[Update 18 Jan 2011] The first image in this post was chosen by visitor vote in PhotoFriday ‘s Best of 2010 competition! Thank you!
The majority of my time in the UK was spent in a town called Peterborough, about an hour north of the city of London. The town itself isn’t that large, though it does have all the luxuries that you’d expect to find in any town in England would need: good pubs, Christmas markets, a variety of cuisine from throughout the world, and a 10th century Cathedral.
It boggles the mind to think that something could be so old. Australia is a very young country, just over a couple of hundred years old. When I am seeing something that’s almost one thousand years old, it really hits and amazes me. Walking through this building, it’s hard not to be in awe of something so massive and so ornate built an age ago. The roof of the hallway visible in the lower part of the frame (in the background) is made up of hundreds of individually painted pieces to form a giant mosaic. How they managed to accomplish such a feat so long ago is beyond me.
My image today is of the altar inside this incredible Cathedral. Buried beside it on one side is Katherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s first wife, and formerly Mary Queen of Scots. Mary has been since moved to Westminster Abbey. Up close, the altar is simply exquisite. Surrounding and covering it is a truly beautiful roofing (I’m not sure of the word exactly? Anybody know what this is called?). For this image, I wanted to convey the astoundingly grand nature of the building and it’s raw beauty. My wide-angle lens didn’t capture the whole building from floor to ceiling and I needed it all for my shot. How to go wider? Fisheye! When I first looked through the viewfinder after attaching the lens… I knew I had my shot with the way the side pillars of the Cathedral converge into the mural on the roof of Jesus (see below) and the direct the eye down to the altar, coming full circle.
The mural on the roof is something else, and to me… it’s above and beyond the scene inside the Cathedral itself. I’m not a religious man, but I couldn’t help but find the message behind the mural very profound. From John Chapter 15, Verse 5 of the King James Bible, it reads:
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
I didn’t pack anything with me longer than a 50mm lens for this trip, and fortunately, it had the perfect focal length for framing the mural itself independent of the Cathedral. Surrounding Jesus are his 12 disciples, all of whom are encompassed by the scripture. Even if you aren’t interpreting this verse religiously, the metaphor behind it of a tree trunk growing up to the sky with branches reaching out is hard to ignore. Act on your own and struggle… but believe in your origins, your background, your religion, and success will surely follow. We’re all free to interpret such things in our own minds. Some might see a clear tie to Jesus in this message and the belief in Him, but I choose to see it as a call to acknowledge, accept, and truly believe in where you came from and what’s around you. In so doing, where you focus your efforts be it at work, at home, or in creative arts will begin to thrive with this pre-conceived belief in the proverbial vine, so to speak.
If you’re ever in the North of England, do make a trip through Peterborough and visit their stunning Cathedral. I wish I was able to spend longer here and really take it all in. It’s a magnificent work of Architecture from our history.