In Person – Cath Barton
by Christi Kochifos Caceres
Cath Barton is a writer and photographer who lives in Abergavenny, Wales. She uses a Rollei digital camera to capture and create her sensitive, romantic images. Her exhibit, Cath Barton’s Eye on Wales, as well as some of her poems, can be seen online at The Camel Saloon, and additional work has been published at Short, Fast and Deadly, The Ear Hustler, and others. More about Cath…
How would you begin your day if you had no obligations or obstacles?
Okay, let’s assume there’s no snow… I would go out to the garden, sit under a tree and eat breakfast out there.
What is your drink of choice?
That depends on the time of day… I start with rooibos tea, have coffee later, then red wine.
Where is your ideal home?
I think I am already here. Abergavenny is a town of about 20,000, so when you go out you’re bound to see someone you know, but it’s not so small that everyone is going to know your business. My husband and I are both glad we live in town – just a step from the shops – but close enough to the country.
Do you have a favorite restaurant?
The Walnut Tree. It’s well-known in the U.K., but not fancy, just very nice and the food is really tasty.
What do you wish you did not have to do?
Cleaning around the house! Life’s too short for that.
What can you not live without?
A comfortable bed.
What do you consider to be the ultimate luxury?
The same thing…we spend a lot of our life in bed. It’s great to have a cozy one!
What touches you most deeply?
Music, either listening to it or singing. That really touches my heart. I sing classical music as a soloist and in small groups. One of my favorite composers is Morten Lauridsen, who has written some lush choral pieces.
What books or films do you love?
I like Annie Proulx, especially, That Old Ace in the Hole – it’s about Texas. She has such a sense of place and her writing is full of detail. Also, Angela Carter who writes magical realism – and she wrote about the circus, which I like because my Auntie Phyllis was a circus performer. I really like the classic children’s book, The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.
Where do you find inspiration?
Oh, different things... for photography I find it in nature. And for writing, whatever’s in front of me. Randomness, childhood things, I like the odd and fantastical.
Who has influenced your life most profoundly?
I think my parents, and maybe my Auntie Phyllis. And I had a French teacher when I was young, Mr. Wise. He told me not to listen to the people who said your best time of life is when you’re in school – because then what would be the point of it all? I thought that was good advice.
Who do you think you were in a previous life?
I think I was a slave of some sort. I’ve done some re-birthing and had the experience of not being able to move and I felt it came from the experience of being enslaved.
What would you change about yourself if you could do it by just snapping your fingers?
I think I’d be a more patient person.
Are there any arts, sports, or studies you wish you had kept up with?
Hmm, I’m not very sporty… I’ve done some running. I would love to have done more dance. We have a show, Strictly Come Dancing, and I like to see how people change and become more confident through dancing.
How do you think your therapist would sum you up in one sentence?
Cath sometimes thinks she has to struggle – and she doesn’t.
What bugs you the most about other people?
When they’re intolerant of others. When they think their way of doing things is the only way – being dogmatic without thought. Not seeing that different opinions can co-exist.
What do you wish you could stop doing?
I wish, no… I was going to say I’d like to be more positive – like not being upset about all this snow we have right now - but maybe we need the dark and shadow in life. I’d like to stop getting cross, jumping to conclusions. I’d like to be calmer.
What helps you feel balanced in your life?
Doing yoga. It’s about taking the time to stop and consider – what things do I really need to do. Taking the time to do nothing at all and knowing that’s okay. And walking – if I feel upset, the physical act of doing that helps.
What will be the title of your biography?
I wrote this one down! She Reveled in the Diverse, I read that someone said this about Angela Carter after her death and I think it’s a great tribute. I like being able to surprise people, and not being pigeonholed.
Have you met your perfect partner?
Yes! I was married once before and that went – well, he ran off with another woman. Then I met Oliver. We met in a choir in Bristol. It was strange given our shared interest in singing that we’d not come across one another before - it was as if we had to wait for the right moment.
What question have I not asked that you would like to answer?
You haven’t asked where I’d like to travel. I wish I had the courage to go somewhere really remote, like the high plains where people live in yurts…maybe the Gobi desert in Mongolia where the film, The Story of the Weeping Camel was made, somewhere really wild. I have traveled quite a bit and spent time in the Sinai desert in Egypt – I wrote about that in The Lowestoft Chronicle. But I’d like to take more risks, though I realize I can always do that in my writing!
The Artist's Shadow
Photography by Cath Barton