Thoughts and reflections from Rencontres Des Arles 2013

I went expecting an extensive set of imagery and was slightly taken aback by the scale of the event. Just under fifty exhibitions covering a diverse range of photographic genres. The quality of the work was high, if not excellent and whilst the theme of Arles in Black was to do with black and white photography there was a lot of colour work on display. There were various sub-themes; Me, Them, There as well as associated shows, however I didn’t follow any particular theme through my visit, I had only six days and wanted to cover as much as I could, so I visited exhibition by exhibition serially. It might be interesting to look again at the work, as I have described it later, as ‘grouped’ in their sub-genres. I have written a longer set of notes on the Festival here and another on portraits here.

Lartigue's story of his relationship with Bibi was situated in this church; a reverential gesture I think

Lartigue’s story of his relationship with Bibi was situated in this church; a reverential gesture I think

I found myself a number of times questioning my own perceptions about different works, most notably documentary. I was, by a curious circumstance, staying in a property owned by the author and reporter Isabelle Wesselingh, who has done a great deal of work reporting from the Balkans, but who now works from Romania. I met Isabelle both at the property and again at the Rencontres as she was showing her friend, also a journalist who is married to Jerome, a photojournalist, who has been working in Darfor but who are the process of transferring to Nairobi. I have asked them about the effect of ‘Documentary’ photography/photojournalism as a number of approaches were exhibited – Robin Hammond and Alfredo Jaar. I have had a response to say that I will receive a response and will add this to my thoughts as and when I arrive. My mind is tending to the perspective that I felt Jaar was proposing and that Sontag espoused some decades ago, that the world is now tired of these issues, suggesting that photography isn’t ever going to get anything done – like McCullin said in a recent documentary. But if nothing changes by the use of documentary, that if the life of a photojournalist is a waste, then why do some many risk so much to bring to the world images that are designed to hurt, to illuminate, to inform, to embarrass; all for nothing – Kevin Carter paid a big price for the work he did, was it worth it?

Another aspect that struck home was the use of text, more and more I am being attracted to the use/provision of text. From what seems a relatively short time ago when I thought any text, especially titles, would detract from the image; to now when I think that not only are words a very real part of the work, they can in certain circumstances subjugate the image into a secondary role. I have been thinking of how to accommodate text into my work, and when I saw Courtinant’s work which firmly put the image as a support to the text (in this viewer’s mind at any rate) I think I may have turned a corner; something I will return to later in this text!



An area I have become somewhat fascinated by recently is fiction, the nature of which was in a lot of a lot of the work in Arles ( perhaps all? – but that is another question). From Minkkenin’s use of his ‘self’ to provide allegorical narratives that seem to explore his relationship with “Land and perhaps more especially Water” to Stezaker’s very deliberate use of collage and presentation styles to develop stories in the minds of viewers. I particularly enjoyed the latter’s use of stage or film set pieces that are from the outset already fictive narratives; overlayed/cut-up and worked in order to other stories to develop. I was also particularly impressed with Paniak’s work, similar in process to Stezaker’s but with a more mythological edge to them, fairy stories, and perhaps surprisingly nothing dark – no bad witches or goblins, but light and tender. Fiction though is a catholic house and there were works where the narrative purposefully merged the fact with fiction. I knew it was purposeful because the title of the work, in one piece, carried the words ‘Possible  and Imaginary’ by two photographers;  Yasmine Eid-Sabbagh and Rozenn Quere. Through the use of found family photographs and taped interviews they generate a part fiction/part documentary drama of four women:

Images courtesy of Rencontres Arles 2013

Images courtesy of Rencontres Arles 2013

And these are some of the images that I took whilst there:

Images courtesy of Rencontres Arles 2013

Images courtesy of Rencontres Arles 2013

Images courtesy of Rencontres Arles 2013

Images courtesy of Rencontres Arles 2013

Images courtesy of Rencontres Arles 2013

Images courtesy of Rencontres Arles 2013

Images courtesy of Rencontres Arles 2013

Images courtesy of Rencontres Arles 2013

But it wasn’t until after my visit that I remembered that this work had been suggested by my tutor – via this link – and whilst I really enjoyed the work, the big difference was the way in which the work is received when in the gallery. In the gallery space the work is, of course, physical’ it is three dimensional, the photographs are mounted into frames and set out so that as you walk around the images overlap; seemingly moving around each-other and forming relationships that cannot happen in a wall or on the screen. And whilst I hadn’t entertained fictive narratives before using images, I think there maybe something there for me to key into.

Another lesson learned from this is that after one leaves an exhibition you cannot go back unless you pay again. I wanted to go back to this exhibit and study further but decided against it, not really because of the cost – I think another €8 – but because I thought I could get more from the web-site and further research, which I don’t think I’ll get fully.

I am minded to engage with fiction in the course. I have yet to understand how I would do so, as well as convince my tutor that it might be a good thing to do at the moment! I’ve always held the view that with fiction the most important issues of life can be engaged with – I’m not suggesting that I want to understand life, it’s meaning within the universe; rather my targets to investigate would have lower profiles, and probably, much more personal. I have largely stopped reading fiction, something that has been a life long companion. The notion of verity, of the truth being held within the frame has been another companion on my travels with photography, and I now comprehend that when I took a landscape with my monochrome film, or a portrait I constructed a fiction for myself. The work that I did in the darkroom and subsequently on the computer screen developed that lie still further. When I ‘painted light’ into the image – or applied darkness – I had somehow convinced myself that because it was only about the addition of natural light that would probably occur if I stayed around long enough, is of course a myth of my own construction, that compounded my self delusion.

Working to tell a story using photography and text was an area in the festival that seemed to occur most often, the only photographer who seemed to work against the idea of a series of images to narrate an idea was Garcin, whose work comprised a lot of single image stories – but stories nevertheless.

This post will appear in both Gesture and Meaning and Documentary blogs


Professional Practice?

I’m wondering whether this counts for Professional Practice?…….

Monica was an absolute delight:

Thank You

Thank You

A Ruptured Duck at the Chocolate Factory

A few weeks ago I went to see the an Arena Group photography exhibition at the Menier Gallery  at “The Chocolate Factory” in Southwark. I was expecting some good prints, maybe excellent prints – both of which I found in no short supply, but I was taken aback by a set of work by Chrissie Westgate. A panel of some 23 large prints in black and white that offered a straightforward, but vivid narrative of the life of its subject, Sophie Weaver.

It wouldn’t be difficult to say what drew me to the images first, the obvious beauty of the image and the scale they were presented in – two rows of images, with caption cards, also in black and white. Again, beauty as a means of attraction that invites engagement, and it is the engagement that provides a stage to deliver a narrative. The photographer, and especially the documentary photographer, almost by description, seeks out subjects to document. A long tradition now, over a century old, of artists seeking to provide a voice to a people or to a situation. And whilst this work didn’t start out as a documentary the resulting set of images from which the Menier set stem has ended up as documentary.

The project started out with Sophie Weaver wanting to have a portfolio of images to provide to the Spotlight agency for actors proved a starting point , requiring colour and black and white images – to a set agency standard – it was Sophie who then decided that the brief she had provided to Chrissie might perhaps be expanded to include more personal shots and then between them it expanded further to be a fuller documentary of Sophie.

Sophie's Statement

Sophie’s Statement

This statement accompanied the panel of work:

Chrissie's statement

I wanted to find some more about this work and motives behind it and contacted them both to see if they would work with me. It was Sophie who approached Chrissie firstly to do the portfolio for the acting agency, then to widen the brief , for more glamorous, risqué shots and then collaboratively to document ‘A day in the life of..”. I spoke to Sophie first and asked her about identity, I wanted to find out if she had purposefully played with the notion of identity, after all the work was originally intended as an ‘portfolio for an acting agency’.

“Your question re the acting is an interesting one. I have always loved acting and wonder what it is exactly that draws me in. I do love the challenge and creativity of developing a character, and maybe there is something about being able to be different from the person you are in some way, which is not always about not liking your own character but just being able to experience something different through another character. I’m sure there is also sometimes a bit of escapism in being someone else! In terms of my work with Chrissie however, and I think you mean maybe was I putting across a representation of me – I hope it is a real representation of myself. I always intended it to be open, honest and say this is me, take it or leave it! It doesn’t mean I am always confident and happy with who I am, but I hoped to show aspects of me, from dependence to independence, a woman that is sometimes self-conscious of her body in a world that still has certain ideals in looks and body shape, but also a woman nevertheless who likes to challenge stereotypes of normality, femininity, and can be cheeky, feminine and sexy despite that.”

Sophie goes on to say:

“I’m not entirely sure where you’re coming from with your question on identity. For me, and other disabled people I know and have worked with on projects, there is often a feeling of losing identity when you have a disability. That the ‘label’ of disabled and the connotations that come with that, often overshadows who you really are as a person and all the other identities that any of us have, maybe again because of certain stereotypes. With the images alone I feel the whole story or the whole explanation of me and my life would be less clear. They say a picture tells a thousand stories, but out of all those I wanted people to understand more of me and my life. What do you think? Should the images have stood for themselves and leave people to make up their minds what the image is really saying?  I know from personal experience that there is a certain lack of awareness and understanding and even curiosity from people so felt this was one way of answering some of the questions maybe, and open up some of the issues and dialogues it seems there is still to be had. I was nervous about it all, knowing I was approaching it all from a very personal perpective but somehow knew that it had to be and that if I was going to do it then I really did have to be prepared to open up my life completely to allow others to feel they can be open with me and ask the things they may feel they couldn’t before. I was worried about how it would all be received but I think generally it has been positively received. 

The Wheelchair Reprinted by kind permission of the artist: Chrissie Westgate

The Wheelchair
Reprinted by kind permission of the artist: Chrissie Westgate

This image was the initial print that opened the series and accompanying the image was this statement:

The Wheelchair

The Wheelchair

It is interesting that the device the photographer uses to foreground the condition that is, by it’s very nature, as close to the heart of the narrative, is one of only two of the images that Sophie actively dislikes, but it centres the context beautifully. The narrative provided by the captions, about Sophie applying her make-up – another patina to the notion of identity – but whereas Chrissie sees the chair as central, which of course it is to Sophie’s life and therefore the means by which Sophie is ‘liberated’, I see the handle as a prop, a bridge maybe, to the same liberation but also restriction. The focus on the handle as a prop to aid Sophie is a very real metaphor for her incapacity and all the poignant for it. The twin perspectives of the ‘user’ and the ‘viewer’ may never be further apart, despite the closeness of the twin protagonists in the exercise. That the means by which Chrissie ‘sees’ the chair and not the handle but both sublimating the faceless Sophie whose identity seems then to be driven by the chair?

There is then a duality that pervades the work, clearly from the differing perspectives, and whilst the original purpose was to provide a set of images the series as edited in the exhibition provides two distinct naratives. Access, as it would appear in “a day in the life of” is plain to see, but there is within those images an undercurrent of solitude that despite the best efforts of Health and Safety will, it appears, continue to image Sophie as an ‘Other’, both as a disabled person and as a woman.

The full edit can be seen here, as it appeared in the Menier Gallery:


The images though can illuminate at different levels for example:

Late Again Reprinted by kind permission of the artist: Chrissie Westgate

Late Again
Reprinted by kind permission of the artist: Chrissie Westgate

In the pub Reprinted by kind permission of the artist: Chrissie Westgate

In the pub
Reprinted by kind permission of the artist: Chrissie Westgate

Homeward Bound Reprinted by kind permission of the artist: Chrissie Westgate

Homeward Bound
Reprinted by kind permission of the artist: Chrissie Westgate

A short story in themselves, these could, edited in this way, all speak of the solitude and the isolation of a disabled person, despite either being surrounded and hemmed in by people or alone and vulnerable on a dark evening. Whether Sophie feels lonely and alone I’m not sure – talking to her I suspect she would probably have very decided views on that subject.

Chrissie recounts “Sophie had seen images of Alison Lapper the artist who was born without arms and s­hortened legs, we talked about how images of Alison deliberately exposed her disability and our thoughts about that. The conclusions we drew were that it was important to us that our project would be about Sophie who happens to be a disabled person not about a disabled person called Sophie.”  The photographer also suggests that Sophie wanted to project a ‘gendered adult’ rather than a “non sexually differentiated child” whom she feels is “continually talked down to”. Many of the perspectives of the images are with Sophie in a wheelchair are therefore from that point of view i.e. from above – looking down, reinforcing that view; reminding the viewer that they are in a position of privilege. This aspect of being a disabled person is graphically illustrated with these two shots, her carer in a position above her, and almost certainly without any intent, but reinforcing the ‘childlike’ dependance on adult care.

In the shower Reprinted by kind permission of the artist: Chrissie Westgate

In the shower
Reprinted by kind permission of the artist: Chrissie Westgate

Help with dressing Reprinted by kind permission of the artist: Chrissie Westgate

Help with dressing
Reprinted by kind permission of the artist: Chrissie Westgate

However the images of Sophie outside of the confines of the means of liberation show her at eye level and tell another side of Sophie, and whilst the the ‘slightly risque’ shots do develop the notion of a feminine adult, I was particularly struck by the image of Sophie regarding herself in the mirror. The image of a naked woman viewing herself in a mirror is a classic western perspective of narcissism, as Freud might have put it, or vanity. But the image wasn’t that; it was the carer holding the mirror, forcing Sophie to confront her own self image, and that she possessed beauty, rather than still hang on to those words from the good doctor.

Mirror Image Reprinted by kind permission of the artist: Chrissie Westgate

Mirror Image
Reprinted by kind permission of the artist: Chrissie Westgate

I asked both the Chrissie and Sophie about what they thought the work represented:

Do you see these images as:
A narrative about a woman?
A narrative about a disabled woman?
A narrative about a person?
A narrative about a disabled person?
Sophie answered: “An interesting question again! I think my answer is all of those – because they all represent me, a person, a woman and a disabled woman. What others may get from the images may be different depending on whether they too are a woman, disabled woman or a disabled person. Each of these are part of my identity – I cannot ignore any of them. Being a disabled person and a disabled woman, may be something I’d like to ignore at times, but that is usually when my physicality or physical abilities/restrictions or other people’s views/attitudes towards me impacts on how I feel as a person and a woman. I can’t always ignore my disability, it is part of me and through the years this has been part of my journey of acceptance of that. But I think my overriding feeling is that I am still a person, a woman, nevertheless. I just have other facets that come into play as part of that identity.” I would say possibly identities, but it is a moot point.
Chrissie though saw the work as “A narrative about ‘Sophie’ a woman with a disability”, that she saw it as ‘A’ narrative isn’t surprising because as the photographer she has seen all the images, discarded and otherwise; and this was just one edit, just as the images I have shown here are another – both descriptions of a perspective mediated through individual experience to present ‘A day in the life of”. For myself I saw more than one narrative, but either way I am very grateful to have seen this beautiful work and to have spoken to both the photographer and the subject.
Andrew and me Reprinted by kind permission of the artist: Chrissie Westgate

Andrew and me
Reprinted by kind permission of the artist: Chrissie Westgate

From of all the images the one that best describes Sophie as feminine, mature and with the least notion of disablement is this one with one of her carers above. Completely at ease in his arms, as he looks to the viewer, forcing us to confront our opinion of what a disabled person might be, might feel, might want to be considered as.

Thoughts on the feedback on Assignment Two

Pondering on the feedback from Assignment two.

Overall reaction: Probably better than I expected, but an insightful set of comments and recommendations that I find interesting and challenging.

The closing statement reads:

“Ask yourself what is the journey that all this research with the Gross’ is taking you on. All your writing and other works have been about you in some way – memories. I wonder what the connection is here? This may take you in a completely different direction. That’s fine.”

I don’t plan to directly quote from the report any more in this reflection, but these few last sentences seem to reverberate quite loudly and I’m sure I’ll return to them shortly.

Making any sort of statement in a personal blog is like talking to oneself; but because it is public and my tutor has remarked on it I want to make something very clear. And it is about how I feel about Ann and Carl Gross, their work and the children/charities they support. Put simply I am in awe of what they do, by what they have achieved and their continuing ‘givingness’. This may all be informed by their spiritual beliefs – which are at odds with my own lack of any faith whatsoever – or that they are just built that way, to continue to pour out love to those who seem often bereft of it.

I am concerned, in that it does concern me, by the possible view of equating these orphans simply as some kind of commodity. And it was pointed out that some of my work, through these first two assignments, could be confused as representing the orphans as such in the way that these charities present them (and by the means, I suspect of how I re-present them). That I was experimenting with describing my own feelings towards these children and what they represent, both to me and how I see them being represented to the world as a whole, is something that I can rightly be accused of. There was a definite intent in the expression of equivalence, the purposeful balancing of the fiscal value with the implied worth of the child, and I accept it may have been too blunt with the possible effect of implying that the work I was documenting had a similar trope to mine. I meant no disservice to their work through my experimentation.

There was something though in the report that did strike a chord, in that if anything, I did want to make an effort to help in some way, to make a difference, however pompous that may sound. I appreciate that to do so would have been hugely ambitious, and extremely unlikely that it could ever happen. But there it is.

I do though now have a conundrum to solve, which is how to move forward with assignment three. The brief is straightforward, and could literally be done in a host of different ways, but my objective would be to try and thread these assignments together with a conceptual cord that develops an idea, maybe even a consistent narrative through the course that I feel has investigated a few ideas and presented some responses to it. I don’t expect any major eureka moments, but I instinctively feel that by wrestling with a singular track of thought I will likely confront more intellectual obstacles than if I dart about with trying to fit the brief in a literal way. I want the work that I do to inform the assignment briefs rather than the other way round. I want the work to continue a conversation that may or may not find a response to the first argument raised in assignment one, but allowing the discourse to develop and follow a natural extension of development.

I am therefore, as I stated earlier, pondering. I have an abiding notion that all work is a self-portrait and so I am exercised by the earlier statement from my tutor about memories. Memories are fictions I think, mediated through time of course, through perspectives. An assignment based on memories would be a break completely from how the work has progressed so far, focusing as it has on the plight of these orphans as relayed by the Gross’ – though that of course is a work based on reminiscence. But aren’t all photographs memories? History? As Barthes says “memento mori”? So any project is work mediated already by memory and is therefore a memory project?

Perhaps I need to think it out again.

Of course I could just spring into memory, because that’s where the course has led me! The memories project I did with the Echoes Group, under the auspices of Gesture and Meaning, will of course inform me – why wouldn’t it? So things are leading me towards memory, however I have no idea what, or where, those junctions might lead to, let alone what they may comprise of in terms of narrative, context or subject. Perhaps the long train journey to and from Arles might help release something.

One of the comments that my tutor made was about how the visual language, or perhaps as I understand the comment, vernacular, of marketing might be employed better in my imagery – to draw people in for the ‘sucker punch’. How the tropes of advertising could then perhaps be subverted in order to put my message across. Well herein lies the rub. I have studiously avoided all, or at least as much as I am able to, connections with my previous life in business. Whilst I am fully aware that I am what I am; built up from decades of existence and experience, and to deny any of it would be to deny part of myself. The thought of exploiting an area of me that had, for most of those previous decades, sought to manipulate, coerce, position and, yes sometimes, exploit, is one that I have resisted. I have used words, both written and spoken to ‘develop’ business most of my professional life. I have an innate understanding that I can, and have, as I say, move people around because that is what I did. I feel distinctly uncomfortable in doing this with my art.

But then there is fiction! I am in favour of fiction. The tale can develop an idea much clearer than non-fiction can deliver a truth and I now fully realize that all work is based on a fiction. All Art, all creation is at the very least an embellishment of a reality. For just as the photograph struggles with the truth due to it’s unhappy connection with a single viewpoint , narrow perspective and four square walls; the truth is just as likely to masked in a veil of happenstance somewhere out of reach of veracity.

I am now wondering whether I should investigate the truth with lies, fact through fiction. These children’s lives through the shutter and lens; just as maybe, Frank did with his journey through America, as Hunter did in Hackney and the National Gallery. How McCullin does in the Somerset levels. How Cohen did with Songs of Love and Hate, how Brahms did with either of his Cello Concertos and and, and and.

Armenian archive – 9

1904, Hypnotist Mr. Sekerjian

1904, Hypnotist Mr. Sekerjian

This week’s exchange brought some resolution, there were some index cards with their associated photographs; here’s one.



I’m not sure there’s a great deal to be gained from this coupling. The close-up of the piercing can be seen here:





But the next image brought back a flood of remembrance:


Khan again

Khan again


And the card that accompanied it:




This had me looking in my files and I found this:

Rahim Khan

Rahim Khan

To which this card refers:



A quick look on the internet provide this:

“Zargham Nizam (son of the notorious Rahim Khan), and the desperate straits to which the Nationalists were reduced in the Amir-Khiz quarter. Towards the end of May, 1907, a fresh quarrel arose between the Shah and his people. It was reported to be the Shah’s intention to send Rahim Khan at the head of 10,000 of his tribal horsemen to Tabriz to suppress the Constitution in that liberty-loving city, and his son was already advancing from Qaraja-Ddgh, looting and killing as he came. The number of persons whom he killed did not exceed 50, but the indignation aroused at Tihran was very great, and the National Assembly urgently demanded from the Shah the arrest and trial of Rahlm Khan. The Shah at first resisted, but finally had to give way and surrender him to the ‘Adliyya, or High Court of Justice, which, after due trial, imprisoned him for some seven or eight months, while his son was also captured and brought as a prisoner to Tabriz.

 In June, 1907, fresh disturbances occurred at Kirmanshdh, Tabriz, Makii and Khiiy, while the disorders in Fars still continued. More important than these was the rebellion of the Shah’s younger brother, the Saldru’d-Dawla, in the West. He was, however, defeated in battle at Nihawand (Nehavend), on that classic field where the power of the S^sanian Empire was finally broken by the Arabs, and the religion of Zoroaster overthrown by that of Muhammad, nearly 1300 years ago, and surrendered to the Zahiru’d-Dawla on June 22. He was conveyed to Tihran and then kept under surveillance, but not otherwise punished.”

Just interesting







Flight time



This photograph was part of the set that I was to look at and comment on, I didn’t choose this series by Chris de Bode, but it awoke a memory for me. This memory was perhaps stirring from a conversation I had had with my tutor recently which subsequently referred me to this much earlier post regarding Documents.

The memory is a long way back, I would suspect I was eight or nine, or nearly both. I suppose I had suspected that something was up, there was an added tension in the air as I was told it was bedtime; I knew to go to bed, there would be no rituals of goodnight kisses or embraces, no stories to be told and, as I was the eldest child, the downstairs would therefore become the sole domain of my parents. Bedtime was usually fairly strict, but I can remember a tangible frisson in my parents collective urge for me to leave the living room and get to bed; this went on for several weeks. This sense of something had played on me for some time and one day I could bear the temptation no longer and ventured downstairs with some paltry excuse, that I cannot recall, and walked into the lounge unannounced. Their sense of surprise was palpable, they both looked up, shocked that I should come down – we weren’t encouraged to climb downstairs after bedtime was called. My mother was in her usual chair by the fireplace, my father though wasn’t in his chair, but rather at the table which was covered by, what I later learned was balsa wood and tissue paper. I was immediately turned round and told to get back upstairs, though the confusion I felt for what I saw stayed with me, almost as much as what ensued a little while later.

Some weeks later my birthday rather drudgingly came to our house, my twin sister and I never really expected very much, some coin from our grandparents and a little something from our parents – nothing else. On this occasion though my sister was given a surprisingly good present I remember and I received the normal, not much. My mother decided though to let on that there might be something more when my father came home. I don’t remember feeling any real sense of expectation, my father’s return from work was never anything to feel excited about, unless there was another transgression on my part that would involve some punishment or other. He came home and rather than sit down for some tea or other he summoned me and to my absolute surprise he showed me this hand-made glider he had been constructing during the evenings after I had gone to bed. So this was what it was. The pride of his achievement was for all to see, my sister was as surprised as me, and I suppose had wondered why what seemed such a good present to her, by normal standards, now seemed to pale beside this glorious construction of balsa and red tissue paper. The model glider was in two parts; the fuselage and wings, which were nearly six feet in length. There was a point when I thought I might be able to touch this construction of wonder, but my father was keen for us to go to the local park, man and boy, father and son, to launch this homage to the power of man’s mastery over nature and prepare for the maiden flight.

I suppose it would have been half a mile to the ‘New Park’, a large green area that had a number of amenities, including a hill in the centre, to which my father strode with an ambition similar perhaps to the Wright brothers, though in our case it might have been ‘Umney & Son’. The feeling of excitement was contagious and I was soon having to trot behind my father as he excitedly paced his way across the main road and to the park entrance, heading directly for the hill. The ascent to the summit left me breathless I’m sure, but my Father’s determination never wavered as he attached the wings to the superstructure, whose previous detached skeletal appearance through the fine application of the tissue paper, became a single body. Before me and before my eyes, this was simply the best present I would surely ever have. The glider was ready for launch, and I offered my hand to take possession of my present.

My father lifted the glider beyond my reach and with great care he brought the glider behind his head, as a Grecian javelin thrower might have done and in a single move threw the glider into the air, into the space that held us both, father and son, with anticipation. The red projectile soon moved into a beautiful arc, the nose lifted and those huge wings kept the airframe level as it climbed. The excitement soon grew to nervousness as the glider went into an ever increasing ascent, within a few seconds this delicately framed model was pointing straight up. I knew nothing of aerodynamics, maybe my father didn’t either, but we knew that when the glider stopped it’s vertical ascent it would surely head for terra firma; and faster than it had taken to get to it’s apotheosis of altitude. How it actually landed I can’t be sure for I was watching my father, and I knew that expression; I had witnessed it more times that I’ll ever want to remember. We walked over to the remains of the model and I was allowed to take home what I had been not allowed to take to the park. I knew not to try and talk to my father as we walked home and as we arrived, he deposited what he had carried into the dustbin. I followed suit with my carriage and decided it would be best for me to go straight to bed, which I did. The half crown that I had been given as a present from my grandparents was probably spent on knick knacks, I don’t remember that at all.

It’s funny how an individual image can spark a memory.

Armenian archive – 8

Met with Richard again this week and we had a swap of images and cards. This week, apart from the switch, we had a short meeting after Echoes to discuss the archive and I now have some more background information on the archive; how, for example, several boxes of prints were taken – though the negatives still exist. How Richard was in the department of Oriental Studies at Durham until his retirement, and that I feel he has a lot more information that he might feel relevant to me and the archive, but has not thought to impart it as yet. I am intrigued about the missing images and some of the images that seen to have provided the photographer a privileged position.

Anyway this week’s selection has some echoes within some of the discussions within the college campus (if such a term is appropriate).

presented as they appeared to me from this week’s batch:

Something Khan. Two things to remark on here: Firstly the very obvious military pose, shoulder harnesses of ammunition, the rifle held by a man who looks as if it isn’t exactly the first time he has held a rifle. And very smart shoes. Smart shoes in the Middle East suggest a position in life’s hierarchy.

Two with rifles, in the same place and I would venture to suggest, the same time – give or take a 1/125th second. Now I think perhaps a hunting party – though hunting for game, not hunting as a game as in war.

And then this, stripped or their paraphernalia, sitting and regarding some documents. And nothing to suggest either hunters or militia.

Then this venerable old lady, I wondered about the affectation on the framing?

Surely a Grandmother shot, stiff and upright as per the previous hot, and not really any sense of softness with the child in her arms?

Am mother – with that expression , no doubt.

And then these two child shots. I thought about the recent discussion in the WeAreOCA blog about pain, these shots seem to have an essence of Arbus about them; slightly awkward