Tuesday, 28 January 2014

I  want to try, once again, to restart this blog. I tried a year ago and got as far as a couple of posts and quietly forgot about it. A lot of things got in the way and obliterated the urge to write here. Well, not quite, but more pressing things occupied my attention for quite some time and it was often easier to post something very brief on Facebook and leave it at that.

You see, it was never a lack of things to say, but very often a surfeit of things that demanded to be said, that stumbled over each other to be said and somehow were all too often left unsaid. Rather paradoxical maybe, there  you go, that's life, or something approaching it.

A great deal has happened, I have moved house and have been struggling to afford my new home, not because it is really so expensive - although it is more expensive than anywhere else I have lived - but because it all happened at a time when my finances were depleted and everything cost so much, I needed furniture and kitchen gear and so on. I found myself making a lot more bread and my breadmaking skills have come on, I have even started making sourdough, which is rather fun and delicious to boot.

For the first time in my life I have actually joined  a political party, Left Unity. I have no faith any more in Labour, which has become increasingly right-wing over the years and find many of the small left parties rather ridiculous, so the advent of Left Unity seemed to me a breath of fresh air. Although it includes many disillusioned Labour people and many people from the marxist sects, it has also attracted many people who have not previously been party members of anything, but feel the need to be involved in trying to reformulate left politics and to defend the health service and indeed democracy which, to many of us, seems increasingly threatened. The so-called "Gagging Bill", about to become law, is an example of this.

So the question is, I suppose, not whether I can find something to say, but whether I can shape what I have to say here and find a way of entering into dialogue with a few people, making it worthwhile. It isn't enough to talk to oneself.

Really, this blogging is a funny business. It has elements of the diarist, the essayist, the polemicist. There's wonderful blogs like the Skint Foodie: http://www.theskintfoodie.com/, magical blogs like that of my friend Nicolaj de Mattos Frisvold: http://www.starrycave.com/ and I am rather distraught to see that the hilarious political blog What Would Trotsky Do? which satirised the far left deftly and very expertly while being of the left itself, has vanished without trace. Please come back, you are very much needed.

So maybe I will manage it this time. Perhaps I will manage something meaningful and avoid being pretentious and occasionally manage to be funny. If that fails I can always post a recipe.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

My Drawings I

My Drawings I
These drawings are transitional between the work from my time at art school (1979-83) until the early 90s and everything from then until the present day. They resulted from a crisis in which I could no longer paint. Every time I tried I was overcome with anxiety and the painting would vanish in a grey mess. So I started to draw automatically in earnest, outpacing the anxiety - which I did not especially feel in the rest of my life - through speed. The amorphous forms were given a little definition, sometimes self-consciously thinking of Matta as I did so as he often seemed to be influencing the work. Others now remind me a little of Arshile Gorky. Through furious scribbling and then erasing I found a precarious balance from which point I could move forward. The oddest thing was I suddenly found it impossible to do small drawings, all my sketchbooks stopped about this time and for several years.
The subject often seems to be a collision of inner and outer spaces, both melting and fusing or opposing and in conflict. Both the object/beings in the drawings and the space they live in seem to be barbed, toothed and clawed. Sometimes with the earlier works I had a vague notion of a sort of cosmic war in which vast beings, minerals and energies battled with each other. Presumably this reflected my own inner conflicts, but I felt unable at first to fully form these conflicts as their implied scale seemed what? Pretentious? But they were not, for the sense of conflict was very real to me and I was led, almost blindly, to a different way of drawing.
Looking back at them now, I can see that a part of their inspiration was the walls and other surfaces that constituted many of my photographs. I no longer seem to know if I was aware of this at the time, but in at least some of these images the two seem to intertwine and form one vision.

One last picture

Some more drawings from about 1994


Here's a couple of old drawings of mine from early mid-nineties.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Film or digital?

Really, for me, if we are speaking of photography in terms of love, it has to be film. I like to get involved with the little machine, the camera itself, focusing, setting the aperture and shutter speed, estimating the best effect. I like the relative permanence of the negative, stored away. We have, in some ways, had digital thrust upon us and for me modern cameras with automatic everything and immediate results on the screen, can both enchant and disenchant. Sometimes delayed gratification is the only way! But having bought myself a Lumix G1, I have also bought some adapters so I can use old lenses on the digital camera. So far my adapters are Leica screw, Olympus OM and Nikon. The Leica seems maybe a bit more specialised because the main reason for buying it was to use my one Leica screw-mount lens, a scratched old Summar. However, I also have a Jupiter lens from a Zorki and that should be interesting.

Both the Nikon and Olympus adapters work very well with the lenses, completely manual focusing of course, and I will post stuff up as soon as I take something worth seeing. I want to get at least one more though, so I can use my Voigtlander Bessamatic lenses, especially the Septon. Here is an interesting and comprehensive review of that lens on a digital camera:

But I don't think I will ever give up film. I am dying to get out there with my Rolleiflex or Mamiya 645. Film just has something, and what can seem like inherent limitations of the medium are, like some of those old lenses, more a matter of character than a limit and a spur to creativity.

Thinking on photography

Apologies first for the 'dead' links here, cut and paste them and they take you to the Flickr page. In future most of the images will either be cut and pasted into the entry or there will be a live link. And starting with the question: what sort of photographer am I? Because although in some ways I have defined this for myself a long time ago, through my participation and my passionate engagement with the work of Emila Medkova, this can not remain a static thing. It is to some extent redefined by every new photograph and by the examination of every old photo that I rediscover. So, if I look at an oldish image like this:
it seems not so different to one such as this:
in that it is the result of wandering and looking and finding that extraordinary double-image, the extrusion of the imagination into the real world. So what about this?
Admittedly the last shot was done as part of a project for a friend organising a Burlesque show, but I think that in the end I put as much of myself into it. Then again, going back to the 'paranoiac-critical' image, is this in some way different?
It seems in some way more obviously convulsive and chaotic, but maybe that is just me. Maybe it is just the demands of each image as I find them.

What all this does though is show moments that perhaps defined me at that moment, but neither define me in any permanent way nor in this present moment. Isn't that actually the way it should be?