yellowbear

02 Jan 2012 136 views
 
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photoblog image A sea of steps

A sea of steps

This picture of the stairs leading up to the Chapter house in Wells Cathedral, was always meant to be understood in terms other than purely architectural ones. The steps themselves ripple and look increasingly like waves building into an ocean as they mount towards the lighted space beyond. The stairs seen rising to the right could be a great wave on the point of breaking, thus representing a danger to the traveller or pilgrim. In the middle is a cut block of stone, symbolizing a steadfast soul put in place by the divine Architect. The point though, is not just that the steps look oceanic but that they have been worn that way by generatons of use, until their significance had been inscribed in the very fabric of the building.

 

OK I confess this is not what is said about my picture but the one taken by Frederick H Evans in1903.

 

There is nothing that hasn't already been done is there?

A sea of steps

This picture of the stairs leading up to the Chapter house in Wells Cathedral, was always meant to be understood in terms other than purely architectural ones. The steps themselves ripple and look increasingly like waves building into an ocean as they mount towards the lighted space beyond. The stairs seen rising to the right could be a great wave on the point of breaking, thus representing a danger to the traveller or pilgrim. In the middle is a cut block of stone, symbolizing a steadfast soul put in place by the divine Architect. The point though, is not just that the steps look oceanic but that they have been worn that way by generatons of use, until their significance had been inscribed in the very fabric of the building.

 

OK I confess this is not what is said about my picture but the one taken by Frederick H Evans in1903.

 

There is nothing that hasn't already been done is there?

comments (27)

You didn't have to make the confession - It suits your image beautifully! What an interesting stair case and history!!
Bill Phillips: If you ever come to the UK, a visit to Wells and this magnificent cathedral would be worth including on your itinerary.
  • lisl
  • Great Britain (UK)
  • 2 Jan 2012, 05:51
A friend of mine has a painting of these very stairs, and you have caught it from the same angle. I love to walk up these stairs
Bill Phillips: Wells is one of my favourite ~Cathedrals.
  • Philine
  • Germany
  • 2 Jan 2012, 06:43
"A sea of steps"- that is a wonderful metaphor to describe these worn out stairs I remember very well (and photographed, too, of course) -you could describe them also as a mountain you have to climb up or as a Jacob's ladder leading to the heaven - the view down the stairs is as fascinating as the view upwards -an unique staircase indeed I love very much!
Bill Phillips: It is a rewarding climb to the Chapter house where you can just sit and admire this wonderful building
  • Ginnie
  • Netherlands
  • 2 Jan 2012, 07:22
You wouldn't want to be a bit tipsy on those steps, Bill! But what a delight to eyes as we're drawn up and in. Great POV.
Bill Phillips: You had to be careful stone cold sober.....gettit? Stone cold ......
  • Alan
  • United Kingdom
  • 2 Jan 2012, 07:24
Blimey! I thought you had gone all very lyrical for a momemt smile Others before may have taken views such as this, but the one you take is unique. The wear of the stone makes me think of the millions of feet that have clambered up and down over these during the years,
Bill Phillips: Yes my first thought was feet all this wave guff never entered my head
  • Astrid
  • Netherlands
  • 2 Jan 2012, 07:29
It does not matter what everybody else is saying.
You took this beautiful picture, the light is great and I love the angle.
Did you go all the way to the top?
Bill Phillips: Oh yes, the Chapter house is magnificent Lady P.
  • Louis
  • South Africa
  • 2 Jan 2012, 07:58
There is nothing that hasn't already been done is there?

It all depends how you look at it. Like the youngster who first experiences the welcoming warmth of a woman. He knows for sure he is the first. I wonder where he thinks he comes from?

Similar, when I kill someone, it will not be the first time that someone is murdered. But when I kill Bill, I can rest assure that he was not murdered before and will not be murdered later-on.
Bill Phillips: Well fair enough. I was just thinking of pictures really grin
  • Chris
  • England
  • 2 Jan 2012, 08:04
Well your image is certainly a fitting homage to Mr Evans. My next door neighbour that is, he's permanently one step short of a flight...
Bill Phillips: And apparently at least 108 years old assuming he took this whilst still in nappies
  • blackdog
  • United Kingdom
  • 2 Jan 2012, 09:14
Ingrid and I have done a little of the wearing down on the steps of this fine building too.

I believe Mr Evans also has an astonishing collection of skies that he happily loans out to others ;o)
Bill Phillips: It is a wonderful building Mike. We took Helen and Andy earlier this year and Andy particularly wanted to see this part of the cathedral
Wonderful perspective Bill! I like your metaphor here.
Bill Phillips: Not original Richard, never mind smile
  • Philine
  • Germany
  • 2 Jan 2012, 10:18
Comparing the languages is very interesting. My dictionary mentions about 20 (!) different meanings of the verb 'to wear out' - in German the steps/Stufen sind ausgetreten like shoes, but you can
never say 'ausgetretene Kleider', worn out clothes, 'Kleider sind abgetragen'!
Bill Phillips: Learning German is going to be a lot harder than I thought
  • Chad Doveton
  • Where latitude and longitude meet.
  • 2 Jan 2012, 10:31
It is indeed a sea, or perhaps a waterfall of steps. Either way, the step builders did very nicely. Will you be showing us the paragraph house and then the sentence house, followed by...I think you know?
Bill Phillips: I am getting one of my headaches
That quote would not be out of place in Private Eye's Pseud's Corner, I reckon smile It's a great picture though, Bill, even if it has been done before!
Bill Phillips: That is exactly what I thought when I read it in this book I was browsing.
  • Louis
  • South Africa
  • 2 Jan 2012, 13:29
Hah, scared you witless, didn't I grin
Bill Phillips: Certainly got my attention grin
  • Louis
  • South Africa
  • 2 Jan 2012, 13:42
You also shook my memory a bit with this picture and now your comment about pictures seen before, confirmed it. 19 August is the one you cropped this one from?
Bill Phillips: Strewth! I'd forgotten I'd done that triptych! You are correct!
Looks like you used a camera from 1903 to take this one Bill.
Bill Phillips: A little twiddle smile
  • Linda
  • United Kingdom
  • 2 Jan 2012, 13:50
This is the first time I have seen these steps and I love the angle you have done to capture the description from 1903!This place does look worth a visit smile
Bill Phillips: Wells Cathedral is well worth a visit Linda
I really like all the different lines in this Bill going in all directions.
Bill Phillips: Worn like this by generations of feet!
Love this take on those steps Bill. We were there in September
Bill Phillips: It is a wonderful cathedral Janet isn't it?
Excellent composition. These look as if best attempted while sober smile
Bill Phillips: I went up and down with great care!
I like the angle that you shot this to bring out the wave effect of the steps very well Bill... and i also enjoyed your narrative....petersmile
Bill Phillips: Thank you Peter. Wells is one of my favourite Cathedrals and the Chapter house is well worth climbing up these staisrs to see
Very nice composition Bill!
Bill Phillips: Thank you very much Fred
  • Chris
  • England
  • 2 Jan 2012, 18:06
EXTRA ADDITIONAL RATINGS BOOSTER

Louis's comment has made my day!
Bill Phillips: He has a vivid imagination ....... I not sure i fancy being killed once let alone several times
Great way to look at the stairs.. Never really thought of it as a sea of waves.. Interesting!
Bill Phillips: Nor had I but peerhaps people were more imaginative in 1903
  • Philine
  • Germany
  • 2 Jan 2012, 21:03
"Evans said that he took up photography because of his love of beauty, and his approach to his subjects, whether great cathedrals, groves of trees, or intimate interiors, originated from a deep emotion. Profoundly dedicated to pure photography, he never altered the printing of negatives for aesthetic effects; rather, the eloquence of his images comes from his ability to capture the supremely expressive viewpoint at the most telling moment of light and shadow. In A Sea of Steps, a key image among the Museum's 195 photographs by Evans, the composition is filled with the converging cascades of ancient steps of Wells Cathedral, taken at the precise moment when the light made their worn, undulating edges appear as thin, wavering lines." Innis Howe Shoemaker, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p.233.
Bill Phillips: I think this description is far less pretentious than the one I found.
  • anniedog
  • United Kingdom
  • 2 Jan 2012, 23:19
I must admit I did a double-take when I saw your picture as I know the original image. A very poetic way of describing a flight of stone steps, but they are wonderful.
Bill Phillips: They are indeed. Wells is a wonderful cathedral. I took several pictures of the steps and when I saw the Evans one I cropped this one as close to his as i could get it.
  • Ray
  • Thailand
  • 4 Jan 2012, 05:57
Yup! Well titled, Bill.
Bill Phillips: not original thoughgrin

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