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.

Shine

Ry Cooder made an album called Jazz in the late 70s. It includes the song Shine, it caused a kerfuffle at the time and Cooder has put some water between himself and that album since, but I actually like that album and have a certain fondness for that tune. It’s a bouncy piece that includes terms that would make a corporate HR person go into a tail spin because it is a coon song that was written by a black musician called Cecil Mack (November 6, 1873 – August 1, 1944 ) who did not die in poverty because he …

a bag of shallots

Every christmas we had the same stuff: a massive mutant turkey, a boned ham joint, brussels sprouts cooked close to mush, each one with a little cross at it’s base, roast and boiled potatoes, stuffing, gravy, the whole nine yards. I wasn’t a fan of christmas dinner, but boxing day lunch was something that I did like because most of that stuff made a reappearance, just done over into bubble and squeak, with pickles. You can’t make an old fashioned west midlands pickle overnight so in October, my mother would get a monster string bag of shallots and spend a …

I won the Denis Roussel Award and it reminded me of Mrs Haynes

In the third year of junior school we had a teacher called Mrs Haynes. She was scottish. I’d never come into contact with a person who talked like that before. She was firey and prone to shouting. I’m not sure we were a particularly naughty or disagreeable class, but her MO was robust for the year she had us. She was frequently to be heard loudly stating ‘oh for the patience of Job’ except she would say Jooooobe. I didn’t know who Job was, but I was pretty sure he was the opposite of Mrs Haynes. I remember that her …

The Pecking Order

You ever been spat at? Out of the blue? You ever been told to fuck off back to where you came from by someone who is so similar to just about everybody else you know that you would be hard pushed to pick them out in an identity parade? You ever been shopping in a department store and have other people served before you even though you’ve been there longer? You had your card conspicuously checked in to make sure it isn’t stolen when all you want is to buy a bottle of wine to go with a meal you’ve …

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 …