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Sylvia Plath’s grave at Heptonstall

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The American-born poet, Sylvia Plath, was buried at Heptonstall, near Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, in 1963 after a short and troubled life. In the past she was perhaps better known for her marriage to the former Poet Laurate Ted Hughes (originally from Mytholmroyd, a short distance away) but in recent years her creative impact and ability has been positively reappraised, based on a wider body of her work being discovered.

Her grave lies in the new graveyard: the headstone carries a simple inscription from Hughes, and has been defaced several times (if you look closely the name ‘Hughes’ is typeset slightly differently as the text has been replaced: a certain strand of more radical feminists is alleged have attempted to remove his surname repeatedly, in response to the abusive relationship in life and revisionist way he managed her creative legacy after death).

Sylvia Plath's headstone

On previous visits (see photo above from August 2012) the grave has been marked with stones, pens and other trophies and tributes from fans and well-wishers. On this occasion, fifty years after her death, the grave had been tidied up, just displaying floral tributes. During the time I was photographing this pano there was a steady stream of visitors to the site…

I shot this panorama on the same afternoon as a short and impromptu photoshoot with the excellent and highly tipped Merseyside band Bird, in and around the old and new church of St Thomas at Heptonstall.

Adele and Sian from Bird

I shot the band shortly before the second date on their current UK tour, when they played at the Puzzle Hall Inn in Sowerby Bridge. We had a short window of opportunity to take a few shots on a cold February afternoon, in the sombre surroundings of this ancient Yorkshire hilltop village under leaden skies. The weather matched their enigmatic, emotional and intimate music… given extra resonance as we viewed Sylvia Plath’s grave.

Thanks to Adele, Sian, Lex, Emma and Jack for their patience and good spirits: sitting in front of an open fire in the pub after an hour’s shooting in the raw winter’s air has rarely felt as rewarding!

Bird’s fourth release, Ophelia, is out now on Jack to Phono Records.

 

La chapelle du Saint Eutrope, near Andabre, Languedoc

The only way to get to this French mountain chapel is on foot… a steep climb along some increasingly hairy paths through chestnut forests and over bare rock. And, despite us setting off in late afternoon, it was well over 30°c. As the photographer, I was paying for my art – carrying camera and kit, compared to the water bottles being clutched by everyone else – so I was doubly relieved to climb the final set of steps over the final false peak, and collapse on the stone flagging by the building.

Inside, the chapel was delightfully cool, well maintained and calm. I snapped a trio of HDR panoramas as we enjoyed the view of the hills around us being lit up by the golden evening light; the still warm air suffused with the smell of herbs and hot earth. Well worth the climb to enjoy this kind of view…

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Jáki kápolna, Városliget, Budapest

Rather a nice Romanesque chapel in the grounds of Vajdahunyad Castle in Városliget (City Park). Very tranquil inside, and a much more restrained architectural style than the melange of buildings outside in the castle complex. Shot as a 5 bracket HDR, tonemapped and tweaked slightly afterwards.

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Tod in snow 2: Town Hall and St Mary’s

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Inside the Friends Meeting House at High Flatts

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I shot this during a visit to the former Quaker hamlet at High Flatts, between Huddersfield and Denby Dale, as part of the Heritage Open Days weekend. High Flatts is a delightful collection of honey-stoned cottages and houses set in the rolling Yorkshire hills: until a generation ago it was exclusively Quaker, but now it’s an affluent, secular and mixed community.

Although several generations ago there were Quakers in my family, I’d never been inside a Friends Meeting House, and the Heritage Open Day allowed a glimpse inside this still-functioning place of worship. Several friendly folk were onhand to explain the history and beliefs of the Society of Friends. I was curious to see whether Quaker beliefs would be mirrored in the aesthetics of the building, like other isolated religious groups such as the Moravians and Shakers. The styling is measured and balanced; the exterior is well-proportioned and Georgian in character. I liked the simple and harmonious interior, with its focus inwards: more for meetings of minds, rather than sermons.

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