What is the truth you see in this photograph? Is it a portrayal of marketing sleight of hand which conveniently distracts attention from the desolate reality of this part of Hull in order to big the place up? Or is it carefully positioned in this stark context precisely to make a deliberate counterpoint concerning the existence of alternative and altogether more hopeful and vibrant realities? Well I don’t whiff deception here, quite the contrary in fact: the jarring juxtaposition gives the message both an honest context and, therefore, real power. The apparent absurdity is critical. It enables this declaration of the real to be a bold statement of truth which draws one’s perception to a different narrative which is at work within the reality of this place. Taken in its antithetical context the hoarding says much about the character, outlook and spirit of the place. In spite of what you see, this is true; this is real. Therefore one can rightly cherish the hope that transformation and regeneration are not only possible, but close by and perhaps getting closer, maybe already here. The shiny modern fence which defines the foreground seems to corroborate such optimism. Clearly even here the new story is indeed already at work.
The division of the image into three distinctive components of foreground, middle-ground and background is the reality check to the truth of what we see disclosed. The background is a dispiriting collage of dereliction; a dismal, dilapidated vista of what has been and gone. It roots our viewing into the history and soul of this place without which we are blind. Our interpretation of the image is earthed deeply into questions regarding the story of this part of the city. Against this monochrome gloom the middle-ground shocks with outrageous and unexpected vibrancy. It tells us that there is more to be grasped and held if we want to wrap our minds around the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. We are provoked to imagine and dared to dream. And the foreground demonstrates that such hopefulness is not misplaced, for here, right in front of our eyes within touching distance is the startling evidence of newness and creativity.
“Forget about what's happened; don't keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I'm about to do something brand-new. It's bursting out! Don't you see it?” (Isaiah 43:18-19)
I am currently in my third week off work with back trouble, having initially been laid up in bed for 10 days. This explains my absence from the blogosphere. At long last I have been able to get my mind in gear, even if the rest of me is still dawdling a frustratingly long and painful way behind!