I recently shared a version of this photograph that I’ve had floating around various hard drives since 2008. It was taken by my dad somewhere along the old Hull and Barnsley Railroad and I have always found it to be the most magical picture, capturing some dream vision of my adolescence.
Much like last time, this post is just an excuse to share a newer version of this same photograph. I emailed my Dad the other day and, on a whim, asked if he still had the original negative in his possession because I’d love to have a higher quality scan of it. Twelve years on, and never having had much use for it, I was amazed to hear that he did.
“Blimey, that is an old photo and didn’t think I would find it but I have”, he said. “I have the negative and a 7 x 5 print. The boots envelope it is in says I got them printed 29/01/2008!”
It’s quite amazing how pristine this old section of the railway looks here. Supposedly unused by trains since 1969, it was long abandoned when we used to explore it in the late 2000s, but it seems that it has only started to look the part more recently. I found this video, for instance, that gives a really nice history of the railway and there is a photo of this same bridge, now entangled in all sorts of vines, at around the 28-second mark.
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about our explorations of the countryside back then. All of my recent posts about the sights and sounds of the Pacific North West, alongside the release of the new Microphones album, have sent me down a bit of a memory hole and I’ve started thinking quite hard about what it was about Elverum’s music, so rooted in his own backyard, that made me engage in new ways with my own.
I am now convinced that there is a kind of cosmic connection here, between far-flung cultures, obviously ancestrally related, that nonetheless retain this kind of unspoken dialogue.
At that time I was so obsessed with his photo/album release, Mount Eerie Pts. 6 & 7, which I’d someone been able to afford (but probably not really), and I reckon I saw my own version of Elverum’s environment in this valley down the Yorkshire Wolds, a short drive from the family home. I used to fantasise a lot back then about making some sort of art project that was to my Atlantic North East as Mount Eerie was to the Pacific North West. I never did, but this photo of me taken by my dad became a talisman for the space the idea occupied in my head.
I feel really inspired at the moment about the prospect of picking this project back up as an adult, some 12/13 years later. I’ll be picking away at this in the background for the time being, but expect the odd snippet thrown onto the blog here and there.
Shout out, Dad. Expect to see this photo maybe adorning merch or a book cover one day. If I’d had a one-man metal band aged seventeen, it would have definitely ended up on there. I’ll find something worthy of it eventually.
Sidenote: Earlier today I was thinking about that mix that Grouper made for FACTmag where she does a blend of Jandek’s “Nancy Sings” and Anne Briggs’ “Thorneymoor Woods” — a truly inspired one-two. I think the exchange of atmosphere that results from these tracks bleeding into each other is precisely what I want to shine a light on with this project… A good thing to aim for.