27 Aug 2022

talking pictures

It was lovely to have the opportunity to talk about my work in front of a live audience as part of London Independent Photography's Members Day. It's been a few years!

This was the first time the event was held in a local satellite group so it seemed fitting to talk about my Living Lockdown project from the streets of Ealing. I wanted to show the impact the pandemic had brought to my work so it was nice to resurrect some of my black and white photographs from London's West End too.

I brought some of Stuart Keegan's prints along too and it reminded me that there are many I never had scanned for the website. It would be great to find a way to do them justice!

The event was also the launch of the latest fLIP magazine where I've written a review of The Book of Veles by Jonas Bendiksen. Its origins were in a talk I gave to my local group earlier this year and I enjoyed spending more time on reflecting on its cosequences for documentary photography.

As Bendiksen reflects, for him documentary photography is photography which has the intention of being part of the conversation about us, us meaning us humans, and the situations we find ourselves in. The questions we're facing. The solutions that we're aspiring to. Documentary photography is photography that relates directly to those somehow. However you make it.

It's a candid assessment and, in the light of his experience, a view worth listening to. Is this a natural evolution or heresy? Will the Book of Veles be seen as prophecy or prank? 

If we care about this form of photography, I suggest we keep paying attention


23 Jul 2022

shadow of the sun

News of a sunny spell would have excited me back in the day. It was the essential ingredient and stimulation for my photography. 

Now it's a cause for anxiety

Ealing Broadway
Refrigeration van outside shops
Chalk sun

There's a terrible irony that while this is happening the bigger fear is the cost of living crisis or, more to the point, the cost of energy crisis this winter. The short term solutions are diverting attention from addressing the climate crisis itself. 

PXL_20220720_044155272Bottles on waste bin

These pictures, taken back to back, seem to capture the moment.

1 Jun 2022

three become four

Well what started as my response to the pandemic when it was novel and disruptive has, two years on, become a documentation of a place where it's been absorbed into daily live. It's inevitable, I suppose. Humankind cannot bear very much reality is a quote I often recall. We're encouraged for political reasons to move on, yet the consequences still surround us and will do for years. Oh yes and it still hasn't gone away

Selecting the images for the fourth book in my own quartet, prompted by the ending of final (?) restrictions in England in February, was an exercise in seeing the evolution of our experiences and attitudes over the period. Vaccination boosting was now a big theme, with the concomitant anti voices. Signs from the early days of lockdown became worn, leaving traces on walls and streets, laying down palimpsests for the future. The echoes were in our heads too. 

The optimism of the autumn - and of the autumn before - had been deflated by the threat of a new variant. See how we became medicalised, versed in the language of virology. The Greek chorus of newspaper headlines still provided a running commentary of the quotidian ebb and flow of public debate. 
Newspaper on street
Precipitously our attention has been immediately taken by news from eastern Europe. It adds to a sense of ongoing crisis, another cause to take up arms for. Ukrainian flags now appear in windows. The palette of the rainbows of lockdown reduced to blue and yellow. We know the routine. Fundraising for the frontline. However it isn't a simple binary exercise. The home front still needs attention and we just don't have the bandwidth of compassion for it. People's lives are still in crisis. 
I'm still driven to take photographs. It's a lifetime habit but I find this particular work rewarding in other ways. There's a first page of history buzz. This is a development of the theme for my pre-pandemic project, New Europe 2015-19, thinking about the wider political contexts that my images exist within. It's also still simply a way to engage with the world around. By definition it's superficial, on the surface, but that's the point. The street is a leveller, a common experience, and all the more valuable for that.

17 May 2022

memory lane

It felt significant to be in the Photographers Gallery visiting this year's Deutsche Borse show. I last attended two long years ago, in the early weeks of the pandemic. It some ways everything was back to what it was, but I sense there is still an awareness of social space. Not quite the choerography of lockdown, more a heightened politeness. 

It was a visit that prompted memories in another way too. I was particular interested to see Whatever You Say, Say Nothing by Gilles Peres.

Having spent my childhood summer holidays in Ireland, split between the north and west of the country, the images had a resonance as both reflections of experience but also representations of a reality that was not that long ago. 

Gilles-Peres at Deutsche Borse

The arrangement of the room, the use of the walls of the space and one across the centre, accentuated the significance of that form in the narrative of The Troubles, serving as a division, a hiding place, a canvas. The images were presented as excerpts from the structure of the book.of 22 fictional days. The text is woven into the display to create a richer, and more disturbing, experience.

Gilles-Peres at Deutsche Borse
I also appreciated the production of the images, in an almost bllboard style. Another acknowledgement of the street roots of the work. Certainly not the preciousness of a high end gallery and another remider of an early show of my work.
It was good to be back.