Archives for category: Photography

2013 was my first Christmas spent away from home and my family in the sunnier climes of Sri Lanka, which was a surreal but wonderful experience. Despite our best efforts (the Nat King Cole Christmas album on repeat and some slightly haphazard decorating) it was hard to make it feel like Christmas when it was 30 degrees and we were surrounded by palms. Though I think, as a fan of all things kitsch and colourful, the Sri Lankan Christmas aesthetic may appeal to me more anyway. And I’d take curry over a traditional Christmas dinner any day. Here are some Christmas snapshots from our trip:

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I was lucky enough to spend a week in Istanbul at the start of December, staying with some friends who are currently living there. It was really nice to be staying somewhere completely new, whilst being able to see and experience it from the perspective of a local. And it was really great to explore the more creative districts of the city. Aside from a lot of food photography, here are some of my favourite snaps.

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This is probably the first Christmas that I am living somewhere in London that really feels like home. Especially after a long period of constant moving, I feel vaguely settled, or as settled as anyone can do in London. Unfortunately, I am paying an awful lot of rent money for this privilege. So Christmas is taking on a tragically home-made feel this year. With some help from my very devoted Mum, my modest Christmas tree is now decorated with 24 miniature knitted stockings – I am very glad that is it only 3 foot tall now. And the wonderful knitted paper chain was a gift from a family friend. The flat is certainly starting to look a lot brighter, and slightly more festive in an unusual sort of way.

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Revisting another of my favourite photographers, Pieter Hugo. The Nollywood series captures the macabre world of the Nigerian horror film industry but in a playful way. I am never very sure if I like them because of the actual photographs, or because of the bizarre industry that they capture. The Nollywood film industry releases over 1000 films a year straight to home-release. Without a Hollywood budget, there is something very charming about the lo-tech effects and costumes. But I feel Huge captures this feeling perfectly, by almost making the characters look at home, and often in a very mundane set. Check out more of the series of Hugo’s website.

http://www.pieterhugo.com/nollywood/

I was incredibly lucky to be taken on an unexpected (and wonderful) trip to Budapest last week. It is a city that I feel I know well now, and really love – probably because whenever I go I now feel I can spend the time in spas and bars instead of sightseeing! It offers a completely different vibe to London – so much more laid-back with a real creative-vibe. The ‘East London’ of Budapest is the Jewish Quarter, which is full of restaurants, independent shops and outdoor bars – perfect for 34 degree heat. I was really excited to visit a real favourite of mine, a bar (if you can call it that!) called Szimpla, and it appears to have gone from strength to strength.

It is absolutely huge, and spread out over 2 floors. There are outdoor areas, large patios and terraces, as well as numerous nooks and crannies that are probably a bit more favourable in the winter. The floors are connected by various staircases (some a little more precarious than others) and there are balconies to look down on to what is going on below. But what is really incredible about this place is the truely unique decor.

Every single surface is covered. All of the furniture has been salvaged and updated. And at night the place comes to light with fairy lights and other odd-ball pieces. There is always something new to see. It may take you a while to notice that you have sat down in a reworked bath tub, or that there is a gnome hanging from the ceiling above you. Also, the decor is interactive. There are switchboards where you can change the lighting in a room, or provoke a reaction on a tv screen. There is even a switch that made an entire ceiling of battery powered animals suddenly come to life. It has hard to describe – but the whole experience is a bit of a sensory overload.

The outdoor terrace is amazing, being characterised by a burnt out car. Colourful awning and mismatching chairs make it a really great place to drink on a summers evening. But the entertainment Szimpla offers excels that of a normal bar, with film screenings, bands, performances and food. It really is a one off place – and judging by it’s popularity I am not the only person who thinks so!

http://www.szimpla.hu/

The ‘Afronauts’ is an ongoing project from Spanish photographer Cristina de Middel. I really love the mood of these images – they feel like a sci-fi scenario that has got completely misplaced whilst travelling through time and space. They are humorous but also slightly eery at the same time.

However, in a statement about the ‘Afronauts’ project, Middel suggests that her actual inspiration for this project was just as obscure as you would imagine it to be.

In 1964, still living the dream of their recently gained independence, Zambia started a space program that would put the first African person on the moon catching up the USA and the Soviet Union in the space race.

Only a few optimists supported the project by Edward Makuka, the school teacher in charge of presenting the ambitious program and getting its necessary funding. But the financial aid never came, as the United Nations declined their support, and one of the astronauts, a 16 year old girl, got pregnant and had to quit. That is how the heroic initiative turned into an exotic episode of the African history, surrounded by wars, violence, droughts and hunger.

“Afronauts” is based on the documentation of an impossible dream that only lives in the pictures. I start from a real fact that took place 50 years ago and rebuild the documents adapting them to my personal imagery.

Middel creates the perfect realisation of a truly bizarre story. There are so many other beautiful, witty and imaginative projects on Middel’s website. Make sure you check it out.

http://www.lademiddel.com/
http://www.heyhotshot.com/blog/2012/01/23/second-edition-2011-hot-shot-cristina-de-middel/

I came across the work of French Artists Pierre et Gilles a very long time ago – and yet it still fascinates me. Every time I look at them, I find something new about them that I love. And although many current artists and photographer may cite Pierre et Gilles as an inspiration – no one has done it quite like them yet.

Their work can only be described as multi-disiciplinary. The actual photography is only the end result. Pierre et Gilles were experts at creating incredible mini-worlds in which to photograph their (often famous) subjects within, building their own flamboyant sets and costumes. However, I believe it is the retouching that really brings their pictures to life – helping to reinforce the narrative created within them. Although kitsch and devotional, I really don’t know what it is about them that makes them still seem so new and appropriate for today.

The song is definitely catchy. But really, it is all about the video – the concept, some bizarre dance-moves and the crochet-crazed costumes.

Although perhaps slightly more obsessed with vintage knits, the obvious inspiration for this video, for me, must have been Nick Cave’s soundsuits. These, even now, are still a really great concept for me, and blur the lines through multiple creative disciplines. And on top of it all, they just look incredible.

Also, the video reminds me of a wonderful book of work by photographer Phyllis Galembo, entitled ‘Maske’. Galembo captures the spirit of Masqurade from all over Africa. The photographs are both unexpected and incredibly evocative. This is definitely worth a read: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/photography/8067153/Behind-the-masks-the-photographs-of-Phyllis-Galembo.html

http://seventeenevergreen.com/
http://flavorwire.com/76165/nick-caves-soundsuits
http://soundsuitshop.com/
http://www.galembo.com/

Upon returning from a long and incredible trip in Sri Lanka, these are a tiny corner of all of the photos I took, but perhaps some of my favourites. They were taken at a Hindu temple in Matale, which we stumbled upon unintentionally. The colour and intricacies of the building were beautiful and unexpected, and a far cry from a lot of the tourist-lures we had already visited.

I love these image’s from photographer Charlotte Lybeer’s series ‘Dubai Inc’. I recognise a lot of similarities with the work of Martin Parr, but this feels a lot fresher and more appropriate for today. Check out other great series on her website.

http://www.charlottelybeer.be/