Friday, 31 October 2014

An Angel at my Cradle

Last Thursday I was late to the opening night of artsrichmond’s Photography Exhibition on Conflict and Remembrance at the Orleans House Gallery in Twickenham – but not too late to collect an award.  I was presented the award for Best Photograph matching Theme by Richmond Borough Councillor and Cabinet Member for the Arts, Culture and Sport, Meena Bond.  I was surprised and delighted as I hadn't even realised that the entries were to be judged.  This was my entry for the exhibitions; I've titled it, 'Grief is Borne when Loss is Born.'

This remarkable tombstone can be found not far from the entrance to the East Sheen and Richmond Cemetery. I’d seen this over a year ago while on an historical tour with the Richmond Historical Society. I’d noted that the sculpture faces east and so would be in the best position for a dusk photograph sometime in early autumn.  As the gates to the grounds are locked at 16.30, I had to time my shoot rather precisely.

I think this is one of the most beautiful sculptures I’ve ever seen in person and by that I mean art, not just tombstones. I really haven’t been to many graveyards in my life, save the one in Highgate and passing by a few others from outside. But I wanted to tell you a story about another gravestone I came across around a decade ago. When my children were young I used to drive them to their school which was idyllically situated on the edge of Windsor Great Park. The drive was short, through the suburban tranquillity of Virginia Water and Englefield Green. Towards the end of my younger daughter’s final year, and realising that this short commute would soon to come to an end, I thought it might be a good idea for posterity to take a picture of the pretty statue near the front of St Jude’s Cemetery that we’d passed by twice a day for eight years.  I wasn’t even much of a photographer at the time: no dslr, no decent software to speak of, just a point and shoot and a compulsion to capture this particular sculpture. Which was all fine, I snapped away and was about to go when I glanced down at the inscription below.  I’m not making this up: the woman who was buried there had died on the day I was born. Not just the day of the year – the day in history.

I did a bit of sleuthing to find out about the woman. Her name was Dora Hedley and she’d moved out to Surrey from London for the health of her children – just as I’d done.  She’d lived a short distance from the parade of shops in Virginia Water, just like me.  Which is something really.  At least to me it is.  And so I’m looking forward to finding out more about the Lancaster family and especially why and who chose the stunning grieving woman who drapes over this final resting place.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Venturing in to a New World

Last Saturday evening I joined the brilliant photographers Umbreen Hafaz and Arpad Lukac on a photographic excursion through a section of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.  This was a new world for my geographically (embarrassed to admit I've never been east of the O2) and photographically as I've never taken a photo whose explore is greater than about four seconds.  So an evening of firsts and what a thoroughly rewarding one.  I'm so thrilled to have been able to get to know these wonderful creatives and experiment in this visual playground.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Demonstrating our Values

Like the tens of thousands of people around the world who took part in the September 21st Climate Change March through their respective cities, I caught up with the London contingent on Victoria Embankment.  I’ve been to several protests over the course of the past few months, but this by far was the most colourful, musical and joyful.  The amount of effort which went into the costumes and other visuals as well as the inclusion of all ages and nations made it even more powerful.  It was incredibly inspiring and moving to see so many people who not only care about our physical future, but are willing to put those values on display.


Friday, 3 October 2014

A Tale of Three Cities

I love London - then again, you probably already know that.   To be able to live in this city – teaming with cultural and natural life – is a blessing.  London is a combination of hundreds of cities, towns and villages, bumping against and spilling into one another on either side of the meandering Thames. It’s a quirky, original and idiosyncratic metropolitan layout not unlike the inhabitants which I’m happy to call my neighbours.  These are some recent photos I took whilst on a wander from the City, to Westminster (for a Centre for Cities’ Presentation with Vince Cable) to Victoria.  

Photojournalism outside Downing Street

On Saturday the 23rd of August I attended the demonstration in Whitehall against the continued selling of arms to Israel, organised by a range of organisations protesting against the current siege of Gaza. For the most part the event was peaceful, though without question one of high emotion and energy.  There was only one small scuffle I witnessed between a single demonstrator attempting to cross the road heading towards the gates of 10 Downing Street.  He was swiftly grabbed by Met officers as well as one of the protest organisers.   This brings the newspaper headlines and television reports home.  It also makes me grateful to live in a country where the freedom to gather and speak truth to power is an important part of the culture.