a January mood


winter landscape2

Winter’s Reverie I


winter landscape1

Winter’s Reverie II


One from the archives.


© Emily Hughes, 2015


these watery things

My life is going through a lot of changes at the moment. These are changes which I have instigated. Things are shifting. It is exciting, but extremely unsettling, and there are times when I question my motives for stirring up the waters. I question why I am constantly compelled to confront what is real and safe and solid. Sometimes it helps me to express these feelings with my images and sometimes I write words too, which I cannot call as substantial as poetry or prose, but…. well, they are just something.


In these moments, when the frayed ends of a tightly wound skein begin to unravel. When the warm, solid earth beneath my feet seems to shift. When I look up, and even the clear blue sky wavers and shimmers, teasing like a mirage in the temperate desert heat. Watery things are playful things; beguiling and dissembling. They steal the light and scatter it joyfully like pebbles, skimming this way and that. Dodging and darting here and there.

Impossible to gather in my arms.

Every time I look, things are different… as if my eyes are shifting. A pair of aqueous orbs.

Every time, it is new.

Don’t confess your secrets to those watery things. They will suck them in greedily and and then spit them out like polished cherry stones.

sometimes I daydream3sometimes I daydream...sometimes I daydream2


© images and words by Emily Hughes, 2015

winter’s reverie

winter landscape1


winter landscape2


© words and images Emily Hughes, 2015









There is a quiet sort of grace in the gentle ebb and flow of the world around us; the sparse, sinewed kink of flowers against a stone wall; the comforting swell of a hilltop on a mountain walk; the twist of the dying roses’ sepal artfully languishing in an old glass beer bottle of a busy café. Even the merest ripple in a lake on a still day; the dense, deft weave of wild forest grasses, or the willowy elegence of noiseless pine trees [how many years have they stood, poised and calm as the wisest of shaman, hushed, mighty and knowing as we rush around like crazed ants at their feet, lost in the dark. They watch us bump into each other beneath them and curse and move on as they sigh and shake their noble emerald heads above in the clouds]. These are the things which quicken my heart and steady my breath. When so many big things are happening. Things I don’t understand; things which cannot be understood. I look for the quiet things.



I wrote this post a few months ago, before I lost my way with blogging, and life [temporarily – it’s good to be back. I’ve missed it more than I can say]. I still find it relevant now; perhaps even more so given I have spent a lot of time recently reflecting on


[in relation to my life, and my practice]



[a word which emerged from these thoughts]

It’s heartening to know, coming back to my blog now to find this post, that I might have been on the right track.

Time to get back to it.

© images and content Emily Hughes, 2014

A desert tale (part 1)

desert landscape

I had expected the dust, kicked up by the horses hooves, to sting my eyes. I had expected the blinding sun and the dry, unforgiving heat which blasted the earth below and prickled my pale freckled skin. The tall, statuesque cacti were almost too clichéd to be beautiful though, towering over sturdy low bushy shrubs which sprinkled the cracked, parched soil. I had expected to wilt: too delicate, too fair, too soft. Used to more temperate climes and gentle, rolling lush vistas. This bristling, spiky landscape of extremes too hostile, too intense for my moderate habituation.

They told us about the dust storms – the haboobs – and how you didn’t want to be outside when one pitched up. We read about the valley fever. We rolled the unfamiliar terms around on our foreign tongues.

I had expected to be thirsty. All around us, as we rode, we saw flurries of rain smudging rivulets into the moody blue-grey distance. They teased us but never came our way. Forest fires painted hazy purple skies.

But I didn’t wither. I felt alive. All around me there was life. I was continually surprised and delighted by the delicate whispers of beauty to be found in such harsh conditions. An abundance of wildlife chattered around me. The desert was desolate and wild and ancient and utterly beguiling to me.

The heat, well, it grips you entirely. It crowds you and soaks into your bones. It is hard, really hard, to think of anything much but the physical presence of being, just trying to be, in such extreme temperatures.

And maybe air conditioning.

And water.

I wasn’t thirsty. Ever. An ice-cold bottle of water was thrust into my hand at every turn, for which I felt deep gratitude. I realised quickly how a place like this makes you appreciate the value of a cold bottle of water.

Precious water.

We helicoptered down into the belly of the canyon and rode a short stretch of the Colorado river in a boat. We looked up and saw deep, dark stains imprinted on the towering red rocks. When we asked innocent questions of our young guide about how much the water levels fluctuated she shrugged her shoulders and responded quietly: “not much”. The silence around those two words dislodged something within us and whole discourses spooled noiselessly within our minds, unraveling rapidly, wavering, as we moved slowly through the water.

Water. Everyone talks about the water and no-one talks about it. And even as we looked around us and saw all of the hundreds of tourists beholding and secreting away their own little piece of this raw, rugged wonder there was a permeating sense of urgency that was unspoken.

The stains are there to see, clearly. Blemishes. Traces of our shame.

The water is running out. The river is shrinking. This vast, majestic, beautiful river which so many depend on has already shrunk to no more than a trickle in some places along its stretch.

I really wanted to give you cacti and majestic views. I wanted to capture that scolding sunlight as it melted into a dreamy liquid gold. I wanted to show you what it was like to feel as though you are at the centre of earth’s miracle which is vanishing before our very eyes. I wanted to guide you through the hot, dusky, dusty sweetness, the dazzling silence and the immense vastness. I wanted to finish up with the profound, unending emptiness, which engulfs you entirely.

Swallows you up.

It all evaded my lens. Completely.

(Of course – how would it be possible to capture all of that?)

Still, it turns out I’m a pretty poor landscape photographer.

So, I leave you instead with the little things which, I find, are always so much easier to tackle than the big things. I came across a tangle of blackened, scorched thorns. They seemed to me to say what I couldn’t say with my pictures and my words. The stark bitter thorn and the sweet little fragile desert flowers play out their own version of the tragedy of this land. Our land.

© images and content Emily Hughes and searchingtosee, 2013


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The sky drops right down to the sea, and shears a perfect horizon at the edge of the world where the air meets salt water. The sea exhales, lilting undulant murmurs which curl and crease up to a wrinkle and then smooth again in turn. Rise and fall. As regular and certain as the breath, as the expanding and contracting of the lungs.

The sun flickers and wanes. A light bulb going out. It skips and glints across the frothy tips.

It’s always there, and always to be found. Once it has found you, and you have absorbed its salted sweet essence it will seep into a chamber of your heart and never leave. You will always be able to find it there, when you need it.

And you will always come back for more.


© images and content Emily Hughes and searchingtosee, 2013

A lullaby

she dreams
waters deep, curious
serpents nudge at her feet
sighing mermaids lounge on
rocks idle in their romance
disinterested they curl
graceful hands
they cup her
sweet face, gently
caress cool
she drifts
down the stream
carried along on a
unicorn’s dream
lithe frames
arch her slumber
murmuring ancient
secrets profound
in haunting
the while
they fashion
weeds into combs,
drawing wavy spurs
through lustrous
sleeps on
soundly, gathering
hushed whispers
around her
a watery
her floating
head as deft
trails between
finger spaces
turns to black
and a stray rainbow
imagined, maybe
(or just fancied)
surprisingly sleek
and springy flips
down its bow
to rock you
a shelter
vigilant moon
shifts its opal gaze,
silently quiets the
night and weeps
a solitary
skies sigh a
weary breeze and
an obedient scatter of
stars shuffle into place,
dusting the air with an
invisible gauze
of dancing
skims the smooth
stillness of your skin and
the stars strain to listen to the
pure, white lilting rhythm
as it searches and
settles to the
quiet ebb

a careless cloak
of clouds tumbles
down, cautiously
surrounds you,
and, you

© images and content Emily Hughes and searchingtosee, 2013

words to shoot by: water (2)

This was my other option for the words to shoot by entry, which I also like, but I decided the other trio had more impact in the end. I still like these though I think they are quite tranquil. What do you think? (Incidentally, these are medium format shot on the rollei, the others on my iphone)

© images and content Emily Hughes and searchingtosee, 2012

words to shoot by: water

I was very excited to be selected to as a guest contributor on the words to shoot by blog after an open call for entries (if you scroll down to the guest contributions you will see my entry). Every other week a selection of contributors submits a triptych in response to a single word. This week the word was water, and here are the shots I came up with:

© images and content Emily Hughes and searchingtosee, 2012

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