The ‘extra’ things that make us human (Wandsworth Road)

‘We are also beings who take in more than we can easily process from the world around us; we know more than we realise, and that helps us to become self-questioning persons who are always aware things could be different.

‘We learn this as children through fantasy and play;
we keep it alive as adults through all sorts of “unproductive” activity, from sport to poetry.

‘It is the extra things that make us human.’

Rowan Williams, Citizen Ethics, The Guardian, February 20, 2010

At least once a week, I walk part of the way into work. I cross Clapham Common, walk through Clapham Old Town and down onto Wandsworth Road, a long straight route to Vauxhall and the river.

Sometimes I see things while I’m walking and I wish I had a camera with me to photograph them. So yesterday, I went to walk along Wandsworth Road, camera in hand to photograph a couple of things that have been bugging my brain for a while.

I thought I’d take maybe three photographs at most – I took 116.

It amazes me to think that the more we look at something, the more we see.

When you go on holiday, the way fruit is laid out in front of a shop strikes you as beautiful, or coloured washing on a line, the arrangement of lines on a building, graffiti on a wall. I tried to see a street that I walk down every week with the looking eyes of a tourist, rather than the hurried eyes of a commuter.

When I finished, I bought myself a coffee and read the words above written by Rowan Williams in yesterday’s paper, and felt how true they were. I take in more than I can process, and when you start to look at everything you see and to process it, you get a sense of there being so much more than your own life, your own walk to work, your own job.

There’s the lives of the dirty-faced mechanics having a lunchtime kickabout, and the kids giggling on the steps of the Church of England housing block, and the people standing at the bus stop, and the water engineers replacing London’s pipework, and, and, and… Something bigger and greater beyond all this and ourselves.

Looking makes you wonder.

‘…the importance of imaginative life is not a vague belief that we should all have our creative side encouraged but comes out of the notion that the world we live in is rooted in an infinite life, whose dimensions we shall never get hold of,’ wrote Rowan, and I was aware that even if I’d photographed every square inch of Wandsworth Road, with a million photographs, I still wouldn’t have captured that ‘extra’ thing that makes it human.

Still, here are my favourites.


2 responses to “The ‘extra’ things that make us human (Wandsworth Road)

  1. Love the photo collection. There is a definite Mondrianesque feel to many of them. Ellie Goulding marlboro also has ‘mother’s babies Nestle Milk’ behind it.
    I can see a few emerging ongoing projects:- windows, hearts, lines, text. I may try some of these myself.

  2. Pingback: Bag lady « Me and the Girl from Clapham·

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