Sunday, November 30, 2008

Shepherds in the City

It could be that on Kildare Street you might pass the odd shepherd or two, but how would you know? I knew for sure yesterday because some shepherds had brought a small flock with them. It was a bit of a surprise and I tried to get all the sheep in my photograph, which wasn't possible. It's part of a campaign by the Irish Sheep Farmer's - who are feeling the pinch. I really like sheep and the one who is looking at the camera I have named Susan. I fear to report that in Irish mythology, sheep are a bit menacing - diabolical even. Have a look at the story of the siege of Druin Damghaire. I found the shepherds round the corner. Shepherds symbolise mostly watchfulness but in Assyro-Babylonia they are cosmic. In the dark phase of the moon, they conduct souls down to earth. I liked talking to the shepherds but their little flock reminded me of the individual and the collective. The individual that desperately needs to be surrounded by the flock or herd requires reassurance in a primitive way. Human integration is somethings special because we are relational beings. But relating to others isn't always easy and demands development in personality. Some have difficulty in that respect. So what will happen to Susan? I hope she will supply many woolly jumpers. Live long and prosper!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Fleur de lis

On the way to the shops I took this shot of the top of a wrought iron fence. The fence surrounds the house of a well known personality associated with the Ireland football team. I'll let you guess! It just looked nice in the sun, framed by the hedge. The exposure I picked gave me a smile. In past times, it was always the tradition to keep the camera set to 1/125th of a second and the aperture at 5.6. Especially for black and white films, this gave the photographer much flexibility. If there was a lightning opportunity with no time to spare, you could point and shoot and always get something from the negative. The design of the wrought iron fence top is also interesting. There are many of course, but this one is the fleur de lis. It's a very early symbol and much used in heraldry. You could find it in many flags. Purity and chastity may be an early meaning - it was associated with the Virgin Mary - but it can also be seen as a more warlike axe head. It's just about possible this may derive from the coat of arms of Lord Pembroke, within who's estate it can be found.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pile of Stones

Had to get right down on the pavement for this one. Sore on the knees! Construction work seems perpetual in our neighbourhood. No sooner is one building finished than another starts. I guess this pile of bricks is destined for some part of a building but I think it's likely to be a wall, since many of the original 19th century walls have been demolished. I couldn't decide whether these were stone bricks, which have been dressed - or aggregate bricks. I'm going to stick with stones! One of my friends is very attached to the philosopher, St Hildegard of Bingen. Hildegard describes the stone as having three incompatible properties. Moisture prevents its dissolution or decomposition. Because it's palpable it may be handled. Finally, its inherent fire makes it hot and harder still. But she is talking of raw stone, a sacred symbol of freedom,. Dressed stone is often a sign of captivity - stone walls and prisons. I was wondering what kind of prisons we are fashioning for ourselves in these times - with incessant construction of houses and apartments. What is the purpose of construction? Houses to sell or homes for people to live in?

Monday, November 24, 2008


Cafés are the thing at the moment! I often ask clients about what they are doing for fun. It's a fundamental principle of Reality Therapy that people have certain needs - survival, power, freedom, love and ... fun! So at some point I will ask a client about what they are doing for fun - for pleasure or enjoyment. You can certainly have fun at the Panorama Café on the front at Howth. It's small and rather intimate, with excellent Italian food and wine. This is Graziano who runs the café with his Australian friend, Fitzy. Together, they will give you a warm welcome. Motorcyclists get a special welcome - you'll find an autographed photo of Casey Stoner on the wall. So if you are in the area, look in. And don't leave without some genuine Italian produce. There's wine, pasta and excellent olive oil that you won't find in the supermarket - all are guaranteed to give you pleasure. Chill out at the Panorama and enjoy. You won't be disappointed.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sad Café

Another café shot and, as usual, hand-held and available light. I used a high sensitivity (6400 ASA) on the digital camera, which always has a warm look. But it looked so sad, the empty café with only a few customers. I was reminded of the many café paintings which always appear a bit desolate. The cafe is a kind of temporary container - a room that offers temporary respite and limited safety. The image is kind of fuzzy warm, kind of dreamy. So the Eagles sing:
Some of their dreams came true
Some just passed away
And some of them stayed behind
Inside the sad café

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The locked gate

Just continuing from the other day's blog, this is another image of fragility. Nothing is really right about this set up and it wouldn't take much to remove the whole thing and enter the yard behind the gate. It's not even a visual deterrent with its ad hoc mixture of screws and rivets. The main symbol in question is only suggested by the picture - the key is absent, naturally! It's the gate that's interesting - badly maintained with paint peeling, it's about as good a gate as its lock. In any case, alchemists regard the key and the gate as much the same thing. The gate symbolises a passing between the known and the unknown. The gate invites us to pass the threshold into the beyond. It's a bit like psychotherapy, venturing into unknown territory from one state to another. We want to change something about ourselves so we have to push through the gate to reveal more about ourselves.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Red Stripe

It was only after I'd taken this photograph that I realised this building was a bank. I was heading along Baggot Street and the scaffolding looked very colourful in its protective sheathing. I felt that the symbol of a little house with a roof was a bit incongruous given the perilous state that the financial sector got itself into recently. So what drew me take the picture may have been the makeshift fragility of all that protection. The image of the little house is more of a "hut" like the Pizza Hut sign. But the hut itself is a temporary thing. Rather than protection it offers weakness and instability. We would like to believe that a bank is completely safe. But in life, there is no such thing as "completely safe".

Friday, November 14, 2008

Pronto Soccorso

Recently I had to go to hospital in rather a hurry! On my safe return, I remembered this photograph from earlier in the year. I was at the CTO in Turin - that's the Centro Traumatologico Ospedaliero . The hospital deals with burns and bone injuries and conditions. It's housed in a big sixties block and not very beautiful - but if you need help it's the place to be. And because it's near the Alps, it's the first port of call for an injured skier! Its very important to me that down on the ground floor it has one of the best cafes you'll ever find! You can sit in the cafe and watch the many customer-patients wearing all manner of braces, cages and wire supports queuing for an espresso and a great sandwich. I leaned out of a window on the sixth floor to get this picture of the emergency helicopter. The staff seemed to make a nice pattern in the sunshine. If you go to YouTube you can watch a similar copter take off from the same spot. Good health everyone! Take care of these bones!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

You need hands

Earlier I was saying that it's a good idea to look around rather than looking down as we do when we're worried. But there is always an exception. I might have missed the imprint on the pavement if it wasn't very local. I've been stepping over this for around a decade. I guess the person who saw the opportunity to make a mark in wet cement looks at it slightly differently, maybe as an indelible personal mark like the autographs immortalised in the legendary cement of Grauman's Chinese Theatre. For me, it was some kind of attempt to confront the destructive power of time. Yet the hands also take possession like the Red Hand in the Ulster arms. In psychoanalysis the hand is invariably compared with the eye in that it "sees". And by expressing our thoughts in writing we talk through our hands. But ultimately the concept that links all these aspects is that of action. So I can't help wondering what the person did with his hands when he had finished making the mark!