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Anamnesis, part 1: Do You Believe In Ghosts?

Anamnesis is a project that I have been working on for a few years, I'm not quite sure of its direction, as a result there is no rush to complete it. The reason for this uncertainty is that there are many themes pulsing through this very eclectic set of photographs. Some of these themes relate to intensely personal experiences, so perhaps there is some part of me that has been reluctant to share. Firstly, if you're not familiar with the term Anamnesis, which in itself can be interpreted in multiple ways; but generally, and in this instance - Anamnesis means a reminiscence or recollection of the past. The photographs in this series encompass thoughts and memories of the past, and on a personal level, these images reignite long forgotten events. These events will mean nothing to anyone but myself; however the nature of the photographs and indeed the process, and at times bizarre twists in these stories will hopefully make an engaging series of images. Images that recollect the past, yet also ask questions relating to the passage of time and much deeper spiritual and existential themes.

One of the major catalysts for the project was an experience I had at a place called Alkborough Flats, in North Lincolnshire. This is where it gets interesting, and I'm sure some of you may think I've lost my marbles! These events happened in 2018, so obviously it has taken me almost five years to get around to sharing the story. I haven't felt ready to share until now. Why now? Because I want to get this project finished and published!

If you are someone who is sensitive to the energy of places, particularly those where one can sense some kind of presence; you will understand when I say that Alkborough Flats immediately has that kind of feeling. There is a definite sense of the eerie here. And by eerie, I don't mean in the literal dictionary definition but in the concept of the English eerie, which is best described in this article, by none other than Robert Macfarlane. I'd actually visited Alkborough Flats out of my conservation and birding interests, though being a photographer obviously I had a camera with me. I wasn't expecting to find such rich photographic material as these 'Zombie Trees', seemingly trapped among the reeds. Their branches evoking something supernatural, reaching out, almost as if in pain. I walked around feeling excited by the photographic opportunity yet constantly aware of the powerful energy here.

At one point, as I was walking through a field next to the reeds pictured above, I felt a sudden warmth in the air, which resonated through my whole body. Just a small patch of about three metres, outside of this 'zone' it was a cold February day. It was indeed, completely bizarre. Walking on and continuing exploring, I quickly forgot about this experience as I was deeply engaged in making photographs.

Two or three nights later, I woke up from a dream, screaming loudly. The dream was one in which I felt a real sense of terror. Really horrific terror of the like I had never experienced before in my life, or since, thankfully. As I became more awake and aware of my surroundings, this feeling of terror lingered. Eventually I realised that somehow this was a spirit that had attached itself to me. By now I was completely lucid. I had to calm this spirit, talk to it, telling this presence that it would be ok. I got the feeling that this spirit had done something terrible and deeply regretted it. It took me a couple of hours of constant reassurance before I felt free of this spirit. To add further weirdness, a particular location came to mind as I was attempting to expel this incredibly unsettling presence. A location that I'd ridden past countless times on my bike over the years at a village near to Alkborough. In all those years of riding past I'd always sensed something a bit odd, and not particularly pleasant. I honestly think this is where the events happened that had so tormented this spirit. The place where I felt that warmth in the field is where the spirit had retreated to after the events, and also where it had attached itself to me!

Now some of you are probably thinking I'm completely bonkers. But there is my story of these photographs at Alkborough. It's not the only experience I've had like this either, but I'll save the other events for another time. Next Halloween perhaps!? In the days after this experience I went to see a spiritual healer who helped extract any remnants of this spirit, which according to him had also been wandering our house!

"I went into the trees

And something left its mark on me."

Weirdness aside, although there is more to come with this series, this experience added a further depth to the project. My deepening interest in the concept of the 'English Eerie', our relationship with nature, time and place all fit in with this somewhat confusing project. Over the coming months I'll be attempting to collate the many images which will hopefully be transformed into a coherent narrative. You can see more photographs from the series here, and if you scroll down that page there is a link to a fantastic Radio 3 programme all about the 'Eerie', enjoy ;)

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