Simon Birch Artwork: Blog http://simonbirch.zenfolio.com/blog en-us (C) Simon Birch Artwork mail@simon-birch.co.uk (Simon Birch Artwork) Thu, 04 Apr 2013 19:00:00 GMT Thu, 04 Apr 2013 19:00:00 GMT http://simonbirch.zenfolio.com/img/s/v-5/u632475354-o69986347-50.jpg Simon Birch Artwork: Blog http://simonbirch.zenfolio.com/blog 89 120 Winter at Harewarren http://simonbirch.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/4/winter-at-harewarren It has been the coldest March on record in the UK. As I write (on April 4th) it is snowing and the cold wind still bites. I have been longing for spring to get underway, but it seems I will have to wait a little longer.

At the weekend I was in Salisbury and it was cloudy again for the most part of the day, but I decided that rather than be beaten by the weather, I would brave it and took my camera to a woodland that I have visited many times, Harewarren. It is near Salisbury's Race Course just outside Netherhampton.

Something else, besides photography, drove me to visit the place too. I wanted to see if the Ash dieback disease, that is now rife in woodland across the UK, had affected the area as there are many fine Ash trees there.

The woodland I knew was very different in winter. A lot less leafy, obviously, and as a result the buildings in the wood and around the southern edges were more easily visible. The whole place seemed stark and a little grey. There were some signs of tree clearance, a whole area had gone completely, and looked like one of those rainforest destruction documentary shots. To be honest, though, it was no where near as bad as I had feared, and my favourite trees were still standing, so hopefully the most beautiful areas will survive.

There weren't many opportunities for spectacular landscape shots, I only captured a handful that I was even vaguely pleased with. Once I had got past the fact that I would not be finding the pictures I had hoped for, I started seeing and looking in a different way. Details began to take my interest, like the colours in the tree bark, mosses lichens and new signs of leaf growth. I shot some macro pictures using my iPhone, as well as some of the ones you see here.

It's a small collection, but I was pleased with the results that I came back with in this cold spell that should be the start of Springtime.

 

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mail@simon-birch.co.uk (Simon Birch Artwork) Salisbury Simon Birch UK Wiltshire bark ivy natural nature trees woodland woods http://simonbirch.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/4/winter-at-harewarren Thu, 04 Apr 2013 18:59:49 GMT
The Last Days Of Winter Exhibition at Misty Moon Gallery http://simonbirch.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/2/the-last-days-of-winter-exhibition-at-misty-moon-gallery  

I am taking part in an another exhibition at the Misty Moon Gallery in South London. It is called "The Last Days Of Winter" and will run for about a month. There is a preview night on the 23rd of February, so please come along and join us if you can.

 

I will be showing some new kaleidoscopic images based on some of the woodland photographs I have taken. Some friends of mine are also exhibiting. On Saturday the 2nd of March there is another special evening there, where actress Margaret Nolan will be showing her artwork as well as conducting a Q&A about her career in film and TV.

The Misty Moon Gallery is next to the Ladywell Tavern, Ladywell, South London.

More details (and travel) here: http://mistymoon.net/exhibitions/the-last-days-of-winter-exhibition-february-2013/

Hope to see you at the preview night.

 
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mail@simon-birch.co.uk (Simon Birch Artwork) Ladywell London Simon Birch UK exhibition gallery geometry images kaleidoscopic misty moon photographic south http://simonbirch.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/2/the-last-days-of-winter-exhibition-at-misty-moon-gallery Tue, 26 Feb 2013 13:08:24 GMT
Exhibition at Misty Moon Gallery http://simonbirch.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/1/exhibition-at-misty-moon-gallery Hello,

I am pleased to be taking part in an exhibition at the Misty Moon Gallery in South London. It is called "Theatre Of Lights" and runs from the 21st of January to the 3rd of February. There is a preview night on the 23rd of January, so please come along and join us if you can.

I will be showing some new works, mainly kaleidoscopic images based on some of the woodland photographs you can see on this site. There won't be loads, as I only have a small space, but it is worth a look if you can make it.

The Misty Moon Gallery is next to the Ladywell Tavern, Ladywell, South London.

More details (and travel) here: http://mistymoon.net/exhibitions/the-theatre-of-lights/

Hope to see you at the preview night.

Simon.

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mail@simon-birch.co.uk (Simon Birch Artwork) http://simonbirch.zenfolio.com/blog/2013/1/exhibition-at-misty-moon-gallery Fri, 18 Jan 2013 12:34:56 GMT
Littlehampton To Bognor http://simonbirch.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/12/littlehampton-to-bognor In mid November I travelled by train (my preferred mode of transport) to visit a friend in Littlehampton in East Sussex. I took my camera, I had been there before; photographing the rather wonderful yard of wrecked and decaying boats at the mouth of the river. This time I planned to walk along the beach from Littlehampton to Bognor Regis. I have to admit, I wasn't expecting to get much in the way of interesting photographs, as it was winter and my friend had told me that I should be prepared to walk on a lot of stones on the way.

I wasn't put off, and as luck would have it, the sun was out and so was the tide, so I got to walk at the water's edge all the way on beautiful flat sand. I had left just after lunch, I only had a few hours before the sun went down, so it was a fairly brisk walk all the way.

At first the beach was difficult to find any inspiration in, flat as far as the eye could see, but I was enjoying the calm waves lapping in and the reflections of the sunlight, low in the sky. I walked through a place called Atherington, where there were trees battered into diagonal shapes by the wind and unusual breakwaters, that stood high, cast wonderful long shadows.

As I continued the scene got more and more interesting. Red seaweed on the beach mixed with the reflected blue sky on the sand and created these incredible colours, purples, dark blue and deep maroon reds. I had not seen anything quite like it (all the colours in the photographs are real, no exaggerations, effects or filtering).

As the sun set as I neared Bognor Regis, the golden yellow/orange light hit the sides of chalk rocks, casting long shadows from the white or green forms.

It was breathtaking and quite unexpected. I got so carried away with it I dropped my phone somewhere in the rock pools, never to be seen again. I didn't notice until later.

It was another time I have reminded myself that it is always worth taking a chance on the weather and location, you can never predict exactly what you will find.

 

Simon x

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mail@simon-birch.co.uk (Simon Birch Artwork) East Sussex England UK beach coastal coastline natural nature seascapes seashore south sunset http://simonbirch.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/12/littlehampton-to-bognor Fri, 07 Dec 2012 12:01:32 GMT
Winchelsea Beach http://simonbirch.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/11/winchelsea-beach A few weeks back, after visiting a relative in Hastings, I took a walk along the cliffs through some quite dense sea fog and then down to Winchelsea Beach. I was heading for Rye, some miles away, just to see what I could find along this stretch of coast that I had not visited since I was a boy.

I wasn't expecting to get much in the way of decent photographs because of the fog, but once I got down to the beach I realised that my timing had been rather fortuitous. The fog was gone, I could look back up to the cliffs and see the clouds rolling back over them. It was late in the day, so the sun was low in the sky. The sea looked quite lively, and this low autumnal sun, combined with the cloud created an amazing light that was reflecting in the rock pools. I had timed it right for the tide too.

I took a lot of pictures of virtually the same scene, but the light, cloud and sea were all changing so rapidly as I walked about, that there was a wealth of interesting material.

The sun got lower and the light took on a peachy glow, causing the sea to look like it was in an oil painting. It was beautiful.

I walked until it got dark. In fact, I got a bit lost as I approached Rye, and by the time I got to the station I was exhausted, its a fair distance.

The pictures here are representative of what I saw. I like to keep realism in my photography, you can see so much over-treated landscape photography on the net at the moment. I struggle to see why it is so popular. I did alter the levels in the skies a bit, just as you would in a darkroom, but that was about it. Skies and ground areas often need different settings as a camera does not work in the same way as our brains do - our brains compensate for the differences in light levels, whereas a camera can only calculate things literally (at the moment).

The end results look a little sombre I suppose, but I feel that I captured some of that painterly-ness I witnessed on the beach that day.

You should never let adverse weather put you off, it can lead to some spectacular and unexpected sights.

 

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mail@simon-birch.co.uk (Simon Birch Artwork) Sussex UK Winchelsea beach clouds dramatic natural seascape shore http://simonbirch.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/11/winchelsea-beach Sun, 04 Nov 2012 13:50:46 GMT
New Gallery: The Heygate Estate, London. http://simonbirch.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/10/the-heygate-estate-london Photographs of the Heygate Estate, Elephant & Castle, Walworth, Southwark, South London. Soon to be demolished (it is now mostly boarded up), it is a stark, yet strangely beautiful view of urban decay. It was built in the 1970's and is a good example of post-war, 'neo-brutalist' architecture. Designed by Tim Tinker, it had an optimistic beginning, but soon had a reputation for crime and violence.

It has featured in several feature films including "Attack The Block", "Harry Brown" (with Michael Caine), "Shank" and scenes in "Hereafter" by Clint Eastwood. It was also a regular location for TV dramas "The Bill" and "Spooks".
 
I could see comparisons with other 1970's architecture in London, like the Barbican Centre, so it was a little sad that the place had dilapidated and had also failed it's residents. Yet, a strange beauty lies in its decay.

It is a fascinating place to take photographs. It has been empty for some time, and although due to be knocked down, it will not be completely demolished until 2014. This is because of the asbestos present on the site.

Although it is mostly deserted now, there are still a handful of residents present. What fascinated me was the boarded windows and walkways in the blocks that created stark geometric shapes from what was once a busy community living space. I can see that the original concept of the place was a good one, walkways crossing the roads so that pedestrians would not have to tackle the traffic, but this inadvertently created an environment that, combined with the bleak social situation of many inhabitants, was helpful for muggings and other crimes.

Graffiti, broken and boarded windows combine with the growth of weeds and plants, no longer being cut back or removed to create a very strange atmosphere. One I found both bleak and beautiful in equal measure.

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mail@simon-birch.co.uk (Simon Birch Artwork) 1970's Attack The Block Elephant & Castle Harry Brown Heygate Estate London Shank Southwark Tim Tinker Walworth architecture bleak block decay demolish deserted flats geometric neo-brutalist post-war stark urban http://simonbirch.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/10/the-heygate-estate-london Mon, 01 Oct 2012 13:52:24 GMT
Blean http://simonbirch.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/9/blean Sunlight on the Pathways at Blean A couple of weeks ago I visited a large woodland at Blean, near Canterbury in Kent, UK. I had wanted to visit the place for some time, because I had found out that it had one of the largest areas of deciduous and ancient woodlands in the South of England. I have visited many many woodland areas in Britain over the years and I find this type to be the most pleasing, so I got the train down there.

Canterbury itself is a beautiful city, I hadn't visited for years, and as I walked across the town I reminded myself that I must return one day, just to visit the city. It is steeped in history and is really interesting visually, remaining largely unspoilt by the tourist trade which it clearly thrives on. I thought I might return out of season.

I chose to walk (I could have got a bus) up the hill past the University to the woods. It was a long hill, and as I passed the University I couldn't help wondering if the old Canterbury crowd from the psychedelic 1960's (Daevid Allen, Kevin Ayers, Robert Wyatt, Hugh Hopper etc) may have wandered about here.

I got to the woods and straight away knew it was a special place. The sun was out and was casting fabulous shadows and creating dappled light on the ground and against the tree trunks. I found a helpful map and could see that the place was so big, I would not get to see the whole of it in one day. I selected a pathway to follow and explored.

What a wonderful woodland, I had never seen so many tall oaks together in one place. It was totally unspoilt and although it looked cared for, it also looked natural, which is what I like. The wide well-trodden pathways did not upset the look and feel of the place. As I followed them I discovered streams and open areas as well as the most majestic of trees.

I took a lot of photographs that day, but this was more of an initial exploration, I will return and get to know the place better. I think my pictures will improve the more I visit. I did get a few that I like though.

Toward the end of the day I came to one of the heathland areas and the colours there were spectacular. Purple heathers, orange and green grasses creating a rich rainbow of hues.

An amazing place. Highly recommended. I can't wait to see more.

Some of the pictures I took that day have been added to the gallery: http://simonbirch.zenfolio.com/woodland

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mail@simon-birch.co.uk (Simon Birch Artwork) Blean Canterbury Kent ancient nature woodland woods http://simonbirch.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/9/blean Tue, 11 Sep 2012 11:11:35 GMT
New Gallery: The Kent Coast 2: Margate to Herne Bay http://simonbirch.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/8/the-kent-coast-2-margate-to-herne-bay I have uploaded a new gallery called "The Kent Coast 2". It is a selection of the photographs that I took on an exhausting walk along the Kent coastline last week from Margate to Herne Bay.

After reviewing the weather forecast and tidal times I had decided to get there at some point in the afternoon. This payed dividends. On my last visit to the coast it didn't enter my head to check the times of the tides, and when I got there the tide was in, which limited what I could do and where I could go. It also meant that every so often I had to go up and over the cliffs on that part of the coast because there was no way along the bottom when the tide was in. That proved very tiring. I must have scaled the cliffs six or seven times that day.

This time I arrived just before the cloud was due to clear and when the tide was well and truly out. The clouds did clear, the sun came out and I got some amazing light conditions.

I walked from Margate along the beach to Westbrook Bay, then round to St. Mildred's Bay, Westgate Bay, Epple Bay, Grenham Bay, Minnis Bay and then the long walk along the Viking Coastal Trail to Reculver and finally arriving at Herne Bay. When I looked at the map, I had completely underestimated how far the walk was. It took me five hours in the end.

But, it was worth it. When I got to Epple Bay and Grentham Bay, the clouds were light in the blue sky, the tide was out enough to reveal some of the chalk rock formations and sand on the beach, which mixed with seaweed and crushed mussel shells. The sea was as calm as it could possibly be and  the wind was still. In combination this created the effect of the flat water acting like a mirror, so that the clouds were perfectly reflected in the pools and stretches of seawater. Looking through the camera was like looking into another world. I captured hundreds of abstract patterns that seemed to extend into imaginary distances and places. Amazing. I was very lucky.

I also managed to add to my growing collection of what I calling my "Britishness" photos. These are viewpoints of more slightly unexpected or un-noticed things in the British coastal landscape. Buildings, objects and things that are sometimes broken, run-down or decaying in the landscape. I sometimes see compositions and painterly-like images made from them.

Anyway, check the slide show here, or visit the gallery, and maybe let me know what you think.

Thanks

Simon x

 

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mail@simon-birch.co.uk (Simon Birch Artwork) Herne Bay Kent Margate abstract beach coast coastline nature other-worldly pattern reflections sunshine http://simonbirch.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/8/the-kent-coast-2-margate-to-herne-bay Thu, 09 Aug 2012 14:57:00 GMT
What do you think of the show so far? http://simonbirch.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/7/what-do-you-think-of-the-show-so-far Hello. This is my first attempt at doing anything like this. I have a feeling that I should have done it years ago. What I am talking about is self-employment. I just hope that I can get it to work. I have been a frustrated artist for many years. I have never had, or known how to get, the breaks I needed to get going. I was unlucky at Art College in that my department was closed down in my final year, so I had no tutoring or guidance, nor any help with potential career prospects. To be honest though, although I got a good result, I wouldn't have listened to many people back then, I was arrogant and stupid.

Now, I have grown up.. sort of. I am still not brilliant at listening to people, but I do have a better sense of how to work efficiently. My self-confidence could be a lot better, but I am here doing something I really believe in.

 

I know I am not the best photographer in the world, I couldn't even call myself a professional, but some of the pictures here may be of interest to some, of that I am sure.

I have discussed my work a fair bit of late, and I have had to take some criticism on board, which is always tricky, but healthy. One of my close friends said to me that he would rather be in the places I have pictured than buy a print. This annoyed me at first, but then I realised that I was succeeding in my efforts in some way. You see, when I am out in the woods or wherever taking these photographs, it is often about capturing the feel of the whole place, even the things that are outside of the frame. I think of my audience and what they will be viewing and I will often try to place them at the scene. So, for my sceptical friend to prefer to be 'in' my photographs is perfectly alright. I hope he realises that it will take him a lot of effort to find those precise moments and places.In fact, it is almost certainly impossible.

 

Pictures on your wall serve as virtual spaces that you can visit. Portals to a place in your mind where you want to be.

I hope that some of my pictures can serve that very personal purpose.

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On a practical note, I would very much welcome some input as to what you would like to see, or not to see sold in my shop here. Also, how it all works for you. It looks OK from where I am. Hopefully I have got the prices about right. I don't want to rip people off (or sell myself short for that matter). Please let me know your thoughts.

I will build on this as time goes by. Drop by every so often, as I will be posting new work regularly and I have some shows in the pipeline. Let me know how I am doing.

Thanks for reading

Simon.

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mail@simon-birch.co.uk (Simon Birch Artwork) capturing environment feedback feeling self-assessment http://simonbirch.zenfolio.com/blog/2012/7/what-do-you-think-of-the-show-so-far Sun, 22 Jul 2012 11:53:35 GMT