Hi all,

So lately I’ve been a little quiet. I don’t know if this is the pace I will keep, but whether this will be a norm or not, I haven’t published a lot on the blog. There’s a reason for this.

First, I have decided to rearrange a little, I wasn’t totally satisfied with the look of the original blog, so I’ve been tweaking, adding and removing a little, and – of course – added my own custom domain (great success!), www.notesfromtheholyland.com.

One of the things, which I have added, is the section called “Notes”. Basically this is a section, where I will share notes on the various projects I’m working on, or parts of them. It won’t be a journal as such, since that would be too messy, but it’s a place where I will share thoughts on why I’m doing a certain project, what the subject means to me, facts about the subject, and so on. For now there’s only one note, on the Dome of the Rock, where I’m talking about what the building means to me, and how that has changed over the years. You can read it here:
Notes on the Dome of the Rock – Part 1: Initial Thoughts

The second reason for not publishing a lot, anything really, is my kids’ vacation. That demands me to be a little more focused on other things, which is only natural I guess. I have two wonderful sons, but they’re in an age where dad and mom are still very involved in their lives. And to be honest, I really do enjoy fooling around with them. Next week we will be going to Eilat, which will be the last week of their vacation, so I will obviously be totally off then. Which I suppose won’t make a big difference right now anyway.

That said, this doesn’t mean that I haven’t been active. I’m always working in the background. I have a couple of projects going on, short term projects at least, which I’m working on, each in a different stage.

A Tombstone in the Mamilla Cemetery

First, the Mamilla Cemetery, which I had a chance to take some snapshots of the other day, and which I, to my shame, found out I had a lot to learn about. Some of you might have heard about it, while others might be familiar with the name from the Mamilla mall stretching towards the Jaffa Gate of the Old City. But for those who’re not familiar with either, the Mamilla Cemetery is a burial site, which has been in use since the 4th century, or thereabout. Originally it was used by the Byzantines, but later became a central and important Muslim cemetery, where a lot of the greater Muslim people of importance were buried. The cemetery was quite big, but during the last 120 years a lot of the area has been turned into a park or used for various buildings. A development which I find sad, but which I won’t make any judgments on. Making cemeteries into public – or even private – areas for other purposes, is not something unknown. But I will be writing more about the Mamilla Cemetery later.

Second, there’s an essay about the Jewish morning prayer at the Western Wall, which is waiting to be finished, and has been for quite some time. The reason it hasn’t been finished so far, is my considerations on whether I need to add to it, based on the new reality of Covid. All my photo material was created before the pandemic started, so it basically reflects a reality that isn’t anymore. I have decided not to add to it though, referring to this change of reality. Basically the essence of the essay is still the same, it’s the same prayers and rituals, which have been said and done for centuries, no matter the reality surrounding the performing of them.

Third, Sct Martyrius Monastery is another project I’m beginning to work on. I basically live next door to the site, so I decided to take advantage of it. This is still very much in the initial stages, so I’m not 100% decided on how to approach it. It works as a museum, sort of, so I’m thinking about focusing on the people working there and the work being done, rather on the place itself. But again, more about that later. This is part of a long term focus on Archaeological sites, which I hopefully will be doing more about. I have some ideas, and I might get some options soon, which I haven’t had previously, so I hope something interesting will come out of this.

Fourth, There’s a project I’m doing on the Seven Gates to the Old City (gates which are open, there are more gates than seven, but some of them have been closed and are no longer in use), where I’ll be focusing on their importance as gateways to the Old City. They each have their own very special characteristics, and in that sense are a great way to get a sense of what the Old City is about in the context of lives lived there. So far I’ve had some material done on the Damascus Gate, the Dung Gate, and the Zion Gate. There’s more to be done, even for the gates mentioned, but it has been started, and I’m looking forward to doing more on this one. Of course, with the current pandemic situation, I’m not as free to do what I want to do.

Fifth and finally, my Black and White project. Or journey more likely. You might have noticed that I have a lot of black and white images, even though it’s not proportionate to how much I actually am shooting in black and white. I’m still developing a style, consciously and unconsciously, and I’m liking black and white a lot. Not in all cases, but where I feel that it’s applicable. But I’m not sure that I’m in a place, where I can say a whole lot about it, and how to do it. I feel that I have a lot to learn. So I’ve decided to make a journey out of it, and of course I want to share that journey and learning experience with the rest of you. So while this is more a photographic journey, and not so much about something “Holy Land” as such, I still hope that it will be of interest to you. So far I’m focused on the “why black and white”, since that seems to be a good place to start. I hope to have a post out about this during this week.

So there you have it. That’s what I’ve been up to, and what I’m focused on, besides kids and work. What are you up to? And are you coping in these trying times?

Love to hear back from you all.