If there is one thing that I like, it is an image. Painting or drawing, full colour photograph or monochrome scan : it doesn't really matter. It is the image that counts : the image that leads you on, plays with your senses, takes you for a day out. For me, "image" and "imagination" are close bed-fellows that share more than a random collection of letters. This love of the interplay between words and images is at the root of my love of blogging, for blogging is the true descendant of the great photo-journalistic traditions of the first part of the twentieth century. At that point where words and images come together - that seashore of the senses - that is the place where I want to be.
Take the painting above. Painted by the not very well known English artist, John Holland, in 1869, it shows the Calder Valley at Lower Ewood, between Halifax and Hebden Bridge. The landscape depicted is so typical of this part of the world : the moors giving way to the hills and valleys, the raw industry leaching into the rural heartland. The scene would not be radically different today as it was when Holland took out his paints and canvass some 150 years ago. But the interesting thing to my mind, is that the painting is part of a collection owned by Calderdale Council and, to the best of my knowledge, has not been on public display for many a year, if at any time at all.
We are seeing it now thanks to a unique project which is being undertaken by a joint initiative between the BBC, the Public Catalogue Foundation (a registered charity) and participating collections and museums from across the UK. Entitled "Your Paintings" the initiative aims to make available scans of all 200,000 oil paintings that form part of public collections in the United Kingdom. You can search the Your Paintings Website by artist, place tags, collection and examine good-quality scans of the 63,000 paintings already added to the on-line collection.
Whatever your interests, the on-line collection provides a fascinating diversion from whatever boring task you are supposed to be undertaking. If, like me, you are an habitual rambler along the seashore of the senses, it is an essential destination.