Thursday, 4 September 2008

Park Life

And so to London. First to a friend's first one man exhibition at the Smithfield Gallery- big, stunning blow-ups of orange peel and the like called Second Skin. And thence on a pilgrimage with Mr.Wilkinson, brought about by us both having recently gorged ourselves on Antonioni's film of things seen (or not) in the London of 1966. Our quest was for Maryon Park, a fair old leg down the Woolwich Road from Charlton station. On screen David Hemmings finds an aeroplane propeller in an antique shop and then proceeds to go snapping in the park. Back in his Notting Hill studio he blows up the black and white negatives to such a degree that he feels justified in thinking that he's inadvertently photographed a murder, and that there's a corpse in the bushes. As we see the giant black and white images revealed, the quiet atmosphere and rustle of the trees in the park is evoked once again.

Well, the shop and terraced houses have gone, replaced by 70's flats, but once inside Maryon Park the curious enigmatic feeling, given-off so powerfully in the film, is virtually intact. Again, all that we heard was the moving of the bushes and trees, and the chock-chock of people playing tennis behind the wire fences of the courts. One is normally disappointed when visiting the locations of favourite films, but I defy anyone who has immersed themselves in Blow-Up not to be moved by Maryon Park. The only trouble is, I got a thorn stuck into my thumb, which last night also started to enlarge. The image is courtesy of WilkoFilms.

9 comments:

Philip Wilkinson said...

It was absolutely worth legging it all the way along the Woolwich Road to find this place with its otherworldly stillness.

Toby Savage said...

I too was reminded of Blow Up this week. I heard the rustling of leaves and it always takes me to that evocative scene. He must have shot it at about this time of year, when the leaves have a hardened edge to them and rustle in a way that a fresh spring leave wouldn't. It was Blow Up that steered me in the direction of Photography as a career. I imagined myself in the studio romp scene. Sadly, a long way from the truth, though I did photograph some bra's yesterday on two blond models!

Jon Dudley said...

Life is tough Toby. I got to watch (I believe they call it art directing) a photographer shooting worn out clothing for a recycling ad.

As for you Misters A and W, I wonder what the parks police CCTV watchers made of two gentlemen of a certain age poking around in the bushes. "Just looking for evidence of the Blow Up film shoot officer". Oh, right.

Peter Ashley said...

We were eerily alone, except for the tennis players. But yet again, were they really there? If you want to get to grips with all this, watch the film again and then read Iain Sinclair's take on it, and in particular Maryon Park, in his superb 'Lights Out For The Territory'. Towards the end.

Jon Dudley said...

Funny innit...I saw the film when it first came out, just a little bit out of it at the time, loved it, and I've never seen it again. Is it on DVD? Anyway, when does your case come up?

Peter Ashley said...

Jon, you seem determined to get me behind bars. Unmitigated Porridge. But yes, it's available on DVD. Click on 'Blow-Up' in the blog text and you'll find the IMDB site, from whence it should direct you to one.

Jon Dudley said...

"What are you doing here constable? I thought we were eerily alone"...is no defence m'lud. Sorry I'll cease this puerile nonsense. Thanks for the BU directions.

Diplomat said...

David Hemmings ( as you well know ) can be seen most evenings playing cribbage with Charles Bronson at the QHB - or chuffing on a B&H in the car park - poor sod.

Fred Fibonacci said...

Eerily don't see what all the fuss is about.