Sunday, November 16, 2008

Favorite Photo: The Architecture of an Age, the Culture of a Craft

Posted by Fran Jurga | November 16, 2008 |

Fabulous Flickr image originally uploaded by ALGO and kindly loaned by him

As the sun sets in Buckinghamshire, England, it warms and illuminates centuries of different families of bricks that are working together to hold up a lovely old smithy in the village of Wingrave. How those old timbers are defying gravity is a mystery to me but I am so glad they are resisting what must be a tremendous urge to let down the weight.

Everyone who reads this blog knows that I am a sucker for arch-door smithies of the type that proliferated the Irish and British countrysides around the turn of the century. If you squint at this shop, you can see an arch not for the door, but for the entire structure. The arch, of course, is the strongest form in nature and in engineering, and the strongest men in the village found ways to incorporate it into their simple workshops. The fact that the arch is mirrored in the horseshoe was a bonus that these self-taught architects just could not resist exploiting!

How many people rush by this old building each day without a thought to what its survival means? People will stop and photograph a water wheel or a dovecote or an old weathervane, but old blacksmith shops rarely are worthy of a snap, perhaps because they are so humble and, until you look more closely, non-descript.

My guess is that until the wintery sun hit at just this angle, the photographer hadn't paid much attention, either. The sun showed him a warm patchwork quilt, built out of bricks.

Thanks to Algo (Alex), for the loan of this beautiful photo. Alex is an extraordinary landscape photographer; his Flickr files are worth a long glance, just like this forge.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. No use without permission.

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