Three Peaks is an exhibition of Poetry and Photography by Sarah Lee and Lee Johnson. The three peaks in question are all in Pendle and are; Pendle Hill, Boulsworth and Weets.
Sarah and Lee work together and have known each other for 7 years. They are both passionate about the landscape and one day starting talking about putting images and words together.
The inspiration behind three peaks was to explore places less often seen. Pendle Hill as an image is quite iconic and seen a lot, but the places around it less so. In effect it’s an exhibition around hidden Pendle.
Sarah and Lee set off on a series of walks together with the aim of capturing moments. These moments are then expresses in a photograph with an accompanying Haiku. The moments aren’t always simultaneous, sometimes the Haiku expresses the moment before the photograph was taken or the moment after.
Sarah and Lee both have busy lives too, so sometimes Lee would go out alone and take photographs. He would make lots of notes and send these to Sarah and then on some of the images the poem was created simply by looking at the image rather than being there.
Lee tends to work with what is happening around him, he doesn’t necessarily have a plan, but likes to capture the feel of the place as he is there, particularly to show the weather. Some of the images represent beautifully sunny days and others are misty and more brooding. He starts with the big landscape image and then goes down into smaller more detailed views, which are often a landscape in themselves, albeit in miniature.
Sarah takes notes while she is out, but then writes the Haiku later. A Haiku is a short poem designed to capture the moment, a sense of the present. They are often 17 syllables long, but there are no hard and fast rules. Haiku has been around for quite a while, since the poet Basho took a journey and wrote poems on the journey, entitled Narrow Road to Deep North, it was published in the Sixteenth Century. You can read more here
The aim behind the Haiku is to capture the atmosphere. When writing the Haiku, Sarah will look at her notes, at images, and she is particularly inspired by maps and place names. She says “They are often really atmospheric in themselves”. Some are quite spooky, some witchy. For example:
Above Burnt House
And Wicken Clough
You watch in fading light
Lee thinks both him and Sarah have a dark side!
The project was a new challenge for Lee. He didn’t know Weets at all, although he spends a lot of time on Boulsworth. He also tends to shoot in black and white and these photographs are in colour, and he had to learn more about Haiku to make the project work.
The images were all taken fairly recently with the majority being from November 2013. This brought challenges too; weather and light. But you can’t organise nature. One plan had been to capture the horses at Castercliff but when our intrepid duo arrived, the horses had been moved.
Another image: Slaughterstones on the top of Boulsworth, we discussed in more detail.
It was a cold and misty November morning, and our photographer (him with rucksack, 2 cameras and spare lenses) and poet (her with pen and paper) spent two hours walking on Boulsworth. At one point they experienced a standoff with some cows who had been causing trouble with many walkers. As a result the image feels a little like the landscape is pressing in, and the Haiku also has a sense of threat.
So as always, I hope you get the chance to come and see this exhibition in person. The names of the places are all on the labels, so you can go and visit them for yourselves if you want to.
We’ll end with a quote from Sarah, who says “Why not have a at doing this yourself? Take a photograph and write a poem about the moment. It’s fun!”