The Bleak Beauty of January Light

The January light; the light of winter has a bleak beauty to it. I am talking about those monochrome days when the clouds seem to press heavily upon us and the often bitter wind is ready to chip away at any unprotected skin.

Monet captures this light so perfectly in many of his paintings but particularly in Ice Floes on the Seine.

Ice Floes on the Seine
Ice Floes on the Seine et Bougival by Claude Monet 1867-1868 by P W McMahon courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by Public Domain Mark 1.0

https://flic.kr/p/xATBfW  https://goo.gl/1qhIuC

It was just such a day as this that my family and I took a trip on the London Eye.

Who would have thought that ice could form such beautiful patterns on the roof of a car? 

Beautiful Ice Patterns - Ellie Holmes Author
Beautiful Ice Patterns – Ellie Holmes Author

Whilst warm sun and clear blue skies may have produced brighter shots with longer reaching views, I think these winter shots have a beauty all their own.

Statue of Bouddica - Ellie Holmes Author
Statue of Bouddica -Ellie Holmes Author
The Elizabeth Clock Tower - Ellie Holmes Author
The Elizabeth Clock Tower better known as Big Ben – Ellie Holmes Author
The London Eye - Ellie Holmes Author
The London Eye – Ellie Holmes Author
Inside The London Eye - Ellie Holmes Author
Inside The London Eye – Ellie Holmes Author
The Palace of Westminster - Ellie Holmes Author
The Palace of Westminster – Ellie Holmes Author
St Paul's Cathedral - Ellie Holmes Author
St. Paul’s Cathedral – Ellie Holmes Author
The Gherkin - Ellie Holmes Author
The Gherkin – Ellie Holmes Author
Buckingham Palace - Ellie Holmes Author
Buckingham Palace – Ellie Holmes Author

They changed the Guard at Buckingham Palace during our ride and hundreds of flashbulbs exploded in that tiny corner of London drawing our eye across to it.

It was a brutally cold day – my niece remarking that my lips actually went blue during the ride. Needless to say it was hot chocolates all round when the ride was over.

 

Advertisements

Light in the darkness

For the last few nights the Lumiere Festival has taken place in London. The capital has been lit up by light installations from a host of international artists for four hours each evening.

Crown of Light Lumiere Festival
Crown of Light Lumiere Festival by Jake Wood courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

https://flic.kr/p/hAsHBD  https://goo.gl/a97zxb

As we in the Northern hemisphere are in the grip of winter, light festivals are a wonderful way to hold back the long, dark nights and remind ourselves that brighter days are coming soon. They are the modern equivalent of a tradition that started with the camp fire and continued with the candle in the window either to light the way home for a loved one or simply to hold the darkness at bay.

Candle in the window
Candle in the Window by Stephen Pierzchala courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

https://flic.kr/p/dCvsLJ    https://goo.gl/a97zxb

From Gas lamps to electric lights of all descriptions, the evolution of light has continued. Even in our modern world, light still represents warmth and safety even if only by association. We still feel a frisson of nervousness when confronted with an empty road in the depths of night with no street lamps to guide our way. This despite the fact that unlike our ancestors we know that the darkness is generally not populated with wild animals capable of tearing us limb from limb or creatures from the underworld intent on doing us harm. Our logical twenty first century brains reassure us but our ancient DNA still recoils from the unknown and the unseen.

Shadowjpg
Shadow by W H courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-ND 2.0

https://flic.kr/p/4G2RCt  https://goo.gl/OV2Wi1

The candle makers of the early 1800s may have lamented the first gas lamps to light Pall Mall but they had no need to fear. Candles have continued to be used in most modern households. We all keep a few spares in case there is a power cut and of course Christmas is a bumper time for candle manufacturers.

But did you know, according to statistics from the National Candle Association in the US, that retail sales of candles there amount to $2billion and that’s without candle accessories. Interestingly, 65% of candle sales occur outside of the Christmas period and 42% of candles are burned in the living room. In surveys, nine out of ten candle users say they use candles to make a room feel comfortable and cosy.

Flames
Flames by Ashton courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0

https://flic.kr/p/66WWk6 https://goo.gl/SKbj7z

It would seem that even though most of us can turn on a light by flicking a switch we still prefer the softer glow of candlelight. Could it be that even though our electric lights can banish practically all the shadows from the room, now that we can control them, we like to invite the shadows in whilst focusing on the reassuring flicker of a candle’s flame?

Candles
Candles by Fred Rockwood courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0

https://flic.kr/p/5rh1uN  https://goo.gl/SKbj7z