One of my hopes for this year as Fenland Poet Laureate is to collaborate with a fenland artist whose work I love, the esteemed Fine Art Printmaker Iona Howard. From the moment I saw her work I was given a new way to articulate my feelings about the place I was living in. Those massive, stark, uncompromising, beautiful landscapes have haunted me ever since.  I recall the (problematic) distinction that Edmund Burke drew between the beautiful and the sublime.

I was delighted when I discovered that Iona was inspired by the same fenland landscape as I am, that is, the one closest to us. It’s the space in which she walks her dog and I (used to!) run. It makes me wonder; what is it about a familiar landscape that calls our attention?  Is it knowing a place through different seasons? Is it the repetition that allows us to lose ourselves in thought? Is the rhythm of movement an anchor which holds the ship of the mind in place long enough to notice? Can you become overfamiliar with a place?

Iona and I have started seeking out new places together.  We’ve been walking in Kingfishers Bridge nature reserve and seeing what that corner of the Fen has to offer. So far I can’t say I’ve had an epiphany but I did get a powerful electric shock!  Here are some images Iona took on the ‘mountain’.


It was windy up there!



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