes were too small to fit your hands through. Almost as if they had sensed our purpose.
We found the stones, we found the holes, and guess what, our hands did fit through – guess we had smaller hands than they did.
We took many photographs, we took it in turns to be the one embracing the stones, and the one embracing the camera. We had both independently felt the initial inspiration, we both, independently, had ideas of what we wanted to do. I began to realise that in these moments the distinction between model and artist was blurred. The person posing would sometimes react to instructions from the photographer, and would sometimes be directing the photographer; striking the poses they wanted, telling the other which shot to take. Who was artist? Who was model? We both were! I joked that if we ever exhibited our prints, they would all have to have both our names on, as the input was shared.
And so I share one of these images – was it taken by me, was it taken by him, who did the posing… I will leave you to ponder.
I love this interaction of humans with stone; they were initially selected from the environment and cut and carved for purposes we do not understand and can only guess at. Now, we interact with these stones in a very different way, still honouring their connection to the earth, and their presumed sacredness.