I mentioned a while back my desire to photograph Gormley’s Another Place, so when I knew I was returning to Bootle, this time I set off in good time to get there before sunset. Just.
All the signs in the area direct you to Crosby Lakeside, which struck me as strange since the artwork is on a beach, but once I parked I saw why. A ridge of sand dunes separated the sea from another body of water, and it was here that I had to leave the car. Already the sun was disappearing behind clouds, and the dunes made it difficult for me to guess how much time I had before it disappeared altogether, so whilst the lakeside was all very pleasant, it wasn’t what I was here for. To add insult to injury it started to rain too.
I had come prepared for the beach, I have some waterproof Karrimor trainers that are great for dealing with unexpected waves (unlike my tripod!) and small puddles etc. I I quickly slipped these on without wasting time on fastening them tightly, and hurried around the footpath to where I assumed the sea to be. Success, and there was my quarry; the Anthony Gormley sculptures looking out to sea. I took a couple of shots of the first that I encountered and then, seeing a chance to compose a shot with one in the foreground while the sun was setting amongst a forest of wind turbines in the distance I hurried forward across some wetter stuff. Wetter, muddier, stickier.
“Never mind, I’ll grab the shot and retreat.” I thought, so opened camera bag to change lenses and adjusted my balance as I did so. Wet, muddy, sticky stuff decided to keep my shoe and let my foot come away without it. So now I’m balanced on one foot, trying to keep camera and equipment intact.
I put the camera into the bag and zipped it up to give me two hands free, and as I did so my balance went. Left foot and sock now in the mud. Hmmm. Decided I needed to free right foot before anything else happened and so by pulling with both hand and foot got it free and closer to the left. No further harm to be done by putting the left shoe back on, everything was pretty much coated, so repeated the procedure, got both feet free and returned to firmer ground.
Looked around for an audience – no one visibly laughing, clearly all pretending they hadn’t noticed! Time to grab a few more shots and return to the car – I had a spare pair of trainers and a carrier bag so I should be able to contain the problem. What I hadn’t noticed was that my photography gloves now had a nice coating from the shoe pulling and so I managed to get camera bag, camera casing, puffer jacket and tripod nicely smeared too.
Got back to the car and sacrificed the shoes and socks to the carrier, stuffed the jacket and tripod in the boot for cleaning later and all seemed good. Until I noticed the state of my jeans. Heavy with mud up both inside legs this had begun to dry and crack on the journey back to the car. Maybe it would brush off? No.
I stood for a while at my hotel reception waiting to check in while a young Indian man who was staying for 38 days asked every question conceivable. The receptionist was very patient and dealt with me professionally too. It was only when I got into the room and looked in mirror that I realised I had mud smeared across my face too!