Thursday, 28 July 2011

Flying


I was sitting in a hospital waiting room yesterday, flicking through a mangled copy of a magazine, when I found a short interview – the type with one line questions, such as “What would your superpower be?” The answer there was “flying”.
How many of us would agree with the interviewee’s wish? The ability to take off and leave the ground below sounds exhilarating. No boundaries, no limits, no need to turn back. Maybe that’s why dreams of swooping over cities and seas are so prevalent. Flying captures the imagination. It’s something we see birds doing all the time, and yet, so far, the act of flying without technical help eludes us.
It seems that as humans, we have a longing to conquer the fourth element – air. We have swum in the sea, warmed ourselves by the fire and dug homes out of the earth. How best to immerse ourselves in what we breathe? We have spent centuries developing ways to enter the sky: hot air balloons, planes, helicopters, parachutes. Those with an urge for adrenaline might try skydiving or base jumping, while the more docile could fly a kite or let go of a sky lantern. The latter is akin to a message in a bottle; the thrill in knowing that it can soar off to another part of the world.

 
I’ve just finished reading ‘Nights at the Circus’, by Angela Carter. The main character ‘Fevvers’ is known throughout Victorian-era Britain for her illustrious wings. They have made her a star. But that fame has been tempered with suffering. Her wings have not only provided the momentum for recognition, but also set her apart from her peers. She is an outcast – simultaneously commanding majesty and mockery. The magic realism of Carter’s novel could be said to reflect the way we view flying. It is an action that we see being demonstrated by the smallest of birds, butterflies and other winged things, and yet, try as we might; we can only poorly imitate them. To us, the idea is fantasy.

Of course, the other story that comes to mind is that of Icarus – the boy who flew too close to the sun. Dating back to ancient Greek times, perhaps this tale best encapsulates absolute yearning, combined with crunching loss: the idea that one cannot have flying without falling. As the saying goes, “What must go up must come down”.
Although the physical activity is most often associated with wings, phrases such as “high-flying” and “soaring” are used to denote success. If someone is doing well, or achieves spectacularly, then they are thought of as ascending to higher levels. In comparison, if someone “crashes and burns” then they have foundered and broken.


This is sadly apt in relation to the recent death of Amy Winehouse. In some ways it seems that she was like Icarus – flying so high and so brightly, with such talent. Her voice took us with her in flight.
That is the mark of a true artist – be they singer, painter, photographer, writer or actor. Their work can elevate and transport us, taking the listener, reader or watcher out of their own lives and into something else entirely. I remember that exact feeling while recovering from surgery, and putting my entire concentration into absorbing one Kate Bush album after another, so that I could float away from pain. The sublime ‘Aerial: A Sky of Honey’ is the musical equivalent of gliding – complete with snatches of birdsong! Schopenhauer was most definitely right when he stated that we could momentarily escape suffering through the arts.


Birds and flight also provide inspiration for countless creators, such as Alexander McQueen. His S/S 2001 collection, complete with feathered dresses and taxidermy, is perhaps the best example of his extraordinary work. For him, the significance of birds could be eerie, as well as breathtaking.
Of course the one art I haven’t yet mentioned in relation to flight is dancing. What other profession allows for grand jetés, pirouettes and glissades? Watching my incredibly talented friend Choe (pictured here) spinning around the stately gardens where I took the photos made me feel exulted. She moved her limbs with grace and silence, the only sound alongside the cooing of a woodpigeon being the click of my camera shutter. As I asked her to do one leap after the other, I felt that if I looked away, then on her next spring she might just float up and up, until she was as high as the tower in the distance.


The location for the photos is very near two large lakes, which house several families of swans.  When we were being driven back, exhausted and hot after several hours of photography, I saw a large white shape flutter down onto the surface. It felt like a privilege to see that swan make the transition from air to water; a moment of ungainliness sandwiched between its usual serenity.


I styled Chloe using clothes from my wardrobe and dressing up box - a mixture of family heirlooms, charity shop bargains and vintage gems. The leotard and ballet shoes are hers. Thank you Chloe!

47 comments:

Alice In Fashionland said...

Beautiful pictures.
Nights at the Circus is one of my favourite books, Angela Carter was such a brilliant writer.

LandGirl1980 said...

This post & photos are amazing. You have really lifted my day (pun potentially intended). Such a thoughtful post.

Florrie said...

This is my favourite post of yours yet! Check out Kneehigh's theatre production of Night's at the Circus from a few years ago, one of the most beautiful and powerful shows I have ever seen...

Closet Fashionista said...

Wow these photos are so amazing!! And that's so true what you wrote. I think many of us want to fly because it gives a sense of true freedom because you can go anywhere.
And don't forget gymnastics for flying, ha ha, if you count that I have done a lot of flying in my days ;) It really is an amazing feeling doing leaps or tumbling and feeling the air go through your body while you are high in the air ;)
http://www.closet-fashionista.com

Celynne said...

Wow, your friend is fantastic. She has talent! I would love to be able to fly... I'd fly halfway across the planet to visit people hah.

Vanessa, Take only Memories said...

These photos are absolutely amazing! Lovely!

Jessica said...

The first pictures is great, I agree with the magazine interview, I would love to be able to fly, but would it be tiring? Well either way it would save me a bit of time getting to school :)

http://chicgeekblogger.blogspot.com/

Please take a minute to look at my trunkshow;

http://iouproject.com/tsh/jessica-karen/

Danni said...

I absolutely love the movement in these photos, they're truly magical. You're both so talented! x

PinkBow said...

flowing fabric and ballerina postures. a match made in heaven.

San said...

All of those pictures are just stunning. I can't and don't even want to choose a favourite.

Yes flying is just fantastic. Would it be the superpower I choose? I honestly don't know.

Thanks for stopping by and your nice comment.

Pearl Westwood said...

What a beautiful post, Chloe looks wonderful, I would love to be watching the ballet right now!

purelovefashion said...

Beautiful blues, incredible dress and erm flexibility!

www.purelovefashionn.blogspot.com

Penny Dreadful said...

That first shot is perfection.

It would be amazing, wouldn't it. I think the closest we can come is actualy swimming, it is the only other time when we can truly feel weightless and disconnected. x

M said...

Wonderful photos. I particularly love the shape created by the fabric in the last photo!
http://styleflourish.blogspot.com/

audrey73 said...

Great photos and great text Roz, beautifully written. I have been following you since last year but I never dared to comment!!! I´m still sitting at my office and your blog is a puff of fresh air...

All the best from Buenos Aires, Argentina!

Mariana
http://vintagesensationsfrombuenosaires.blogspot.com/

Autumn said...

What a fabulous post ! You took wonderful photos of Chloe. Gorgeous!!!
~
Autumn

Hope Adela Pasztor said...

Beautiful photos, as always! The flowing blue gown reminds me of the Blue Faerie from "Pinocchio". Completely agree with your theory on the beauty of music; Kate Bush's "Aerial" album is one of my favorites. Her music always seems like listen-able artwork, you know? I'll try and find time to read "Night at the Circus". I read Angela Carter's "Wise Children" a few years ago and loved it. Have you read it? You would simply adore it! It's about these two idendical twin sisters and their various escapades from childhood into their 70's in the theatre industry.

http://pinkchampagnefashion.blogspot.com/

Alexandra said...

Amazing pictures... man, I wish I was a ballerina...so graceful <3

Kristel Louisa said...

These pictures are so beautiful! Amazing.

xx
en la moda

kristellouisa.blogspot.com

the nyanzi report said...

Roz, this is incredibly well styled and beautifully shot. I love it!

Emily said...

Very neat photographs!

Emily http://www.mywordsinterestslife.blogspot.com

Polka Princess said...

Beautiful shots Roz, dear.....& the fact that they are being used to portray such lovely thoughts makes them more wonderful.....

Chloe's grace & fluidity of movements can almost be felt in the pictures!! :)

The Foolish Aesthete said...

Flying -- yes, it was Icarus' downfall. But no other creature on earth can soar like Man does through the Arts! I completely agree with you. Maybe that is why I love the arts so much despite all my scientific training as a youth. I love the sheer blue skirts billowing in the breeze and through the grand jetes!

danniekate said...

oh roz, how lovely! is this the shoot where you were, er, disturbed by a white van man? xx

Vix said...

That first picture is particularly wonderful.
I agree with Margaret, the only time we feel like we can fly is when we swim. I wish my poor arthritic bones and prosthetic hip could do the splits like your friend Chloe. x

adrielleroyale said...

Such beautiful pictures!! All of them are just wonderful with such grace!

Oh if only we could fly of our own accord. Like in our dreams when we soar above the trees and then so high that we swoop back down closer to earth... It's been a while since I've had one of those dreams, I wish I could dream it again! But even more than that, I wish it weren't a dream, but a reality!

CALAMITY JANE said...

Roz the pictures are amazing, as alwaays. What you wrote is so true, who wouldn't like to fly, it's a way of escaping life and to look at things in a different way. Flying is amazing i would never forget looking at Cuzco from up in the air... just breath taking.

http://maybeanother.blogspot.com/

awishisarainbow said...

Such stunning photos....you are very talented at photography!! Plus Chloe is a beautiful dancer :)

Amelia Grace said...

Such beautiful pictures! I wish I could jump as gracefully as your friend. :) This post has made my longing to fly, soar!

melodyinink.blogspot.com

styleeast said...

These must be the ones you were telling me about! Simply incredible, each shot just perfect. So now we know your super-power, the question is, what would your costume be! xx

Sigrid said...

Roz!!! I love these photos! they dresses are stunning!!! and so are the locations!!!
as for the dance poses... fairly beautiful! :)

I just posted like one jumping photo :)
it reminds me of this post of yours!

CHeck it out you may like it! :)

love the blog as ALWAYS!

Love Sigrid
from

http://dancingsinginganddreaming.blogspot.com

Mary ♥ Mur said...



I love your post and blog so much!!!.))

I need your help. I spend another survey but this time with another question.
"Where do you prefer to shop? What is your favorite shopping center?"

Midnight Cowgirl said...

I love the flying pictures!

Kate said...

These are absolutely beautiful! They look like photos you would see in a magasine, the last one is gorgeous!
www.styleisalwaysfashionable.blogspot.com

Melina said...

WOW, these pics are amazing!!!
xx

Raez said...

Wow! So stunning! You and your friend are both wonderfully talented in your respective creative outlets- much admiration :) I so wish I could do the splits, but I don't think i will attempt, haha!

xx Raez

West End Girl said...

Stunning! The blue dress works amazingly :) We studied Angela Carter's fairy tales in English... I would certainly recommend them if you enjoyed Night Circus.

West End Girl x

http://onegirlandaticket.blogspot.com/

Lydia said...

These photos are spectacular!!! Her form is so beautiful!!

Evi said...

So inspiring photos!!wow!!WELL DONE!


Evi

www.thenotebookofafashionlover.blogspot.com

ηαт said...

Wow, those pictures are amazing. :) Your friend is so talented! I learn ballet, and I'm getting really serious with it, but I'm definitely not at her level yet.
I was just talking about grande jetes with my friend and how it's so fun because it's like flying, that's when she gave me this link. :)
Is your friend en pointe? I couldn't help wondering after seeing how good she is. At my level, I'm ALMOST en pointe.
Well, anyway, this was a wonderful blog post!

~ηαт~

kat said...

Hi Roz
I just spotted a photo of you in the new issue of Vogue (uk edition sept) page 204.
Not sure if you know you're in, there's no credit for your photo sadly. Its part of a feature on new season coats.
Love and blessings
Kat x

Pull Your Socks Up! said...

Wow Chloe makes me want to grow wings and fly over the ocean from my bedroom window. Such beautiful pics Roz and you chose so beautiful pieces for her to wear:)) xo

Sofia said...

waw i'm impressed by your grace, love the flying blue dress
s

SabinePsynopsis said...

Wonderful photos, Roz! Chloe is so graceful... ach, to be able to dance! And flying would definitely by my super power of choice. xo

Rebeccak said...

Thanks for your comment Roz! I have to say I really love your blog, and seem to comment here less and less just because I feel like going away and digesting your wrods for a while, then inevitable forget to come back and tell you! Your photos are simply wonderful, it is always a joy to visit :)

the Citizen Rosebud said...

Just in case I forgot why you are my favorite blogger, you create beautiful articulate and intelligent posts like this. Ah, right. I remember now.

...alkai... said...

Oh ballet! <3 I'm also dancing. but jazz and contemporary:)) Stunning what You can do:)

Greets

...alkai...