Georgetown

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I totally fell head over heals for Malaysia, especially Georgetown — as you can see it’s a photographer’s paradise, with its colourful streetart and crumbling colonial facades. Such a vibrant multi-cultural community, and everyone seems to live in peace and acceptance of one another’s faiths: Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Taoists and Buddhists are all represented here. There are so many temples and places of worship; on one street four Chinese temples stand literally within a stone’s throw of each other. You can visit most of them for free. We took a walking tour, but to be honest it’s just as fun to explore by yourself with a map. It was interesting to hear about Georgetown’s history though and our guide, Xavier, took us to the best street food spots. Every street you turn down has something interesting to discover and although it is touristy (particularly popular with backpackers), it still has a very laidback vibe and we didn’t find it too crowded, even in the height of summer. We stayed in a B&B on Love Lane, which is packed full of bars and restaurants and live music at night. Right in the centre of things — a great spot!

 

© Emily Hughes, 2019

Rain song

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The slick sharp shapes of the city are blurred out of focus. The pale bright sky darkens. And then the rain comes. Sudden. Violent. An eviction. There is thunder. Lightning. I sit up. Turn my eyes to the sky, press my nose to the glass. There’s something thrilling about a storm which makes me feel like a child.

I listen to the rain pelt out tinny drum beats on the coloured metal roof tops. I wait. For it to wash everything away: dirt, sin, hope. I wait for it to end. I don’t want it to end. My eyes are bleary with colour block walls and mischievious gods with kohl lined eyes, scorpions which light up in the dark. Wary children with shy smiles and women who turn their backs to me, flashing brightly coloured teeth which nibble at proud whipped crowns. And banana leaves and teak trees, lush highland greens. Limestone mountains jutting into the sky. The electric blue of a birdwing butterfly. And smells I want to jumble up and strike onto hot night time pavements like firecrackers, inhale like anodyne: ripe melon, chrysanthemum tea, steamed yellow corn. Petrol and incense and ginger flowers. Fried banana doused in vinegar.

And the rain. I want to feel the warm rain on me. Sliding down my cheeks and the back of my neck, bouncing off my toes. I want the force of it to perforate me, punch me out onto an unknown landscape. I want to lean into it, let it prop me up, a cut out doll. I want it to drench my clothes to the outline of my flimsy body, dissolve me into a sugary puddle and suck my flip flops off my feet. I remember once, dancing in the rain. There was music. I was laughing, turning, my face and hands reaching to the sky, feeling the happiest I might have ever been. The rain can be a shelter for your loneliness. It can be freeing that way.

Outisde is all colour. Strange and rattling. But inside is quiet. Black and white. And it feels like I’ve slipped back into some watchful heart space, tender and fragrant as a kiss from a frangipane baby. I slouch against the cushioned seats. Soon, the roads are slushy canals. Sharp needles drill out dents in the pocked concrete. The downpour is exhausting. It slants across my vision, sends me into a cross-eyed daze.

We stop outside a restaurant. I see a group of men sitting and eating with their hands, bare foot, cross-legged. Flexing their toes like lizards.

It’s a slow crawl to the hotel, just 5o yards away. But no-one seems to mind about the hold up very much. No-one seems angry, or in a hurry. After all, they know. They’re no match for the sky around here. They wear patience on their sun-beaten faces like masks. A couple of horns beep pathetically and the rain drums on.

We shrug forwards and it calms, picks out a slower, more accidental rhythm. It builds again to the chorus, another unexpected rush of sound. A rising fury. Crescendo. This happens once, twice, three times.

A verse, a chorus, a song, of the rain.

 

© Emily Hughes, 2018, image and words.

Lethe

 

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© Emily Hughes, 2018

tropic

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© Emily Hughes, 2018

a January mood

 

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Winter’s Reverie I

 

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Winter’s Reverie II

 

One from the archives.

 

© Emily Hughes, 2015

 

to the shore (for my mum)

For those who seek strength at this time of year, Emily x

shore, 2013

She ran down to the seashore because he had told her to run, and she didn’t know where else to go. Her faithful chocolate lab, Chess, galloping at her side, long pink tongue flapping in the wind. It was cold – bitingly cold – so she pulled the hood of her fur-lined anorak tightly around her face, still smarting with indignation. At least she had had the foresight to grab her coat; silly she hadn’t thought to change her shoes, she scolded herself regretfully and rather pointlessly as she felt the wet sand squelch uncomfortably into her flimsy ballet slippers and between her toes. When she got there she didn’t know what to do so she stood and threw stones into the shallow water, watching the ripples expand and disappear. Through her tear-filled eyes the horizon looked pleasantly blurry. In fact, it was as if the whole world was out of focus, at that very moment. She watched the tide wrinkle in and out, gently, rhythmically, for some time. It was something she could rely on. As sure as her breath: in-out, in-out. She turned to look at Chess, whose eager brown eyes were fixed on her as he panted noisily, awaiting instruction it seemed. But she had none to give. Her frenzied gaze steadied, resting on the horizon ahead. As she looked on, she realised at that moment that she didn’t know what was coming next, but whatever it was, it didn’t scare her. Suddenly, decisively, she turned her sodden, sand-caked heels away from the shore and didn’t look back.

This image is available to buy in my artfinder shop.

© image and words by Emily Hughes, 2013 and 2016

 

oh, she dreams in gold

she dreams in gold - I

oh, she dreams in gold, 2015

 

I’m working on a little series of golden, composite images on the theme of reverie, and I’ve just added this one to my artfinder shop. I’ve posted this one before here, but needed to make a few tweaks before I was entirely happy with it.

 

© images and words by Emily Hughes, 2015

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