Picture this

I’ve just come back from the Isle of Man. It’s a lovely place, a bit like Cornwall and the Yorkshire moors squeezed into a small place! We’ve been a couple of times now and I’d recommend a visit.


One of the benefits of a camera phone is the ability to take so many images, but I try to be mindful to just ‘be’ in a place as well as capturing it through a lens. The way the air smells, the wind, the sun when it comes out, the feeling of expansiveness looking out to sea….

Castletown harbour
Yep, we went through this on the ferry!

However, I do have an obsession with photographing weathered textures and old boats really set the juices going! All that peeling metal and paint… I asked myself why, other than the fact that I just like them?


Got my feet wet taking these! 🤭

Texture : the visual or tactile surface characteristics and appearance of something. The ‘essential part’ or ‘identifying quality’ of a thing such as a piece of poetry or music, or landscape…

It’s definitely the visual aspect for me: I don’t particularly want to touch the surface, I’m mesmerised by such things as the variety and drifts of a colour palette, the balance of chaos and order in the repetition, lines or pattern over an area, the shapes, then maybe using my phone to crop an image when it then becomes about composition.


And what about landscape? It’s some of the same things as well such as the patterns the walls make when looking out over fields, but mostly I think it’s about grandeur, a fleeing moment, the light, or intimacy of place.

The central moorland
Port Erin

None of it really matters. I simply take pleasure taking photos, composing them, remembering, and sometimes using them as inspiration for art-making. Photos help us remember and delight, to share things with others, to be inspiration, to make connections, to be art. I would say though, that if I try sketching outdoors, (and I’m not sure that’s for me yet) then the memory of a place and the experiences of ‘being’ there come back far more powerfully than through looking at a photo. It’s quite extraordinary and might be reason enough for me to keep trying?

The other thing Iv’e been doing is capturing glimpses through stitching my tiny Stitchpots. They distil memories into very tiny patches of design which then change as they are cut up. I do use photos to remind me of experiences but also just sit at the end of a day with a bunch of scraps of fabric and ask myself what did today offer, what was a strong feeling of being there that I want to re-present?

Harbour boats
Stitching in progress…

I have a few sets of these now from Ireland last year, from where I live over this summer, and I’m just possibly… picturing a set based on some boaty deliciousness!

If like me, you need an excuse for all your immense stock of photos, let me offer the idea that the act of taking photos supports the art of seeing as well as vice versa.

3 thoughts on “Picture this

  1. Thank you for another interesting article, it’s amazing where we can find colourful subjects. I sometimes don’t allow myself to take too many photos – already have quite a stock – and do wonder if sometimes I can be distracted from enjoying the view. Lovely photos of the Isle of Man which I visited many years ago. Funny that I read your post just after picking up a piece of Manx patchwork which has laid untouched for quite a while and I needed some hand sewing to do. However it is not as attractive as your stitching projects!

  2. It’s so very interesting to see the link between the views or surfaces you’ve photographed and the resulting stitching. You would not believe the number of photos my husband and I have amassed, many of which need culling. I am an inveterate photo taker for my artwork and like you, use them to record and remember a moment, colour or texture. I like the way you take one element from a memory/photo to work from. My brain still wants to include everything. I’m trying to spend more time just being and noticing but the photos are a useful tool.

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