Sprawling On A Pin

I love going to the Chamber’s St museum in Edinburgh. I have memories of going there as a child, and so now when I go with my own kids, the tang of nostalgia waits for me round every corner. It’s a natural history museum, so along with fragile, Greek pots, glittering geodes and hands-on science experiments, there are floors and annexes filled with stuffed animals, cases of insects and aviaries of birds in faux flight. I remember my 8-year-old self being completely fascinated by these weird beings which lacked animation; their marble eyes staring through me as I pressed my face against the glass case. The animals that I saw through young eyes, are still those that you can see today, but now their colour has faded, their coats seem shabby and unkempt, and their scales dusty. Despite this, looking around me, I can see that they still hold a huge fascination for all the younger visitors. It makes me wonder whether it’s my adult’s perception of them which strips them of their life and colour, and that they have actually looked like this the whole time. Or maybe the child’s eye, through which these creatures were rendered magical, is the true perception. Whatever the case may be, I will admit that they made a great study for my photography.

Tiger Profile

Moth

The Garrigal

Pink-Winged

In taking these photos, I was trying to regain the childish wonder that I so carelessly grew out of.  What do you do to collapse the distance between your child and adult self?  How do you retrain your eye to see the world with a child’s perception?

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February 2, 2008. Photography.

10 Comments

  1. Damien Riley replied:

    Sometimes I let my eyes blur and my imagination run wild. Keeps me sane in a stressful day. Who am I kidding, me? sane?

    These are wonderful photos Amy, I always like tuning in to see your stuff.

  2. mrschili replied:

    Hi, Amy. Your dad sent me here – I may well be a frequent visitor.

    Your photos are lovely, and I’ve been thinking about your question. For me, regaining the childlike wonder involves not worrying about what others may think of my experience of something. Feeling as though I don’t have to approach a situation with any kind of formal analysis or stuffy opinion-making, that I don’t have to come away from the experience with a formal, articulate recognition of how it fits in with anything else in my experience, and just allowing myself to feel it with as many senses as I can call into play is the closest I can get to being a little girl again. Of course, taking my OWN little girls and following their examples doesn’t hurt, either!

  3. amypalko replied:

    I’m glad you like tuning in, Damien, as it’s always a pleasure to read your comments here. Your mention of blurred vision, reminded me of a conversation I once had with an uncle, whose eyesight is quite bad. He said that when he takes his glasses off, it reminds him of being a child at the swimming pool, where his poor vision and lack of glasses resulted in the aquatic colours blending together. It’s only really now that my own eyesight causes distant objects to become blurred that I really understand what he meant.

    Welcome, Mrschili! I hope that you do decide to become a frequent visitor here. Thank you for your kind words about my photos, and for providing such a well-considered response to my question. I think you have a very valid point – allowing yourself to experience life unimpeded by formal analysis or judgment is indeed to live like a child. So often we burden ourselves with the need to qualify our experience in the context of everything that has come before and what we expect to come after. How liberating to shrug that burden off (for a while, at least) and just enjoy.

  4. diane replied:

    Amy,

    I’m a K-12 teacher/librarian, so I inhabit many different worlds. By far the most profound thinking comes from my younger students.

    When I (finally) have some grandchildren, I hope to keep myself young by looking at “reality” through their eyes.

    diane

  5. opengroveclaudia replied:

    I do love the Natural History Museum. There’s one near our house. I can wander around for hours at a time. Even if I see the same thing over and over again – I remain equally fascinated.

  6. amypalko replied:

    That’s so true, isn’t it, Diane, that the true pearls of wisdom often drop from younger mouths. Thanks for coming by, and I hope you visit again soon 🙂

    How wonderful to live so close, Claudia! I always find that, when I visit the big museum in Edinburgh, I find things that I’ve never seen before. It throws me every time, as I keep thinking I’ve seen everything there!

  7. LivSimpl replied:

    Amy,

    Wonderful post! And your photographs are beautiful – I admit I’m a bit jealous at your talent. 🙂

    Sorry I’m doing this publicly (I couldn’t find any contact info) – just a quick “thank you” for visiting and commenting on LivSimpl. I appreciate it so much! I hope to continue to hear from you.

    – David

  8. amypalko replied:

    Glad you liked the post and the photographs, David. And you’re most welcome for the comment – it was a great post, and it deserved taking the time to comment!

  9. The Wonder of Shells « Lives Less Ordinary replied:

    […] just of a different sort. I do miss the beach though. Maybe that’s why, when we were at the museum at the weekend, I took so many photos of the shell […]

  10. nengaku replied:

    You reminded me of a wonderful *game* I used to play with kids at summer camp. We would take a piece of string 12 inches long, tie it to a couple of nails, stretch it out and peg it to the ground. Then we’d get down on our bellies and begin a 30 minute “hike” along that piece of string discovering every little tiny object we could possibly discover. You’d be amazed! Sometimes 30 minutes just wasn’t enough!
    It’s all about perspective, isn’t it?

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