Five Year Growth

April 26th, 2015

Someone asked me yesterday if the only thing I photographed was protests. It was a genuine query, because she had seen me working at every protest she had attended in recent months, but my answer was “not quite”. But I went on to say that there were just so many protests at the moment that they had more or less forced everything else out of my diary – and out of My London Diary.  I used to cover a rather wider range of events.

It’s perhaps partly the election coming on, though I don’t really see a huge decrease in the activity of protesters after May 7, whichever party or parties form our new government. The policies that are behind what seems to be a growing resentment and militancy were many of them begun by Labour although the screw has certainly been tightened by the Conservative-LibDem coalition government. To mix a metaphor, Labour might release a little of the pressure, but it still looks to me as if growing inequality is stoking up a boiler on its way to bursting point.

Other photographers occasionally ask me how I find out about all the protests I cover, but really it isn’t a problem. My problem is more about choosing which of the many going on to decide to attend. Yesterday there were half a dozen things in various parts of London I knew about (and some I only heard about after the event) but I only got to one. And the pressure of work is such that I’ve been getting over-tired, not getting enough sleep and finding that I have to stop work after a few hours -at times I begin to feel my age.

It’s been a few days longer than usual since my last post here, mainly because I’ve been out working every day, and its likely to happen again. Today I’m able to sit here writing this because I didn’t manage to finish yesterday’s work at the computer, simply falling asleep as I tried to write, eventually dragging myself off to bed. So this morning I had work to finish and also still needed to rest. Otherwise there were a couple of protests in the centre of London and another following on from yesterday’s protests in Brixton I might be photographing. But I need a day off. Perhaps when I’ve finished writing this I’ll go for a quiet walk, taking as usual a camera with me, but probably not making and photographs.


X-Pro1, 10-24mm, 20mm

Sometimes I still do manage to photograph things that are really a day off from protests, and there was one such at the end of Febraury, when I went to a party to celebrate five years of Grow Heathrow. I’d first visited the site very briefly shortly after it had opened, just a short walk from an extremely small plot of land I had become a “beneficial owner” of at Heathrow Airplot in Sipson as a part of the campaign against a ‘third runway’ for Heathrow, and had returned for a couple more visits over the years.  Every time I went I thought it would be my last visit, with court cases and evictions always looming, and it was something of a surprise to find they were still there and active after 5 years.


X-T1, 10-20, 10mm

I’d thought a little about taking photographs, and decided it would be an ideal occasion to use the Fuji cameras, taking with me both the Fuji X-T1 and X-Pro1 bodies. I had four lenses, the 10-24mm and 18-55mm zooms, the 18mm f2 and the Samyang 8mm fisheye, though I didn’t use this. I’d taken the 18mm in case I had to work in low light, though it only has a one stop advantage over the 18-55 zoom at the same focal length. It’s also a nicely light and compact lens which is handy to have on a body hung around my neck when travelling, and my favourite focal length, but in the end I only made a few images with it. Eleven out of just over four hundred. Most used was the 18-55mm (266) with just over half as many (142) on the 10-24mm.


X-Pro1, 18-55mm, 55mm

I like the optical viewfinder of the X-Pro1, but ended up taking more pictures with it using the electronic viewfinder and the 10-24 zoom, and wishing that I had two X-T1 bodies. One thing I did miss was a longer lens than the 18-55mm, particularly when photographing the panellists at a discussion where I could not move in closer. I’ve rather got used to using the 18-105mm on the Nikon, and if I ever decide to use the Fujis seriously would certainly buy something longer, perhaps the 18-135mm.


X-T1, 18-55mm, 37.4mm

I had the usual battery problems – I got through four in the four hours I was there, and occasionally the focus was just a little slow, but otherwise things worked fine. I’m getting used to using the exposure compensation dials, though moving the focus point around is still a little tricky. The X-T1 viewfinder is really good in low light too.

There was a huge advantage in using the Fujis in quiet conditions close to other people in that I could take as many pictures as I liked without being a distraction. I often feel intrusive when photographing with the Nikons, although I know the shutter sound is louder to me than to other people, it is still loud enough to be annoying. Almost as annoying as a Canon :-)  though less so than a cannon. With the X-T1 you can use the electronic shutter and all there is to hear is a slight whir as the lens focusses. Usually I leave the shutter in mechanical mode, which is pretty quiet, but does give you some feedback that you have taken a picture. Sometimes I found myself having to review an image to be sure I had really pressed the button.


X-Pro1, 10-24mm, 17.4mm

It was a pleasant afternoon, and good to meet a few old friends as well. Of course you can read more about Grow Heathrow and see more pictures on My London Diary in Grow Heathrow’s 5th Birthday.

Read the rest of this entry »

Terry King (1938-2015)

April 21st, 2015

I was shocked last night to hear that an old friend of mine, well known to many photographers in the UK and around the world with an interest in alternative processes, had died yesterday afternoon of a heart attack.


Terry King reads one of his poems at his 70th birthday party

I wrote a post here in August 2008, Terry King at 70, which went into some of my personal involvement with him, and I won’t repeat those stories here. Terry was one of the first in the UK to kick-start interest in the potential of many historic processes with his lectures and workshops, and founded the international APIS (Alternative Processes International Symposium) meetings as well as paying an important role in keeping the Historical Group of the RPS going over the years when closure seemed inevitable.

When I first met him, I found his work using colour transparency film beautifully romantic, and a number of these images were later transformed into the fine gum bichromate images which gained his FRPS. His work and his approach were quite different to my more classical approach, but we shared many views about photography, not least about the dead end of academic theory that was beginning to blight photography – and particularly photographic education – at the time.

Terry’s was always a no-nonsense approach, seeking to cut through mystification. He read the historical accounts as well as the more recent publications, revelling in such details as the ‘raspberry syrup process’ and names like Mungo Ponton, with his magnificent beard,  the Scottish grandfather of the gum bichromate. And his sometimes chemically illiterate hands-on investigations of alternative methods led him to develop new and interesting variants on old processes such as the chrysotype rex and cyanotype rex. The latter provided a way of relieving what we both considered the great weakness of they cyanotype process, that the prints were always blue.

Terry’s company was always stimulating, and his Hands On Pictures web site is an good reflection of his character if a rather messy piece of web design.  One of the links on it is to his 2009 Blurb book, Beware of the Oxymoron, which the preview allows you to view in full with fine images matched by his sonnets and other poems.

My own photographic interests diverged fairly completely from Terry’s in the 1990s, and I saw him relatively infrequently after that time, but it was always a pleasure to meet him – as I last did in September last year, when he had a fine show of his work at the new studios he had just moved to in Kingston. And I have many happy memories of our outings together, sometimes with an 8×10″ camera lent to Terry by a photographer who lived down the road from me. It had it’s first outing with us at the bottom of my garden, photographing (badly) Sweeps Ditch with a lens that didn’t quite cover the format. Later I took pictures with it in Richmond, and helped Terry make some good exposures of the stones at Avebury. At the time I wrote one or two articles for Amateur Photographer about some of our outings along with other photographers to places like Bedlams Bottom. Perhaps one day I’ll dust off those memories and republish them.


Terry King with red umbrella at Pewsey, 1980
Read the rest of this entry »

Another Family

April 20th, 2015

Back in the 1970s, one of the first photographic books I bought, well certainly one of the first hundred or so, was the Aperture Monograph on Ralph Eugene Meatyard. Never a photographer I’ve felt much inclination to deliberately ape, I did find his work of interest at a time I was searching for direction, even if his was not a direction I ever took.

Inside the front cover is an introduction by James Baker Hall, an American poet, novelist, photographer and teacher who came from Kentucky, where Meatyard moved at the age of 25 in 1950 to work as an optician and bought his first camera on the birth of his first child to take pictures of him.

Four years later Meatyard joined the Lexington Camera Club and took a photography class with F Van Deren Coke who was also a member and who became his first mentor; Van Deren Coke included his work in a major group show and the two later exhibited together. He also bought a Leica, and the following year a Rolleiflex – and most of his well-known work was with the square format. In 1956 he attended a summer workshop where his teachers were Minor White and Henry Holmes Smith

But as Hall makes clear, Meatyard was a part of a wider cultural scene – influenced by literature and painting and “Many of his friends were writers – Wendell Berry, Guy Davenport, Jonathan Greene, Thomas Merton, Jonathan Williams; through them , and through his own steadily increasing reputation he came to know poets, publishers, filmakers, and photographers from all over the country.”

His reputation was widened after his early death from terminal cancer at the age of 46 in 1972. In his last two years, knowing he was dying, he worked on the Aperture Monograph and on a new set of images, The Family Album of Lucybelle Crater, both published in 1974. I remember looking through both of them and only being able to afford one.

I was reminded of Meatyard, who I wrote about some years ago, but I think only published a short note, by a feature in Lens, Meatyard at Home in Kentucky’s Cultural Scene, by

There is a good selection of images by Meatyard on the web at George Eastman House, and a nicely reproduced set at Masters of Photography.  The Fraenkel Gallery has a good page with links to articles and other exhibitions as well as its own. There is an article in the Smithsonian magazine, and American Suburb X has a page with links to half a dozen features, of which I found that by Guy Davenport particularly interesting. One particular quote struck me: “he developed his film only once a year; he didn’t want to be tyrannized by impatience.

In the Family Way

April 17th, 2015

Most parents photograph their children. Or at least those of us fortunate enough to live at least reasonably comfortably and with our families do. Almost certainly now the great majority of those pictures will be taken on mobile phones, and many will be shared through social media. Some parents will share them privately, while others, either by accident or design will make them visible to the world. I’ve occasionally come across some which I would rather not have seen – usually on aesthetic grounds – on my Facebook feed, but usually I just hit the space bar to scroll down to the next post.

Occasionally I’ve told Facebook I don’t want to see any more posts like this (usually of cats or food) but it seems to have no real effect. A few people who only seem to post that kind of content I’ve blocked or unfriended, and some posts I’ve reported as spam.  If I saw anything that was clearly illegal I’d certainly report it to Facebook, but so far I haven’t had to do so.

Today on Facebook I read two different posts about people who have received an avalanche of negative comments after making photographic projects photographing their own children and publishing these images, prompting me to write this post, and I’ll mention both later.

Firstly I was reminded that the first web site that used my own pictures was a small site with the title ‘Family Pictures‘, with images of my own two boys and some of their friends. I chose the images carefully as those which I felt would have an appeal outside my own family.  I was also careful to remove a few more revealing images of the children playing with friends in paddling pools and elsewhere on hot summer days that cause amusement in family circles but might have transgressed the ISP’s guidance on nudity.

By the time when these black and white images went live on the web in 1995, those two boys were in their late teens, and they helped me hand code the html for a rather basic web site and upload it to an ISP that was offering small amounts of free web space.

I updated the images a few months later to reduce image size, as some of the originals were around 100Kb and very slow to load on a dial-up connection, and got the whole site showing 16 jpeg images (and thumbnails of them) with 17 pages of html down to under 1Mb.

I transferred it to my own web space a few years later, and made a few changes to the code, removing the pre-loading of images we had thought up, which had appeared to speed up the site when going though the images in order. A full stop on each page of the site was actually the next image in the sequence resized down to a 1 or 2 pixel square. As modems got faster, such tricks became redundant, and just complicated matters. But visually the site is as it was almost 20 years ago – still the same scans, rather poor by modern standards and worsened by jpeg artifacts. You can still see all 16 images online.

Personally I find the pictures taken by photographer Wyatt Neumann during a trip with his 2-year-old daughter a charming record of childhood innocence and the relationship between father and daughter. What I find disturbing is the kind of comments that some have made about them – and also I dislike the way these images are introduced on the Upworthy site, alhtough the video is rather better than you might expect.  You can read the photographer’s own introduction to the work, which he has exhibited and published as I Feel Sorry For Your Children, on his own web site.  Those people who look at this work and see “sexual victimization and violence,” I feel sorry for their children too, and like Neumann would say “I choose life.”

Another photographer whose work has aroused similar controversy is Sally Mann, and in a long article in the New York Times, Sally Mann’s Exposure, she writes in great detail about the problems caused by such controversy, and the actions of some desperately sick people, one in particular that she goes into detail about. I’ve written before about my great admiration for Mann’s work, and a little about the misguided criticism of her for it, but had not realised the full extent of the persecution she and her family have had to suffer. It’s a moving article, and one that only strengthens my regard for her, and for the need to keep up the struggle for freedom of expression and the kind of positive family and societal values that underlie the work of these photographers and others.


Read the rest of this entry »

Hoppé Birthday

April 15th, 2015

Thanks to Luminous Lint, a great web site run by Alan Griffiths dedicated to “Building multiple Histories of Photography for those with passion…” for reminding me again on the site’s Facebook page of the work of Emil Otto Hoppé; yesterday, April 14th was the 137th anniversary of the birth in Munich of the man who became one of the best-known British photographers of the first half of the last century.

On Luminous Lint you can see a good selection of his later work, in the USA and Australia, together with examples of the kind of portraiture that made him become the most fashionable photographer in London, Mrs Lavery from 1914 and some examples from the 1920s. Perhaps surprisingly for a photographer who was probably the most prolific photographer of his age of London, there are no examples of this work.

Hoppé lived into his nineties, dying in 1972, so much of his work remains in copyright until 2042, seventy years from his death.  [Copyright law is complicated, and differs country to country; the photographer may not have retained copyright on some of his work, and some published work may by now be in the public domain.]  A great deal of previously unpublished work, along with better-known images was acquired in the 1990s by the Pasadena, California, based museum services company, Curatorial Assistance, Inc., who have invested a great deal of effort into publishing and promoting it throught the E O Hoppé Estate Collection., where you can see an interesting collection of his London images, as well as much else.

There is also an interesting page Hoppé’s Peers, which looks at some of his pictures beside some by Charles Sheeler, Edward Steichen, August Sander, Paul StrandAlbert Renger-Patzsch, Walker Evans and others.  It’s a page that confirms what I wrote in a post here, Hoppé Mad, about Hoppé and the Hoppé industry in 2009, and still worth reading in its entirety (I’ve here removed two now unnecessary links to Hoppé and Sheeler images  no longer active):

It is interesting that both Hoppé and Sheeler photographed the Ford plant in 1926/7, and you can compare the their images. Then go back and look at a similar subject photographed four years earlier by Edward Weston, Armco Steel, 1922.  If you can’t see the difference, then you certainly shouldn’t be writing about photography.

Ten years before that, in 1999, I had included a short section about the photographer in an article on War Photography, despite noting that “Hoppé, so far I know, never took a war photograph” but pointing out that he “was one of the pioneers of the ‘miniature’ cameras, taking his Leica, Contax and Super Ikonta around the world to photograph.”

Here is the rest of what I wrote about him in a very widely read piece 16 years ago:


E O Hoppé is one of those photographers whose name has almost been lost from view in the concentration on the development of the medium in the USA that has dominated photographic history in the last 60 years. His work and career can in some ways be compared to that of his contemporary Edward Steichen, (1879-1973). Both in earlier years were very much a part of the turn of the century pictorialism shown in such movements as the ‘Linked Ring‘. Hoppé became the best known portraitist of his time, photographing the rich and famous of the age, including many of the early stars of film, including Gladys Cooper, Mary Pickford and Marlene Dietrich.

Both Hoppé and Edward Steichen moved away from pictorialism and both turned commercial. Hoppé’s mastery of the new European modernism in photography was perhaps deeper in such works as his ‘Crane Land’ (1926) which frames one of London’s docks through a complex mesh of wires and rods of foreground cranes. Another interesting series was made from the top of a London bus – probably the first of projects of this type.

Hoppé became a photojournalist in the 1930s, travelling Europe and the World, although possibly his best known work is in his several books on London, including ‘The Image of London‘ (1935) and ‘A Camera on Unknown London‘ (1936). He also produced two books and the USA in the 1920s, one on Germany in 1930, ‘Round the World with a Camera‘, (1934), several books of portraits and his autobiography ‘Hundred Thousand Exposures: The Success of a Photographer‘ (1945) which remains an interesting read. It combines a great deal of advice – much of which is still apposite – including the advice ‘economy in films is unwise’ – and some interesting anecdotes, although sometimes its style grates.


Lars Tunbjork (1956-2015)

April 14th, 2015

I was shocked to hear of the death of Lars Tunbjork at the age of 59, reported on April 11th. I met him briefly in 2005 and found his work of great interest, later buying two of his books ‘Home‘ and ‘Office / Kontor‘.


Me at left, Lars Tunbjork at right with others  in Belsko-Biala, Poland, 2005. Photographer unknown (on my camera.)

You can read obituaries at PDNOnline, L’Oeil de la Photographie and doubtless elsewhere. Death was the subject of one of his projects from 2013, when TIME “sent Tunbjörk deep into the American heartland to chronicle the goings-on at three separate crematories” for the photo essay, published with 15 of his images as “Cremation: The New American Way of Death“.

I wrote a short piece on him and some of his pictures in 2005, only publishing it here several years later (it stayed on my pending file in another place, waiting for image permissions that somehow never arrived.) I’ll repeat it below. The links to the images mentioned are from his  essay A country beside itself- pictures from Sweden on Zone Zero, one of the first web sites to seriously publish photography. You can also see his work elsewhere on the web, including at Norderlicht and Vu. His was a body of work that made him one of the most interesting of a generation of colour photographers (what might be insularly called the post-Parr generation), and one that deserved to be far better known, particularly in the UK.


Lars Tunbjork

Lars Tunbjörk was born in Boras, a small city in southern Sweden in 1956, in an area that was an exemplar of the Swedish ‘Folkhemmet’ (the ‘people’s home’ or welfare state envisaged by the ruling Social Democratic Party). When he was at school in 1971 at the age of 15 he went on work experience to the ‘Boras Tidning‘ newspaper and was introduced to photography. He went on to become a freelance before getting a staff job with the ‘Stockholms-Tidningen‘, a leading daily in the Swedish capital. His work there from 1981-4, distinguished by its subtlety, established him as a leading Swedish photojournalist. He also worked for Metallarbetaren, the magazine of the Swedish Metal Workers Union, Manadsjournalen, a Swedish monthly cultural review which ceased publication in 2002, and the Scandinavian Airlines magazine Upp&Ner (Up & Down.)

It was the work published in the book ‘Country Beside Itself’ in 1993 (Swedish title: Landet Utom Sig) with text by Thomas Tidholm and Göran Greider that brought Tunbjörk’s colour photography to the attention of the photographic audience world-wide. His pictures (and you can see a good selection of his work from 1989-99 including some from this book on Zone Zero) show a strong sense of colour and design as well as a taste for the amusing, ridiculous and occasionally surreal.

The images as well as showing his personal vision, also comment on the political and social malaise felt in the country, where much of the aims of the ‘Swedish Model’ welfare state had been acheived, and the consensus that this common aim had generated was being replaced by increasing feelings of alienation, emptiness and lack of purpose, and a movement away from social idealism towards a free-market individualism.

So in Olandi, 1991, a man and a woman recline in their swim suits on almost invisible supports, oddly suspended above a large area of grass, apparently floating as if on some invisible lake or by the yellow umbrellas that seem to emerge from their heads.

Far behind them along the edge of the grass across the centre of the whole frame is a series of buildings, black roofs above offwhite wood or plaster walls, a fairytale like faux-heritage development, stressed by the fake antique black metal lamp post which rises from beside the empty grey tarmac path at left of the picture into the white sky. Even the distant trees are drained of their colour. An image flickers into my mind of bathers floating in the high density of the Dead Sea, but this dead sea is marked as clearly Swedish by the colour – the yellow umbrellas and the complemenatry blue of the woman’s costume are those of the national flag, “a blue cloth with a yellow cross”.

An interior, Oland, 1991 is a simple scene. A room is seen in a wide-angle view square on to a wall, with white ceiling with glowing fluorescent fitting, a rather vivid green floor and pale orange-yellow walls, both facing the camera and to the right. The facing wall has a blue door at right, and in the corner of the room to the right of this a red plastic chair. High towards the left of the wall a TV is fixed, and below it stands a man, dressed only in trunks, socks and sandals, heavily sun-tanned, hands down at his sides. Seen from behind he betrays no thought or gesture through his pose, and appears to be staring at the wall in front of him (again the blue and yellow of Sweden) rather than looking up at the screen. Its a strangely empty room, nothing else except the white skirting board, a white light switch and socket by the door, a picture of loneliness emphasized by the colours. On the screen in cold blue light a couple embrace, the colour contradicting their contact.

In Flemingsberg 1989, a businessman or doctor or politician in an off-white raincoat, grey trousers, black shoes, walks along an empty tarmac road beside a fence past the grounds of some institutional building (presumably a hospital), striding out, head bowed, clutching his bulging briefcase. Perhaps representing the middle-class with all the plans of the ‘Swedish Model’, looking down and not thinking about the future, oblivious to the lamp post that has fallen down apparently towards him, about to pierce his heart with the sign attached. It reads ‘Diagnosv‘(Diagnosis) 13,15,17.

Peter Marshall, 2005. (minor later revisions)

Linnaeus Tripe

April 14th, 2015

I can’t now remember when I first became interested in the history of photography in India, but it was something that fitted in with my desire when writing about photography to see the medium from a wider viewpoint than the typically European or US histories. And when looking at the photography of the Indian sub-continent I wanted also to place it in the context of colonialism.

Writing a dozen years ago in 2003, it was hard to find on-line resources to use to research the work of Linnaeus Tripe (1822-1902), and harder still to find well reproduced examples of his images.  The web has developed considerably since then.

I was reminded of this by a post on British photographic history by Michael Pritchard of a link to the US National Gallery of Art on-line resource Captain Linnaeus Tripe: Photographer of India and Burma, 1852–1860, on their exhibition which is coming to London later this year, at the V&A from 24 June to 11 October.

It seems to give an excellent account of  his life and the context of his pictures, but if the online exhibition is a proper representation of the actual show to have avoided the inclusion of many if not most of his best pictures. I hope this is not actually the case, but looking at it on-line it would appear to be rather disappointing in this respect.

Of course curators often have problems in loaning the material they would like to show, but with the backing of the NGA I would be surprised if this was the reason in this case.  Any summative exhibition about a photographer should start by trying to show his work at its best, not to illustrate a particular thesis.

Some of the details of what I wrote about Tripe back then are corrected and clarified by the research since 2003 and behind this show, and my article spent some time discussing published information that has been shown to be in error. Like most of my articles it incorporated little or no actual first hand research, though after publication I think I made a few changes from information supplied to me by descendents of the photographer who contacted me. Rather than rewrite it to bring it up to date, I present it here with only very minor corrections and omissions.


Linnaeus Tripe (1822-1902)

Photography in India 3

Biography

The Tripe Family

The Tripe family was apparently well known in Devon, particularly around Dawlish and Devonport, where Cornelius Tripe, Linnaeus’s father, was mayor in 1838/9. Cornelius was a surgeon, and his son Lorenzo went on to be a doctor in the area. Linnaeus was one of a large family, many of them with unusual names, some of which were handed down in the family, such as another Cornelius and Theophilus. That two of Linnaeus’s brothers were called Septimus and Octavius does however suggest a certain desperation in thinking as the family grew.

Linnaeus was probably named after the great eighteenth century Swedish scientist, Karl von Linne, better known by the Latinised name of Linnaeus (1707-1778), who first developed the modern hierarchical system of plant and animal classification.

Tripe in India

Tripe apparently first left for India in 1839 when he was only seventeen, but by the 1850s he was Captain Linnaeus Tripe, officer in charge of one of the battalions of the 12th Madras Native Infantry, a regiment founded in 1824 and stationed in Madras.

In 1854, the East India Company had suggested to the Bombay government that photography could help in the work of recording and cataloguing cave paintings and other antiquities, and offered to supply materials and equipment. Possibly at the request of the Governor General, Lord Canning, the British Army made available some of its officers in India. It is unclear if Tripe was selected because he had earlier learnt photography during one of his periods of extended leave in Britain in 1851-4, or if he was ‘volunteered’ in true army tradition and sent on a crash course. Certainly by the time he began work as an official photographer in 1855 he had gained an excellent command of the calotype process and the making of prints.

It was perhaps coincidence that the decision to appoint government photographers coincided with the setting up of the first photographic course in India by Dr. Alexander Hunter at the Madras Government School of Industrial Arts in 1855. Tripe’s later links with the school are well known, since C Iyahswamy, a photography instructor there, acted as his assistant, as is noted in the Frontline feature on Tripe.

First Photography in Burma

Tripe’s first assignment for the government was as official photographer to the British mission in the court at the city of Ava, where the Irrawaddy and the Myitnge rivers meet in upper Burma. In several months there he managed to take hundreds of large calotypes, roughly 14×10″ paper negatives, which were apparently the first photographs to be taken in Burma. They were mainly of temples, monasteries and views of city buildings. Two years later, in 1857, around three hundred of them were shown and published at the Madras Photographic Society, his first publication.

Work in India

Back in Madras later in 1855, Tripe was commissioned to take further photographs for the British East India Company and the Madras Presidency over the next few years, resulting in the publication of 6 albums of pictures entitled ‘Photographic Views of Indian Scenery: Madura, Tanjore and Trivady, Ryakotta, Seringham, Poodoocottah and Trichinopoly.’ Each contained around 50-70 pictures, together with a suitably scholarly introduction by a British expert on the area.

The scenes that he showed in the over 400 pictures he took were largely of temples, forts and other buildings, as well as images of sculptures and engravings, including a 21 print panorama of the engravings around the base of the 11th century Rajarajesvara temple in Thanjavur.

Later Life

Tripe, along with the other official photographers, was soon recalled to more military duties, taking his last official photographs in 1857 or 8. Possibly the end of the government project was connected with the Indian Mutiny of 1857-8, or simply reflected a desire to save money, perhaps because of the the short-term financial problems of the revolt. He continued a military career, taking photographs as an amateur, retiring to his home town of Devonport in 1875 having reached the rank of Major-General.

Part 2: Tripe’s Pictures

Architecture

Tripe had a very good eye for architectural form, and his pictures show a very careful choice of viewpoint so as to bring out the qualities of the buildings. He was careful to choose the time of day to give good, sometimes quite dramatic, lighting on them. Many of his pictures would serve as textbook examples of good architectural photography.

Equipment

Photography at that time involved a great deal of organisation. Tripe travelled with his assistant on horseback, with 4 bullock carts to carry the equipment needed, including tents and camping equipment so they could make themselves at home near to the monuments they were to photograph.

As well as the large 15×12″ camera he used for the main photographs, Tripe also made use of a smaller twin lens camera to take stereoscopic views. This produced two small images roughly the same distance apart as the human eyes on a single sheet of calotype paper. When viewed with the appropriate viewer it gave the impression of a three-dimensional view.

Invented just before the invention of photography, the stereoscope was a sensation in Victorian parlours once it was possible to publish relatively cheap stereo views on paper rather than the expensive daguerreotypes of early years.

Entrance to Temple of Minakshi in the Great Pagoda

In this picture, Tripe has taken the entrance from a rather more oblique viewpoint than normal. The reason for this is clear, enabling us to see past the imposing temple entrance to the giant structure in the background. The lighting is carefully chosen to bring out the details in the front of the gateway while obscuring as little as possible in the delicately handled shadows.

Madura. The Great Pagoda, Mootoo Alaghur and East Gopurum from Tank

This view across the water has been framed so as to make the most of the reflection of the arcade in the water, blurred perhaps by a little breeze to produce a simplified result. The angle of view is carefully chosen so that the effect of the angle of the two sides opposite is reduced.

The picture appears to have been taken from the same level as the bottom of the arcade, keeping the camera back level and using a rising front (or a cropped negative) to retain verticality in the towering structures in the background. The picture hints at symmetry, with the two rows of arches, the two towers and the two groups of trees, but avoids it.

Aisle on the South side of the Puthu Mundapum, Madura

This dramatic view along the aisle is dominated by what are apparently deep shadows of the row of pillars falling from the right across the stone flags of the floor. At the right are the pillars themselves, half burnt out by the strong light. It is a powerful effect, but also one that I find it impossible to understand.

Why are the top halves of the pillars and the wall at the left of the aisle apparently in shadow? Why do the shadows stop at they do, more or less at the base of the left-hand wall? Are the row of pillars to the right of the picture simply free-standing columns, with their tops disappearing in the darkness at the top of the picture? Why are the lower parts of the pillars on the right, so clearly in the shade from the direction of the shadows, so bright on the image? I keep looking at this picture and failing to understand how it could be produced.

Some of the effect might be explained by the use of two exposures, at different times of day or using different lighting, perhaps one during a period of cloud and the other in bright sun. Its also possible that some of the apparent exposure differences shown could be due to parts of the structure being painted in darker colour than the light stone. At this point I begin to wonder if the ‘shadows’ are really shadows at all.

Great Pagoda, Great Bull, Front View, Tanjore, India

Even in this small reproduction we get an powerful impression of the scale of this temple, bursting out of the very frame before our eyes. Taken from a low viewpoint, the camera kept vertical to keep the pillars upright, the roof is cut off by the edge of the frame at the top right, and we see clearly a view with the camera straining, looking up towards the ceiling. At the left, one of the pillars is mainly cropped away by the edge of the frame, and to its right another reaches up and beyond the top.

Careful camera placing gives a procession of vertical elements clearly separated across the frame, clear areas of sky between them. Again we can see how a careful choice of the time of day has created powerfully effective lighting.

Part 3: Tripe’s Techniques

Calotype or collodion?

There are differing reports of the technical basis of Tripe’s photography. Although his pictures are generally described as being made from waxed paper calotype negatives, there are some sources that suggest Tripe claimed to have used a dry collodion. Some of his negatives are in the collection of the Royal Photographic Society, and are definitely waxed paper, but later work, particularly as an amateur, could have used a dry collodion plate.

However a more likely explanation is simply that Tripe when asked if he used a wet plate stated that he used a dry process, and that this has been misunderstood. Although technically it is just possible, Tripe was recalled from his photographic duties to more military exploits around 1858, before dry collodion processes became widely established.

Taupenot Process

The earliest successful dry collodion process was the Taupenot process, details of which were first reported by Dr J M Taupenot in September 1855. This used a collodio-albumen plate.

The glass was first carefully cleaned, then coated with an iodised collodion solution thinned by the addition of more than the normal amount of ether, sensitised in the normal silver bath as soon as it has congealed sufficiently on the surface. After several minutes in the silver bath, it was washed with distilled water, and while still wet, treated with an iodised albumen solution containing sugar. This was made to flow across the surface in all directions before the plate was drained off and left to dry.

The plates were not very light sensitive following this treatment, but required a second immersion in a weak silver bath containing acetic acid. After this they could be dried and kept for weeks or even months before use, although they lost sensitivity on extended storage. Exposures needed to be several times those on normal wet plates, typically requiring perhaps 10-60 seconds in good light with a reasonably fast lens for the time with an aperture around f11. Processing after exposure was as normal.

Such collodio-albumen plates could give results with greater detail than a calotype negative, and greater delicacy of tone. There were later improvements of the basic Taupenot process – such as the Fothergill process – which made the preparation of plates easier, but did not alter the results obtained.

The results in a contact print from any of these dry processes would not be greatly different to those from the best waxed paper calotypes. Without access to Tripe’s negatives or a very detailed analysis of his prints, probably with a magnifier to look for the presence of residual paper texture, it would be difficult or impossible to decide.

His earliest pictures, dating from the middle of 1855 could not have made use the Taupenot process, but certainly the details would have reached India in time for some of his later work.

Albumen or Salt Prints?

Similarly, Tripe’s prints are sometimes stated to be albumen prints, sometimes salted paper prints, while some hedge their bets with statements such as ‘lightly albumenised salt prints’. The pictures are clearly not the high gloss double coated albumen prints that dominated photography in later years of the nineteenth century. They have the matt surface of a typical salt print, although some have a tonal richness that might suggest the presence of albumen.

Few people – curators, gallerists or photographers – have seen good modern salt prints, let alone made their own. There are many more examples, both contemporary and vintage, of poor quality salt prints, often flat and low density. Making good salt prints needs negatives with a full tonal range, high contrast and low fog levels; this combination, together with a well coated paper can give prints similar to those of Tripe.

From the early 1850s, photographers often added albumen to the salting solution used in making printing paper, giving what are sometimes known as matt albumen papers. Although we tend to think in terms of separate categories – salt prints and albumen prints – in reality there are a whole range of possibilities, and without detailed process notes from the photographer it is difficult or impossible to distinguish one from the other.

It’s a difference that is largely academic, although the presence of albumen results in a less stable print. James M Reilly in his classic work ‘The Albumen and Salted Paper Book’ (available on line) states “it is probably safe to say that not a single albumen print survives from the 19th century without some degree of staining in non-image areas.” The absence of this yellowing is probably the best simple test to distinguish albumen from salt prints.

Later Photography

Although Tripe’s work as a government photographer probably ended in 1857, he was still making portraits in 1858, including one of Sir Alexander Arbuthnot, founder of the Madras Cricket Club – as well as its university.

He continued to photograph as an amateur in later life, taking pictures around Devonport, possibly while on extended leave, as well as after his final return there on retirement in 1875.

Back in Devonport, Major-General Tripe, who was unmarried, took an active interest in local affairs, serving for example as secretary to the committee of management of Stoke Public School there, and living in the town until his death in 1902.

A ‘Catalogue Raisonné’ containing illustrations of all of Tripe’s work in India and Burma was published by the Art Gallery of Ontario in 2003.

 Peter Marshall 2003

I’d love to love Fuji, but

April 13th, 2015


Fuji X-T1, 18mm (27mm eq)

Around Easter I’ve taken some time off from my normal work and have spent a lot of time using the Fuji X-Pro1 and Fuji X-T1 cameras, mainly with the 10-24mm zoom on the XT1 and the 18-55mm zoom on the X-Pro1, but also working with my favourite 18mm and the 35mm Fuji lenses. At times I carried around some others, but didn’t find the need to use them.

It’s taking me a long time to get used to some of the idiosyncracies of the Fuji cameras, probably much longer than if I just used one of them. If I had to pick one it would be the X-T1, largely for its far superior electronic viewfinder. Though I do like the optical viewfinder of the X-Pro1, I’ve often found myself switching to the electronic alternative, as the zoom lens blocks a significant part of the optical view. It works rather better with the smaller 18mm and 35mm primes, where only a small part of the view is blocked.

If these – and others in this focal length range – would satisfy all my photographic needs, I’d prefer the X-Pro1, but I like to have both a wider and a narrower view.  With the 18-55mm, by the time the long end is reached, the viewfinder image with the optical viewfinder is just too small for my liking, making the electronic view a preferable option, and with the fine 14mm f2.8 too much of the image is hidden where the lens obtrudes into the optical viewfinder.

The X-Pro1 is a fine but very limited tool which does appeal to me as it feels a simpler camera to operate than the X-T1, but for me the flexibility of the latter is vital. For so many lenses it works better. Even with that 18mm, seeing the bottom right corner in the viewfinder is much better. And now I’m used to it, and don’t waste time searching throught the menus for it, I very much like having a dial on the camera top putting ISO at my fingertips. Being able to walk from dark interior to bright sun without having to fiddle with menus is great.

I find switching from using a camera with a direct vision optical viewfinder to an electronic viewfinder can be confusing. Using mainly DSLRs and the X-T1 it’s just too easy to get into the habit of thinking if the image is sharp in the viewfinder it will be in focus on the sensor – and I have made many, many exposures that prove it just ain’t so. The occasional arty blur might be of interest, but to find you’ve taken 50 in error because you forgot to change back from manual focus can be annoying. With the 18-55mm at its wide end, depth of field may be your friend and cover your stupidity, but it doesn’t work at 55mm.

Of course it should be obvious that you are still on manual focus – no little green rectangle confirming focus – but in the heat of the moment it can be so easy to forget this. And if you are not photographing in the heat of the moment, perhaps you should ask yourself why you are bothering to take pictures at all.

I think now that I have finally figured out most of my problems with Fuji colour in Lightroom.  I’ve been using the X-Pro1 on and off for a couple of years and have always been surprised at how many people enthuse over Fuji’s colour rendition. Even though I think I’ve now discovered how to deal with it, I still often prefer Nikon colour.

The best result I’ve got with Lightroom come from changing the ‘Camera Calibration‘ from the normal ‘Adobe Standard‘ to the Fuji ‘Camera Pro Neg Std‘. It seems to give better colour than the camera Provia/Standard that I normally use for in-camera jpegs and the viewfinder/screen image (it seems wrong to use a different setting for camera and Lightroom, though the camera setting doesn’t affect the RAW file, but working this way seems to give me a better match between what I see in camera and the developed files.)

Setting up a development preset that applies this and uses Auto-tone produces images that need little adjustment – similar in that respect to my Nikon files, while with Adobe Standard they were a problem to deal with. Though there still seems to be an undesirable propensity for pink in Fuji’s auto white balance to correct. Lightroom’s Auto-tone perhaps works even more reliably than with the Nikon files, though this may be a reflection on the less challenging situations I’ve used the Fujis in.

I have a small issue over file sizes. Fuji’s similar quality to Nikon comes from files with a roughly similar number of pixels, but while the RAW files from the D700 average out at around 11Mb, the Fuji RAW files are roughly two or three times that size. The 16GB cards I now mainly use in camera get filled up rather fast, particularly on the X-T1, and I’ll probably buy larger ones; transfer times to the computer and into Lightroom are noticeably longer, and my external storage is filling up at a faster rate. Nikon’s compression with no real life noticeable quality loss is very useful.

Fuji battery life is a problem, even using mostly the optical finder on the X-Pro1. Nikon batteries hardly ever need changing during a day’s work. I carry spare batteries, but hardly ever need to use them, and have to remember to swap them over occasionally or the spare loses its charge over months. Working with the two Fuji cameras, at the moment I have a total of five batteries. Just enough to see me through a day of fairly light work, but I really need at least one more. Expense isn’t a problem, with replacement batteries being fairly cheap, but it’s a nuisance having to carry and to change them.

Overall I’m feeling rather frustrated with the Fujis. With the Nikons I can turn them on when I get the cameras out of the bag, and turn them on when I pack up. Between those times – often hours apart – every time I put my camera to my eye and press the shutter release, the camera takes a picture, almost every time in focus and with hardly any perceptible hesitation.

With both Fujis, things are rather different. Unless you are going to be taking pictures every few seconds, it’s quicker to switch the camera off, then turn it on when you want to use it again, waiting the roughly two seconds start up time, otherwise you can be pushing the button and swearing for even longer until the camera wakes up.

Focus, even with the improvements from firmware updates, still takes a noticeable time, but its the time taken to persuade the camera into life that is for me the real killer.

For some photography with wide-angle lenses in fast-moving situations you can of course do what we always used to do, turn off autofocus and rely on depth of field, using ‘zone focussing’. Once it’s up and running the X-Pro1 with the 18mm does the Leica thing rather better than the Leica M8 I used to use, and about as well as the real thing.


X-Pro1: 18mm, 18-55mm (27mm eq)

I have had some issues with framing using the 18-55mm with the optical finder of the X-Pro1, though these may well be down to me rather than the system. Certainly I seem to chop off the tops of people’s heads rather more than when working with the similar frame inside the view with the 18-105mm DX on the D800. And using the Fuji combination yesterday, at times the bright line frame was fading away as I was working, which was not good news. I fear an expensive repair may soon be needed.

So, much though I like the Fuji cameras, and much though I prefer to take them with me when I go out for a long walk or some relaxed occasion, they won’t be replacing the Nikons for much of my more intensive work. Perhaps I might just try working with a hybrid kit, with the X-T1 and 10-24mm replacing my ageing D700 and the superb but heavyweight Nikon 16-35mm. Perhaps. I’ll certainly give it a try before getting around to buying a D750.


Fuji X-T1, 10-24mm at 15mm (22mm eq)

For some photographs, that couple of seconds wait isn’t a problem, nor the slight pause you get between the shutter press and exposure. Some people wouldn’t even notice it, but when you are used to a camera without appreciable delay it annoys. Catching the moment is often vital in photography; catching the moment a little after just won’t do.

While in this post I’ve concentrated on some of the negative aspects, particularly for certain types of work, there are also some very positive aspects of the Fuji. Working in quiet environments, the quiet (or truly silent in electronic mode on the XT1) shutter is a great advantage, both to me as a photographer and in preventing annoyance to those you are photographing, and fast lenses such as the 35mm f1.4 combined with good high ISO performance are great in low light on the X-T1. I’ve often found myself while working wishing I had this camera in my hands instead of a rather clunky Nikon with a slowish zoom. The 23mm f1.4 is more expensive, and I’ve not yet bought one, but I’m tempted by this and the weather resistant 18-135mm …

Read the rest of this entry »

March 2015 complete

April 11th, 2015

I fell asleep around midnight last night trying to finish putting my work from March on to My London Diary, waking with a start to find a black screen in front of me, and when I moved the mouse to rouse the monitor from its dreams, found myself facing a blank page where I’d almost completed the coding. In my daze it seemed something of a calamity.

Fortunately hitting Ctrl+Z to undo my last action – presumbably hitting the space bar with the page selected as I collapsed on the keys – restored my work, although had I been thinking clearly I would have realised that only the few keystrokes I had made since the last saved version would in any case have been lost. But it was certainly time to give up and go to bed. And finish the work the following morning, which I now have. I think there are 40 stories from March, though not all have a great deal of content, and a couple are just pictures from my occasional days off.

But I’m also aware of the many events I’ve been aware of but been unable to cover, invitations I’ve had to refuse because I have to be at another place. We are indeed living in interesting times, and it is something of a curse.

Mar 2015

Another Country Walk
Cross Bones Open Day
Murdoch on Trial – Guilty as charged


Jon Bigger Class War South Croydon
RMT protest Ticket Office Closures


Sweets Way at Annington Homes


Quiet Night at Poor Doors
Occupy Rupert Murdoch
Around Tower Bridge
Arrest Warrant for Rupert Murdoch
John Lewis customers support Living Wage


Stand Up to Racism Rally
Britain First Protests anti-Racist March
Stand Up to Racism March
Great British Tax Robbery
Bermondsey Walk


Poor Doors blocks Rich Door
Unite protest against Benefit Sanctions
Dolce & Gabbana Boycott
Debt Resistance UK #Blockupy solidarity
Free Shaker Aamer vigils continue
Savage cuts to Adult Education budget
Stratford to Hackney Wick
Class War go to Aylesbury Estate
Class War celebrate Election Launch
Class War Chingford Election Launch
Free the Hares boys protest at G4S


Poverty pay at the Royal College of Art
Save Our Lions – ban Canned Hunting
Let Ife Stay in the UK!
Police seize Class War banner
Viking longship invades Tate steps
Climate Change Rally


Time to Act on Climate Change
Poor Doors Zero Police
Aylesbury Estate Occupiers Move
Homeless Persons Matter
Mexican President told Stop the Killing
Shut Down Yarls Wood


Maximus – Same Circus, Different Clowns

As always there are many more pictures from most of these events on My London Diary if you follow the links, and in some cases some fairly lengthy stories.

Read the rest of this entry »

Estates of Mind?

April 9th, 2015

In 1951, a part of the Festival of Britain was the Live Architecture Exhibition, on what became knows as the Lansbury Estate in Poplar, and at its centre was Chrisp St Market, the work of architect Frederick Gibberd, the first purpose-built pedestrian shopping centre in the UK.

It wasn’t entirely succesful – and his iconic Clock Tower built as an observation tower soon had to be caged in against suicides, but it was an important statement of a new vision in housing, with huge programmes over the next thirty or so years to provide social housing for the mass of the population, replacing both the areas destroyed by bombing and the decaying streets of jerry-built Victorian slums. There was a national feeling, an urgency that something had to be done about the housing problem, and a consensus that a large part of the solution lay in providing social housing at resonable cost for the majority of the population at least in the major cities.

The problem was also addressed by the New Towns, such as Bracknell, where I myself lived in a Development Corporation flat for several years in the early 70s, but in London and other cities it was an era of large estates, often system-built and with much bare concrete surfaces.

The best of these were architectural gems and masterpieces of design, and while some may have looked they were often spacious and comfortable, offering many residents for the first time the kind of conveniences we now take for granted. But like all property they needed proper management, with regular repairs and maintenance, and in most cases local authorities failed to meet the challenges of ownership, allowing properties to run down. There were sometimes design faults, more often corners cut by the builders and, certainly in later years financial pressures on councils that made their job impossible.

Now the pressures on these estates come largely from the increase in land values and the greed of developers and councils. Many of these large estates are in highly desirable locations, and huge profits can be made by demolishing and rebuilding at a much higher density and to lower space standards for private sale. It’s a process part-fuelled by overseas investors buying properties not essentially to live in but for the capital gains from rapidly increasing house prices, particularly in London. Investment brochures for one block in Aldgate suggested that buyers would see a 35% rise in the value of their flats in around three years- and that prediction may well turn out to have been conservative. But can we afford to let London become simply a proiftable  safe deposit for foreign money rather than keeping it as a living city?

The name of this un-housing game for financiers is ‘regeneration'; a worthy aim announced in the early years of the last Labour government with probably the best intensions that has turned into a nightmare for Londoners on low or middle incomes. But while its first proponents may have been simply naive, it has turned London’s largely Labour councils into villains in league with property developers in boroughs including Labour strongholds such as Newham and Southwark as well as Tory boroughs including Brent and Wandsworth.

We’ve already lost much good, serviceable property, along with some of the best architecture of the era, such as the Heygate estate, where a long process of neglect, demonisation and PR enabled Southwark to sell off the now-demolished estate against the wishes of many of its residents, at a time when many of its buildings and landscape were just reaching maturity.

The Heygate too was one of the starting points for the now rapidly growing protests about housing across London – and which were certainly a part of the reason why Southwark has lost millions on that particular deal. Despite which, they are still going ahead with a similar scheme on the larger neighbouring Aylesbury Estate, currently the subject of occupations and battles between housing activists and security guards aided by police, and where some remaining residents now find themselves behind tall fences in what looks like some kind of prison, having to make lengthy detours and show documents to be let in or out – and to go to the security gates to meet any visitors.

Other protests too have made the news. Some appear to have met with some success – after Focus E15 mothers occupied an empty block on the Carpenters Estate, Newham has now moved a number of families back into properties they had left empty for ten years in their attempt to empty and demolish the estate. New Era tenants evaded eviction before Christmas (thanks to a little help from Russell Brand) with their block being sold to another housing association.

Other protests continue across London, including those over Sweets Way in Barnet, the West Hendon Estate, the West Ham football ground, Cressingham Gardens in Brixton, Fred Wigg and John Walsh Towers in Waltham Forest, the West Ken and Gibbs Green Estates in Hammersmith & Fulham, the Sutton Estate in Chelsea, Guiness Trust on the Loughborough Park Estate,  Northumberland Park and other estates in Haringey, and of course the ‘Poor Doors’ protests at One Commercial St, Aldgate.  Regular readers of this blog or visitors to My London Diary will be aware of some of these.

I began this post at Chrisp St, because I was there last night for the private view of  ‘Estates of Mind‘, a photographic show in which “Six photographers explore various social housing projects from the 1960s and 70s; an era of radical architectural determinism and social restructuring.” (Open between 12-6pm on 9-12 April and 15-19 April.)

The invitation continues with a question “What can we learn today, in a time of great uncertainty in social housing from their successes and failures.” Although there is some interesting photography on display, some of it taken on some of the key estates now under dispute, this is perhaps a question that the show largely fails to engage.

What I found most satisfying were the set of images by Mike Seaborne, who I’ve known and sometimes worked with for around 25 years (including on the Urban Landscapes web site), and in particular his combination of images that he took around the turn of the century with those from this year on the Isle of Dogs. It is perhaps the only part of the show which says something about what is happening through its use of these ‘then’ and ‘now’ views, as well as displaying a discerning choice of viewpoint and an admirable clarity of treatment.

Also of interest to me were pictures by Peter Kyte from Grahame Park in Colindale, North London, Barnet’s largest housing estate on the former Hendon Aerodrome developed in the 1970s and named for aviation pioneer Claude Grahame-White. The estate underwent some regeneration in the 1980s, removing some of the connecting walkways., but its major regenertion began with a demonstrtion phase in 2007, with the first major phase being completed in 2012 and is continuing. The original 18-year programme proposed the demolition of around 75% of the 1777 properties (including the long low-rise blocks of flats that give the estate its character) and their replacement by slightly over double that number of new properties, of which roughly 30% were to be social housing.

Unlike most other work in the show which is largely straightforwardly documentary, Kyte’s work is a very personal vision concentrating on the long dark passageways he saw there, emphasized by heavy printing and by the cropping to a tall narrow format in his 20×12″ prints. The work had a impressive coherency, though I think one that tells us more about the photographer than either that particular estate or the more general problems of housing in London.  I wondered particularly about how his view as a visitor might differ from that of someone for whom the estate was home.

There is also perhaps something of a contradiction in the location of the show, an empty shop made available for the show by the owner, Poplar HARCA (Poplar Housing and Regeneration Community Association) who a few years ago took over the regeneration of nearby Erno Goldfinger’s Balfron Tower (where this group held a show last year) from Tower Hamlets Council. As the Docklands and East London Advertiser reported earlier this month:

It appears that social landlord Poplar HARCA are preparing their tenants in Balfron Tower to leave the building so that the rich can purchase the newly refurbished flats. Another east end community is being destroyed for profit. A sad and insulting legacy to the values of its architect Erno Goldfinger, and that reminds us how little the voice of the powerless are heard, or acted on.

Rather earlier in 2010, Michael Newman had commented on an article in BDonline on the renovation of Balfron Tower:

This article is well written and informative but as a resident of Balfron Tower I want to point out that paragraph 3 is incorrect.

“Once refurbished, residents will have the choice of keeping their heads in the clouds or putting their feet back on the ground by moving into newly built homes elsewhere on the estate. “

At the moment HARCA has informed residents of its aim to refurbish and to empty the building to do so, but has failed to mention the choice of returning to their homes.

It appears that HARCA and those partners it is working with are forcing the present community in the Tower to leave their homes and never to return. So much for the values of social housing, for helping communities, and for a ‘Golden Future’ for the Tower and its inhabitants.

It looks like HARCA will refurbish the Tower, will sell off the flats and as usual the rich and so-called cultured will buy the right to ‘homes in the sky’.

I wonder what Goldfinger would think of HARCA’s guardianship of his building, and the council who historically were brave and fought for rights of its people.

Housing is a vital topic, particularly in London, and one which has, largely through the efforts of various protest groups, and marches such as January’s large ‘March For Homes‘ forced itself onto the news agenda. It’s good to see photographers and shows tackling it, but I would like to see ones that perhaps incorporated rather more thought and provoked it for those not already involved in the issues.