Marja-Leena Rathje
Home ::: footprints



"Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time."

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, A Psalm of Life (1838)

I was looking through some older photo images, and came across this one that I really like. My husband took it for me a few years ago when we were walking along a seaside park. Numerous walkers, joggers, and cyclists travelled along the path and I was captivated by their tracks on the sand. The photo above has been manipulated a bit in PhotoShop and was even more manipulated for Nexus/Sandfrieze.

Looking at this made me recall the well-known phrase "footprints in the sand" so I went to my Oxford Dictionary of Quotations and learned that it comes from Longfellow!! On the same page is another great one for artists:

"Emigravit is the inscription on the tombstone where he lies;
Dead he is not, but departed, - for the artist never dies."

(on Albrecht Dürer) - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Nuremberg (1844)

Strange thoughts on a Sunday morning... Gotta go make some footprints now, it's sunny out!

Marja-Leena | 05/02/2006 | 12 comments
themes: Photography, Photoworks, Urban


That photo is fantastic. When I first glanced at it I thought it was a print inspired by Egyptian hieroglyphics or maybe petroglyphs...which does tie in to some of your other work. Looking at it again knowing what it is, it's like trick photography or something. I love it!

I love the photograph. I also like very much what you have done with it in your Nexus pieces - although it is difficult to see all the details from the reproductions.
The whole process of noticing the potential image, taking the photograph, manipulating, then making the final work is such a joy - and it is a different but equally joyous experience to see how someone else has done it.

Elise, thanks - hieroglyphs are exactly what I thought of too! I love it when I come across a natural (?) image in real life that has so many references including relating to my own work.

Olga - thanks! Those three Nexus pieces grouped together were some early experiments with layering images using a clear mylar on top. I've used this photo only in Sandfrieze - just to clarify that! Yes, the process and results are a joy, though hard work at first learning PhotoShop and the quirks of printing. I like to challenge myself with new processes.

Hi again Marja-leena...I meant to mention how much I enjoyed the digitally manipulated ones as's one of my favorite things to do, see how far I can I can take it and still retain a semblance of the original image. The whole process it a joy to do and it's so much fun to watch it being done so expertly here on your site as well...though you do your work in prints and using mylar etc. so that's even more inspirational!

Hi Elise - yes, it's a fascinating process and can take so many directions. Have you ever made digital prints from your manipulations?

Thanks for the good words, coming from another artist!

That's terrific! I love that kind of photo (as I guess you know).

Thanks Dave, I knew it would appeal to you :-)

Beautiful photo and concept. Fossils of human soles!
Far in the future, what would people make of such a picture?
Seeing it as we see hieroglyphs.

YES! Thank you, Natalie.

Hi, I've never made prints from my digital manipulations...I don't really do printmaking any more. I don't have the facilities for it and I'm out of date in all my processes because most print studios have gone non-toxic which is so foreign to me. I do miss it though.

Wow, that is so cool! I had no idea what is was - fossil, hieroglyphs, a bit of a frieze perhaps. I love it.

leslee - glad you like it!

This image has certainly received a lot of interest because of the connections of how ordinary everyday "tracks" can bring forth recollections of images of ancient marks like hieroglyphs.