On Pendle Hill is, it asserts, about ‘Pendle the magical. Pendle the mythic.’ A slim booklet produced to tempt publishers, it combines the photographs of Andy Carson with Norman Hadley’s verse.
This attractive volume initially takes the eye through Carson’s images of the hill in all weathers, less predictably framed than postcard images. Whether colour or balck & white they exhibit an awareness of light which simultaneously reveals and enshadows, mystifying. Low angles dramatise the hill, high viewpoints romanticise with mist and snow, and Carson’s deep knowledge of Pendle is demonstrated in each thoughtful image.
For Norman Hadley it seems Pendle is a place of epiphany, for George Fox and for Richard Townley, for the midnight cyclist and the young asian boy sheltering. Hadley grasps at the sublime and if he sometimes fails to find those flashes of enlightenment, he creates mood for the reader to flow into Carson’s pictures. The significance of Pendle is offered not as majesty (bigger hills may be available) but in locality, solidity and native presence.
The combinations of words and images in On Pendle Hill open windows for a moment, and if that magic is seen detached, through the window rather than our own eyes, still there is something there. I don’t know Pendle myself, but now I want to. I suspect these authors would like that.