Notes on a Walk Never Taken
by JA Murrin
As a writer I like to visit the places I send my characters. Sometimes I am revisiting and sometimes I set them adrift to locations that I visit afterwards.
The point is to fill in gaps in my memory – to recover a feeling, to flesh out my knowledge of what I have not experienced.
Two men meet at a pub in Angel. It is winter and although it is late afternoon it is dark already. They walk along the canal to Broadway Market. I take the walk with them. Besides the reason for their meeting, the conversation that takes place, the difficulty between them and their failure to resolve that difficulty before they reach their destination there are other things that I can only know if I have walked this stretch of water. When they approach a bridge they hear a bicycle bell and pull into the side to let the approaching cyclist pass. Further along the narrow path, a runner. One of the men looks up at the bridge to see the words ‘Rain Man’ sprayed on it in black paint.
Such observations are supposed to add mood and tone and colour.
It is a cheap trick, I suppose. It is a business I should refuse to deal in. But there are no such tricks in these photographs. They deal in the business of light and colour to express distance and depth and limit and fear. They are composed so entirely around absences that to stare into these empty spaces is to think about the person who has been there – the feet that created these paths. Where is the siren by the water, the indistinguishable figure in the distance, the hunter, the wood-hut?
These photographs are not about walking towards but walking away from. They express a desire that, if we walk far enough, we may come back upon ourselves and discover someone new. The more remote the location, the more absent of human life and habitation, the more cleansing and restorative the journey.
All journeys are purposeful. There are always points of discovery. But while some inspire us to continue on our way, others inspire us to begin afresh. This series of photographs cleanses our palette so we can taste our own purpose again.