During my couple of weeks off, Jersey (Channel Island) was my home for a while. And what a home. To sum it up in two words: Jersey is … The Shire. With beaches. And cliffs. And more.
So the idea behind this post is to provide a synthetic glimse into the beauty of this small-ish island (about 8 miles long). And rather than an expansive essay, the goal is to cover as much ground as possible in just 11 photographs.
Apparently, a simple task.
But then follow questions about which photos to select and why. What is the entended purpose of the resulting collection?
Weirdly, those questions are a lot more difficult to answer than anticipated. They are the same anyone organising an exhibition would face. But no curator is helping me, here …
Predictably, I was unable to answer those questions alone 😉
So, I arbritrarily opted for subjectivity. Partly to represent what had the most impact on me, as a first time visitor.
But that couldn’t really work, because a lot of my photographs were also made on my phone, where most of the “impactful” scenes now reside.
Since I now only use my camera for photographs I wish to post-process, for the beauty of the photo itself more than for the memory, my decision was to make a selection of the scenes that drew me to make a final print. This, to me, is a different perspective than just wanting to remember something impactful, impressive, beautiful, memorable …
It’s hard for me to put into words the distinction between a moment that had an impact on me, suprised me, made me feel some strong emotion, and another that made me want to make an artistic photo and print.
And the process is both 100% intuitive and probably only 30% accurate 😉
But this is what this set of photographs is all about. There might be scenes that are prettier, more memorable, more charged with emotion and memory. But those selected are the ones that made me want to go through with a complete creative process.
The first thing that struck me was the coastline. Being a small island, Jersey offers many sea views, and when you cycle away from one land-sea interface, you are never very far from the next.
And those come in the form of:
Each could warrant a full essay, a task I would love to have the time for.
Quiet wealth and abundance came as the second surprise. Everywhere, stone houses that would make the front cover of magazines. Everywhere, estate agents with mid to high seven figures (in GBP) as the norm, and 8 figures as more than outliers.
And nothing austentatious about it.
No vulgar, flashy cars (never has a Defender looked so much at home) no bling, no snootiness, no palpable class distinction, no overpriced fancy restaurant with meals worth 10% of the asking price. Just that tranquil oozing of quality of life. The GT40 above is my summary of this feeling, as it’s presence here was every bit as surprising as any other tangible expression of classy money. Vintage mini serendipitously in the background, and grain courtesy of yours truly 😉
Third on my list of surprises is the abundance of relics of the war (WWII).
To be honest, that brought me down. The detailed accounts of the unfolding of the early days, the testimonials … all sounded far too close to current events for comfort. All of that inspired a series of tortured abstracts that I may present here one day, but am not still sure of. It really pained me to witness how little our collective mentality has evolved over the best part of a century. Still dumb, murderous animals clinging to ideology and to one of the most abstract and 99% chance-related of all human constructs: borders.
Anywayyyy … this certainly had an impact on me, and the mood certainly led me to want to make more than phone snapshots.
Thankfully, beautiful nature abounds. And comes in at number 4.
It shouldn’t have been a surprise. Jersey’s reputation as a nature haven blessed with fertile land and docile climate precedes it. But it’s the sheer variety and beauty of it, in such a tiny location, that blew my mind. Here, a hint of Wales, there a whiff of Constable country, over there, Brittany, and on the other side, Japan. Never, not even in sublime Wales, have I felt like being in The Shire so much as on Jersey (particularly in the more rural Northern part).
And, last (btw, those are presented in no particular order), is religion and religious artefacts, including archeological sites that make Stonehenge pale into insignificance.
This is not hyperbole and a coming post will let you be the judge of the validity of this bold claim 😉
Churches, chapels, said historical sites, village names … evidence of religion is everywhere.
Would I recommend a visit? That depends on you. It’s as unflashy as it is rich. In money, heritage, culture, history. Look elsewhere for austentatious palace hotels or iconic landmarks. But the density of photographable scenes and locations is second to none, in my limited experience. And the island is a seriously pleasant place to walk, cycle or otherwise sniff out those unlimited opportunities.
For getting from A to B, I recommend cycling. But for photography, just walk. You’ll be off yor bike every minute anyway … 😉 Or get a tall car. It’s easy to stop almost anywhere on the B roads, there’s just so little traffic.
Why 11 photos? Jersey feels quriky. Jersey in 10 photographs just didn’t feel right. 12 was too Albion, and Jerries are proud to say they are not the UK 😉
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