NOW AND IN ENGLAND
I keep photographs as reminders. But I do not look at them too often, lest I exhaust their potency.
The fact is that we live only in communion, not only with our present, but with the past and future as well. We are haunted by a whole poetry of living, by lullabies half-remembered and sounds of train whistles in the night and the scent of lavender in a summer garden. We are haunted by grief, too, and fear, and images of childhood terror and the macabre dissolution of age.
Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o’clock at night. It was remarked that the clock began to strike, and I began to cry, simultaneously.
In consideration of the day and hour of my birth, it was declared by the nurse, and by some sage women in the neighbourhood who had taken a lively interest in me several months before there was any possibility of our becoming personally acquainted, first, that I was destined to be unlucky in life; and secondly, that I was privileged to see ghosts and spirits; both these gifts inevitably attaching, as they believed, to all unlucky infants of either gender, born towards the small hours on a Friday night.
Into my heart an air that kills from yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills, what spires, what farms are those?
That is the land of lost content, I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went and cannot come again.
Mother is putting my new secondhand clothes in order. She prays now, she says, that I may learn in my own life and away from home and friends what the heart is and what it feels. Amen. So be it. Welcome, O life, I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.
Old father, old artificer, stand me now and ever in good stead.
The hardness and the brightness and the plain
Far-reaching singleness of that wide stare
Is a reminder of the strength and pain
Of being young; that it can't come again,
But is for others undiminished somewhere.
About suffering they were never wrong, the Old Masters; how well they understood Its human position. How it takes place while someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along; how, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting for the miraculous birth, there always must be children who did not specially want it to happen, skating on a pond at the edge of the wood. They never forgot that even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away quite leisurely from the disaster. The ploughman may have heard the splash, the forsaken cry, but for him it was not an important failure. The sun shone, as it had to, on the white legs disappearing into the green water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky, had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.
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Richie Wisbey says:
"I have to say that Simon's photostream is always my first port of call when I log in to Flickr. I owe him a lot, Over 50% of my photographs are inspired by his first class work. Thanks Simon the Lord of Suffolk Churches!"
March 14th, 2014
Kay Harpa says:
"Simon, ta galerie est une pure merveille : un espace de bonheur, de paix, de joie, de BEAUTÉ.
Merci tout particulièrement pour tes extra-ordinaires vitraux qui m'émerveillent. Merci du partage. Amitiés de Kay.
Simon, your gallery is simply marvellous : a space of happyness, peace, joy, BEAUTY.
In particular, thanks for your extra-ordinary stainglasses windows that fill me with wonder. Thanks to share. Amitiés, Kay."
October 12th, 2012
Nick J Stone says:
"Whether Simon likes it or not, he's a legend on Flickr, and indeed up there on the web in general. His photostream is an endless flow of food for the brain, from random tit-bits to medieval feasts, ranging from observation via documentary to art, a joy to virtually know."
August 25th, 2009
"At currently (2009) approx 20,850 images, all so sensitive to the significance of the smallest (historical) detail of the churches from his Eastern part of England, spiced with other engaging works as well, this work is monumental.
Simon Knott's extraordinary high quality photographs offer an outstanding ecclesiastical, visual archive, and, thus, it is my hope that he and others will recognize its outstanding aesthetic and historical significance, and preserve it as a national and/or ecclesiastical archive. Indeed, future generations would profit from the incredible fruits of Simon's inspired and systematic labors, just as many, such as myself, an art historian, currently do.
I know nothing like his body of work for interest, beauty, and excellence in his chosen field, ecclesiastical architecture, and its most revealing details, all shot to the highest technical standard.
This work is nothing less than a monument to one man's outstanding vision, as well as to the will, stamina, and perseverance to realize it!
June 13th, 2009
tina negus says:
"Simon's photographs are consistently excellent, and always informative. An inspiration!"
August 19th, 2008
Lawrence OP says:
"Simon's expansive collection of photos do not compromise quality for quantity. On the contrary, they are a delight to explore and to dip into. In doing so, one sees the beauty of England, and especially East Anglia, through his skilful lens and artistic eye. As a church crawler, I very much appreciate Simon's work and his erudition; each church photo is beautiful and evocative, and his stained glass photos make me envious!"
May 19th, 2008
"I am in awe of Simon and his work: painstaking, thorough, imaginative, thoroughly crafted and deeply rooted. He adds so much to the sum of goodness in the world."
February 11th, 2008
"In my book this man is an unrecognised legend for his Norfolk Churches website alone. It's important work carried out with a lightness of touch. Frankly he's a bit of a hero of mine.
He's also one of the people on Flickr who consistently makes me laugh. Simon is wise and incredibly well versed - but he's a proper hoot and a warm human being too. Puts up with a teasing and gives as good as he gets. From atop the elegant marble plinth on which any real hero should be perched.
I've learned a lot from him and often find myself quoting him, out in the real world. I think every Norfolk person should be aware of Simon's encyclopaedic body of work on the County - and I'm on a mission to make sure they are.
And those photos. Leaving aside his sensitive recording of buildings and people - and an unerring feel for the iconic in the mundane, he's got the sort of talent that can even make Ipswich look half-decent. Simon takes a really fine picture.
My Flickr world wouldn't be the same without him. I fave Simon."
July 7th, 2007
Sir Cam says:
"A wonderful recorder of the places around him. Being in Cambridge, I especially value his photo's taken in the early 1980s. So, he's been doin' it for sometime:-) He has lately revisited the city and uploaded some superb details of this historic city. Keep 'em coming, Simon!"
May 2nd, 2007
Ed the Greek says:
"As historians, churchcrawlers, radio-listeners & anyone who has typed the name of a Suffolk village into Google will know, there's so much more to Simon Knott than Flickr. However, his work here is a distillation of all that he is. An awareness of subtle beauty in the mundane, a natural ability to compose and an empathy for his subject make Simon's work, whilst prolific, always moving.
He's got one of those photostreams that draws you to the next image, and the next; churches, historical or striking architecture, Suffolk, Ipswich, his family - it's all in there, there's lots of it - all great!"
January 27th, 2007
"Simon doesn't know it, but I rarely miss one of his uploads, especially not his churches, all of them lovingly and beautifully presented. There is a real treasure captured here in Simon's stream -- which is a treasure in itself."
January 12th, 2007
Martin Beek says:
"I must say how much I enjoy Simon’s photographs of his corner of England. It is not just the charming churches, but the details and events that make his contribution to Flickr a real slice of what it means to be in England today and where we’ve come from. The ancient glass is lovely, perhaps some of the best photos I’ve seen of medieval work. Often there’s a very good description of the place or source, which if you do at some point want to visit one may well go back to. For me Simon’s photography has become very much part of the Flickr landscape. I always look forward to where he’ll take me next."
July 28th, 2006
- Simon K
- February 2006
- Ipswich, England
- Little Englander
- The Last of England