Pilgrimage

I took a big trip this past fall of 2016: three weeks from the end of September to the middle of October. It was two years in planning and took me to the Lake District of England and then to Ireland where I traveled and spent a week with a friend. The Ireland leg of the trip was about seeing Ireland’s northwest Atlantic coast – and spending time with my friend, Rebecca Crowell, who’s been going there for several years, painting and teaching workshops at Ballinglen Arts Foundation in Ballycastle, County Mayo.

The major part of the trip was a pilgrimage, a way to see and pay respects to the conservation work of famed English children’s book author, Beatrix Potter (Peter Rabbit et al). Potter used the proceeds from her books to finance purchases of Lake District farms that she kept as working farms, and then bequeathed (over 4000 acres) to the National Trust on her death in 1943. In the process of managing the farms, she turned her life towards farming and became a knowledgeable breeder of the local Herdwick sheep. I first learned of this second life of hers in the film, ‘Miss Potter’, which turns out to not be entirely factual in the events of her life, but is a lovely film to watch. And it introduced me to the Lake District as well as her work there. It led to reading several biographies of her life and gradually planning a photographic project to stay in the village where she lived, Near Sawrey, and wander the lanes on foot, seeing what attracted my eye and camera.

That turned out to be trees and water, my usual favorites, but also paths, sheep, stone fences, and big sky. All are characteristic of the area, whatever the time period. My processing of the images has begun, and will take a long time to work through and determine themes and series. Here’s a taste of what I found.

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