Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

What If?

Today’s photos show the side of the Sheffield Hallam University building. The poem was added in 2007 as part of the “Off the Shelf” literary festival that took place. It was written by Andrew Motion, the British Poet Laureate from 1999 to 2009.

Sheffield Hallam University

The poem is partially obscured in both these shots due to the trees and the temporary buildings, but the full piece reads as follows:

What If?

O travellers from somewhere else to here
Rising from Sheffield Station and Sheaf Square
To wander through the labyrinths of air,

Pause now, and let the sight of this sheer cliff
Become a priming-place which lifts you off
To speculate
What if..?
What if..?
What if..?

Cloud shadows drag their hands across the white;
Rain prints the sudden darkness of its weight;
Sun falls and leaves the bleaching evidence of light.

Your thoughts are like this too: as fixed as words
Set down to decorate a blank facade
And yet, as words are too, all soon transferred

To greet and understand what lies ahead –
The city where your dreamling is re-paid,
The lives which wait unseen as yet, unread.

Andrew Motion

Sheffield Hallam University

Fujica GW690 & Ilford HP5+. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 9mins @ 20°.

Taken on 20 December 2020

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