Passing Through Doorways

In the introduction to this series on my forthcoming plans, I suppose I gave you a brief idea of my personal history involving my sense of the world as a whole — nature, culture, animal, mineral, vegetable — and for this piece I shall continue in this vein. Some of you will already know much of this, but I think it better to repeat myself here, rather than skip details that will later prove important.

I left Orkney and headed for university when I was eighteen. Looking back, twenty years later, I seem impossibly young, naive, hedonistic and, at times, idiotic. I suppose, however, this is much the same with many eighteen year olds. I chose the wrong university course, in the wrong place, but that did not really matter. What I got out of that time of my life was far more important; I collected emotions, experiences, ideas, voices, and observations, as others collected stamps.

Old doorway with stone wall

Doorway in Lower Pulteneytown, Caithness. It seemed fitting to select doorways to illustrate this piece.

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See the World!

When I was young I wanted to see the world. I wanted to explore the unexplored, find hidden cities and lost tribes (never once thinking that these tribes were unlikely to have counted themselves lost), uncover ancient treasures and discover species new to science.

I pored over the literature I had access to at the time (in those distant pre-internet days), whether my parents’ ample collection of books, my own burgeoning supply, or the library (school or otherwise). I would read fictional tales of these adventures: Willard Price, Arthur Conan Doyle, Johann Wyss, Daniel Defoe, R.M. Ballantyne or Gerald Durrell being just some of the authors I admired and devoured. I would also work my way through the non-fiction selection, again including tales of real life explorers and, especially, works about the natural world — particular favourites being David Attenborough and Gerald Durrell (again – The Amateur Naturalist is a book I returned to, and still do, over and over).

Paris, France. The Luxembourg Gardens.

Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris. For this piece I will decorate with a handful of Parisian snapshots, seems to make sense.

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Years Left

I used to write for a website my sister built and curated, full of interesting and, at times, wildly different art (watch this space for further news on said sister’s projects). Once upon a time, whilst I still lived in an English city, she asked some of the site’s contributors to put together a list of 21 Things — 21 goals — not dreams.

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Millennium Clock, National Museum Of Scotland, Edinburgh. The photos to accompany this piece are all to do with death, and the iconography of this, the final leveller. Most of them are also in a Flickr album called “Graveyards and Stones”, available here, with many others (some rather poignant gravestone inscriptions).

Recently I revisited my list, for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, I wanted to see how many I have completed, or am on my way to completing (if, indeed, they can be completed — some were a little amorphous, hazy around the edges, and some were date-dependent — I am not yet fifty, for example). I count seven or eight I would say I could stroke through, although this figure may be a little higher or lower depending on interpretation. Three I know I will never complete; I could do, but older me no longer wants to. My priorities have changed. Life moves on. (more…)