Reflections on Cathedral

PabloArchive, Photography

Across Spring Bank West 1978

My encounter with the urban park, and old graveyard, which constitutes the subject of my series Cathedral, was in late 1976, either September or October, when I moved into a bedsit across the road. 

A bedsit with a murderous gas fire.  

 I felt that I should do something about what I felt when I first encountered it, all those years ago, that sentiment of awe and, above all, respect for this place, for this natural cathedral.

A few years later, 2012

 Whilst I did not use the term cathedral of nature at the time, that was Philip Larkin description, that feeling of nature taking over what was an abandoned graveyard, was something I understood, and appropriated. 

I was not aware of the Larkin connection at the time, indeed, I did not even know who Larkin was, sin of all sins…

The slow pace of the hours I spent gazing through the window.

In the gallery I wrote

Sanctuary, symphony of nature, a magical place, in the midst of the urban noise…



A couple of years later, just before I abandoned the area, on a dark grey and wet day, as I remember it, my jeans and boots were caked with mud, I captured it. 

A place I have routinely gone back during the years I have been living in the city. 

Four decades. 

A few days ago…

 Its allure still with me….

Perhaps this project is a small homage to this sanctuary, those magnificent trees standing like sentinels of a past which will always be with us..

After many years, this photograph…

 which I screwed it up, as you may notice. I had forgotten to take the dark slide totally out of the film back on the camera.

The slow and measured approach of a large format camera felt to be the right photographic tool to scan not only the topography of the actual place, but that also of my heart.

After three decades of not using a 5 x 4 camera, I embarked in a re-learning path in an era of digital imaging. I am still re-loading the film backs wrongly.

Assembling it on site still does not feel like a process which can be undertaken with closed eyes. 

Although I am getting there…

I have not gone into this project with a clear idea of the images I was going to do.

Have done so, probably I would have not done it.

What would the point of it?

I am still getting pieces of equipment, indeed, a recent delivery gave me an insight of the working of a DPD driver.

Getting to know the peculiarities of the only lens I possess at the moment.

I am most interested in the things it cannot do, so as to do those…

A conversation between images produced place.

Even in the short period I have been working on the project, it has already changed.

Some of the initial images have been binned, then recovered, to be binned again.

I see it as a long term endeavour, for at least another year.

And I need to get more cut film holders, too.