In redrafting Chapter 2 of my thesis, which is about my photographic practice, I have had cause to review all of the images taken during my PhD.  One of the most enduring and favourite locations I have on Skye is Loch Cill Chriosd – an ever-changing stretch of water where I feel comfortable and able to dwell for hours at a time.  During these periods, I am able to drift into a non-conscious state that some might call creative flow, induced by familiarity with the place beyond that of the sensory world.  It is a place of shared Being, where on occasion the camera, by freezing space and time, is able to capture a moment that I recognise intuitively, while my conscious world is attenuated.  One of the times when my awareness was heightened was over the summer when I happened upon some water lily buds on the loch, mingled among the prolific reeds.  These ephemeral and transitory flowers do not last long and rarely do the buds open because of the hostile climate of the northwest of Scotland.  I picked up my camera and returned to the loch . . .

Water Lilies Collection 1 – Alison Price, June 2022

This collection was captured in a little over a month and shows the lilies from their emergence in the last week of June to the first week of September when the flowers had withdrawn from view and the leaves turned to autumnal colours.  It marked a very sad time in my life when I lost Henry, my sixteen-year-old golden retriever.  The loch became my safe place, where I could remember him and mourn my loss.  I believe that these images do share some of my inner feelings, particularly where the reeds are prolific and the lilies are swamped and trapped, struggling to flower in amongst their stronger hosts.  I remember the challenges I had, trying to get a line of sight between the reeds for the camera to capture these truly ephemeral plants.

Water Lilies Collection 2 – Alison Price, June 2022

I also recall that there were times when the waters of the loch were unusually still and the entangled web of reeds and lilies below the water was visible and a glimpse of Being was revealed.

Water Lilies Collection 3 – Alison Price, July 2022

Water Lilies Collection 4 – Alison Price, August 2022

There were times when Monet’s paintings of the water lilies of Giverny appeared in my viewfinder as I was taking photographs, in particular the mauve tones of late summer.

Water Lilies Collection 5 – Alison Price, July 2022

Water Lilies Collection 6 – Alison Price, July 2022

On other days the skies were grey and the clouds dense, giving way to intense reflections and heavy rain.

Water Lilies Collection 7 – Alison Price, June 2022

Water Lilies Collection 8 – Alison Price, June 2022

Water Lilies Collection 9 – Alison Price, June 2022

I spent hours and days waiting for the moment when the buds might break open into the white and yellow flowers that we are familiar with.  And while I was lucky on this occasion, with the combination of a warm and, at times bright day, it was my only glimpse of  the “unnameable glimmer” (Derrida 1967) – the Being of the water lily.

Water Lilies Collection 10 – Alison Price, July 2022

Water Lilies Collection 11 – Alison Price, July 2022

Water Lilies Collection 12 – Alison Price, July 2022

But, almost as quickly as they emerged, the flowers were gone and the density of the reeds overwhelmed the delicate plants.  Like Henry the life of the lilies was snuffed out and thus the lilies became a permanent reminder of him in a transient world.

Water Lilies Collection 13 – Alison Price, July 2022

Summer turned into autumn on the loch and the plate-shaped leaves began to change colour in mid July.

Water Lilies Collection 14 – Alison Price, July 2022

Water Lilies Collection 15 – Alison Price, August 2022

Water Lilies Collection 16 – Alison Price, August 2022

Water Lilies Collection 17 – Alison Price, September 2022

And as I walked away from the loch on that early September day, Henry’s star shone bright, shimmering on the surface of the water, in the late autumn sun. . .

Water Lilies Collection 18 – Alison Price, September 2022

 

References

Derrida, J. (1967). Of Grammatology. Baltimore, John Hopkins University Press.

Alison Price

Alison Price

My name is Alison Price and for the past ten years I have travelled the world photographing wildlife, including Alaska, Antarctica, Borneo, Botswana, the Canadian Arctic, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
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