8 Jan 2019

selfies and sunsets

I'm fascinated by the role cameras play in reflecting our social relationships at any time. The boom in image making is well documented and I was interested in a recent stat from Google that 10 - 15% of them are of receipts, shopping lists i.e. "practical things" and not just selfies and sunsets. The article describes how this insight drives the thinking behind Google Lens 
...it will help you search what you see, browse the world around you, and get things done. 
It's an arresting statement and got me thinking about how it could be applied to my own practice of browsing the world around me. I went so far as to download the app to see if its powers of identifying the breeds of pets and species of plants could be used on the street to reveal anything. Sinister? Well yes but not so far fetched
IMG_20190108_110654
I'd like to think my motivations are more altruistic. Hey I'm an artist right? I've written about my consciousness of the shadow of history while I'm walking the streets of London. Rather than reveal an individual's personal data - although that's already a risk of using digital - I'd love to make some kind of visual connection between people across time sharing the same space. I know it's all possible in post production but real time is a phrase I'm intrigued by.
The truth is of course is that there is no journey. We are arriving and departing all at the same time.   David Bowie                                           

12 Dec 2018

power of love

I've neglected writing about my roots for a while now. Granted they're bubbling beneath my current project but the death of my mum almost two years ago seems to have consciously or not put that to one side. In fact that's the subject of a blog post that's been in draft for over a year now following my discovery of a wonderful book by Paul Treacy called SE26 at the 2nd London Photography Symposum.
Paul lives in a part of south London my mum spent her last weeks in. The photographs that make up his book are, for me, a beautiful and evocative reflection on the time I spent with her in and around that area. It's a special book even without the connection I made to it as it's a portrait of a neighbourhood as lived in by the photographer. Each image stands alone but you can appreciate it is part of a larger experience and set of narratives you're privileged to glimpse into and wonder about.
In the serendipitous way I love life works my interest in anything street was piqued by the publication of How Graffiti Saved My Dad's Life. It's both an important document of contemporary social commentary across the landscape of London and a love letter from a daughter to a father commemorating celebrating his passion and her efforts to sustain it through his terminal illness.
Colossive Pres
I found the story an inspirational illustration of how pictures can act as a bridge between different worlds on so many levels and to its viewers in so many different ways. What's that sound? Ah, just another echo of Ambiguous.
My own connection was that while reading the book it became evident that the wonderful photographer was in the same hospice as my mum at around the same time. It gave me an illogical sense of comfort and a reconnection with both the power of photography...and the power of love too.


30 Nov 2018

nocturne

I've eased the transition to post-season by going to some talks by photographers about their practice. Being me there's a London angle to them of course. 

I welcomed the opportunity to revisit the London Nights show at the Museum of London. Both it and the talk gave me such inspiration I was propelled into the streets outside. There's a tension in my relationship with the City. I love the diversity of the West End versus the homogeneity of the street life of the square mile however I can't deny a fascination with its historical context. To that end it was inevitable I was drawn to an icon of the show, St Paul's Cathedral.
It's hard not to look at the image of St Paul's featured in the show in the midst of the Blitz by Herbert Mason in the context of today's debate about Britain's role in the world. It's suffused with a sense of standing alone against European tyranny and it's propaganda value is just as powerful today as in 1940. So it was with fascination I found in its grounds a funfair that had been installed for the Lord Mayor's Show that weekend contrarily, or perhaps not, shared with the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day.
St Paul's photograph
The carousel's seats, occupied by cut-out figures swaying lifeless in the wind and rain presented too easy a metaphor for the current political climate. However the role of the night was the dominant feeling for me. The darkness accentuated the spot-lit dome like a surreal inverse of a wartime blackout. The only sound was of the wind through the carefully placed trees. The amusements observed their own embarrassed silence, knowing it wasn't the time or the place to hook a frog, prize every time.  
All these sensations were in stark contrast to my daytime experience of London and they were brought to the surface again thanks to another night-time talk, this time on the other side of the City in Aldgate. 
After hearing Tom Hunter passionately give London Independent Photography's annual talk (reminding me of another Hackney advocate) I was drawn to wander the streets outside around Petticoat Lane in the shadows of the office blocks and converted warehouses of Bishopsgate. 
Petticoat Lane photograph
Despite the encroachment on all sides those streets still bear some testimony to another London. One well documented by some of my favourite photographers so there was undeniably a feeling of nostalgia but also one of embracing the future. As much as these new buildings represent life for the few not the many London, indeed any city, is constantly in flux.
Like months to a flame people are drawn here.

30 Oct 2018

same old waltz

Stockholm's not been one of my top cities to visit but in a twist of fate - very street - I had a few days there this month and found it offered a different dimension to my New Europe project. 
Sweden's image as a model society of tolerance and equality has recently been challenged by, guess what, the rise of a populist agenda driven by fear of immigrants. To help me get closer to the experience of this it was great to see an exhibition at the Moderna Museet called With The Future Behind Us
A range of artists addressed the themes of the show neatly expressed in the title, looking at the past, present and future experience of daily life in Sweden and weaving a narrative through a diverse collection of pieces that for me expressed the tension of life in Europe today as commonly held principles of society appear to be teetering on the edge of falling apart.
I find the experience of going to different sorts of exhibitions really informs my work but I know I gravitate to pieces where the street forms a constituent part. This show was no different and I really liked the piece by John Willgren set in a street in Stockholm where with a devastatingly simple idea critiqued the current political situation with reference to a period of European history that is now seen as a lesson that we seem deaf to hear.
John Willgren
Now I have a project to work to I find it fascinating how it informs my way of taking pictures which I've prided myself - perhaps through my own insecurities - as being of the moment with no agenda or conscious plan behind it.  
I'm finding that I'm not deliberately looking - if such a concept is true - for the themes that are already emerging but it's really helping me look differently at my contact sheets beyond what I'd regard as a "good" picture i.e. compositionally into something which not be as good but in context works to help tell a story. I'm sorry this is hardly a profound insight but hey these things take time.


30 Sep 2018

new europe dawns

It's early days but I'm beginning to see a story developing with the New Europe series. I was busy this year on the streets of London, of course, and Rome, for the first time. The cities give me the opportunity to counterpoint the frontline of Italy with a peculiar phoney war feel to the UK.

The sequence on the website is still pretty random but I'm still shuffling the sequence as I sense some threads to work with.  
People seeking inspiration, direction.
link to New Europe photograph
link to New Europe photograph
People coming together.
link to New Europe photograph
link to New Europe photograph 
Barriers, Resistance.
link to New Europe photograph
link to New Europe photograph

I accept it's simple stuff but for me at least, which is kinda why I do this, it's a way of developing my style of work to depict a different sort of personal story.
More to follow.
.