Tuesday, 31 August 2010

I love a man in uniform

It was so wet I could hardly see to focus. When I saw this scene taking shape I heard an almost audible click in my head as I saw the centurions move into just the position that would reveal the further one's face, accentuate the shape and rhythm of their helmets, and catch the onlookers' expressions. Sometimes it's like that -- you know it's going to work for you. But mostly it isn't...

Spring was in the air....

Certainly for this woman, who broke into a joyful, impromptu dance as some busking musicians played Balkan folk music.

Sunday drinkers

A bitterly cold morning at the tail-end of last winter. This Eastern European couple were keeping warm in proven, time-honoured fashion...

Monday, 30 August 2010

I quite often photograph at charities and voluntary organisations. Here's two of my favourites from a set that I took at St Paul's Community Trust, who were fantastic in letting me wander about everywhere and take pictures during their thirtieth anniversary event.

Splinter Cell

Sometimes these juxtapositions work, sometimes not. But whenever you see them, trying is irresistible -- maybe the Gods of timing and synchronicity will smile.

England's Glory

Colour cool/colour hot

An empty Bridget Riley exhibition -- still, calm, meditative; and the clash of colour, shapes and motion on the street -- an energy drink company vying for the attention of punters.

There's a wonderful sequence of photos here taken for the British Council, which includes pictures of Riley in the mid-60s. It's not difficult to see why she was such a captivating figure -- tousled, gamine, intellectual... This one especially.

Different bowlers

A reminder that that marvellous old class-signifier, the bowler hat, is alive and well and still doing its job impeccably...

Bowler hats always strike a chord with me. I think it is because of this wonderful photograph by the late Erich Hartmann, one of my favourite Magnum photographers. HIs last book, 'Where I Was' -- which he was working on when he died, and which was finished by his wife -- is a marvellous book of his personal work. 'Personal', the term photographers usually employ to differentiate between commercial work and the work which really matters to them -- describes it doubly well. Its selection of pictures are oblique, provisional, glancing, unexpected. Here's another marvellous one.

Street food

I can't quite remember when this was -- Chinese New Year, I imagine. Anyway, a lovely moment when everything just literally fell into place...


Friday, 20 August 2010

John Madin: Birmingham's brutalist 'starchitect'

John Madin, now 81, was key to much of the new 'brutalist' architecture of Birmingham's post-war redevelopment. His 1974 Central Library -- now slated for demolition as its new towering replacement begins to rise between the Rep theatre and Baskerville House -- remains a hotly contested masterpiece.

It has recently gained artwork by Lucy McLauchlan:

There's a fascinating 1965 BBC documentary about Madin which can be view in its entirety here. It's like entering a time capsule of modernity and optimism...

Interestingly, Madin still believes that his Central Library may be saved -- he comments on this in an interview in The Guardian here.

Lovely light

There was a lovely, shaded gently lit corner during a recent veterans' and armed forces parade I saw.

Strange apparition

My older daughter will shortly be moving to Lincoln to study. She'll be living in the first house on the right in the narrow little lane that runs along the bottom of this hill.

I think she is hoping that Lincoln will always be as strange and Harry Potterish as it appears to be here...

I hope she isn't disappointed.

A different kind of Sunday morning

Some Sunday mornings you just happen on things...

Two more moments from the same Rathayatra festival mentioned below.

The Skull & Photographer

Yes, it sounds like a fictional pub in a strange Dickensian city one has never visited (there is a Skull & Trumpet if I recall correctly in Christopher Isherwood's LIONS AND SHADOWS), but it's also what passes for photographers' recreation on a Sunday morning...

Blessed with fire

Taken at a recent Rathayatra festival.