Monday, 3 June 2013

Crossing the Bar : The Photographer and the Poet : a collaboration

I've just returned from the Isle of Wight. Whilst there, I visited Dimbola Lodge at Freshwater, the former home of Julia Margaret Cameron (1815 - 1879) , the Victorian photographer. It is now a photography museum and stages exhibitions and events. Julia Margaret Cameron took on the challenges of handling large cameras and dangerous chemicals at a time when photography was known as 'The Black Art'. Ignoring conventions, she experimented with composition and focus. Today she is credited with creating the first photographic close-up portraits. Amongst the many portraits she took was of a neighbour in Freshwater, the poet Alfred Tennyson. One of his most famous poems was written on the ferry between Lymington and Yarmouth called 'Crossing the Bar'. The ferry service still runs and is one of three in operation - the others being Southampton to East Cowes : the route we used this time and Portsmouth to Fishbourne.

A past collaboration between a photographer and a poet and a whole community of visitors to the studio to visit a photographer who is seen now as one of the most pioneering of her time, ignoring established conventions socially in her life and pushing the boundaries in technology available.

Crossing the Bar by Alfred Tennyson  (1809 – 1892)

Sunset and evening star,
  And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
  When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
    Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
    Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
    When I embark;

For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
    The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
    When I have crost the bar.