Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Passing of Canon Cherry to Durham Cathedral

This evening I am full of the wonderful sense of community that living in Loughborough brings - my friend Stephen Cherry - has after 12 years - accepted a post at Durham Cathedral and tonight a really wonderful service took place to mark his passage along with his wife Maggie. Stephen was, in the early days, on the board of the organisation I work for - Charnwood Arts - and was always such a great and insightful person to have around - I think - as I'm sure so many people do - that my love and appreciation of them has become all the keener by the relative suddenness of their going - it kind of felt like things would just go on forever!

The occasion, as is often the case in Loughborough, involved members of many other faiths and cultures celebrating and sharing in our common values and aspirations together as a community .

Stephen had asked me to say something - at first I felt a little nervous - I knew there would be hundreds of people - but he put me at my ease - by 6.15 this evening I still hadn't written anything but by half an hour later I had written something inspired by the approach of Kahlil Gibran. Something that spoke of Stephen and his ministry but also something of the common humanity which binds us all irrespective of religion or belief - something that is alive in our hearts.

After a few words about Stephen and Maggie and a couple of cherished memories this is what I said:

…and the prophet came to the people of the town
and they beseeched him to talk of love
….and he replied -

“Love has come amongst us as reliable
and as changeable as the weather ,
as constant as the moon and sun,
as varied as the wind and rain
and wherever it goes its presence will be felt,
whoever it touches will know it’s mark,
if even only for that moment
…and so it passed that he walked amongst us
and so too all his disciples there after,
spreading his words and his spirit
and that of his Father
and when their hands touched those of another,
when their eyes met with those of their flock,
love was there too,
love was there at their birth into this community,
at their coming of age,
in their ill health and sadness,
in their joys and celebrations of being a community,
even in their trials and disagreements
…and of course, at their deaths.

Love held the hand and cradled the heart,
cherished the weak and the strong,
cradled us in our weakness
and celebrated our strength,
love came with a smile
and consternation on it’s face,
love came as silent witness
and as a force for change,
and as the sun and moon are constant,
and as the wind and rain are ever changing
love was with us at all times.

…and good people,
love welcomed love unto itself,
welcomed this stranger as a brother,
love opened it’s heart as we opened our doors
and lives and thoughts,
opened our weaknesses and our strengths
……and now as this love parts from us,
we are whole in love,
for as the sun and moon are constant
and as the wind and rain forever change ,
love is always with us – always with you……”

and the people said “tell us of his passing”

and the prophet replied

“he was always destined to move on and be with you always”

and the people fell silent
for in their heart of hearts
they knew this to be true
and that they too were love,
touched by his passing
and that he was love
moving on
touched by them too.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Got My Eyes On You L/Boro Fair - November 2005

Title from an Alexis Korner cover of a John Lee Hooker number 'Boom Boom' which was recorded on the flipside of Korner's very successful cover of Led Zep's Whole Lotta Love. The band title for that was CCS but Korner was the driving force behind it. I have really loved, over the last year in particular, looking for relationships between inanimate images and people - I used to do this a little in the mid 1980's but my compositional skills and variety of approach has really improved a lot since then.

Extreme - Loughborough Fair - November 2005

This is a ride to put hairs on your chest - I liked the way that the ride seemed to engulf people and make them part of the machine - it's certainly very popular and well positioned in the middle of the A6 main road as it runs through the town - it gets a good trade!

Dodgems - Loughborough Fair - November 2005

I just loved this moment - when the lights went down just prior to the ride starting - a moment of stillness before the 'storm'.

Maze of Terror - Loughborough Fair - November 2005

This was one of three ghost trains at the fair this year - it beats me how three could do enough business but it seemed they did - this fair is one of the last in the year for the Showmen's Guild - many stop after this for winter or just do smaller gigs - some of the big rides take off for the continent and warmer climes until the British season starts again.

Ghost Train - Loughborough Fair - November 2005

This year I concentrated much more closely on photographing more intimate spaces and candid shots of people around the fair - this ride was a great source of imagery and i took a fair few images in exploring the possibilities. I'm already thinking about approaches for next year. This fair is now one of the largest town centre fairs in the Uk - most large ones now occupy parks and other greenfield sites.

Irven Lewis Dance Company - IGNITE

Very low light photography taken in the performance of the Irven Lewis Dance Company (with permission) at Loughborough Town Hall on Wednesday 22nd February 2006.

The Jazz Dancers - IGNITE

All the excitement of top class jazz dance battle from the Irven Lewis Dance Company at Loughborough Town Hall on Wednesday 22nd February!

Irven Lewis Dance Company - IGNITE

The Irven Lewis Dance Company bringing their jazz dance battle to the stage of Loughborough Town Hall on the 22nd February - exciting, energetic (of course) and revealing of the history and inner culture of the dance - a really great show - all of these shots were made in extremely low light during the show with the permission of the company.

The Jazz Dancers - IGNITE

The Irven Lewis Dance Company bringing their jazz dance battle to the stage of Loughborough Town Hall on the 22nd February - exciting, energetic (of course) and revealing of the history and inner culture of the dance - a really great show - all of these shots were made in extremely low light during the show with the permission of the company.

The Outwoods 2

I've been walking through the Outwoods for nearly 27 years - I've never tired of it and like most local people know every nook and cranny of it - that's probably true for me of all the public access woods of Charnwood Forest - I feel really lucky to have this lovely landscape right on my doorstep - just a short walk or bike ride away. Another shot from a beautiful February morning.

The Outwoods

The Outwoods are a part of Charnwood Forest which sit between the outer edges of my home town of Loughborough and Beacon Hill - the woods are managed involving a cutting and re-planting regime in parts of the wood. There are a number of rocky outcrops including a small climbing area where kids can cut their teeth - this a beautiful morning with the last of the mist burning off and the sun creating a lovely atmosphere through the trees.

Taken early February 2006.

View From Beacon Hill 2

Friday 24th February - the view from Beacon Hill in Charnwood - looking west towards Coalville - just a mile away from here to the East the fields are green and there's not a trace of snow - although the skies are just as leaden and grey!

Charnwood Forest

Taken on Friday February 24th en route between Shepshed and Coalville - the forest is a mix of agricultural land, leisure areas, forest (ancient and managed), grazing land and is dotted with granite outcrops. Some of the oldest rocks in Britain are found there.

View From Beacon Hill

Beacon Hill is in the Charnwood district of Leicestershire - this was taken on Friday 24th February looking south-west towards Bradgate Park and Old John. I was up on the Beacon with Leonardo student Katja Loos from Saxony in just an hour we had between meetings - Katja is keen to learn photography and will be studying design when she retiurns to Germany - this was a cold and snow blown visit!

Year of the Dog

Leicester Market - February 2006 - Chinese New Year celebrations - the Lion dancers prepare their way for dancing through the streets and another very English lion gets ready to prepare the way for them - I learnt a harsh lesson about Chinese Fire Crackers at this event - I got hit in the face by one just below the eye - I kept my distance after that!

This was real fun, a tiny event but with a big and noisy presence!

Goodness Gracious 2

Sitting on a burning torch to put it out is not really advised - really please don't do this at home - of course in the hands of a poor misguided expert like comic juggler and street performer Zoots it's Ok - no animals are hurt in his show and rarely do audience members get reduced to a frazzle - as for poor Zoots family jewels - I hope he's had a family already! Photographed in Coalville, Leicestershire - 25th February 2006


Colaville - Saturday 25th February - Firebreather 'Zoots' from Sheffield performs at the Coalville Lantern Procession organised by Mantle Community Arts - in a great show mixing fire and comedy he managed to set himself on fire more than once - all part of the act....I think.......don't do this at home.

Goodness Gracious

...Great Balls of Fire! Couldn't resist the cliche title - I think he was playing this one very close to the family jewels - a guy from Combust at the OrangeTree pub in Loughborough bringing in the New Year 05/06

New Year at the Orange Tree

Rapidly approaching midnight at the turn of the year 2005/06 - what better time to hold the Loughborough fire breathing championship - highest ball of flame wins - and it's one two three blow! It took six goes to prove a winner - but you know what guys - I don't remember which of you won!!? These guys are all involved with a fire staff twirling, blowing, eating, poi swinging group called Combust. The pub loved them!

Matthew Greener - Morning Runner

In characteristic Old English Sheepdog mode Matthew Greener lead singer with up and coming (perhaps soon to be mega big) Indie band Morning Runner gives his all at a concert at The Charlotte In Leicester - balancing a pint of Guiness and a camera in this enthusiatic and packed house an intrepid photographer managed to get this quiet spoken singer/songwriter in full emotional flow - a nice guy - I met him briefly afterwards. Every success lads!

Tim Stuchbury - Polytechnic

Tim Stuchbury of the Manchester based band Polytechnic live at The Charlotte in Leicester - see the pic of Matthew Greener below for more details of how a middle aged (hate that term) community artist finds himself at a gig where you're old if you're half my age! Truth is I don't really give a monkeys about the age thing! Long live perpetual babyhood!

Matthew Greener - Morning Runner

I took this image of lead singer Matthew Greener of the band Morning Runner at a gig at The Charlotte in Leicester in February - the organisation I work for are running a project with young people to encourage them to develop the skills and interest in promoting live music, dance, theatre and comedy in the future. At the end of the gig the group we took interviewed Matthew (thanks for that!) as part of a short film we are making for our project and other groups involved in the same scheme. The initiative is being run co-ordinated by Leicestershire County Council and my organisation - Charnwood Arts - are working with Charnwood Borough Council to run the scheme in our area. The funding for 'Young Promoters' has come from Arts Council England.

Morning Runner are currently touring the UK including support gigs for bands such as The Magic Numbers.

Old School Advertising

East of the Vistula in Warsaw - a cold January day - nothing for it but to admire the haphazard way that this little corner of the Universe has developed.

Untied Colours of Warsaw

It's not only the shops and the colourful buildings which ring the changes in warsaw since the collapse of communism but the instant/simultaneous global distribution of art and cultural product - this film Underworld released and publicised at the same time in my home town of Loughborough as on the streets of Warsaw - on the streets - meaning practically everywhere on the mushrooming advertising boards and hoardings all over the city - it's a visual jungle in places - a fight for the fittest amongst designers seeking your attention.

Follow the Arrow

This building in the east of Warsaw is part of that trend to colour buildings across the city - a reaction I guess to the drab uniformity of former times - in places it looks like a multi-story Eire (Southern Ireland) with some very strange colour combinations next to each other - in other places it is far more tastefully managed with more pastel shades. This building is about as brash as the designs get - it all adds up to saying this city is going somewhere - so much new building and rampant commercial development - how far it will divide Polish society into 'haves and have nots' I don't care to guess right now.

Palace of Culture and Science

The building to the left dominates the Warsaw skyline - a gift from the Soviet Union- perhaps a permanent reminder of who was really in charge and called the shots in Eastern Europe. Next to it on the right stands what the Poles are claiming to be the largest 'Christmas Tree' in Europe. It's light sequence is really quite engaging - apparently it took them days to take down and cart away. I shot this image partly for the tension of the two guys approaching each other and the possibility of turning the Palace of Culture into a second Christmas tree - I favour tilting images in some contexts to increase the dynamic impact of the picture - a technique used by many photographers.


Here's another image from the east of Warsaw - an old lady buys cigarettes from the scores of different brands on offer - disturbingly for me - after all the history of this country - all the pain and torment of the war years - the graffiti above the kiosk lays territorial claim to this place for a youth cult that has become synonymous with right wing facism - these are not jack booted monsters with guns and an ideaology born of power but the marginalised and disenfranchised youth whose only grasp of power is to threaten and intimidate a response through our worst fears. This is the new meaning of the far right - like children who behave badly to get noticed - I don't believe they are as bad always as they would like us to believe - but we must be ever mindful of the really evil minds which are active, even at their margins - although cleverly infiltrating closer to the centre of contemporary politics.

Why the title - well look at what she is wearing - dressed for the occasion!

Jan - A Street Encounter in East Warsaw

My first morning in Warsaw - January 2006. My first morning in Poland - ever. I get up early and am treated to a fantastic breakfast and then off by metro to pick up a car in the city to travel across the Vistula to a photo-session with my host Jerzy. He's keen to show me the old 'communist era' buildings and the very different life-style to the one of the ever expanding suburbs to the west.

It's not too long before we meet Jan - it's his first day at work - looking after a tenament building - he's already cleared the snow from all the paths - he is so excited to be doing this job - a really positive personality. Jerzy is a great conversationalist and quickly gets him talking about his life and job. Jan shows us his stubs of missing fingers "This was a bomb - an American bomb in Dresden during the war. I am Polish but my parents were in Dresden - I was an infant and lost my fingers in that bombing". He is also the proud owner of a car - which he showed us and a small holding - which we were invited to see! Such a nice man and so uninhibited by our questions and our strange desire to take photographs of strangers - although by the tiome Jerzy had finished we were'nt strangers anymore!

Warsaw Ghetto

This old tenament building is right on the border of the former Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw - as with much of the city the Ghetto was completely destroyed by the Germans - all that is left - opposite this tenament - is a part of the old containing wall - pockmarked by bullets. There was a 'do not enter' sign here because of the danger of falling debris - but I couldn't resist the trespass - the feeling here was intense - the sounds of families - footfalls on silent stairs - the voices were so strong in my imagination - perhaps even the silent passage of Jewish refugees day upon day hidden in the secret places of this building - fearing the raid which could ever be but a moment away. A powerful and sobering place.

I was here in January 2006 - just before Harry Walton's exhibition - the exhibition was all the more powerful for this experience first.

Harry Walton

It was recently my great pleasure to meet the Leicester based artist Harry Walton. Harry is (at writing this) 80 years old and as active it seems as many people 20 years younger. For some years now he has been painting images from the history of the Holocaust - the ghettos, transportation, 'incidents' and the camps themselves - all the way through to liberation. As part of the commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day in my home town of Loughborough we staged an exhibition of Harry's paintings. The work, presented - in the (literally) cold, stark surroundings of the Generator Gallery in Loughborough was very emotional and powerful. It was a real privilege to meet this generous and warm man and to hear the many stories contained within his works. Harry is neither Jewish or a Holocaust survivor but someone who is dedicated to the cause of ensuring that we do not forget this appalling lesson from history.