It’s 4pm on a gloomy and wet New Year’s Eve. As I looked out the window just now the slashing rain had stopped and there was a brighter hue detectable in the sky and little pink lights on the cranes on the horizon. I saw the word HOPE emblazoned on the bridge – and it did give me hope. 2017 was good for me in many ways but distressing and depressing when I think about world conflicts and the suffering of so many people. I despair at our inept and manipulative political leaders. But I’m also a believer in the potential for change and the power of people to influence things for the better. So here’s hoping for a better 2018 for all.
Like everyone else in North London I woke up to snow this morning – this was the scene outside my kitchen window in the early morning:
The London Lucumi Choir were due to perform at Camden Lock today. Unfortunately due to road and transport chaos the gig eventually had to be cancelled. So the few that managed to attend the pre-gig rehearsal were invited by choir director Daniela Rosselson to sing the last part of the session in the nearby woods In Muswell Hill. It was really fun! Here are the percussionists, Bill Bland on cowbell and Jim Le Messurier on shekere:
Singing and playing outdoors feels really special. It’s interesting to take something that usually occurs in a private enclosed space and experience it in a beautiful, outdoor setting, even more so when the weather is unusual, like today’s sudden snowfall. I was reminded of an occasion back in 2009, when I came across a woman doing yoga on Hampstead Heath. Here she is doing a headstand, using a snowy branch for support:
See my project The London Lucumi Choir celebrates 10 years for more pictures of the choir.
The London Lucumi Choir official website
I’m very pleased that my CHANGING VIEWS project is the cover feature of my local newspaper Kentishtowner. I’m also interviewed in the paper by the editor Stephen Emms. Here’s the link to the online article.
A screenshot of the article headline:
A few days ago I went for a walk to Swains Lane in Highgate to take take some pictures and try out my new camera lens. It was a lovely autumnal day. On the way back I saw a woman leaning against a tree waiting for the bus. Her hat caught my eye, a warm wool beret with a tartan bow, all spicy shades of ginger, cinnamon and turmeric. She like me, had dark,curly hair. I asked her permission to take a photo and warned her that I might be faffing for a bit as it was a brand new lens!
In a serendipitous coincidence, on Monday night I bumped into the very same woman in Covent Garden. She told me her name is Dorje Khandro:
Here are some other photographs I’ve taken over the years where the hat has been a trigger inspiring me to take a photograph.
My late paternal grandmother, Bibi, (farsi for grandmother), always dressed very formally. Here’s a scan of a photo I took of her circa 1990 when she came over for tea:
Hats and creativity:
I caught sight of this man about to get on the tube at East Finchley. I love the humour and creativity in this hat, and the fact the back of the hat is the focal point with its 2D cardboard cut-out image of a cat’s face and little yellow daffodil next to it.
This man was sitting having a quiet drink in Old Compton Street when I just had to stop and ask him about his cap. His name is Manny and he customised the hat himself with Simpsons lego characters.
Seen on the Portobello Road, I believe this cap started life as a conventional,sober dark grey number. It is now edged in a colourful trim; bold capitals spelling the word LOVE and is extravagantly adorned with feathers, toy camera and miniature red high top boot:
The next two images feature hats with colourful stripes. A crochet hat, in Rasta colours worn by Irina at a London Lucumi Choir rehearsal in 2012. I liked way the knitted flower echoes the sunflowers in the background:
Senior style and hats:
This is the late Francisco, in a rainbow coloured stripey knitted hat, taken at Bar Italia on Valentine’s Day in 2014:
More senior style, this time Opera bound:
Keeping warm on the C2 bus:
Tex from Texas and friend at a bus stop in Old Street, 2013:
I have edited these images down from a large selection, and have not included any images of people in head wraps, which will be a separate blog post. It will undoubtably include the fabulous Garbo Garbo, whom I previously featured on a post on skulls and fashion. Here is another picture I took of Garbo Garbo at Caffe Nero in Frith Street back in 2011:
I’ve also felt compelled to photograph signs that feature hats. The escalators and platform at Kentish Town are extremely windy and the following sign is not an exaggeration:
I also really liked the Japanese street signs that show a man in a wide-brimmed hat walking rather dynamically, with a forward leaning posture:
I have now completed a whole year of my Changing Views project, which I started in October 2016, and which took me up to October 2017.
21 September 2017:
See the project here:
A few weeks ago I photographed some graffiti I’d seen in Central London. A colourful, menacing clown had been introduced onto a wall featuring an advertising image of professional cyclists. A couple of days later I found myself in the same street with my husband, a keen cyclist. I wanted to show him that juxtaposition but discovered it was no longer there. The clown had been removed and the wall had been returned to it’s cyclist-only imagery. This is the photograph:
I had a similar experience a week later when I saw some powerful street art in Regent Street; a striking image of a seemingly homeless Theresa May begging on the street; the play on words of the painted sign to her side saying help me I’m hopeless. A couple of days later the whole thing had been crudely painted over with white brushstrokes:
I’ve just started reading The Handmaid’s Tale after watching the brilliant TV series. The book has a new preface by its author Margaret Atwood; I highlighted the following sentence, where Atwood is talking about civil liberties, freedom of expression and recording and chronicling what is happening and being experienced : Will their messages be suppressed and hidden? Will they be found, centuries later, in an old house, behind a wall?
It resonated with me and also brought to mind an image I’d taken in the summer which no longer exists to the naked eye:
A secret wall painting of a primitive figure, the face created around a hole in the wall; the gaping mouth possibly a drain pipe. Although this is probably a builder’s joke in this construction site in Kentish Town, there was something archaic about this crude wall painting. The wall and its painting have now been boarded over; I know it still exists but will the occupants ever discover the hidden open-mouthed human, who has been witnessed yet can no longer be seen behind the fresh plasterboard?
A friend of mine posted an Instagram picture today of a supermarket delivery van decorated with artwork created by a child and it reminded me that over the years I’ve been photographing vehicles with designs and settings that have caught my eye. Here are a few of them.
A highly decorated London supermarket delivery van with artwork referencing the 1967 Beatles album Sgt. Pepper against stark brickwork. I believe this design is by cyclist Jess Varnish:
The bus below was seen passing the Diaspora Museum in San Francisco in June of this year, the psychedelic style advert celebrating 50 years of the Summer of Love; more 1967-inspired imagery:
Seen in New York:
Sometimes the background is more decorative than the vehicle, such as in this picture of an ambulance parked in front of a Brooklyn mural:
I like the combination of the zebra crossing and the truck signage seen in Tokyo:
And this cheerful red lager delivery truck with its humorous play on words on a bleak day in Kentish Town:
And a couple of trams from Italy; the photograph below was taken in Rome:
This pretty No.13 tram in Turin offering a glimpse of the city through its window:
I’ve recently returned from a brief visit to Paris where I witnessed the final hours of the Tour de France. At one point some jet planes flew past, too fast for me to see but leaving a trail of blue, white and red vapour. I am assuming these are the colours of the French flag known as le tricolore but could equally be the colours of the Union Jack in honour of the British win by Chris Froome. Glancing up from my position on the Champs-Élysées, my view is one of elegant lampposts, dark leafy trees, sporting banners, flags and a cloudy sky bedecked in transient national colours…
Looking back through my photographs I found this image from New York taken on a cold spring day in 2015. This is one of a series of photographs featuring New York steam and vapour that appear monochromatic but the brightness of the green traffic light thwarts the black and white illusion.
The photograph below was taken in Tel Aviv, Israel in February 2014. The smoky atmosphere was due to a sudden sandstorm. Tiny flashes of red from the traffic lights and the digital display on the lifeguard tower cut through the haze:
The next photograph was taken in winter in London’s Kentish Town. I edited it as black and white to enhance the graphic quality even though the sky was very blue that day. I like the very linear vapour trails – the vertical and the X shape, and the way the aerial echoes the shape of the vertical. I also like the contrast of the complex twists of the shadows cast by tree branches on the facade of boxy geometry of the Fire Station:
Here’s another image from Kentish Town, taken as the sun was setting; the orange trails suggest painted brushstrokes:
And one snapped on my phone last December, walking through a very biblical Tufnell Park.
I recently went to the Saatchi Gallery to see their current exhibition From Selfie to Self-Expression. This is me below, interacting with an artwork – This Year’s Midnight by Rafael Lozano Hemmer. The Saatchi Gallery teaching resource describes the work as an interactive mirror which has a built-in computerized surveillance system. When a viewer stands in front of the mirror, sensors detect the viewer’s eyes and plumes of smoke are seen to rise from them:
I’ve been photographing a particular view – the view out my kitchen window – for the past six months. I started in mid October 2016, at the height of Autumn.
Here are a few of images from the project:
Check out the Changing Views project here:
I was privileged to go to Japan last November and witness autumn in several cities – some of these images can be seen on the Japan autumn gallery page on this website . That is a hard act to follow! However, London is teeming with beauty and colour at the moment, and I thought I’d show some images of urban nature that have caught my eye in the last few weeks. I’ve always believed that you don’t have to travel far to witness beauty and that you can find it in different ways on your doorstep. Here’s a picture of a graffiti and foliage covered wall at a London Overground train track:
There’s a wall in Kentish Town which for a short amount of time is ablaze with colour. This is ironic as behind it is the grey brutalist tower of the local fire station. I like the contrast between the two and am struck by this each time I see it:
I was walking with some friends last Saturday when I saw this spectacular “doubling’ of decorative imagery. A Persian carpet laid out on the pavement alongside the rug store, beneath the very same blazing wall of red leaves. I asked the shop keepers if I could photograph it with my phone, adding in my best Farsi kheili ghashange – which means it’s very beautiful. They were chuffed and amazed that I knew Farsi. I’ve also added the image to my Persian Kentish Town project which I’ve updated this week with several new images.
Last week I went to see the Abstract Expressionism exhibition at the Royal Academy. It’s not my favourite genre, though I’m into both Expressionism and Abstraction. In terms of 20th Century painting I love a lot of the work from the earlier part of the century, particularly around the years 1905 and 1906! However I did spend time standing in front of Jackson Pollock’s 1952 painting Blue Poles.
I don’t know if I consciously referenced this painting when I took the image below, but I know that in both cases I was drawn to the luminous splashes of orange as well as the strong repeated linear verticals and diagonals:
The above picture was taken a few days ago at Kew Gardens. I decided to get yearly membership after prevaricating for a while. I’m really glad I did; I found the whole experience pleasurable, including the overground journey there. The following pictures were all taken at Kew. It was a fantastically sunny day and looking up could see the deep blue sky in between the jewel-like leaves of the Chittamwood American Smoketree:
These turquoise and purple berries also caught my eye, looking almost synthetic and reminiscent of artificial candy:
Autumn is very much about beauty and transience; here’s a capture of the moment a leaf is shed:
Fallen leaves on and beneath the bench are illuminated by the afternoon sun, looking fiery. The pillar on the left is dappled with light and leaf shadows:
Here are a couple more images on the theme of autumn colour and leafy shadows: