At times like these it’s quite nice living on a boat. I normally prefer to keep my choice of habitat fairly private but right now, when home life is pretty much all life, it seems appropriate to share it.
I’ve lived in a variety of marina communities and they represent an eclectic mix of people; literally a flotsam and jetsam of back stories with many and varied reasons as to how we’ve all washed up here. Normally, there’s a combination of permanently moored boats, plus the folk who are just passing through but now of course the canals and rivers are also in lockdown. We can’t go anywhere. At this time of year, even the people who live here full time would normally be taking regular trips up and down the waterways by now. The one common factor among most of us is that we’re free spirits, with no wish to be permanently tethered in one place. If the fancy takes us, we can just untie and move off, for a day or a week or even months on end. Not any longer.
But I guess the bonus of living on a boat is that we tend to be surrounded by nature, greenery and wildlife and, of course, water which in itself makes the lockdown easier. For a breath of fresh air and mindfulness, all I need to do is pop a chair up on my deck and I’m there, surrounded by it. And being a photographer, there are still plenty of opportunities to take pictures.
The waterways are always a source of inspiration, but the current pandemic is feeding into the imagery. Covid-19 has changed our body clocks, interrupted our sleep patterns, shifted the rhythm of normal life on the water. So, the images I’m now capturing are reflecting all of that. They’re naturalistic but also more abstract and atmospheric. Silent smoke curling up from a wood burning stove. Mist on the water in the early hours of the day. Blue skies intensified in reflection. A deserted towpath at dusk in golden hour light. In one image, as the sun goes down, the light hits the front of the boat and delivers a shot reminiscent of a 1970s holiday ad. It’s peaceful with no-one cruising or otherwise passing by. At times though, in the unseasonably sunny weather, the tow-paths are still too busy, populated with cyclists, runners and walkers, and restricted space means effective social distancing is impossible.
Inside my boat, space is at a premium and every object is carefully chosen for both functional space saving and aesthetic appeal. Now, every corner becomes a small vignette and there’s a feeling of time standing still. Reflected roses, vintage pieces, shadows, glimpses of light and painted panelling all hang together in that still life frame.
For me personally this is, in a sense, all golden time. It’s not often you get an opportunity to really breathe and reflect, and once you’ve got over the shock of no work and no physical contact with friends and family it’s actually quite liberating. I’m enjoying getting through all those jobs that would normally be a chore and an effort to cram into the usual routine. There is always repainting to be done, ongoing repairs and miscellaneous boxes that need sorting through. But this is also an opportunity to spend more time doing the things I love and that, of course, includes photography.