This blog has always been about challenging myself to see familiar places in new ways. Having lived in Tunbridge Wells for all of the last ten years and then before that for virtually the whole of my childhood, I had been saving my photography for trips away and holidays rather than ever on my days at home.
About a year ago, I started this blog as a way of changing all that- as well as trying to discover locations that were nearby but new to me, I would go out to the places that I knew too well and try to re-see them.
The Wellington rocks are an example of this- I went there regularly as a child and then again when my son was young, but how now to make it different?
My plan at first was to try to photograph in tight so that the rocks would look like a grander canyon:
Or concentrate on the contrast between the rocks and the vegetation between them:
Or step back slightly to create a bit of foreground:
But then I spotted amidst the normal graffiti, a bit of rock art:
Since visiting the Pech Merle caves in France in the summer, I have been fascinated by cave art. There, as in many places in Europe, prehistoric man decorated caves with paintings which have somehow survived to the present day. These weren’t caves where they lived. Instead they sought out particularly beautiful locations which they must have viewed religiously and decorated them. There is a strict no photography rule in Pech Merle which I would have been happy to keep to until I saw how vibrant the real paintings are compared to the flat and lifeless reproductions on the postcards. I managed to secretly snap this example before being warned off and in my development have tried to bring out how it might have looked as the painter held up a flickering torch:
Astonishingly, that painting was created around 29,000 years ago towards the end of the middle stone age. We know that the high rocks in Tunbridge Wells were also occupied at the same time, so were these and the Wellington Rocks also being decorated at the same time?
If so, on the sandstone, it would have disappeared only shortly after, but in amidst all the lettering, there are a few other examples of recent attempts at drawing in the stone: