Coming around as reliably as the season cycle, the latest crop circle calendars have arrived for 2003. ANDY THOMAS reviews two productions, one from Lucy Pringle and another from the Wiltshire Crop Circle Study Group…
A calendar has to serve a dual purpose. First of all, it has to make for a useful year planner. Secondly, it has to look nice; the images attached to the functional scribbling grid must be ones you wish to live with all year around. Some choose the glistening flesh of Danni Minogue or Pamela Anderson to brighten up their rooms, but those reading this website are as likely to find crop circles as attractive a proposition.
In years past, all circle calendars served the purpose of providing a visual summing up of the most recent summer’s agriglyph offerings, a chance to reflect on the latest wonders delivered to our fields. However, circle photographer Lucy Pringle has subverted the genre somewhat in the last few years by going for archive classics in her calendar instead, thus freeing her from the struggle of fighting production schedules as soon as the summer closes and enabling it to capture a market at the summer conferences, a wily move.
As such, Lucy’s calendar is a pleasant trawl through selected formations from recent years, with inevitable emphasis on the 2001 season, that being the one not covered by her previous calendar. The Milk Hill spiral, the Cambridgeshire ‘angel’, the Alton Barnes pyramid and, of course, the Chilbolton ‘face’ are all featured. Religiously following the now established format, the main circle images are surrounded by the obligatory philosophical quotes and (largely) complementary images of non-cerealogical associations, stone circles, sacred landscapes, stately homes, snowy vistas for December, and, er, Lucy on a camel. These connections with the ‘real world’ give the calendar a non-exclusivity which almost certainly broadens its appeal to those not entirely subsumed in croppie culture; Auntie Doris in Basingstoke, perhaps a little nervous about showing off these worryingly bizarre crop formations to visiting WI members, may find the mitigating cross-over elements a comfort; the circle symbols are snuck out into society by stealth, under wraps of normality.
Lucy’s calendar is bright and attractive, with strong colours which should shout their way across any living space effectively. And – glory be! – the date grid is clear and wide, allowing the whole package to actually be used for its purpose, something neglected by some rival calendars in recent years.
One offender in this department last year was the Wiltshire Crop Circle Study Group’s production, which had such tiny slots for writing in, its functionality was compromised. Happily, this year’s WCCSG issue is a big improvement, with the restoration of a useable grid format, though heavy tinted graphics behind it may be a problem for some.
The WCCSG calendar restores the concept of the package being a summing up of the most recent season, so all photos included are from the summer of 2002. Where Lucy’s effort goes for bright, bold and straightforward, the WCCSG have opted for more muted tones and a stylish layout. Each image is contained within a dark green frame and the colour balance is firmly directed towards the darker end of the spectrum. Which approach one prefers is very much a matter of personal choice, likewise another choice on the part of the WCCSG – that of showing many of the formations with acres of surrounding landscape, reducing the crop formation itself to a small icon at the foot of the page amongst swathes of green or beige. Only a minority of crop glyphs are shown in close-up. This move to include more of the landscape for context was apparently in response to observing reactions to the previous calendar, in which some did not realise in what medium the symbols were actually formed. This approach does reduce the effectiveness of the ET face and disk formation, however, which is presented at too oblique an angle for clarity, though smaller overhead images are included at the foot of the date grid. A gallery of straight overheads is also included at the start of the calendar, although these will never be displayed or exposed in the same way, as the page does not accompany a particular month.
The joy of a crop circle calendar is the way it confronts you with a single formation, which must be lived with for a month, even if it is one you may not have been initially attracted to, or had doubts about. Being forced to give certain crop patterns space in your life for 30 days or so can reveal new and challenging features to you every day – different things leap out in different lights and shape themselves around your moods. The function and form of a particular glyph takes on new meaning as your subconsciousness slowly absorbs all its aspects.
At the end of the day, which of these two new calendars you like best will simply depend on how you like your graphics. Both are entirely worthy productions, which will doubtless find their way into numerous homes around the world, projecting the presence of this mysterious and beautiful phenomenon into the world in an unobtrusive yet pervading way.
LUCY PRINGLE’S CALENDAR:
A4 ring-bound. UK: £11.50, Europe: 25 Euros, USA: $25, rest of world: £14.00. Cheques payable to ‘Lucy Pringle’. Contact: 5 Town Lane, Sheet, Petersfield, Hampshire, GU32 2AF, UK. Tel: +44 (0) 1730 263454.
E-mail: LucyPringle@aol.com. Website: http://home.clara.net/lucypringle
A4 staple-bound. UK : £8 50 (£7.50 for WCCSG members) plus £1.50 p&p for the first calendar – add £1 per calendar for each additional copy. Europe: either as for UK or 22 Euros per calendar (including postage & packing). Rest of world: either £8.50 plus £4 p&p for the first calendar and £2 per calendar for each additional copy. Or US $20 per calendar (including postage and packing). Cheques payable to: ‘WCCSG’. Contact: WCCSG, PO Box 939, Devizes, Wilts, SN10 1XDF.
Lucy Pringle's calendar