Tag Archives: photography

Visit to Kilve beach, Somerset

3 Nov

Kilve beachSpent a week in Somerset and despite staying very near the well known fossil laden beach at Kilve. As usual in my disorganised state went there at the end of a long day and didn’t take my proper camera with me.

The fading light and the rugged beauty of the cliffs and the beach itself was a huge temptation so took some shots on my phone. They hopefully relay the warmth of the fading sun and the Jurassic wilderness that meets the eye from all directions. We were totally unprepared for the terrain we climbed from slippery rock to slippery rock avoiding the puddles of water left behind from the receded sea water.

Enjoy the shots and if you ever go near that part of the world do have a look around.

My Flick photo set, can be viewed on this link, as the code I used for an embedded slideshow was broken by WordPress (cheers): https://www.flickr.com/photos/georgios1978/sets/72157648516530622/

Visit to Morecambe’s Midland Hotel

24 Jun

Midland HotelThe Midland Hotel was one of those landmark buildings I’ve known for years from photographs and TV programmes but up until four days ago I had never seen in the flesh.  Such important and much written about buildings can frequently be a disappointment when viewed under the over-inflated expectation of the eager architectural tourist.  The Midland thankfully was even more spectacular and beautiful that I could have expected. Its ocean liner moderne look is a striking feature of the promenade. A striking symbol of ambition facing the heavy, high Victorian railway terminal. Its beautiful finishing in glass mixed plaster reflects a magical iridescence to the naked eye. No photographs can capture the not quite white colour of the render.

The entrance sequence is most spectacular despite the clean lines of the building giving away much of the layout of the interior. The round stairwell dominating the middle of the elevation provides a surprisingly small and dark threshold to the atmospheric lobby. The masterly staircase curves its way overhead with such utter grace and elegance, I’d challenge anyone not to gasp at the beauty. The colour scheme inside gets transformed from the white exterior to more friendly beiges punctuated with flashes of bright red.  Martha Dorn’s stylised waves round carpets create pools of patter on the floor,  add to the overall chic look. A particular brilliant touch is the individually carpeted steps that avoid the visual uniformity of using a runner and retain the fast moving rhythm of the staircase. Like the best Art Deco entrances it gives off an air of unashamed luxury and sophistication. But the Midland also invites both the eye (with the ceiling medallion) and the foot (with the red velvet steps) to climb to the top and admire this energetic, almost kinetic  interior.

Having Eric Gill contributing the signature sea horses on the facade, the staircase roof medallion, a relief behind the reception desk and a map of seaside towns in the function room was a stroke of genius. They all have a sense of purpose and the erotic flair of the best of his work…most appropriate for an indulgent, luxurious hotel by the sea. The Eric Ravilious mural in the rotunda bar was recreated in 2013 and looks as light and feathery in texture as any of his paintings and watercolours.

We have to be grateful to Urban Splash and the Friends of the Midland Hotel who resurrected this important building, saved it from near demolition and brought back the glamour for all of us and future generations to enjoy. No wonder Coco Chanel spend a weekend there when it first opened in 1933. It is a shame that the regeneration of the immediate area on the side the hotel has been shelved after three rejections of the planning application. Let’s hope the council can find a way to bring back life to the immediate area of the central promenade. Which used to house an enormous outdoor pool and entertainments. With their removal now it’s surrounded by acres of bland grass.

The hotel’s website: http://englishlakes.co.uk/hotels/lancashire-hotels/the-midland-hotel-morecambe/

My Flick photo set can be viewed on this link, as the code I used for an embedded slideshow was broken by WordPress (cheers): https://www.flickr.com/photos/georgios1978/sets/72157645264110052/

Visit to the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh – 24 March 2014

26 Mar

Parliament sideOne of those visits I have been putting off for years. The Enric Miralles design has always been in my head a muddled failure, a confused, over-ornamented building. Having now visited it I still think the external treatment of the façades is too fragmented and the mix of materials, despite being symbolic, over-complicates what could have been a much cleaner look.

This muddle becomes most obvious on the staircase leading up to the debating chamber. Within a 20 metre run the surface underfoot alternates from concrete, to oak and granite a confusing sequence that add very little to the actual experience. One undeniable fact is the quality of the construction, the concrete surfaces are seductively well finished with a subtle sheen and a velvety touch. Especially the grand entrance hall with its almost medieval vaulted appearance has a sense of pleasing solidity and the quirky angled skylights bring in the sun in unexpected ways.

The debating chamber itself is a wonderful space to sit in. Warm, welcoming and open. The view of Holyrood Palace and the surrounding hills at unconventional angles becomes a fascinating play of light and creates a connection with the outside world unlike most parliament buildings that are hermetically sealed. It is also fascinating that the busy roof structure, heavily rigged with lights, speakers and monitors ensures the constant streaming of the proceedings go out in the best possible quality, with each MP having three spotlights pointed at them at all times. Democracy in action is now a game that is livestreamed online.

The external landscaping hugs the contours of the site with great elegance but judging by the bare patches of the grassed-up banks, the users of the space like to cut across the long walkways which look great in CAD but are not that user-friendly when one is in a rush or walking their dog. I am also not a fan of pools of water in such a northern climate, architects fall in love with reflecting their ego aka buildings in water, not taking into account the implications for maintenance and location.

If you are in Edinburgh and like modern architecture it is well worth a visit. Miralles provided a building of distinction if a little bit too indebted to a language of post modern ornament and quoting too directly natural forms that many may find gimmicky.

 

My musical 2013 in photographs

13 Jan

Looking back at the last twelve months I found a few shots that tell my story of 2013 and the performances and venues I visited.

Makes a simple travelogue that hopefully you will enjoy viewing.

Visit to Liverpool’s St George’s Hall – 11 August 2013

14 Aug

Last Sunday morning had the chance to visit St George’s Hall in Liverpool. The severe neoclassical exterior does not quite prepare one for the ornamented and over the top Roman inspired interior.

Designed by the relatively unknown Harvey Lonsdale Elmes who won the competition in 1839, he died before the completion of the building in 1854, most of the interior decoration and detailing was completed by his celebrated peer Charles Robert Cockerell. The overall feel of the building is of opulence and grandeur, civic pride taken to Victorian lengths but in much more palatable taste than your average city hall.

Confusingly the complex contains courtrooms and cells alongside a splendid small concert hall and the main hall itself. The recent restoration has left it in great shape and hope you enjoy the photographs which were taken during the guided tour so a bit rushed and maybe not quite as sharp, they hopefully relay the feel of the space and some of the details that add to a very impressive ensemble. Surely one of the most important examples of 19th century Greek Revival architecture in the UK  to rival anything built in Bath and Edinburgh.

The notable Minton floor made up of over 30.000 tiles is only revealed for two weeks a year and it coincided with our visit which was fortuitous. Enjoy the shots.

The website of the Hall

Wikipedia entry for the building

Mother’s Day at Wimpole Hall

20 Mar

A return visit to Wimpole Hall was fun and due to the relaxation of the archaic rules on photography, I can now bore everyone with the shots I took inside and out 😉

You can click here for the slideshow of the whole set

P1140455

P1140397

P1140383

P1140434

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Eve Arnold, one of the greatest photographers passes aged 99

6 Jan

Once one sees a photograph by Eve Arnold is surely aware that this is not any random photo journalist. She had a unique tenderness and the very femininity of her gaze is rare and therefore precious. Through the pages of the Sunday Times her shots animated events and important people for decades. Her beautifully curated books allowed us to flick through her stunning imagery from the comfort of our armchairs.

I will for ever be in love with her Marilyn Monroe book that she published in 1987 and then reissued with 28 never before seen photographs in 2005. It is an elegy to a true legend of the screen, letting her guard down, knowing that Arnold was not there to embarrass her but to capture her day-to-day reality and create photo stories for newspapers and magazines. It was an extraordinary collaboration between the two women that lasted from 1952 to 1961. Arnold’s gaze is if nothing else a protective cocoon through the difficult shoots of The Prince and the Showgirl and The Misfits. Her Marilyn is having her hair done, her make up retouched, chatting with her co-stars, having conversations with Henry Miller, reading books, changing outfits, rolling around in bed and meadows naked. Her Marilyn is a creature fragile but also assertive and intelligent. A world apart from the desperate filmic courtesan of Hollywood myth. One reporter asked her what was it like to photograph Marilyn, her answer is typical Arnold:

It was like watching a print come up in the developer. The latent image was there – it needed just her time and temperature controls to bring it into being. It was a stroboscopic display and all the photographer had to do was to stop time at any given instant and Marilyn would bring forth a new image

(quote from Marilyn Monroe – Eve Arnold page 155)

If you have a copy handy, open it up and revel in the beauty or look out for one. It is one of my most treasured books that never fails to enthrall and fascinate. Arnold was one of the finest photographers at capturing the human spirit on celluloid, a true technician full of humanity and empathy. She will hopefully be referenced as one of the great photographers of people,  alongside Cartier-Bresson, Brassai and Richard Avedon.

Read More

Her page on her agency’s website, Magnum

The Guardian’s obituary

A selection of her photographs on The Guardian’s website

The last edition of the Marilyn book was this one

Nan

7 Sep

Photography is for many a reflection of one’s immediate viewpoint and lived experience. A record of the everyday and special moments made still.

I enjoy composing photographs that reflect banal aspects of life (pavements, my garden, clothing, clouds, crockery, cakes) as a way to make myself more open to the world around me and to appreciate small things that may mean little to others. A personal diary of grand and not so grand instances, where detail matters and adds texture to my life.

One of the first photographers that astonished me and made me see the world in a different way was Nan Goldin. Her style is autobiographical and engaged with her emotions and the struggles of family and friends. All seen through her dimly lit, colour saturated prints. She’s both a technician and a good judge of the decisive moment. The moments she chooses to depict, tend to be those blurred messy spaces between one’s unguarded emotional outbursts and how they manifest themselves through the viewfinder.

Her friends are shown from their first flush of love, with children and family, in their fights with drug addiction and AIDS to their funeral and the grave. What makes he work very different is her gaze and its unique warmth. I have never felt that she is exploiting her subjects, mainly because of the way she portrayed her own self. We see her having fun as a student, being in a blissful loving relationship that turns sour, we see her beaten and with a black eye, we see her as the loving partner and mother. Her sense of the real through the photographs is chilling but at the same time an account of a life lived with eyes wide open and indomitable individuality. A person looking for her own identity in plain view of everyone. A survivor that is happy to share the journey.

Her work glows with a deep humanity that is particularly resonant with our fast passed lives. Her photographs provide a perfect reminder for all of us to connect with our emotional world and the special people in our lives. A call for all of us to feel deeply and without pretense or fear. I wish I could summon the same amount of courage and objectivity to photograph my own life and the people around me as she does. She makes it all too clear how important it is for photography to have personal meaning.

I have one of her prints and soak in the gaze of her friend Clemens daily, thinking of this great photographer and her contribution. Hope the other 499 copies of the print out there are making all those people as happy!

Some interesting reading on Goldin:

Interview on Dazed Digital

Review in Frieze Magazine about her major 2002 Whitechapel Art Gallery Show

Spiegel Interview

Obama, Hillary and the photograph that will haunt our imaginations

4 May

It has been a very interesting few days after the apparent assassination of Osama Bin Laden by US marines. Early on the papers run a photoshopped image of what was supposed to be the dead body of OBL and it was of course a fake. The press went ahead and published it for the benefit of Joe public who apparently wanted to see pictorial evidence.

But it was only yesterday that the official Flickr account of the White House published a series of shots from the Situation Room while high ranking officials and Obama’s political companions. One shot stood out, this one:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/whitehouse/5680724572/

I can imagine people will write whole books analysing it. It was taken by Pete Souza, who I have been following for his excellent White House work for at least the last two years. He seems to have a very light touch and warmth. Not a quality one would expect from an official photographer. Especially judging from some awful official photographs by the British Government and the Monarchy, which lack most of the time imagination and the human touch.

If you haven’t seen any other pictures by Souza, try these as a primer:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/whitehouse/5307699784/in/set-72157625583479095

http://www.flickr.com/photos/whitehouse/5307666460/in/set-72157625583479095

http://www.flickr.com/photos/whitehouse/5307077473/in/photostream

http://www.flickr.com/photos/whitehouse/3483999881/in/photostream

http://www.flickr.com/photos/whitehouse/3483994997/in/photostream

http://www.flickr.com/photos/whitehouse/3483994941/in/photostream

http://www.flickr.com/photos/whitehouse/3483994905/in/photostream

All the photographs I have viewed in the last few years on their Flickr account have helped shape my views on the presidential couple and their every day life under the spotlight. But in a totally different way to the famous Avedon pictures of the Kennedy family. They were treated with reverence and almost acceptance of their blue bloodied status within American society. The Obamas have been much more cunning and the shots portray them as a working family that is trying to hold on to each other in the eye of a media typhoon. Of course it’s as much of a construct, as anything else, communicated through the medium of mass publicity.

But Pete Souza does allow some reality through the pictures and that is what makes -that- photo all the more powerful. Just look at the back of the room, the woman with the long hair (Audrey Tomason) looks on with fixed eyes to the screens. She surely has the face most of us would do, if were faced with such grim circumstances. Hillary Clinton’s reaction has been the focus of most commentators and used as the counterweight to Barack Obama’s steely look. But she seems theatrical and her horror a bit too rehearsed. The woman in the distance and the various male staffers give a more interesting cross section of humanity, faces not quite as well trained in the celebrity game as an ex first lady would be.

As the rest of his work for the White House that is what makes this picture captivating, a small glimmer of realism that elevates it beyond boring official photography. I wonder how many people looked up the credit when they saw the picture in their paper or news bulletins.

An interesting side angle to the photography of the President, by the media in this blog post in The Guardian

And it seems a hasidic newspaper has totally removed both women from the photo, here’s the article in the Daily Hate

The photo

4 May
P050111PS-0210 by The White House
P050111PS-0210, a photo by The White House on Flickr.

The picture that said it all, in the age of media overexposure this one image will haunt our collective subconscious for years to come.

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