Thursday, 24 April 2008

Rust Never Sleeps

Now. Between you, me and the lichen-covered gatepost, I have been busily putting together a portfolio of pictures that demonstrate John Piper's maxim 'Pleasing Decay'. I keep showing them to my publisher who just stares at me and then out of the window. He won't read this (he thinks blog is the name of a spaniel) so if any other bookmakers fancy a punt I'll slip an example under the door in a plain brown envelope under the pseudonym Maurice Mildew. The idea is to record things (derelict corrugated iron barns, rusty signs, discarded farm machinery) that are simply disappearing, not through any overtly planned destruction, but rather by a gentle and innocent neglect that gives them an uncertain beauty. So no to burnt-out hatchbacks, yes to abandoned horse boxes with trees growing out the roofs. Which brings me to Church Lane. Leicester cares for its cast-iron street signs (I've seen blokes up ladders painting them) and it won't be long before this example gets the once-over. It's on a wall in Knighton next to the eyecatching Queen Anne-style gate lodge to the hall. But on closer inspection I noticed that the rust on the sign is an exact match for the colour of the brickwork. How does this happen? Is it that I saw it at the precise moment in time that the deepening rust matched, and next month it won't? There's got to be an obvious answer that I can't see. And it isn't that the wall and sign have all been painted from the same tin. The brick is brick. Oh, pass me a beaker of WD40.

8 comments:

Ten Inch Wheeler said...

I've got a particular fondness for gently rotting caravans. I just can't pass them by without taking a photo. On the headland above Alnmouth in Northumberland there's a group of them. Mouldering, but happily still in use.

Peter Ashley said...

Mmm. You might like my blog 'The Quiet Caravan' on 30th November 2007. You also might have to lie down afterwards.

A F-A said...

Peter, you have such an amazing eye! Up in The Dales, it used to frustrate the hell out of me to see so much stuff just left to rot in fields. But where I only would only see neglect and slovenliness, you would see beauty; you're a genius. So based entirely upon this, I am going to stop painting and repairing my cottage, and when the neighbours complain, I shall say I'm creating Art!!!

Philip Wilkinson said...

Remarkable. If I didn't know you better, I'd have thought you'd used Photoshop's 'Pleasing Decay' tool to alter the colour of the sign.

Diplomat said...

Peter - we need to look into the origin of the cast iron, obviously the brick has taken on the colour dictated by the local geology, (where made ?) the feruginous sands in the aluvial clay will give us the clue here and we can analyse the production of iron oxide in the ground,during firing and during later whethering in the atmosphere. The cast iron will have undergone a very similar process and the resultant iron oxide may be coincidentally similar. It would be nice to think the iron ore, possibly a low grade lime-held ore from South Liecestershire, was glacially, or later aluvially, eroded and bled to water courses depositing amongst fine brick-clay beds, it may be that the iron oxide is in fact identical in both the brick and the sign, hence the great colour match - of course.

potterboy said...

I was going to point out the same thing as diplomat - that the bricks probably are coloured in some way by iron oxide - they have to get the red colour some how. But as he's said it, I won't...

I like the decay thing - it's one of my things at the moment - this whole sadness in beauty thing - which I can't quite explain but which I feel quite strongly somehow. Your example is spot on.

Peter Ashley said...

Ah, iron oxide. Of course. Thankyou.

Ron Combo said...

We like the use of beaker. More beakers!