Astley Hall is a historic manor house on the outskirts of the Lancashire market town of Chorley. It’s favourite place of mine, I like to visit it with my camera as the seasons roll and change through the year.
It has a changing sequence of events taking place through the year which always add to the pleasure of any visit. A more recent attraction is Astley Hall Illuminated, a light show that takes place in the grounds on one night in November and I was able to make it to this years performance. As well as the lights there were other attractions, living Christmas Trees walking around, children being terrified and intrigued in equal measure and a Brass Band from the Lancashire village of Tarleton played Carols throughout the evening.
SPARK Line up outside the Hall
The highlight for me though was a drumming troupe by the name of SPARK. Their appearance was completely other worldly. They wore illuminated costumes, the colours changing as the beats of their drums changed. Throughout the evening they marched in formation around the Hall and it’s grounds like ghostly Pied Pipers with the crowds following in their wake. It was a truly magical experience.
SPARK attracts the crowds.
I’ve already made a note to check out the date for next year, a tip if you go wrap up warm, it’s Lancashire and it’s November. I warmed up afterwards with a hot chocolate from the Hall’s Cafe Ambio, a lovely end to a great evening.
Drums and lights in a circle from SPARK.
ASTLEY HALL INFORMATION
MY ELECTRIC BOOKSHELF
A few weeks ago a friend invited me along to his graduation ceremony for his Masters degree which was being held in Manchester. I think it now makes him some sort of Jedi.
The event was being held in the starkly elegant Bridgewater Hall across from the Victorian splendour of the Midland hotel, the hotel was acting as the dressing room for the students cap and gownery. So needless to say there was a certain amount of hustle and bustle between the two but in amongst all the celebrations and mortar board throwing etc. there was a small oasis of calm.
Carefully, diligently a gentleman was sketching away at recreating the Manchester skyline in a panorama of watercolours and pen strokes. From time to time small knots of the celebrating crowds would break off to admire his craftsmanship but never once did he break his concentration or step out of his zone.
I wonder what the finished image looks like and where it’s now hanging?
Bridgewater Hall Information
The Midland Hotel Manchester
My Electric Bookshelf
A favourite place of mine for taking my camera for a walk is Astley Hall on the outskirts of the Lancashire market town of Chorley. The Hall has it’s origins in the 15th century, with succeeding families of owners each putting their own stamp on the building. To the rear of the hall is the walled garden, the kitchen garden, providing produce to feed the household. The garden has been under a program of restoration and replanting with the emphasis shifting to the decorative as opposed to the edible.
It’s a spot that holds year round attractions as the season ebb and flo, the bare sticks of trees and frozen hummocks of soil slowly warm and ease themselves into a new cycle of life for the year. Shoots forcing themselves through onto the stage of a new growing year and fresh leaves begin to garland the trees as the days lengthen.
The walled garden is also a stage for an ever shifting range of features and exhibits. Two that have caught my eye are these wicker figures, not quite a Wicker Man, they don’t quite have those sinister overtones, they are more peaceful and reflective.
LANCASHIRE. Chorley. Figure woven out of willow in the walled garden.
My original shots were colour but something in the poise of the figures made me try out B&W versions of the images which I felt conveyed more the timelessness of a peaceful walled garden.
Astley Hall Information
Lachlan’s Electric Bookshelf
High on the moors at Crown Point above the East Lancashire town of Burnley stands this sculpture, The Singing Ringing Tree. It’s one of four such outdoor pieces which go under the collective name of The Panopticon, or being able to see all. Each piece is of a different design, the Singing Ringing Tree takes the shape of a wing blown tree, distorted by the constantly blowing, moorland winds. Additionally the lengths of tubing that go together to make the sculpture are tuned and as the wind passes over them a constant and ever changing series of notes are produced. It is an eerie experience to stand close by and hear the ever changing soundscape of fluting drones and tones increase and decrease in volume, produced as the winds change direction and intensity. My original image was a colour shot but there was something about the starkness of the location and the artwork that persuaded me that a black and white image would work best. If you have a chance the Singing Ringing Tree is one of the more unusual public artworks you will find.
The other three pieces are sited around other East Lancashire locations, collectively they represent the regeneration of a part of England’s north west which has suffered due to the decline of the traditional heavy industries. The locations are Atom at the village of Wycoller, Halo above the town of Haslingden and Colourfields which is built onto a former gun battery sited in the town’s Corporation Park. It is a summer project of mine to visit all of the sites to see what images I can produce from the artworks and their locations.
Panopticons Art Project
Tourist Information Panopticon Art Project
Lachlan’s Electric Bookshelf
Just a quick post to get back into the swing of things. I’ve had a busy month getting a couple of projects off the ground, on in particular has been adding to and organising the ebooks I produce. With a little bit of head scratching and midnight oil burning I’ve managed to produce twelve titles, not in one month obviously but reaching number twelve feels like a bit of a personal milestone.
I’m now starting to feel comfortable with the format and more importantly confident in the style and content of the books.though as always, at the back of my mind is the thought that I don’t want to get over confident and just bang out books in a production line with no thought as to the idea behind them. if I expect people to look at them they have to have a decent theme and a degree of style and continuity.
I don’t intend to step back from book production, I really enjoy the challenge of putting them together, print on demand will be the next step, which means more head scratching and midnight oil burning over a different set of production techniques.
All of the above though has meant that the blogging has become a whole lot more sporadic than it was before so a bit more personal organizing will have to be brought into play.
FLEETWOOD. The Marine Hall
Right, blog entry over for now, the next one is beginning to come together out of a pile of scribbled notes.
Lachlan’s e-book bookshelf
Cleveleys, just a little way northwards along the coast from Blackpool, is somewhere I like to head to. It’s a little slower paced than it’s brash neighbour, a little less in your face. Somewhere the camera and I can walk around and take my time.
LANCASHIRE, Cleveleys. The Promenade looking towards Fleetwood, one of the promenade shelters.
The area of Cleveleys I always head for, after the obligatory coffee, sandwich, cake fill up, is the promenade. A few years ago as part of sea defence renewals the promenade was rebuilt and part of the package where a series of stylish shelters and lighting pylons.
One of the elegant and futuristic lighting pylons Cleveleys Promenade.
There’s something about they way the look reminds me of the film ‘Things To Come’, a stylised interpretation of how the future may look from an era long ago.
The shingle beach and groyne.
Another reason for my liking to area is the Irish sea as it roll restlessly against the rustling shingle and the big, big sky overhead.
CLEVELEYS TOURIST INFORMATION
Ferry To Knott End For Fish & Chips
In the age of mobile mass communication this is a charming hark back to a previous age of searching for loose change and pressing button B. This row of eight telephone boxes is on Market Street in Preston, Lancashire, just by the Flag Market, around the corner from the excellent Harris Museum. It is reputed to be the longest row of telephone boxes in the UK, the designer was Giles Gilbert Scott who also the architect of the nearby War Memorial.
Harris Museum Information