Writing

I write about work in progress, the work of other people and the occaisional random rant.  The categories broadly link some themes as does the tag cloud.

Tim Composite

The Naked Truth

I think it was new year’s day 2015 I got an email that had come through the contact form from a man called Tim Andrews asking me if I would take a portrait of him. He explained he’d seen a cyanotype I’d made in the Photomonth brochure which was used by Double Negative Darkroom (the precursor to e5process) to advertise a show. He hadn’t seen the show but he had looked me up and found my site and liked my stuff. He also explained that he had contracted Parkinson’s disease and this had bought an end to his career as …

Ship for Fools

Last Tuesday I read in the Guardian that the remains of a fishing boat that sank taking with it somewhere in the region of 1,000 lives with it to the sea bed in 2015, will be on display as part of the Venice Bienalle and that its presence was connected to the work of Christoph Büchel. In 2006 I made a point of finding a nondescript building on a less than impressive street off Brick Lane in order to see Büchel’s work Simply Botiful. I knew very little about the art world then and I came away awed by the …

Diving for pearls

I watched this video about August Sander’s photograph of “Three farmers on the way to a dance”. It was revealing, beyond the fact that none of them were actually farmers. I was pleased that it was possible to trace the three men and not only discover two were miners and the third worked in the mine’s office, but research also revealed what happened after the photograph was taken. Two survived the first world war, one did not. Another thing that was compelling about the short film was although John Green is at pains to talk about the facts of the …

Two Unknown Women with a Baby and Dog

Mudlarks and Oyster Shell Ghosts

Mudlarks were people, frequently children, who scavenged along the Thames foreshore in the olden days. It was a way of making money. It could be pretty dangerous, not least because the Thames was full of raw sewage, the guts of fish and animals discarded in food preparation, glass, metal shards from the industries that went by the shore. These days the Thames is much cleaner, though I wouldn’t drink it. The glass and the metal has been worn by tides and scraping up against sand and stones and anybody caught tossing animal waste after food preparation into the river will …

Dispatches from the Woodpile

For one reason or another I recently found myself getting my ducks in a row about making photographs of transracially adopted people. At the root was the simple wish to make voices like mine heard because I think we have some interesting information that might illuminate some of the febrile discussion around race. I also wanted the excuse to write about two of my favorite films: The Watermelon Man by Melvin Van Peebles and The Uncle by Desmond Davis. Both of these movies are about individuals who have and identity imposed upon them by external interests and in both cases …

Travel Chaos at London Bridge

Some poor bastard threw themselves under a train near New Cross this morning. It screwed up the trains into London Bridge so when I arrived at my office people were late and moaning about it. I listened to them in the lift and a bit more in the kitchen but eventually the selfish assholery of complaining about being 30 minutes late for a job that isn’t going to dock your pay, punish you or probably even notice you showed up late got to me and I said; I would imagine they were feeling pretty bad. The response to this was …

Not at all Somali, apparently.

You don’t look Somali

I get this quite a bit. Never from Somalis, they have a habit of going oh yeah, you got this or that and point to things about my face that they have. One woman once and grinning broadly grabbed me by the chin and rubbed the top of my forehead and said what else could you possibly be. But I was buying “Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race”. And I got into a conversation about it with the sales person who had read it and thought it was really great and when I mentioned my dark …

Workshops at the Dhaka Art Summit and Bistaar Arts Complex February 2018

In February this year I was invited to give workshops as part of the Dhaka Art Summit and for the British Council at The Bistaar Arts Complex. The plan was to be part of a team delivering four workshops during the summit, plus another workshop in Chittagong. I went with Eleanor Von Browne, Trish Scott and Fraser Muggeridge. It was great, not least to be with three other people I either didn’t know all that well, or had never met at all but whose company I thoroughly enjoyed, in a place I had only ever heard about but had no real …

Kiri

So last night I sat down to watch Kiri. Early on, very early on, a young girl who is about to be transracially adopted is being taken to see her grandparents on an unsupervised visit by her kind of empathetic but clearly signposted as problematic, social worker. The visit has been set up not least because her soon to be adoptive parents are white and her grandparents are black and, as the potential adoptee knows, colour is a thing. Cool I think. This is a character who can voice those things I know and people I know also know them …

Posh frock from the 1950s

The Dress

I love this dress.  I’m not sure quite how I got it, but at some point in the early 80s my mother finally despaired of ever fitting into a slew of my grandma’s 1950s designer frocks from Isabel of Birmingham and handed them over to me.  They were all beautifully designed and well made stylish things for events that people just don’t have any more, like luncheon or canasta with supper.  I had them taken in and wore a few of them to destruction.  This one was a particular favorite, it’s been to at least two weddings,  parties in London, …