Art, Beauty in decay, blog, Blog post, Comment, Lincoln UK, Lincolnshire, PDBarton, photography, Pictures
Comment 1

The meaning behind ‘The Greenhouse’

Recently, I was musing on the relevance of images to each of us and how that changes from person to person.

People see an image and it means different things to each person. The image  effects them. To some that effect is deep and meaningful, visceral even, and to others it’s trite and meaningless. I can’t account for that except it’s perhaps what allows us to “edit” the millions of images we see, into piles – important/trivial, like/dislike – and I have to say, in the main, that’s how my own editing works. Binary. On / off – like / dislike.

Phil Cosker, a dear friend of mine, a photographer, writer and all round Renaissance Man, produced a set of images nearly 40 years ago. Recently he displayed them – printed very large – in a number of churchyards around Lincolnshire.

Even more recently he has included them on his web site <<<HERE>>> under the title “Landscapes”. I was assisting Phil with his web site at the time and as I was uploading the images, one in particular ‘Hit me’. And that is not much of an exaggeration. It’s the image of a dilapidated greenhouse shown above.

Now, as I said “People see an image and it means different things to each person” add to that at 73 with my foot well over the threshold of my dotage, this is how it spoke to me.

It struck me just how strong a metaphor for the passage of time and impending old age it is.

  • The design and construction of the structure have a quality of times past, tradition if you like. I remain a man of my time.
  • The once shiny protecting glass is cracked and broken. I’m not so glossy anymore – if indeed  I was in the first place.
  • It doesn’t appear to be standing straight. That is as it is.
  • Impending collapse is imminent. It will take only a slight nudge to alter its state. With a small hand full of issues that’s very true.
  • The structure is corrupted by wet rot and is unstable. Amen to that.
  • It’s not as well maintained as it once was. Amen to that too.
  • It’s seems to be struggling to keep things from falling out – grabbing onto memories of times-past. There is more dropping out of my clouded noddle nowadays than is going in.


 Old age writ large across the remnants of its and my own corporeal being.

And yet, still it stands, doing its job, sort of. Though rickety, it’s still protecting – showing the present what the past looked like and how the job was done. Dilapidated, and yet it remains shabbily regal and very frayed, chic even (on a good day at least).

The trees in the background are blurred. That in itself continues the metaphor. Present day life passes by at such a speed. It’s all such a blur.

Rarely has a picture spoken to me so directly. Rarely have I taken so much out of a picture.

I know… as my wife, Sue, says, “you think too much”.

I remind her, like the Greenhouse, I shall eventually fall apart and collapse. As indeed shall we all.

Production Notes  and Copyright
The image was taken with a large wooden 5 x 4 camera and a vintage lens The quality is extraordinary. The small image shown here does not do it justice.

The image is Copyright ©Phil Cosker and has been used here with his permission.
Phil can be contacted from his web site <<<HERE>>> .
While you are there take a few minutes to view some of his photographic work and perhaps sign up to receive his weekly 500 word stories, some of which you can read  <<<HERE>>>. You wont regret it.

Lincoln. 2020

1 Comment

  1. A fascinating read Peter. I’m embarrassed to admit, it had never occurred to me to ask of a photograph ‘what does it mean to me?’ It obviously opens another way of engaging with images.

    Your response to the greenhouse image makes perfect sense (I’m old enough to get it). Perhaps that blurred tree on the right has a different way of dealing with the winds of change than the steadfast greenhouse?

    A thought provoking piece. Thank you.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s