The Innkeeper's Advent |
It all started with the Angel, then a journey that took days... no, weeks... and ending up at a cowshed! Traipsing round the city looking for inns, asking the same question at each place, and getting the same blank stares from every innkeeper.
"Can I take a photo of your pub?"
It's probably a bit flippant to liken myself to Mary and Joseph on their journey to Bethlehem, but making this piece I felt connected to the christmas story in a very physical way. What you see here is a record of my journey around town, stopping at 24 different "inns", taking a photo at each; either its pub sign or lettering from its name.
Of course it can't really compare to travelling from Gallilee to Bethlehem while heavily pregnant, but my journey was certainly physically demanding. About halfway through the work I crashed my bicycle and broke my collarbone. Ouch! So the rest of the piece was done with my right arm in a sling, carrying my camera, tripod, and bag on my one good shoulder. No bicycle, no donkey for me, just mule slow busses and trains, and ''shank's pony''.
To add inconvenience to injury, camera problems wrecked my first film, and marred my second, so I ended up having to make the journey two and a half times! I had hoped to capture the journey on a single piece of film, but the work had to to be finished in time for an exhibition in Leeds (Leftbank Advent), and as time ran out I had to resort to taking some shots again. So I confess that shots 7 to 9 are cut in from a different film strip. As the exhibition deadline was fast approaching, I had to get up early each day, travel in darkness, take my photos at first light, then hop on a bus or train to my day job.
Wandering round the city in the early hours can be pretty lonely. But even when the commuting crowds emerge, just woken eyes blinking in the dull dawn light, the streets can still feel soulless. It's difficult to make any connection with the mass of humanity streaming through the streets. People shuffle past in splendid ipod isolation, clutching their caffeine kicks, their gazes fixed on the next few feet in front of them. It must have felt something like this 2000 years ago. Mary and Joseph, scouring the streets for shelter, but finding rejection at every door. So the Christmas story plays out as foretold, with the king of the universe being born in a cowshed, because there was no room at the inn.