The colour of ‘sky’ ranges from a light, fluffy grey to freshly bruised black, because ‘sky’ doesn’t refer to the bright blue bits at all, but to the layer in between, at least in its original meaning.
Our word for sky comes from 13th century Norse meaning ‘cloud’ which in turn came from the Proto-Germanic ‘skeujam’ for ‘cloud cover’.
Before that, the English had to make do with the word ‘heofan’ to describe the out of reach firmament above their heads, so when the Norse came along with their ‘sky’ it was heofan sent because if you live in England and glance heofanward cloud cover is pretty much what you’re guaranteed to see.
But this isn’t meant to be an etymology lesson, but rather an explanation of the frustrations of photography in this country – it is almost invariable cloudy, at least this summer, and unless they’re dramatic storm clouds, a lack of blue sky tends to make your photos look rather dull.
The two photo above help to illustrate my point. We took a leaf out of John Gray’s book and visited Tatton Park in Cheshire yesterday and I went with my camera in the hope of some blue sky, but what we mainly got was ‘skeujam’ as you can see from the view taken around Melchett Mere.
We’d gone for the Flights of Fancy contemporary arts commissions to celebrate Tatton’s 2012 binennial. That’s one of them above left – a crashed-landed flying saucer named VEX.
The artwork contains video messages from Che Guevara who in the artist’s imagination exists in at least parallel universes, although in my photo taken inside, the Che on the screen looks remarkably like Mrs P.
But where I really, really needed the blue sky was as a backdrop to the Pont de Singe exhibit in the Japanese Garden, a sort of rope bridge affair held up by three enormous helium balloons. It wasn’t to be.
I did get a photo and you can see it, along with others on my Flickr page, but we have promised ourselves another visit to try again on the next clear, sunny day. Which would be the biennial 2014 I think.