I often blog on a bank holiday. There's nothing sweeter than a cosy bank holiday when you feel like you've earned a day to be lazy. This is the first day I've truly stopped moving for months.
Fantastic Plastic: In exciting news, Lomography have given me a Diana F+ camera to use and take pictures with! I am really thrilled to be asked. The greatest thing about this is that I've managed to get through two 'vintage' Dianas in the last 15 years (Ebay and vintage shop finds) but this Lomography one is slightly more robust and has a flash. It's been raining almost every day since it arrived so it may have to come to Italy with me in a few weeks.
Not Fantastic Plastic: I've published a new series called 1000 years. I began taking pictures of helium balloons trapped in trees after their majestic prime. It's slowly growing to include other plastic items which end up becoming intertwined (un)comfortably with nature. Where possible I've picking them up and keeping them in my shed. It's amazing where you'll find balloons. A couple of times recently I've watched them fall slowly and aimlessly down from the sky. This happened on Friday night. It's lucky when humans are around to pick them up. Not so lucky for livestock and the rivers and oceans out there.
I've spent a lot of time in greenhouses and gardens lately so here's a bunch of pictures of the hottest summer in a long time. I took most of these on cinestill film. Autumn now please!
I blogged a little bit last year about how I found myself gravitating towards water, and in particular Crystal Palace lake which is a local London Victorian charm. The lake and the spaces around it served as an antidote to the noise and bustle of central London. I'm now showing some of these pictures alongside Nik Strangelove from February 23rd at The Douglas Fir in London.
Entitled Dino Island (Nik's bit) and The Lake (my bit), my photographs are from two separate series which explore the healing properties of water and the positive impact of nature during periods of personal metamorphosis. I met Nik through making these photographs. It was that classic tale of discovering someone on Instagram who is also interested in local landmarks.
Nik's work is a collection of photographs of the dinosaurs that live in Crystal Palace Park, that were created in 1854 as part of the Crystal Palace Exhibition. These prehistoric park dwelling friends are in danger of crumbling into extinction all over again. Working in partnership with the Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs Nik gained exclusive access to Dino Island to photograph the dinosaurs, in a bid to help with fundraising efforts for their conservation.
Come and join us this Friday. It's up for 6 weeks!
Like a lot of people, I love the turning of a year. I love the newness of January and how it feels like shedding a skin. 2017 on the whole has been pretty amazing, though December has been a beast. As we edge closer to January I thank my lucky stars that everyone I love is still alive.
I set out to push myself in 2017 to do things I hadn't done before. I gave a couple of talks which were well received. I played a small role in an appeal for homeless photographers. I wrote articles - something that doesn't come easily to me. I even blogged more which is a small miracle. I only exhibited once and that was at The Paxton Centre, but my work was published in Oh Comely and presented at the ICA thanks to Emma Watson.
I need to scale back a bit next year but I've just come back from a short meeting to discuss a small possible exhibition on my doorstep with a local photographer. Effra FC also turns 10, so something had better mark that occasion.
I met Dr Emma Watson in my mid-twenties in the early 2000s. We were both working for a bowel cancer charity; a place which was challenging but encouraged a lot of bowel talk. This kind of envirmonment made it very easy to bond with Emma and we quickly discovered we had a lot in commmon. To this day, Emma and I talk about a lot of shit.
We also talk about our shared affliction; endometriosis. It's a complex disease and one that Emma has owned and fought head on for years.
Emma happens to be quite an amazing woman. A successful career woman at Imperial College, an inspirational fundraiser, an athlete and an academic (her thesis was 'Positional Scanning Soluble Libraries of Protease Inhibitors' which is something I can't pretend to understand). Put simply she likes a challenge.
She asked me to collaborate with her on a project called #waitingforthecall. She was to swim the English Channel as part of a relay team and was literally waiting for the phone call to say that conditions were right for her to make the swim. Her coach told her to always be ready.
She waited for that call for 3 months. Some of our pictures can be found here.
Emma managed to raise several thousand pounds with a trending justgiving page, gave interviews for magazines, raised awareness of the disease and encouraged women to get back in the pool. After her 13 hour swim, she gave a talk at the ICA and presented some of my pictures. She's awesome.
July-August-September over in a flash. I stumbled through September in a mist of coffee, alarm clocks and schedules.
I had a wonderful conversation or two during these months with photographers Grant Simon Rogers, Ted Dave, Jonny Hughes. Ted gave me loads of expired 35mm he found at a market. He kept a roll for himself which I'm keen to see the results of.
I saw lots of incredible music in Wales, Nottingham, London. I spent nights in tents across the country, waking up to dense fog in valleys and in gardens. I studied, I looked after people and I worked really hard.
I spent some time discussing endometriosis with Emma Watson and taking photos for her #waitingforthecall project. It's how we met in 2003; the one silver lining in this hideous disease. Emma is still waiting for the call and we are still taking photos. Some of them can be seen here in a brilliant article with heart warming comments.
A couple of pictures from from the last few months below...
The end of last year marked a full stop in a journey I had been on for some years. These years were incredibly difficult and painful, both physically and emotionally. I learned a great deal about myself and the world. I also accepted there are several ways to get to your destination.
I always thought I would be a mother by now. This is quite a difficult sentence to type, let alone say out loud. Luckily for me, I have an incredible husband and a small number of trusted people who are an incredible support. Not everyone is able to demonstrate kindness and perhaps this is in response to the lack of conversations going on in the world.
I feel lucky that my tool box was stocked with the ability to record my experiences through a camera. My relationship with water in all of it's terrifying and healing forms became the vehicle to carry my story along. Last summer during a very isolating medical episode, I asked my dear friend Meg McNulty to collaborate and write a fictional response to my work. Little did I know at the time that she would gift me the ability to step away from the experience and embrace another.
I really want to publish my work alongside Meg's. I haven't been able to do that yet, but I have published some of my images with a few snippets of Meg's words. This series of images isn't static so I expect it could change. It's not entirely edited or sequenced correctly, but I have new chapters to begin living.
The images were all taken on film across a variety of important places I visited during these years.
Thank you my dear Meg for your gift.
Busy days roll into weeks and months. I'd be nothing without my calendars and planners.
I exhibited for the month of May in a multi-media group show called View/Review in south east London. The Paxton Centre is a really beautiful creative space in Crystal Palace and just one of the many reasons I really love living where I do.
I also helped to launch an appeal with Shutter Hub and Accumulate to get homeless photographers to keep taking photos. If you have an old camera you could donate to the appeal, we would love to hear from you.
Just last weekend I ventured to Edinburgh’s Retina Festival with Shutter Hub to deliver the 2017 Shutter Hub OPEN . I also escaped for a weekend to the Norfolk coast with Karen Harvey, Jayne Lloyd and Rachel Wright (aka The Dream Team) to talk photography, eat chips and rescue trapped birds.
My little cohort of south London photographers Effra FC have recently been putting on a couple of great little events. Effra 'maintains' a pretty low social media presence but somehow we manage to pull things together.
Somewhere in between all of that I had my annual jaunt into the peak district, got chased by a wild horse, documented my mother's high risk eye operation, tried really hard to study and went to a series of exquisite gigs. A true respite from the horrors of current affairs.
And I wonder why I’ve taken fewer photographs recently?
I had every intention to blog more in 2016. I prefer this space to wordpress even though very few venture here to read my words. That's OK. We're living in a world of likes and hearts and broadcasts via Twitter and Facebook these days.
I know it's been a difficult year for a lot of people, for countries, for the environment, for communities. The latter half of my own 2016 has been <insert very bad words>. I am not going to blog about that but I've found it incredibly easy to keep on taking photographs.
There is plenty that I haven't blogged about which has been really, really, really exciting and good and cathartic and creative. Plenty of excursions - sometimes with only a tent, a camera and a willing companion. Exhibitions in Cambridge and London (one of which is due to head to Tel Aviv next year thanks to the force for good which is Shutterhub and Karen Harvey). There have been photography shows and conversations I can't stop thinking about. I've collaborated with Margaret Clift McNulty on a small project that I want to share in the new year. Effra FC hosted its inaugural 'in conversation with..' event which was so inspiring. I'm looking forward to it being my turn in early 2017 where I'll be in conversation with David Viramati Sampson. I'm grateful for the support and warm words of so many people. Am I gushing? Maybe. These are darker days and it feels important to be grateful.
Here are my favourites (the ones I can share) from the year shot on film, digital and phone. This is the first year I seem to have swapped musicians for trees.
Last week I took over the 'Fast Forward: Women In Photo' Instagram account with photographers Maria Baoli and Shelia Zhao. Fast Forward is designed to promote and engage with women in photography across the globe which is resolved at a Tate Modern conference.
We explored the theme of 'extraordinary ordinary'. My contributions to the week are here below in order of posting.
I took this photo in central London, on one of its busiest shopping streets, as I was waiting 30 minutes for someone.
This pinhole photograph of an ocean wave was taken last year.
I selected this photo by photographer Jo Underhill. Jo enjoys exploring and documenting the built environment with a focus on light, material, detail and how people interact with spaces.
This picture is taken from an unpublished series of photographs about an unremarkable looking neighbourhood of my childhood. My 2014 exploration of the physical spaces of childhood was a departure in style, but influenced a significant shift in my outlook towards the present. I now embrace a more mindful approach to photography. 'Letting go' has transcended beyond creativity into an empowering mechanism to cope with personal turmoil.
This wall was sprayed with bullets by the IRA during their terrorism campaign of the '80s. I passed this on my school route and the threat of terror was a daily reality. Seeing the patched up wall in 2014 had a profound impact on me.
I shot this in a fleeting moment during a ground level shot of a small pony in Wales. Its mother trotted into protective view as I took it. This, combined with an accidental double exposure, produced something magical. On this trip I'd witnessed distressing cruelty to horses and ponies suffering obvious signs of neglect. This moment was uplifting.
Lights from Piccadilly, London.