I’m not sure how this started, and yet here we are, already there. The beautiful scenery and the idyllic peacefulness. And yet…
That state of relaxed contemplation remains just out of reach; something is out of kilter. I can feel it, unsettling the mood and putting us all on edge. None of us can put our finger on it but there’s something lurking; hidden and watching. The heavy air seems pregnant with possibilities, yet none of us wait with enthusiastic expectation – a sense of dread envelops us.
A sudden feeling of déjà vu envelops me – I’ve been here before; somehow I know this doesn’t end well, though I can tell you nothing more. Why? What exactly is happening? The answer is tantalisingly out of reach, hovering and drifting on the edge of my consciousness.
The scenery changes, the mood and location alters. And yet, the feeling of being watched, followed, of an outside presence sculling in the shadows remains…
Dreams are our life, set free from the rationale and the constraints of the physical world. This is the setting for our subconscious at play, and we are fascinated by the dreamscape we all inhabit nightly. We seek to tease meanings out of symbols that we have ascribed specific meanings to, and yet are often none the wiser.
When I started this photographic project, my aim was to to try to capture the feeling of the uncertainty of the dream – when our expectations are confounded or confronted by the unexpected or extraordinary. The images were taken on a Scottish holiday with my partner @spottedhyenas, who made both the masks used, and indeed wore them in the majority of the photos.
With the images complete, I offered them as inspiration to the poet Mark Walton who had agreed to produce a written accompaniment to the photos. I offered no explanation – the dream narrative remains unexplained. Neither of us had worked this way before – creating individually in isolation unlike our previous collaborations. And this was the most exciting part of the collaborative process for both of us. I knew what the dreamscape meant to me, the hidden meaning and suggestions, but how would they effect someone else. What would be produced by the fevered mind of the poet? ‘The Night Before You Left’ was written in direct inspiration to the suite of pictures, and it perfectly captures the sense of dread that I hope seeps from the images, dreamlike and unending…
Sometimes In Dreams
Sometimes in dreams
We wake into a dream transformed,
A false awaking that sheds new light
Upon the dream that went before,
And so on waking fully
(Or at least into the dream we understand as true),
We find some mysteries explained,
Some truths turned inside out,
Old memories of something new.
And so my love it was with you,
You smiled from deep inside the labyrinth,
And pulled me through
To what I thought was wakefulness,
Where bathed in light we played a while,
‘Til wrenched apart
And with a scream,
I surfaced shaking once again
From within this dream within a dream.
And suddenly alone,
I lost my voice
And found it difficult to move,
But searching, calling
I slept at last
Cocooned once more within your arms,
But dreams turn nightmare once again,
And arms turned bonds and bed turned cell,
‘Til woken by the toll of bells.
So waking now
Still deep in sleep,
I know that dreams in dreams
All dreamt with you,
Must part like clouds
And leave imprinted on my heart
The memories of sleep and dark,
And hope that soon a morning comes
Where I will wake alone in truth,
(That fabled room where dreams unspin),
And find the meaning held within.
That Night Before You Left
You send me postcards from your dreams.
But I know they are your dreams.
I recognise them from my nightmares.
They arrive, dog-eared and watermarked,
And I pin each one
On the mildewed caravan walls.
They cover the stains.
The old ones,
And the ones you made
That night before you left.
That night nobody here talks about.
I still watch for your face, Think I see you sometimes Through the strobing flicker of the carousel, But when the horses slow and stop, And their riders melt in to the innocent candyfloss crowds, There’s just mud, and lights.
And the kids on the Waltzers only scream to go faster.
One day the screams of the children will change in pitch,
And I will know that you have returned to collect your dreams.
This project was originally published in Mascular Issue 10 ‘Dreams’. I recently revisited this project having come across a printed photo from the series, and I felt that it deserved a second look. The poetry is © Mark Walton, all other text and images © Jonathan Dredge.