You'd better run, you little wild heart
Well, here we are. The end of another year. This post is shamelessly lifted from my good friend Alesha, who had the idea of making a recap of her twentyeleven. This has been a year of growth for me, sometimes quick and sharp, sometimes so gradual I mistook it for boredom. Looking back, I think it explains why I've been absent from Flickr more often than I used to be, but also proves that I haven't stopped taking photographs. It's been a year of breaking away, but also of making connections. I've travelled across the world and left home for good, but I've also met up with three of my closest Flickr photographers, and found new friends at university - and in Africa. I have flown the nest, and I'm enjoying the journey.
January A year that would bring change begins with very little. I am halfway through my contract as a shop girl with a big clothing company, and exhausted after the Christmas sale. I've been seeing B less than a month, but he has given me his Minolta for Christmas, and he's teaching me to use film. (On Boxing Day, by the sea, we has decided to go abroad for a long weekend, in a European city somewhere. We are still trying to decided where to go.)
February The shop B and I work at closes its doors for a month while builders tear it apart. We go to Prague for four days. He shoots film and I shoot digital. When we come back, Sarah prints some in her magazine, Racing Minds.
March I celebrate my 19th birthday. (B fills my room with multi-coloured balloons, my parents help me buy a 50mm f/1.4.) I take my Grade 8 Singing exam, and before long I have quit my job and find myself packing my rucksack.
April I leave for Africa. Halfway through my journey, while I’m waiting for my connecting flight at the airport in Johannesburg, I find out I’ve passed my singing exam with merit. We reach the Lodge in the foothills of the mountains, get initiated, and two days later we’re across the border in South Africa. We visit Kruger National Park, and I become a wildlife photographer for a week. Back in Swaziland, we start work at our NCPs and meet our children. The Libyan uprising is in full swing (my journey to the southern hemisphere was altered to avoid the no-fly zone) and the shockwaves are felt even here. For two days we are told to stay at the Lodge in case of trouble; the children at my NCP aren’t fed, I can’t go to the city hospital to visit the children’s ward. The police brutality is widely unreported, the rebellion is quashed, we return to work. A fortnight later we drive for 12 hours to reach Mozambique. I think I am in the only place on earth which has managed to avoid the royal wedding.
May I swim with dolphins, manta rays, and whale sharks. We kayak to an island and meet its children and its chief. I spend a lot of time wandering the beach, reading my book, and writing my diary. This is the most beautiful place in the world. We return home; I am ill. I have two weeks with my children, and Nosipho helps me make Kids Behind Cameras a reality. We have sports’ days. I see death for the first time. We hike the mountain behind the Lodge. Jess and I see the King at the airport, taking off in his private jet. Back home I find it hard to adjust. It is like grieving. I put my diary into a blog and edit photographs and listen to the music I found out there, and all of this helps. I get my film back from Boots, and looking at the photographs in the busy shopping mall is like standing between two colliding worlds. Token Magazine includes me as one of two featured artists.
June I may have contracted tuberculosis while I was working in the children’s ward. I visit the hospital to start checks. B and I visit the beach a lot, and I bake cupcakes while listening to kombi music. Getty Images give me my first invite. I begin to organise my first solo photography exhibition.
July I get my job back. It’s good to have something to do, but working in retail makes my moral conscious sick. I launch my website, get my photographs framed, and have a radio interview in the run-up to my exhibition. It’s a success. (My friends and I, in our suits and cocktail dresses, go to the chippy on the way home. It’s a photograph I love.) I take a week off work and travel to London for my first Flickrmeet. Kay Rodriguez is waiting for me at the station. We stay with her uncle in Kensington, explore, sightsee, take photographs, and talk about love over coffee. She comes home with me, and while she’s here I get consecutive two Front Page Explores(!) Before she leaves, Kay convinces me to buy an Instax camera.
August Jess, my best friend in Africa, visits from oop narth. My photography work is featured in Practical Photoshop Magazine’s critique section (I buy a copy in my local newsagents and feel ridiculously excited.) My university address appears in my email inbox. I leave my job exactly one year after I was first given the position. B joins us on this year’s Coots Unleashed, when my friends and I sail 1940s sailing boats around the Norfolk Broads for a week. I'm given the all-clear for TB.
September I find myself waiting at the train station for someone I thought I’d never meet. Rona Keller comes to stay. We visit the coast and the city and take photographs together in places she recognises from my stream. We are more alike than I could have imagined and it makes me smile inside. Never Lazy Magazine, edited by students from my local Art School, features my work. I spend a lovely weekend with my friends hosting a charity concert. I find myself packing for university, and then arrive in Kent. Freshers passes in a blur: I join societies and attend lectures and go for wanders with my camera as protection.
October I begin to explore the garden of England", in unseasonably warm weather. Whitstable beach is less than half an hour away by bus, and this makes me unreasonably happy. My first roll of freshers’ film is developed; I start my film diary. I find myself enjoying life as a pseudo-art student while studying my Photography module: we visit the Tate in London, I get a First for my essay on a picture I took in Africa. I join READ International, a student-led charity which donates textbooks to Tanzanian schools. I fundraise through Raise for READ print packages, and they make me Operations Project Leader. I decide to go to Tanzania next summer.
November I visit my friends in Cambridge; the first time I’ve seen them since I started university. We have a wonderful weekend punting the backs and eating cake. Five days later, Alesha comes to visit. We spend a whirlwind weekend walking in and out of the city, and experimenting with double exposures. My photography work is featured in Javertime Magazine's last issue.
December I receive mail from Rona, including the photographs she took when she was with me. They go up on my wall. The roll of Ilford I shoot with Alesha can’t be developed in Boots, so I am finally forced to discover a small, independent photography shop in Canterbury, who are wonderful. I come home for Christmas, but go straight back to work at the clothes shop. I meet up with my friends and we busk for charity, singing Christmas carols in the city centre. I celebrate one year with B. Twentyeleven finishes with my sister and I taking photographs on Sorrel Lane.