Wild moment: Hamish Brown

Published: 26th February 2016

The author, photographer and mountaineer looks at Nature, the gentle artist

William Blake wrote about seeing ‘a world in a grain of sand’. Perhaps we sometimes need to look more at the world at our feet, at the nearness of beauty as well as seeing its vaster scope - ‘holding infinity in the palm of a hand’ as Blake puts it.

John Muir in all his writings constantly drew attention to ‘the exquisite minutiae of the high hills’ (Robert Macfarlane) and we thank Muir for showing us how to look.

I’ve always been fascinated with these minutiae, the ephemeral glimpses into nature’s bounty – clouds painting a wonder across the sky, the brief creativity of foam on a river, the patient artwork of lichens on stone, the brilliant dressing of autumn trees, the brief frolic of frost on winter grasses, the spring faith of an unfurling fern frond, reflections which will vanish at the first faint ripple…

These intricacies are what I like to think of as ‘natural abstracts’ (far removed from the pretentiousness of modern art): colours, textures, patterns to soothe and ‘make the heart glad’ (Muir).

We need these moments of being and they are in the serendipitous world of nature, brief ambushes of delight to carry back to the stresses of the human world, that we can in the words of Isaiah, be ‘delighted with the abundance of glory’.

Hamish Brown abstract collection

^ Photographs of 'natural abstracts' by Hamish Brown/St Andrews’ University Library Collections

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