Photographs I have failed to take

This is not my photograph.

Source: @helengrantsays

I had intended to write about a fun synchronism that I recently encountered. I have been reading Austin Kleon's "Show Your Work!". One chapter—"Open Up Your Cabinet of Curiosities"—talks about sharing your sources of inspiration, the items that pique your interest, the oddities that you find especially engaging. Indeed, the decision to bring back this blog from its three-year hiatus was a direct result of reading that chapter.

Then just a week or so later, I'm with my partner in the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and we find ourselves opposite a fine example of such a cabinet: the one that was assembled by the surrealist Roland Penrose. It contains artefacts from the sublime to the silly. A cast of Lee Miller's hands. A glass pig.

"Nice", I think. "I should take a photo of that. But my phone's in the bottom of my bag and there's probably too much reflection and anyway am I getting peckish? Yes I think I am, maybe we should get a cup of tea and a bun and anyway I can probably get a perfectly good picture from the museum's website".

Of course, when I get home, there's no such image to be found. It turns out that the museum is surprisingly parsimonious in the images that it shares. I finally track down a photo: it appears that this cabinet has only been photographed and shared twice; one of these photos is on the blog and instagram feed of Helen Grant. And how about photos of the items in the case? Maybe a photo of the other cast that Penrose commissioned, his foot and Miller's nestled together? No, nothing. Absolutley no trace online.

I hope that I can learn from this. Apparently it's not enough to have the camera with you, you actually need to use it. I could probably apply the same lesson to that almost empty notebook that is weighing down my pocket.

Fingers crossed.

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