A couple of weeks ago I met up with my brother, Roger, for the first time in nine years. I had to travel halfway across the world to find him on the Caribbean island of Dominica, but once we were together our conversation soon turned to Halifax, the place we both call home. We also talked about the various project we were both involved with at the moment, and I happened to mention that I had been rescanning many of the photographs of Halifax I took some fifty years ago. By coincidence, Roger – who is a very successful artist and sculptor – had also been thinking about the Halifax of our youth, and was working on a book of his drawings, sketches and paintings from that period which he plans to call Townscapes. He has kindly allowed me to reproduce one of the sketches of Dean Clough and North Bridge that will feature in the book.
His sketch sent me searching through my negative archives and I discovered a photograph I must have taken forty or so years ago of the same bridges and the same buildings. Perhaps I should work on a companion volume to Townscapes!
This is a wonderful old photograph, which, like so many wonderful old photographs, is of unknown people, in unknown places, at an unknown time. There is no need to have the genealogical satisfaction of knowing that Auntie Winnie is the one on the left, or Mabel Cuddlington is the one on the right: the image can be appreciated in its own right and as a slice of history. And what a slice it is: doorstep-thick and dripping with best butter. Were these four ladies just passing and keen to avail themselves of a photo opportunity, or was it their bike? We will never know.
This photograph was taken on the island of St Lucia, at a little fishing village called Anse La Raye. Like one of the earlier photographs in this sequence, I was drawn to the sculpturesque feel about the scene. It was a few days before I met up with my brother – who is an artist and sculptor – so it was probably his influence. Shapes, angles, movement – all the things I like best in an image.
I can find no record of any Victorian photographer called “A. Lowe” who was based in Melton – indeed I am not even sure where Melton is, unless it is a shortened form of Melton Mowbray. On the reverse of this little Carte De Visite is written, “E.M. 17 Yrs 1900”. As with all such old photographs of unknown subjects, one is left with the question – what happened to her, what life lay ahead?
A reflection of the Cathedral of Saint Louis in Fort-de-France, Martinique. The cathedral is the seventh church on the site – the previous six were victims of natural disasters, including fire, earthquakes and hurricanes. The current church was designed by the great French engineer, Gustave Eiffel, and has so far survived over 120 years. It is unlikely that the glass fronted building at the other side of the town square will last that well.