Last week I was reminded about the emotional pull that a picture can have.
On a trip to London’s National Gallery, my dashing date and tour guide reacquainted me with Piero della Francesca’s Baptism of Christ. As we entered the room with the painting front and centre, a wave of … well, I don’t know what it was, nostalgia I guess … whomped me.
I hadn’t thought about this particular painting in 15 years but it abruptly deposited me back to a stuffy prefab building, tucked in behind the school gym, with the stifling smell of hot concrete and cut grass wafting in the open windows. The room darkened so that the photocopied transparencies could be shown on the overhead projector as we dutifully copied down names and dates and foreign words like sfumato and chiaroscuro. Emma and I racing to see who could write faster and produce the longer essays in the set time. Miss Sharp, speaking in hushed tones about the Byzantine influence and the importance of the patron. The feeling of being 17 and in my final year of high school, doing a specialist subject like Renaissance art history, and being both old and young at the same time.
While a picture can paint a thousand words, it can also transport you back into another time and another version of yourself.
Which leads me on, ever so tangentially, to Sri Lanka. I went there in March, on a trip with two friends. I loved everything about it. It was hot, chaotic, loud, calm, sweaty, spicy, fresh, magnetic, wild, frantic, sweet, cramped, exotic, surprising, satisfying, vibrant, rich, dense. A thousand descriptive words layered onto 17 days of travel.
Here are a few of my photos. They don’t properly convey what it was like to be there, but each one takes me back to that place and that time and that feeling. For now I’ll carefully file away these memories and they’ll simplify to anecdotes and stories for the pub, but hopefully these photos will have the same power of the Baptism of Christ to transport a future me back.