THE WORK IS DIVIDED into themed galleries of colourful photographs, each of which loosely focuses on an aspect of the world that has caught my attention and triggered my sense of the marvellous or magical or mysterious – of the world in splendour. Occasionally, the same photo might appear in more than one gallery – because it belongs thematically in both locations.
Lighting the way to the eternal
There is a quality of the light, a certain type of tone or intensity or tint, that immediately points beyond time. Any scene or object bathed in or touched by this light seems taken out of the temporal and glimpsed suddenly as a part of the eternal. Images that capture this magical effect of the light always reveal the world in splendour.
They may be everyday moments of worldly life on the surface, but the light recasts them into the timeless realm, the eternal. And the photograph of that frozen instant offers a taste of eternity, the eternal that is here now, if only we could see beyond the temporal that overlays it in the mind.
The mood in these images is always one both of peace and tranquility yet also of yearning for something we feel to be real but cannot normally grasp. This light seems to pierce the Illusion in which we live out our lives, showing for a moment the true splendour of the world.
Transformed temples and palaces of South and South-East Asia
In its more exuberant moments, South and South-East Asian architecture has surely conjured up the the most fantastical, elaborate, sumptuous, fabulously decorated and colourful built environments on the planet – the stuff of dreams and visions of the wildest excess. To be able to wander in among these three-dimensional fantasies, and capture their craziest corners and most dizzying perspectives on camera, carries me to a space of wonder.
The images in this collection take these greedily gathered photos as a starting point. Using simple enhancement tools, the original images are transformed into even more dreamlike visions. Usually, I feel these enhanced photographs capture more accurately than the originals my actual experience of the location – the way my senses are thrilled and transported by these otherworldly places.
They become visionary most often through the alchemy of colours. Unexpected and unusual ranges of hues carry these photographic images of ancient temples and palaces away into the realm of fairytale and fantasy. For me, their richness and strangeness reflect the magic of the sites themselves. These glorious colours, just as much as the extraordinary buildings and environments they conjure up, are some of the greatest treasures of the world in splendour.
The dazzling and delightful complexity of the world
This collection captures a number of corners of existence where complexity and sometimes, apparently, chaos reigns. In these images, the sheer exuberance of life fizzing and frothing – so much vital energy flowing into so many fantastical forms, all jumbled and jostling together – reveals the world at its richest and most magnificent and joyful. A dazzling complexity, a luscious layering that tantalisingly invites further investigation of this world in splendour.
Whether occurring within natural or man-made environments, or in intentional or accidental fusions of the two, and whether generated naturally or with conscious or unconscious human assistance, complexity characterises countless spectacles, from sumptuous decorative craftwork to the residue left by a polluted, monsoon-swollen river.
For those who have been soothed almost to death by ‘Zen’ minimalist ‘decoration’ and design, here is the antidote – try relaxing instead in this frothing bubble bath, fizzing with the fullness of life. If super-simplification has failed to revitalise, try instead the healing power of abundance, and its reminder of the vast richness and variety and energy of existence.
To enjoy absolute maximalism, I have layered a number of already intricate images, sometimes of closely related subject matter, sometimes more disparate, to create dazzlingly complex visual effects.
Gods in a glorious Technicolor garden
As with the temples and palaces of the Visionary voyage, these images are largely about the spectacular hues that emerge when I play around with the settings, but it feels fitting that the gods should be given such a vivid environment in this world in splendour. All the images actually come from shots taken in one small garden in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. Filled with beautiful terracotta works by one man, whose name I do not even know, this tiny, neglected, jungly corner of the planet induces a dreamlike state.
There is something pleasing about creating a slightly unearthly garden for the gods, simply through the transformational effects of colour.
Fabulous flora and fauna
Collected here are a few of the myriad marvellous creatures and plants of this world in splendour that I happen to have caught on camera. Plants and animals are endlessly fascinating, and restorative for even the most jaded vision. Anyone open to the experience can be delighted and entranced for hours by a simple kitten or a baby monkey at play, while the humblest of wayside flowers offers its beauty to all who pass by. To capture these everyday moments and draw attention to their throwaway miraculousness, alongside other, rarer natural treasures, is one of the most satisfying ways to evoke this world in splendour.
Dramatic moments in the sky theatre
The sky that forms an ever-changing backdrop to all the events on Earth is itself the source of some of the most splendid of worldly spectacles. Sunrises and sunsets and sudden tropical storms create awesome displays, whose fleeting nature makes them all the more dramatic. Eerie and intense effects of light and colour transform the world below such theatrical skies, turning it into a charged space that seems the stuff of dreams.
The temptation to enhance the splendour of the rising and setting sun with the colour controls proves irresistible, and the world glows like a precious jewel in the resultant images. The experience takes on its full cosmic quality – a source of deep awe and wonder.
Reflections that turn windows into multi-dimensional worlds
The world as glimpsed through reflections in glass seems an infinitely complex spectacle. The merger of what is without and what is within fascinates in its spatial ambiguity. Nothing is certain any more, and yet so much is there to see, to untangle. Everything combines into a jigsaw puzzle in many layers. Occasionally, a new and fantastical world is shadowed forth.
These shots were taken wherever I noticed the opportunity – mostly in Paris, Amsterdam and Ubud in Bali.
Other odd moments of magnificence
These images did not easily sit – or fit – in any of the other galleries, but still they feel full of the beauty and strangeness of the world. These moments, and so many more like them, are further reasons to live in perpetual wonder. Even the most seemingly ordinary and everyday things can suddenly startle by their unexpected splendour when we remain truly present to the world around us, seeing all its endless odd juxtapositions, and all the ways in which light plays across it all, giving it life.