Finding Joy in a Tea Strainer

I want to use this Post to tell you a bit about a Course that I have taken. As you will know there are many talended people offering activities online which has been an absolute treat during these difficult times. The course was run by Paul Sanders of Still and focused on the combination of Photography and Mindfullness. If you take a look at Paul's website you can see very clearly a thread of calm and quiet in everything he does. This has taken time to evolve and the road has not always been easy. Paul is very generous in sharing his journey, warts and all, and it becomes very obvious very quickly that Mindfullness has played a significant part.

It was just a short course but it has triggered so many thoughts and realisations that I know it's impact will last for some time to come, that's certainly the plan.

There were 2 significant 'projects' in which we could participate. One focusing on how we viewed our home during the lock down and to find a way to document that feeling photographically. Is your home a prison, a sanctuary, a safe place, a school? This is maybe a topic for another blog.

I want to use this opportunity to talk about the second project based upon 'Clear Seeing'. For those of you familiar Mindfullness you will recognise the similarities between this and The Raisin exercise. The objective is to look around you at things you don't see anymore as they are always there (objects like the kettle or toaster) and to look at them differently as if they were new to you. Over a short period of time, keep looking at which ever object you select and then start to photograph it over a number of days. Gradually you begin to look past its function and really 'see' the object.

I decided to concentrate on a little red cast iron teapot which sits on my worktop. I have quite a few teapots as I do like my tea and this teapot sits there mainly because it won't fit in the cupboard rather than for anything aethetic!  After a few days I wasn't really getting anywhere but then I lifted the lid and started to play with the metal strainer which sits inside. This is where (for me at least) some magic started to happen. I started to see different shapes and patterns and by focusing in really close and blurring much of the image I felt I was getting somewhere. A couple of hours just flashed by, some refer to this as being in 'flow state', for me it was just a happy place.

For any project I like to finish by creating a little panel of images which I think come together as a body of work. I am really pleased with what I have managed to produce and it has really opened my eyes to what can be done by giving yourself the time to really see what's around you. In total I devoted less than a day on this project but I managed to lose myself very happily in the process. I have been lucky enough to travel to many far flung places with and without my camera but if I can create images such as this without leaving my home it does make me wonder...


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