In Focus with Derek Rickman

19th December 2018…

Photographs always hold memories, often known only to the photographer. Here, both the pictures and the memories are shared…

VISUAL POETRY
in the modern age

By Derek Rickman

‘I’ve been absorbed by photography for a few years now. I like the broad canvas of landscapes to practice my art. Like many before me I find inspiration in the Lake District which I visit often with my brothers. I like gothic architecture, particularly cathedrals and ruined abbeys and I’ll happily immerse myself in their cavernous spaces and sunlit chambers. I generally use iPhone for captures despite its limitations as I don’t like to be encumbered with camera kit when I’m out hiking the fells. There are subtle themes behind some of my work. Sometimes I’ll go out with a preconceived idea if I’ve been inspired by music, poetry or art, but generally I go where intuition leads me.

I feel a deep affinity with the landscapes I explore, their wildness and spiritual essence inhabit my soul and I’ll have a deep reservoir of thoughts and emotions to draw on long after I’ve left them. In that sense I’ve written purely about the aesthetic principles behind the work. I hope the words will provide insight as you view each image, judge them as you find them.’

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Easedale (on leaving)

I was sitting in the white drawing room at Llancrigg watching the leaves fall in the garden. We’d climbed Helm Crag in the morning and had descended on Wordsworth’s spiritual home for afternoon tea. I looked out through the huge bay windows towards Easedale’s verdant fields stretching away in the distance. They seemed tantalisingly out of reach. I quietly sipped my tea and pictured the great poet contemplating the same view. As we left Llancrigg behind for the long walk back to Grasmere, I was already visualising Easedale on a Spring morning in May..

I could almost feel the sharp light of that distant day, see the trees dripping with soft English rain, and hear the breathless rush of the river through the scented meadows…

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Buttermere Edge

I’d been listening to Jon Hopkins’ Glitter remix in the car as we drove up to Buttermere, its hypnotic throb had somehow implanted itself in my subconscious and undercurrents of electronica kept permeating my thoughts on the hike above the lake. An icy wind ripped across the summit of Red Pike, momentarily shaking me from a music induced haze. I looked out to a land and sky in constant flux, clouds spilled over dark peaks and ribbons of light cast drifting veils across empyrean plains. There was a tangible sense of time passing, of elements conspiring to shape material and emotional landscapes.

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Starflower / A Eulogy

“For me the pristine and delicate Starflower is the true evocation of Spring. Their subtle fragrance draws you down paths into shady hollows where they glow imperceptibly in the light, a transient beauty of the wood. To walk among them is to drift in an infinite galaxy, a quiet exodus for the soul.”

King’s Wood / 18th April

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Chilham Mill

There’s a stillness and quietude to this place that’s so alluring. I’ve walked here on a Midsummer’s day and not encountered a soul. It’s especially beautiful in early Spring when the river flows past the mill in sparkling overtures and the giant willow trails its feathered branches lazily in the water. Later in the Summer blue damselflies flit among the reeds and ride the warm currents beneath the bridge. On this day I’d just climbed the hill to Julliberrie’s Grave through light rain and returned to the river to find a perfect equilibrium of light and colour. The Constable like clouds give fluidity and depth and provide a natural symmetry with the trees, and perhaps in this setting echo a certain Englishness and enduring timelessness.

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Angel

Her face caught my eye as I was wandering amongst the tombs in the churchyard. White petals from a cherry blossom tree were strewn at her feet but she was still clutching her faded flowers in her fingers. Her visage spoke such a beautiful melancholy and with her hand elegantly placed to her heart it seemed as if she was softly reciting poetry to an unrequited love..

Pluckley / 24th May

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Pilgrim

The first warm days in May found me hiking the old road to Canterbury. When I walk its sunken lanes and chalk trackways I feel so close to the Pilgrims who centuries earlier journeyed along its ancient route to receive a blessing at Becket’s shrine… ‘Holy blissful Martyr to seek’. I wondered if in their haste they had time to pause and catch their breath for a few moments and like me contemplate the blossom on the bough, smell the damp earth, and look at the river down in the valley meandering its way to Canterbury…

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Tintern Abbey

An incredible space, so much scope for photography inside and out. It was blissfully quiet when I arrived and the low clouds drifting across the river only served to enhance the surreal atmosphere. I had some difficulty deciphering the wonderful array of gothic windows and towering columns into a image that was a little more prosaic yet still captured the romance and beauty of the ruins.

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Last Snowfall

There was heavy snow in late February and it had lain on the ground for nearly a week while I’d been on holiday so I was desperate to explore the parkland near my home before it all melted. Sleet was falling as I crunched through the kissing gate and into the big field. The giant cedars looked like white cathedrals in the snow and they creaked and groaned under the weight showering the unfortunate huddle of sheep sheltering below. A solitary oak stood naked and forlorn in the wintery wilderness yet its slate black silhouette still held some shape of beauty against the sky. Mist began to envelope the horizon as I waded through the snowdrifts, the rooks circling noisily overhead perhaps perceiving a subtle change in the weather. I trudged slowly up to the lodge my frozen hands thrust deep in my pockets. I looked back and traced my footprints trailing away downhill and contemplated the white rooftops and flickering lights in the distance, thankful that I’d seen the last day of snow on the edge of my hometown.

All photos and words © Derek Rickman. If you would like to see more of Derek’s work you can find him on Instagram.