Danube

2850km immersion in culture + environment -  from sea to source along the Danube.

I did not embark on the exploration with any fixed theme, instead seeking to respond to what I saw as I quietly passed through the landscape by bike, following the rivers course.  Threads of thinking emerged as the exploration progressed



thread 1 - the river

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thread 2 - on legacies + futures

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thread 3 - pondering tolerence

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The following are from the "Endnotes"  of a book I published following the trip - a single volume which I gave to my mother.  The trip itself I completed with my brother.


"As hoped, the cycle did indeed provide an incredible platform for low impact, immersive exploration. The consequence of this [cycling with a limited time of 31 days to complete the trip] was that we were in a constant transition between landscapes which meant we "grazed" individual locations rather than becoming deeply intimate with any. There were countless touches, but true intimacy was, for the most part, momentary.

The exception was our relationship with the Danube itself, within whose grasp we truly 'lived', slowly absorbing our surroundings in an increasingly cumulative experience. 

Ultimately, I saw the river itself less as the picture and more as the canvas upon which countless stories have been painted over millennia. She is the foundation upon which man has imprinted himself across her surface, within her waters and along her banks. For the majority of her length only the water and geology remain constant, at least in the short term and to the visible eye. All else is in continual transition, with each element better read as part of a greater saga that is the culmination of history, empires and culture. I feel this reflected in a minute way in my own work, as while each image can be viewed in isolation and has individual narrative, a more complete impression can be appreciated when the collective is considered as a whole. The result is a story of the river at one moment in time. One story. My story.


Final Thought

The journey itself took place while the UK was in the midst of a polarised and destructive internal battle to leave the EU and the issue of migration into Europe a major news story. In observing the legacy of multiple, horrific conflicts along her shores together with the recent opening of borders and the ensuant peace between states, I could not help but compare this to some of the increasingly polarised voices back home & those on the movement of people. Many arguments have been voiced throughout this period, but sadly quiet has been the discussion for community and responsibility. I struggle to think of any border that has created greater harmony between neighbours and cannot help but feel that memories are short and that we have learned very little from history.

I learned more about culture,  community and tolerance on this trip than at any other time in my life.  The learning was based on seeing rather than reading the distorted views of others.  If that is the case, perhaps all leaders should complete the same cycle we did."






















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