Last Post for Christmas

I was going to try and do a few posts over the next couple of days with some of the things that have captured my thoughts recently, but I seem to have finally fallen under the bug that a lot of my friends have had (I was rather smugly thinking I had escaped it). So I am sat in bed with my laptop reeling off what I expect to be a rather meandering post written through a mentholated fog of Beechams Powders. So I beg your indulgence and hope you will stick with me on this.

This will be the last post for about a week as I am heading off to visit family in the New Forest for Christmas. In a desperate attempt to get into a Christmas mood I am listening to possibly the only bearable yuletide album I own,  ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas‘ the original soundtrack by The Vince Guaradi Trio. This was apparently used as a source material for many of Wes Anderson‘s wonderful films.

My friend, the musician Rob Barker put me onto the Charlie Brown LP and yesterday I spent some time with Rob at the Tate Modern, the highlight of which was the amazing (I use this in the very real sense) work of Cildo Meireles. At the risk of seeming like a heathen, if you are going to pay for one show at the Tate Modern don’t bother with Rothko, go straight to the Meireles exhibition and happily hand them you hard earned cash – you will not regret it, it is absolutely amazing and needs to been seen to be believed. We couldn’t stop talking about this show once we left, and its been a long time since an exhibition has left me like that, its only on until January 11th so go now!

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Rob enjoying one of the 'Rooms' of Cildo Meireles

I think I have mentioned the American photographer Alec Soth in the past on this blog, its hard not to as he is possibly the most influential contemporary photographer to come out of the US for years. He is also very good at talking about photography and what its like to be a photographer. Any interview with Alec Soth is worth reading so here’s a good one that came up recently on the Two Way Lens blog. I had a particularly unsuccessful day on thursday when I was given access to the Yeoman Warders Club at the Tower of London. I struggled in the dull light and found it almost impossible to frame a picture that I thought was even vaguely successful. On these days you can start to question why you do what you do and begin to think that photography is a stunted, clumsy medium. So it is always a relief to read words like this from someone like Soth:

‘I keep working with photography because I love the process. To be honest, the medium really gets on my nerves. It is fragmentary and painfully mute. I’d be much more proud to say I was a novelist. But even if I could write novels, it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.’

This captures the love/hate relationship that seems to be at the heart of using photography to explore your vision of the world.

Finally (this hasn’t been as rambling a post as I originally expected) I would like to say a big thank you to all of you that have supported the blog and the residency and helped me try to make sense of the strange lump of history and tradition that is the Tower of London. Have a lovely Chrisatmas and see you all in the New Year.

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New Images

What with Christmas, the project with Evelin Lowe School and trying to find a new flatmate – it seems like I havn’t seen any new pictures for a very long time. a few rolls have been waiting for me at the lab and last night Andy from Spectrum dropped them off for me. I’m posting a couple here very quickly before I go and get the train to London. Today I have arranged to photograph inside the Yeoman Warders Club at the Tower of London. Sounds like an interesting place.

Here are is a small selection of some of the new images taken from the low res scans:

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There’s plenty of film out there

Yesterday in the library I picked up a William Eggleston photography book and had a flick through, reminding myself of his spontaneity and incredible eye for a picture. Known as the originator of colour photography as fine art I was interested to see that the book I had picked up also contained some early black and white pictures, something I had never seen before.

Then today I read two separate blogs that have posts about William Eggleston, one which contained the film clip (below) and one that had a great excerpt from an article in Interveiw Magazine . i love this part about digital and film photography:

 

Harmony Korine:   What about digital photography?

William Eggleston:   Don’t know anything about it.

HK:    Have you ever shot with a digital camera?

WE:    As I said, I don’t know anything about it. I don’t know, I might love it.

HK:    You’re not opposed to it?

WE:    There’s plenty of film out there, and quadrillions of cameras that use film-I don’t think it makes much sense not to use it. The thing that’s going out is the manufacturing of the paper.

 

 

This reads better if you know Eggleston’s wonderful drawl, so have a look at this short clip. I think its interesting what he says about the Art Photography that was being made when he first showed his colour pictures.

 

The Country & the Gift

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Just a quick post, feel like I have been slightly absent on the blog front, pulling together a few loose ends as the year draws closer to its own end. I’ve been down in somerset for the weekend visiting old friends and getting away from all things urban for a bit. It was nice to be away from my mobile phone and my email for a couple of days. I also think that long train journeys are very good for the thought process and that seeing old friends and explaining what you are up to really helps solidify your thoughts on the job in hand.

When I wasnt gazing out of a train window at the crisp winter landscape of familiar counties I had my nose pushed deeply into a copy of Lewis Hyde’s The Gift a really wonderful book on creativity, community and so, so much more (one for the Christmas list).

Im writing this while listening to Shugo Tokumaru’s Night Piece, which made up a big part of the soundtrack to my train journeys and doesn’t seem to suffer from repeat listening.

Henry VIII vs 50 Cent

The winter light has been dropping off very quickly these last couple of weeks and on my last few visits to the Tower I have found it difficult to work in the available light past about 3pm. Luckily I have other duties as Photographer in Residence one of which is helping to run education projects with local schools. Last Thursday myself and Catherine Jones of the Tower Education Service spent a day working with children from Evelin Lowe Primary School. The project we are working on is based around portraiture and how we read pictures. We looked at and discussed some historic portraits, many of them characters from the Tower of London’s history as well as more recent photographic portraits. This was all done to lead up to another day with the children planning and making their own photographic portrait to represent them exactly as they want to be seen.

The children were great; well behaved, enthusiastic and creative. They also had an incredible knowledge of British History which put my own to shame. One of my favorite parts was comparing Holbein’s portrait of Henry VIII to a picture of the rapper 50 Cent – they are remarkably similar!

Warrior King meets Gangsta Rapper

Warrior King meets Gangsta Rapper