An Ambition Fulfilled (Part Two)

After a short break for breakfast we had a quick look around Lukla which was full of porters and yaks looking for work, tea shops,children and chickens everywhere. At last we put on our rucksacks and the trek had begun.

David Walker - Foothills

David Walker - Foothills

The lower valleys of the Khumbu are lush and full of rich vegetation. This is farming land where potatoes, cabbages, maize, corn, peas and beans are all grown. The trail meanders through the valley gradually rising all the time. The going is quite rough in places and you need to keep your eyes open so as not to trip, that is if you can keep them away from taking in the extraordinary scenery that now unfolds as you begin climbing up the Khumbu valley. The scale is just magnificent with the snow covered higher peaks of the Himalayas just beginning to come into view. Passing through small villages you begin to realise just how basic and simple every day life is. Very simple lifestyles which dictate that nothing can be done for about 2-3 months in the depths of the winter. Food is stored under the houses for both humans and the animals. Schools close, no roads and so the only way to travel is by the mountain trails. The people are all very friendly and like to talk, they all smile and greet you with the words ‘Namastay’.

David Walker - Villagers in the Khumbu valley

David Walker - Villagers in the Khumbu valley

The first thing that strikes you whilst on the trail is the amount of traffic going in either direction. Porters carrying the heaviest loads that you could imagine go scurrying past wearing worn out old flip flops on their feet whilst you stand there in your special £100 trekking boots. Yak trains meander past, each yak with the Nepalese version of cow bells around their neck, a very evocative sound in that wonderful setting.

David Walker - High passes

David Walker - High passes

Your resolve is tested from time to time with the need to cross the raging river below by way of one of those suspension bridges. Most of the rickety old wooden ones, much beloved in Hollywood films, have gone and the days where the hero and heroine are being chased by the baddies and the bridge is about to fall to pieces or burn to the ground have gone with them. They have all been replaced with rickety new steel ones which sway from side to side and bounce up and down as you cross and it seems almost without exception that whenever you cross someone carrying a huge load or even a number of yaks will be crossing in the opposite direction causing you to have to stop mid way and actually lean over to allow them to pass. Not for the faint hearted.

David Walker - Mount Everest

David Walker - Mount Everest

At the end of each day, our tents had been erected and a brew of Nepalese sweet and milky tea was on the go. The evening meals usually started with a soup followed by variations on how to cook spam. The food was usually heavily flavoured with garlic which is good for your health at altitude. Dinner started at about 6.30 and after chat and tea or coffee we would normally retire to our tents by around 8.30. It would be nice to say that this was followed by deep enriching sleep but I am afraid the combination of altitude, breathlessness, and cold meant that for 5 consecutive nights I didn’t get one moment of blissful slumber. Lying in your sleeping bag unable to sleep in a tent, in freezing cold weather for 10 hours is not to be recommended I can assure you. The toilets consisted of a very crude hole in the ground which some poor bugger had to dig out every evening and fill in every morning. To use this facility meant a very delicate balancing act and a lot of self belief. This particularly concentrated the mind at night when trying to relieve oneself in the pitch dark whilst trying to find somewhere to hold the torch!

David Walker - Mount Everest II

David Walker - Mount Everest II

The Sherpas came round to each tent at approximately 6.30 each morning with a warm bowl of water and a cup of tea. The trick was to wash your teeth in the water first before applying soap. Breakfast consisted of porridge and some form of egg, maybe boiled or in the form of an omelette plus of course tea or coffee. Breakfast over its down to packing up your kit bag, sorting out your travel stuff for the day and waiting for that moment when you put on your rucksack.

After a number of days climbing we eventually arrived at a place called Namche Bazaar which is a crossroads for the Nepalese and the Tibetans who come down from the high passes and over the border to sell their Chinese made goods or barter their livestock. Nestling in a natural horseshoe and at quite high altitude, it is full of monasteries, shops and hustle and bustle. This is the Sherpa capital and the overall feeling is one of a medieval Community.

Arriving at Namche allowed me my very first clear view of Everest itself. My first glimpse was on a perfect morning with bright blue skies and a superb light. I didn’t need anyone to point it out, this was the sight that I had dreamed of and I would have to say it was quite an emotional experience. The sheer scale and magnificence of the peaks which surround you was just breath taking. Amu Dhablim, Nuptse, Lhotse and then Everest itself. To look at this sight was very humbling and I was in awe of all those brave mountaineers who had stood where I was standing and then went on, suffering incredible hardships, to conquer all that was before them. You are indeed in The Land of the Gods

David Walker - Stupa

David Walker - Stupa

The trek passed further on up the Khumbu valley getting ever closer to Mount Everest itself. En route we had the privilege of visiting the mountain school at Khumjung which Sir Edmund Hilary had set up and actually help build. We also visited the Hospital that he established in nearby Khunde village. Edmund Hilary is talked about in God like terms and this is not surprising given the unending support he provided for Nepal throughout his life.

The trek continued high into the Himalayas to Base camp with simply jaw dropping views and jaw freezing temperatures. My lifelong ambition had been accomplished and I had stood before Everest itself. Although it has taken 55 years to achieve, it had been well worth the wait.

The trip has given me such a rich experience of life, culture and that magnificent breathtaking scenery. Nepal is a truly remarkable country with wonderfully warm and welcoming people. A lifelong ambition achieved, now let me check where number two on my bucket list will take me.

Thanks David for taking the time to write such an interesting post and thanks for being our artist of the week!!

 

David Walker: An Ambition Fulfilled (Part One)

The date:  June 1953  

The place: Portsmouth

The scene: Me, aged 5, sitting around the wireless with my Mum  listening to the stiff formal tones of a BBC radio presenter telling the British Empire that the highest mountain in the World, Mount Everest, had finally been conquered and that Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay had proudly planted the Union Jack on its peak. Conveniently overlooking of course that although this was a British Expedition, it was in fact a New Zealander and a Nepalese who had reached the top.

The news was simply overwhelming and the imagery of 2 people battling against all odds to reach the roof of the world became embedded in my psyche from that day and for the rest of my life.

David Walker - Bicycle taxi

David Walker - Bicycle taxi

Fast forward to 2008. Where did that time go? A rich and full life, 4 children, mortgage, the whole catastrophe! Then along comes this concept called a Bucket List. Make a list of all those things you would like to do before you kick the bucket and this inspired me to think that I really needed to get on and fulfil some of my ambitions, the longest held and most cherished of which was to travel to Nepal and see Everest.

David Walker - Dental surgery

David Walker - Dental surgery

Endless research led me to a 3 week trek that would take me into the clouds. Finally the day dawned and a huge feeling of disbelief overwhelmed me. Was I really en route to the other side of the world? Was my lifelong ambition really about to be fulfilled? Well the answer to both questions was a resounding Yes.

David Walker - Overladen Bike

David Walker - Overladen Bike

12 hour flight from Heathrow to Kathmandu and a taste of things to come at the airport. Absolute chaos and mayhem. The trip into the centre was an experience in itself. Wonderful sights of a teeming society, extreme poverty, monkeys roaming the streets and cattle meandering across oncoming traffic that seemed to be travelling in all directions

David Walker - Street bazaar

David Walker - Street bazaar

We arrived tired and dusty at our hotel which was our base for the next 2 nights. The following days were just sensational, in fact every sensation you could imagine being thrust in your face assaulting every one of your senses. Noise, colours, smells and everywhere just amazing sights. A photographers dream around every corner. A visit to Durbar Square the mecca for all hippies in the 60’s and 70’s with its incredible architecture and fake Holy Men. The markets and bazaars selling just about anything you could imagine. Kathmandu always sounded so romantic and fascinating to me and here I was in the middle of it.

David Walker - Temples

David Walker - Temples

Afterour stay in Kathmandu we awoke at 4.30a.m on the 3rd morning to be taken to the airport for the trip up into the mountains and the start of our trek. Flying with Yeti Airlines in a twin engine Otter plane taking a total of 18 passengers.

David Walker - Holy Men

David Walker - Holy Men

The 40 minute flight was initially just spectacular with the mountains looming large all around but after about 25 minutes it turned into one of the most hairiest experiences I have known. The plane flies through increasingly high and steep valleys, banking this way and that before finally lining up with the mountain airstrip at a village called Lukla. The airstrip was built by Sir Edmund Hilary and is the starting point for all Everest treks. The runway is at an angle of 30 degrees and is very short. At one end is a cliff face and at the other an airport. Landing and taking off is mostly a question of closing your eyes and thinking of England! Having safely landed,  chaos reigned as luggage and seats were stripped out of the plane to be replaced with sacks of vegetables, rice etc. Our Sherpa leader told us after we had landed that a similar plane from Yeti airlines had crashed on landing just 2 weeks earlier killing all 18 trekkers onboard!

Part two to come tomorrow, all these images can be seen on Davids Shed profile!!

‘Albion’ – an exhibition of photography, paintings and sculpture.

‘Albion’ - an exhibition of photography, paintings and sculpture from Chelsea Davine and The Shed Gallery.

When: 7th February – 4th March 2013.
Where: Cock n’ Bull Gallery, Tramshed, Rivington Street EC2A 3LX.
Chelsea Davine - Hunter's Moon

Chelsea Davine - Hunter's Moon

‘Albion’ is the oldest known Ancient Greek name for Britain, and chosen in response to the spotlight that has been shone on the UK during 2012. Through the reminder of our Royal heritage with the Jubilee celebrations and the quest for sporting success during London 2012, ‘Albion’ aims to celebrate our identity as a nation through photography, print and artwork. Our coastline, ancient lands and identity defined by invasion, hills and valleys, provide constant inspiration for the Shed’s creative community, and the exhibition is a reflection of the artists’ and photographers’ desire to record and contemplate their surroundings. from sweeping seascapes, interiors documenting the minutiae of everyday life, the grand eloquence of our historic architecture to its people, flora and fauna. ‘Albion’ aims to capture elements of how we see and feel about the United Kingdom – nostalgic, sentimental, proud, diverse, eccentric and bawdy at times, and is a quest to find its inner beauty, past and present, which may possibly define how we see ourselves in the future.
Christine Santostefano - Ice cream anyone? Maybe not....

Christine Santostefano - Ice cream anyone? Maybe not....

The Shed was founded by Chelsea Davine and Ben Whittington to offer artists and photographers opportunities to exhibit and sell their work through creating an online community and forum for discussion and support. For further information please visit: www.theshedgallery.com

The Cock n’ Bull Gallery is located below Mark Hix’s restaurant, Tramshed on Rivington Street in Shoreditch. The gallery is open daily from 11am – 6pm. For further information about the gallery and future exhibitions please visit: www.chickenandsteak.co.uk/cock-n-bull

David Walker reflects on the work of the Shed dwellers pt III.

This is getting a bit like the Hobbit, my reflections will be on a blog near you every day this week, half price if you are on the Orange network or a pensioner.

So yet another steaming hot mug of coffee, turn on some Miles Davis and here we go.

I always really admire ‘in your face’ portraiture, it’s probably because I am so nervous of doing it myself. This particular photo from Miranda Hopkins collection is fabulous. You can read this guy’s whole life story in this image.

Miranda Hopkins - questioning perceptions 3a

Miranda Hopkins - questioning perceptions 3a

Caroline Colett’s collections are terrific, the plants and flowers section is so joyously colourful and such strong images. The one I have chosen however is a wonderful example of ‘seeing’ a simple image and turning it into a fantastic composition that has such energy and power.

Caroline Collett - Lamp

Caroline Collett - Lamp

The oil on canvas images from Sally Shrubsall are absolutely stunning. So atmospheric and I love the use of subtle colours. The photogram shots are equally intriguing, beautiful collection.

Sally Shrubsall - Screen 2 Oil on canvas

Sally Shrubsall - Screen 2 Oil on canvas

Helen Clark has some lovely work and in particular I have chosen this shot called ‘Smooth Cascades’. What a fabulous example of capturing movement to create a stunning image.

Helen Clark - Smooth Cascades

Helen Clark - Smooth Cascades

The illustrative work of Ana De Lima took my eye. It’s so simple, distinctive and uses wonderful pastel colours to great effect.

Ana De Lima - Multifunction

Ana De Lima - Multifunction

I love the sea and was much taken by the collection of Fiona G Roberts. I loved the vibrancy of the flower images but Wow doesn’t she capture the moodiness and power of the sea.

Fiona G. Roberts - Wave

Fiona G. Roberts - Wave

For the same reason I was immediately drawn to this image of beach reflections by Andy White. He has captured a wonderful moment with a perfect composition and light.

Andy White - Beach reflections, Pembrokeshire

Andy White - Beach reflections, Pembrokeshire

I simply have to choose an image from Pete Hackett, again sea related, I have also shot some similar pictures near Dungeness. The gradual decay of a mixture of wood and metal leads to some great shots.

Pete Hackett - Untitled

Pete Hackett - Untitled

Great work by Sean Marony. I have travelled extensively and love this type of travel documentary brought back memories of a recent visit to Nepal and Mount Everest.

Sean Marony - Young Monk, Phnom Penh

Sean Marony - Young Monk, Phnom Penh

Well that’s all folks as the Cartoons use to say. I have enjoyed every minute of rambling through the work of so many brilliant artists and photographers. Sorry if I have missed you out, there is just so much great stuff in our Shed and if I had chosen any more for my Desert Island Gallery it would probably have ended up being the size of Tate Modern.

I would welcome any comments on my humble selections and of course if you have the time do take a gander at my own portfolio!!

David Walker reflects on the work of the Shed dwellers pt II.

Following on from those ‘Wow’ factor images in my first blog, I have treated myself to another trip through the portfolios of my fellow Shed dwellers. What could be better than sipping from a big mug of coffee and picking those images that would be in my Desert Island Gallery.

As mentioned in Part One I have chosen the work that has elicited an instant reaction in me and without being too ‘artsy’ left me with a feeling that I wanted to know more about the photographer/artist and his or hers work. I hope you like my selections.

Let’s start with this one from Rosie Nalle – Undefined Parameters. What a lovely sense of flow and movement from this piece. The colours and textures make this a very arresting image.

Rosie Nalle - Undefined Parameters

Rosie Nalle - Undefined Parameters

So much to choose from Chelsea Davine’s portfolio, I could easily have picked most of her images. This one – Untitled Abstract, from the ‘What Lies Within’ collection took my eye. There is a hint of Mark Rothko, fabulous textural feel and great depth of colour and light.

Chelsea Davine - Untitled abstract

Chelsea Davine - Untitled abstract

I was very taken with Anna Kindred’s collection of work, her photographs have a resonance and life that is very exciting. Fabulous colours and natural patterns which seem to merge photography and painting styles, especially in the Limpet image below.

Anna Kindred - Limpet

Anna Kindred - Limpet

My favourite colour is blue and I could hardly not include one of Anthea Simmons pieces. Such vibrancy and a certain spookiness about the Dryad set

Anthea Simmons - Dryad Convocation

Anthea Simmons - Dryad Convocation

The images of Michelle Frederick immediately caught my eye. I have the same love of abandoned buildings and the gently organic and mouldering effects of time on manmade objects. The more rust the better

Michelle Frederick - Untitled

Michelle Frederick - Untitled

OK I have finished my coffee so more caffeine and selections in Part Three!!