Archive for the ‘Photo History’ Category

David Goldblatt (1930-2018)

Tuesday, June 26th, 2018

One of the first photographic books I bought was ‘On The Mines’ by David Goldblatt and Nadine Gordimer, published in 1973 in Cape Town, and I think purchased from Creative Camera’s bookroom in Doughty St, which played an important role in my own development as a photographer. Unlike many books, I still have that first edition hardback, and can still find it and am sitting looking at one of Goldblatt’s best-known pictures on its back dust-jacket, “Boss Boy”, taken in 1966 and from the essay ‘The Witwatersrand: a time and tailings’ with Gordimer’s text and Goldblatt’s pictures and captions which is the first of three parts of the book – which continues with his ‘Shaftsinking‘ and ‘Mining Men‘.

So far I’ve read five obituaries of Goldblatt, though doubtless many more will be published, and I may even look out a dust off a short piece I wrote about him perhaps 20 years ago, though probably not, as certainly others knew him far better and probably wrote more perceptively about his work. Of course, back when I was growing up we all knew about apartheid and condemned it – and as a teenager I remember acting a part in a play about it, and later joining the Anti-Apartheid Movement and going on marches and protests.

But Goldblatt’s photographs, often very calm and carefully composed like that superbly framed ‘Boss Boy, the tips of the folding rule in his top pocket a fraction from the tope of the frame and his presentation ‘Zobo watch presented by the company for his safe working at the bottom edge, and on his left arm the company’s three star rank ‘Boss Boy’ metal badge touching the right edge of the picture, along with the texts strikingly brought home the realities of living under the Apartheid regime.

The five articles I’ve so far read are in the New York Times, The Daily Maverick  and Mail and Guardian from Zambia,  Al Jazeera and The Guardian.

 

 

Lange & Winship at the Barbican

Monday, June 18th, 2018

Opening shortly at the Barbican is ‘Dorothea Lange / Vanessa Winship – A photography double bill‘, with Dorothea Lange: Politics of Seeing showing together with Vanessa Winship: And Time Folds in the Art Gallery there from 22 June —2 September 2018, presenting the work of two photographers I greatly admire.

I’ve several times printed a copy of Lange’s best-known picture, ‘Migrant Mother‘ from the high-quality large Tiff file that I years ago downloaded from the Library of Congress, and have written on several occasions about this and other works such as her ‘White Angel Breadline‘ from 1933 which prompted her career as a documentary photographer.

The show apparently has a large section on this work, and you can read more about it and see the some variants on a page at the Library of Congress, where you can see all her work for the FSA (a search using the term ‘Lange, Dorothea’ yields over 4000 items, though not all are photographs), and find more about various shows of her work. On the Library of Congress they reproduce Lange’s own story about how she made the picture, written for Popular Photography in 1960:

“I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet. I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I do remember she asked me no questions. I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction. I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was thirty-two. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that lean- to tent with her children huddled around her, and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of equality about it.”

But apparently Florence (Owens) Thompson, the woman in the picture saw it differently, according to her grandson’s recollection (I think recorded in Anne Whiston Spirn’s book on Lange Daring to Look, and mentioned in my 2008 post on that)

 “a well-dressed woman jumped out of a smart newish car and started taking pictures, getting closer with each shot. Florence decide to ignore her.

After taking the pictures, Lange is said to have told Florence who she was and that she was working for the Farm Security Administration and to have promised that the pictures would not be published. Next day they made the front page of all the newspapers.”

Lange gave a long interview to Richard Doud in 1964, a year before her death. You can hear 12 seconds of her voice and read the lengthy transcript  in the Smithsonian Oral History Collection.

Some brief biographical details I wrote almost 20 years ago about Lange may be of interest:

Dorothea Lange was born in New Jersey. She gave up training to be a teacher to become a photographer, working part-time in the portrait studio of Arnold Genthe before studying with Clarence White.

She moved to California, meeting Imogen Cunningham and opening her own portrait studio. In the early 1930s she began to take pictures of people suffering from the effects of the Depression, such as the ‘White Angel Breadline‘ in San Francisco in 1933.

The following year she met sociologist Paul Taylor who she was to marry (after divorcing her first husband, painter Maynard Dixon) and began to work for various Government projects, most notably the Farm Security Adminstration.

Her career was interupted by illness for almost ten years from 1945, following this she travelled extensively around the world with her husband before settling down to photograph things ‘close at hand‘ around her home and family.

One single picture she took for the FSA stands as an icon of the depression. ‘Migrant Mother‘ shows a mother looking worried into the distance, as if wondering what future there is for her. One child lies sleeping on her lap, two older children frame her, turned away from the photographer with their heads bowed. Lange recorded that the mother was aged 32 with 7 children; they were migrant pea-pickers but the harvest had been ruined by frost so there was no work. They had already sold the tyres from their car for food and were now living in it, keeping alive on wild birds the children caught.

Surprisingly the article in yesterdays Observer, Dorothea Lange: Politics of Seeing review – a visionary whose camera never lied by Laura Cumming fails to even mention that the show is on together with Winship’s, though possibly this was made clear elsewhere in the print edition. I’ve long been a fan of Vanessa Winship, and have several times mentioned her work here (I think this is the 15th.)

The best of these posts is I think  Sweet Nothings – Vanessa Winship written in 2009 which included a couple of her portraits from Turkey.  In a more recent post, I quoted from Sean O’Hagan’s blog in The Guardian:

“From Mississippi to the Black Sea, Winship’s poetic, masterful photographs show how hard it is for people to belong … so why don’t British galleries acknowledge her as this large Madrid retrospective does? She deserves it”

At the time I commented: “Though I’m afraid the explanation is unfortunately rather simple. She is a real photographer, and there is no major British gallery with a real interest in photography.” It is great to see her work acknowledged at last in the Barbican show.

 

Weegee the Unknown

Tuesday, June 12th, 2018

Arthur Fellig, the self-styled ‘Weegee the Famous‘ is certainly one of the oddest figures in the history of photography and his best images of his New York have a remarkable raw power. I’ve tried to write about his on various occasions with varying success, and one of the great problems has always been to separate the facts from his inventions.

Writing a biography of the man would seem to be a rather Herculean task, and one not attempted before but it looks as if Christopher Bonanos’s ‘Flash: The Making of Weegee the Famous‘ is a remarkable effort. I’ve not read the book, but there is an excellent long article about it in the New Yorker which I’ve just enjoyed by Thomas Mallon, Weegee the Famous, the Voyeur and Exhibitionist. As Mallon says, all we have had before is “a host of fragmentary recollections and the loudmouthed, unreliable memoir, ‘Weegee by Weegee’, published in 1961.” And of course the pictures, available in various books of which Weegee’s own ‘Naked City’, published 73 years ago is still possibly the best. But to go with Bonanos’s book you need a rather wider collection of his work since he refers to too many of this pictures to be included in the biography.

As well as various more recent publications, some listed in The New Yorker, there is also the web, and the ICP has quite an extensive archive of his work on-line. For a better short introduction I would recommend the 42 images at Amber, which also has a short version of his life. A Google Images search also throws up an interesting collection of pictures, though not all by Weegee. It also led me to the graphic novel, Weegee: Serial Photographer, by Belgian cartoonists Max de Radiguès and Wauter Mannaert, now translated into English and published last month, and the hour long “documentary” from 1993, The Real Weegee, not in great quality, but the few scenes I’ve dipped into have been, as one comment says, “Terribly produced and horribly executed.” As well as using his photographs it is based around footage of Weegee himself acting out an extremely silly script of a fake story of his life.

I’m never quite sure how much knowing more about a photographer’s life helps us to understand his work, though certainly in Weegee’s case it does answer some of the questions that have long bothered me about some of the pictures. There are also some photographers whose work would never have emerged into the art world had it not been for their biography. But sometimes I find myself thinking that I wish Minor White or Edward Weston had written less and had less written about them, and perhaps rather more about their actual pictures.

David Douglas Duncan (1916-2018)

Saturday, June 9th, 2018

Vietnam was the perhaps the greatest war for photojournalists, the last war where photographers were allowed the freedom to work and report what they saw with relatively few restrictions. The coverage in magazines and particularly on TV in America had a powerful effect on public opinion, stimulating the anti-Vietnam War movement there and across the world.

While the iconic images by Nick Ut and Eddie Adams are seared into our minds, there were many, many others and so many fine photographers, many of whom made their names there. And too many who died there, as had Robert Capa years earlier in 1954 when we knew it as Indo-China and it was the French colonial power who were fighting and losing.

There were far too many photographers of note in Vietnam to mention them all, but two stand out for the body of work that they produced and also for the books they published. One was the greatest Welsh photographer of the century, Philip Jones Griffiths, with his ‘Vietnam Inc‘, published in 1971 and the second, a man twenty years older than Griffiths, was David Douglas Duncan, who died on Thursday. His ‘I Protest!‘ (1968) was also a denunciation of US policy in Vietnam.

Duncan had made his name as a photographer in an earlier war, in Korea, and his book ‘This Is War!’ is a classic of photojournalism which Edward Steichen called “the greatest book of war photographs ever published.” It was a view very much from the position of the fighting man, reflecting his own past in the Marines, aiming to see war through their eyes. He went on to photograph many other things, and to produce a remarkable document of the life of Picasso as a friend and resident photographer.

You can read more about this remarkable photographer and his life in the TIME Lightbox celebration of his 100th birthday in 2016 and in the New York Times obituary.

D Day and more

Thursday, June 7th, 2018

Perhaps because the media have been so preoccupied with the anniversaries of the First World War there was little publicity this year about the anniversary of D-Day, June 6th 1944. Which perhaps explains why I’m only writing about it a day late, having seen some posts about it on Facebook late last night.

Although we now know much more about the iconic images taken by Robert Capa – and the myths that have grown up around them and are still being stated as fact, even by some who are perfectly aware of the investigation by A D Coleman and his team, a three year study concluded around a year ago, when I last wrote about it. I suppose they are following Capa’s example; his most famous dictum was ‘If you’re pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough‘ but perhaps the attitude that most shaped his life was to never let the facts get in the way of a good story, though to be fair the story that he wrote was intended more as a Hollywood treatment than real autobiography.

I don’t mean by this in any way to belittle Capa as a photographer. The investigation is one that I think paints others in a worse light than him, though he certainly went along with the deception. Nor do I in any way minimise the shock of landing on that Normandy beach; for the military who went as a team to do a job they had trained to do it will have been far less horrific than for a lone individual, and I doubt if many of us would have handled the situation there any better. If anything I admire him more for his courage in realising that he had to return as soon as he could and get on with doing the job.

I’ve fortunately never been under fire from an enemy army. The nearest I’ve come is having milk bottles thrown at me from six floors up on a council estate, beer cans and bricks thrown from far right groups and a firework rocket aimed horizontally at me early one Sunday morning by kids in Bermondsey that missed by inches. And a paintball which splatted on my chest from the black bloc, probably like other missiles aimed at nearby police. I’ve been spat at, threatened, cursed, pushed and punched by the right, assaulted by police… But generally I’ve chosen to avoid violent situations, and I know I would never be a good war photographer. So Capa and the others who have chosen that course deserve and get my respect.

I hadn’t meant to do more than briefly mention D-Day and Capa, but as so often I got a little carried away. On being reminded of the anniversary I took another look (as I do fairly often) at Photocritic International. A D Coleman’s latest post there has the rather uninformative title Spring Fever: Ends and Odds 2018 and is, as always, worth reading, with a typically acute analysis of the case of Naruto, a crested macaque who picked up David Slater’s camera and took a few pictures with it. Coleman explains and comments on the decision by the Federal Appeal Court that copyright law covers the actions and creations of humans, and only humans, as well as on the concept of animals having names.

The post also contains Coleman’s incisive comments on two other matters, one of which is also – like the names of animals – related to ideas of ‘identity’ and brings in Alfred Korzybski’s argument that we should beware of all variants of the verb to be, which is perhaps rather relevant to some current debates, and a second more specific to photography, and in particular the devaluation of photojournalism, something some previous guest posts on Photocritic International have explored. It’s perhaps ironic that while some photographs now sell for undreamed of amounts in the art market, the rates for photojournalism are actual cash terms are lower than they were 30 or 40 years ago, despite huge inflation. Or if not ironic at least pretty desperate for those trying to make a living.

Brixton Portraits and GDPR

Monday, May 28th, 2018

Rather fewer photographers now have shops with windows to display examples of their work, and of course it was only those who made a living from social photography – weddings, portraits etc – who sold their services to the general public for whom it made sense. Now, most people take their own portraits, apart from those usually hideous examples produced by school photographers which parents are blackmailed into accepting so that schools can have a photographic record of their pupils (or rather ‘students’ now that you graduate even from nursery schools.)

Of course there are parents who like them, but when I was a teacher I was opposed to them on principle; not just because they generally had the same degree of originality as a photobooth, but because I knew that they put parents on low incomes into the position of having to either pay for them and go without necessary food or clothing or disappoint their child and force them to take the pictures back to hand in at school.

But good social portraiture is a rare skill, and during the late 1980s and early 1980s I carried out a project that involved photographing in and through many shop windows across London, and this included many photographer’s windows. I photographed a detail on one in Landor Rd in 1989 which I think must have been Harry Jacobs studio window; the caption states 4/6/89 Landor Rd 305758, where the 6 figure number is a Grid reference, though these were not always correct to the last figure. The image is a scan from a commercial enprint, which I could locate quickly as these are filed by the 1km grid square in which they were taken.

I’m sorry that I don’t appear to have taken a wider view of the shop front, but this picture is unusual for me and I think means that I realised the value of his work. As with many of the pictures in this series it was taken on a Sunday morning, when most shops were closed as this usually enabled me to work undisturbed. I do remember thinking that it would be worth going back and finding out more about what appeared to be a remarkable social record, but I never got around to doing so. And perhaps a little over ten years later I noticed the shop no was no longer there.

Soemone from the Photographers’ Gallery had clearly also noticed the work, and three years after Jacobs retired in 1999, with an archive of almost 60,000 photographs they put on a show based around his work in 2002, discussed in The Guardian. His son wrote a short piece, My Father the photographer which was published in The Evening Standard.

The Photographers’ Gallery apparently decided at the time that for photographs taken before the 1988 Copyright Act they had to get permission from the subjects to exhibit them. I’m not sure that was true, but although we have had no such problems from then until now, it is possible that things may be different again under the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). But you can rest assured that the GDPR allows processing for the purposes of journalism, and I think for art. The problem with the work by Jacobs was that it had been taken as a commercial agreement between the sitter and photographer and the sitter’s permission was probably required for it to be shown as art or documentary. My photograph above is clearly a work of art!

The Freelance Branch of the NUJ (a union to which all journalists in the UK should belong) has published an excellent guide to the GDPR for Freelances, which is generally reassuring, though it does point out we should all have registered as data controllers under the Data Protection Act 1998 and should continue to pay the £40 per year this involves.

You are also required to take proper steps to protect your data, which would include using strong passwords or physical locks on devices including computers, backup disks and memory sticks etc. The article makes clear that as journalists you can use the exemptions for free expression to avoid giving any information in response to ‘subject access requests‘ and that journalism is explicitly exempted from the ‘right to be forgotten‘. Something which may upset some is that the advice suggests that there may be problems under GDPR in using cloud storage.

Back to Harry Jacobs. My reason for mentioning him is that Lambeth Council are for once doing something I approve of, with a show of his work in the Town Hall. A Snapshot of Brixton: Harry Jacobs and the Empire Windrush opened on Friday 25th May and runs until Friday 6th July. Open M – F, 09.00 – 20.00

Bolivia, India, Iran… London

Friday, May 18th, 2018

Bolivian president Evo Morales has led his country since he became president in 2006, following an election in which his vote was roughly twice that of his nearest rival. His policies, aimed at reducing the US influence in the area, and getting more of the profits from Bolivia’s oil and gas industries enabled much greater spending on public works projects and social programmes resulted in a significant decrease in poverty, and he was re-elected with an increased majority in 2009. And although he had said he would not stand for a third term, he changed his mind and was elected again in 2014.

In 2016 Bolivia held a referendum on whether Morales should be allowed to stand for a fourth term in 2019. His reputation had been damaged by allegations that Morales had favoured a Chinese company with state contracts because he had fathered a child with a woman who was a lobbyist for them. He admitted the relationship but denied any favouritism. There had too been a slowing of growth in the Bolivian economy due to global problems, and the indigenous groups were becoming upset at not benefiting as much as they should from the increased wealth of the country, which has created and large and growing middle class, many of whom do not support his anti-imperialist policies. The vote to change the constitution to allow him to stand went against him by 51% to 49%.

Morales cried ‘Foul!’ (he is a keen footballer) and appealed to the Supreme Court, who ruled that, despite the constitution, no public offices should have a term limit allowing him to stand, which he says he needs to do to consolidate his party’s programme of of social reforms. The protesters accuse him of wanting to be a dictator and abandoning democracy. Some were also protesting against the revised penal code recently signed by the President, which, among other things makes provision for legal abortion, but that some journalists say endangers freedom of expression and worries some in other professions about the sanctions for professional misconduct.

Referendums, as we have found to our cost in the UK, are exceedingly blunt instruments, and there are very good arguments where any constitutional change is concerned for calling for more than a simple majority. And for countries that have a representative democracy I think they should only ever be advisory to the parliament. Morales clearly lost this one, as even had the vote been the other way round it would not have been a satisfactory mandate. And in the case of the UK, our Prime Minister who made the mistake of calling the referendum, should have made clear when he did so that no government would be bound by the result. 52% to 48% should have made our government look carefully at the issues and examine the possibilities but it should not have led to them rolling over with their legs in the air.

Back in Parliament Square, as well as reflecting on the idiocy of referendums (or -da?) I couldn’t help thinking that the protest was perhaps more about some of the socialist policies of Morales than about the constitutional issues that were presented as its cause.

A short distance from the Bolivians, various Indian groups were gathering for a march to the Indian High Commission in protest against attacks on the Dalit community in India by Hindu fundamentalists and the continuing illegal caste-based discrimination. The protest was organised by the Dr Ambedkar Memorial Committee GB, and supported by various Ravidass groups, Amberdkarite and Buddhist organisations and the South Asian Solidarity Group. Dr Ambedkar, arguably India’s greatest 20th century statesman was the author of the Indian constitution, which outlawed caste discrimination, but it is still endemic there, and in the Indian diaspora. Government moves to outlaw it in this country were stopped by representations from the Hindu community, which includes a number of wealthy donors to the Conservative party.

And to complete a typically international London scene, a short distance away in Whitehall a further protest was taking place at the same time, with a rally organised by exiled Iranian groups urging UK Prime Minister Theresa May to break her silence over the uprising in Iran and call for the immediate release of the thousands arrested and under threat of the death penalty.

Read more about the protests and see more pictures on My London Diary:

Bolivians protest for Liberty & Democracy
Indians protest Hindu caste-based violence
Break UK silence over Iran uprising

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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

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Wembley 1979

Friday, May 11th, 2018

Facebook friends will know already that most days at the moment I am posting a picture or sometimes a couple of them that I took in London in years past, currently from 1979, which are on my growing London Photographs site, along with my comments, sometimes about the pictures but also about other things that come into my mind.  I don’t intend to publish all of them here – as I tried to with the pictures of Hull throughout 2017 – but will try an put some of those that include more general comments about photography on here as well.

Back in March 1979 I took a trip to Wembley, and walked around a bit, stopping off on my way home in Harlesden around Willesden Junction. Part of the reason was to look at the buildings on the British Empire Exhibition site, close to the stadium, some of which were threatened with demolition.  And here are a couple of posts about them:

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Palaces of Industry, British Empire Exhibition site, Wembley, Brent, 1979
19g-52: building, concrete, reinforced, derelict

I had come to Wembley to photograph these derelict buildings which were built in 1922 and 1923 for the British Empire Exhibition of 1924 -25, probably because some of them were about to be demolished shortly I’m not quite sure exactly which buildings I photographed, and although some were demolished in 1980, the last only went in 2013.

Although they had been built for the temporary exhibition, their reinforced concrete made them difficult to demolish, and they had only remained there so long because it would have been expensive to get rid of them. I think this is one of the buildings that was still standing and being renovated when I returned three years later and took some more pictures on Engineers Way.

The Empire exhibition was important in accelerating the development of the surrounding areas of north-west London, much of which soon became covered with suburban housing in the years up to the second war.

The area is I think totally unrecognisable now, with about the only remaining building being the 1934 Empire Pool (now Wembley Arena), which I think I photographed a few years later.


Palaces of Industry, British Empire Exhibition site, Wembley, Brent, 1979
19g-64: building, concrete, reinforced, derelict,

A second picture of the derelict concrete buildings, apparently left standing after the exhibition as it was too expensive to demolish them.

I think I probably took rather more than the handful of pictures in the area during this visit than have survived, and suspect that one of the films that I took may have been ruined by a camera or cassette fault or in processing. Although it is possible to lose digital images though card or hard disk problems – and to delete them by human error, digital is in many ways more reliable than film, not least because you can see some or your mistakes on the back of the camera.

In the 70s and 80s I was always short of cash, and loaded almost all the film I used into cassettes from bulk 100 ft lengths. I used a ‘daylight loader’ which mean that a short length at the end of each film was exposed in attaching it to the cassette spool, though later I learnt to do this part of the procedure in total darkness to avoid this. Re-using cassettes led to occasional problems with light leaks. Sometimes I used plastic bodied cassettes made for reloading – and these had caps which were quite easy to twist off – sometimes too easy. The metal bodies used by Ilford and most other films had ends which popped off when you squeezed the cassettes and could be re-used but could get too easy to remove with repeated use. (Kodak’s were crimped on and needed a can opener to remove and were not re-usable.)

All normal cassettes used felt light-traps on the opening where film emerged and films might be ruined by scratches if grit was caught in these from loading the camera in a dusty place, and we had to try hard to keep them clean when reloading them. Those fabric light traps were not intended for repeated use and this sometimes led to leaks. Leica used to have their own metal re-usable cassette which worked without a light trap, the with a slot opening up inside the camera, but it was hardly practical.

Processing too had its traps. Developers not stored in air-tight containers could react with oxygen in the air and become less active or even entirely useless (though normally they went brown to show this.) Some were meant to be re-used, and careful counting of the number of films developed was necessary to avoid them becoming too weak. As mentioned in a previous post I had to abandon some developers as simply too unpredictable.

One of my late friends, a professional photographer who did a number of jobs for a leading oil company magazine, was flown out by helicopter by them to photograph their North Sea Oil rigs. It was an extremely long and tiring day, and on reaching home she loaded the films into a multiple tank to develop them. After she poured the first chemical into the tank she realised she had poured in the fixer rather than developer. (Fixer is the chemical used to dissolve the undeveloped silver halides from films after development as most photographers will know.) The films were ruined, and she had to go in the next day and confess to her client. Fortunately for her, she had worked for them on many previous assignments and they appreciated her work, and they arranged another helicopter to take her out and make the pictures again. That time she made sure she got the processing right.

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Another picture from that walk around Wembley (though I’m again not sure exactly where it was taken) has I think two clear processing faults, visible even in this small reproduction. I could of course have removed them digitally. Fortunately I think this was the only frame on that roll affected.

You can see thumbnails of my selected images from 1979 here.

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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

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Framework History

Thursday, May 10th, 2018

One of the many things I talked about with the late Terry King the last time I met him, not long before his untimely death, was the possibility of an exhibition to celebrate the activities of Framework, a West London based photographers group which existed from 1986-92.

I was reminded of this recently by a mention of Framework in the London Independent Photographers magazine by Peter Jennings (not currently on line.) Peter, who took part in a couple of Framework shows, gets most of the details wrong. The group wasn’t run by me, and the only meetings at my house were specifically to plan exhibitions and not the main meetings, which were in the first years at community associations in East Twickenham and Kew, but latterly at the Watermans Arts Centre in Brentford.

Apart from the special meetings to plan particular shows, sometimes in my house, sometimes at Terry King’s in St Margarets, Framework held regular monthly meetings at which the photographers were expected to arrive with their most recent work for criticism – and to take part in criticising work by the others. These were small meetings, usually around half a dozen of us, and with no holds barred, Quite a few people came once but couldn’t stand the criticism, but the central core of those who attended grew from it. Of course not all the criticism made sense, but it was what people thought, and sometimes things did get pretty heated.

The LIP satellite groups were my attempt later to get something similar going inside LIP, though I don’t think any have quite lived up to their predecessor. For a while the Twickenham group which met at Jim Barron’s home came close – and most of those taking part were former Framework members.

Not that Framework had a membership or a constitution. You just came along and did it. We collected a sub from those taking part in exhibitions when we needed money (and it was the cause of some bitterness when one member refused to come up with the cash, leaving me out of pocket, but otherwise worked well.) Terry King did most of the organising of the meetings, inviting a number of photographers to come along and talk to us at various times as well as to take part in our critiques.

The group had its origins in the Richmond &Twickenham Photographic Society, where I met Terry and others including Randall Webb. The RTPS had regular large meetings with speakers, club competitions and the like, but had also spawned a number of small groups which members could attend. When someone decided to form a group which took a wider view of photography than the club world, I suspect for political reasons they didn’t want to give it a name which reflected this, and as there were at the time already five groups, they gave it the name ‘Group Six‘.


Poster, logo and photograph © 1984, Derek Ridgers

When I first went along, perhaps around 1975, Group Six was run by Vincent Oliver, who was I think the first person to get a photograph accepted in the Royal Academy Summer Show and much later ran the Photo-i web site, but it was soon taken over by Terry King. As well as meeting for a monthly discussion, often with guests (one such was Martin Parr) who would critique our work, we also organised monthly outings to take photographs. These took me to some remote rural creeks in Kent which Terry favoured, and also to Avebury and Southwark and a couple of longer visits to Portland and the Welsh Valleys. I got hauled before the RTPS committee, who had no sense of humour, for articles I wrote about some of these for Amateur Photographer.

We decided to hold shows of work by Group Six members, the first of which was in 1982 at the Orleans House Gallery in Twickenham. We went on to produce further shows at the Quay Arts Centre in Newport on the Isle of Wight and a second show at the Orleans Gallery. We were preparing for a further show at the Orleans Gallery, when the RTPS committee put their foot down and decided that they would take this over for a general RTPS show.

We set up separately from the RTPS as Group Six Photographers, organising our own large show at the Hexagon in Reading – by six photographer; later in 1985 we had another show at the Poole Arts Centre, and at both I showed work from my ‘Homage to Atget‘ (now on-line as part of Paris Revisited and in the Blurb book In Search of Atget.)

Although I had more or less left the RTPS, others in the group, including Terry King were still active members, and were getting hassled by the committee over our continuing use of the name ‘Group Six’. Although I thought we had earned the right to continue to call ourselves by that name, having established a reputation for it quite separate from the RTPS, I came up with the name ‘Framework‘.

Framework organised quite a few shows in the next six years, though I’m not sure I can remember them all. The first was at Parkshot in Richmond (where the RTPS had also moved to hold their meetings) and was followed by another at the Hexagon, where I showed 28 prints from my ‘German Indications‘, along with the half dozen or so texts which accompany them (now online mainly in black and white and also rather better as a Blurb book.) Next was another at the Orleans House Gallery, there were one or two small shows at the college where I was working and then a series of at least five shows at the Watermans Arts Centre.

One of the advantages of leaving the RTPS is that we were able to invite other photographers to join Framework, and those who came and attended the meetings and showed work included Carol Hudson, Peter Jennings, Jim Barron, Townly Cooke, Tony Mayne, Virginia Khuri, Yoke Matze, Robert Claxton, David Malarkey and others whose names will be familiar to at least some LIP members. We also had guests who showed work with us, including several of those who Terry persuaded to come and talk to us, such as Jo Spence. Unfortunately I don’t think a full record of the shows and certainly not of the meetings exists, and though I started to put together a web site with the information I had to hand in 1997, I never completed it – though the unfinished work is still on-line.

Framework basically worked by having a whip-round when we needed money – and I think we had a notional fee for coming to the meetings, though were seldom good at collecting it. But one thing we did buy was a large and expensive portfolio case to take work to galleries. And it was this portfolio, with work from Framework people, that was taken to the Mermaid Theatre to get the venue for LIP’s first exhibition.

LIP never quite replaced Framework, which closed down a few years after LIP was formed. LIP was a larger group but lacked the independence that had been an essential part of Framework – which for example never used external selectors for its shows, but battled it out amongst ourselves. And though LIP enabled the Photographers’ Gallery to stop running its ‘Young Photographers’ group, which I wasn’t the oldest still taking an active part in, which had become something of a trial for its education officer who frankly wasn’t up to the job, LIP never really received the support from the gallery that it had apparently been promised.

But I think also, the key people in Framework had moved on the time we decided to quit. Terry was increasingly involved internationally in the alternative processes world, and into the RPS Historical Group which he ran for some years, Derek Ridgers was enjoying great success working for the NME and other publications who flew him across the world to photograph music icons, and I was involved in London Documentary Photographers and their shows, though I still took part in LIP events and shows for more than 10 years – including around five years as editor of the LIP magazine, then called LIPService, until pressure of work writing about photography and taking pictures made it impossible. Others remained more firmly in LIP, some until the present day.

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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

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London 1978 – The Crescent Cafe

Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

Since the start of the year I’ve been making the occasional post of my pictures from the 1970s with some comments on my Facebook Page – though not quite as regularly as I did with my Hull photos for Hull2017, where I kept up daily posts for the whole of Hull’s year as UK City of Culture. I’m still posting the occasional set of images and comments to the Hull site, and all of the London pictures are on my more recent London Photographs site, which was put on hold for Hull’s year in the limelight.

A few of the pictures of London I have shared here earlier, but most are new, and where either pictures or comments have a particular photographic interest I’ll share them here too. The photographs will link if clicked to the London site where they appear a little larger. This is today’s image and comment:


Crescent Cafe, Crouch End Hill, Hornsey, Haringey, 1978
16r26: cafe, Haringey,

I didn’t go in the Crescent Cafe (they spelt it without an accent) but had it been open I might well have been tempted to hand over 7p for a cup of Tea, or even 17p on a Bacon Roll, though its unlikely I would have been hungry enough to deal with Egg + Bacon + Sausage + Toms, nor have been able to spare the 56p to pay for it. It seems nothing now, but money was  very tight for me then though that 7p would only be around 38p allowing for inflation, so still a bargain.

It was however probably the highly detailed menu on the blackboard that attracted my attention, along with the shiny aluminium of the urn and teapot. I’m not sure why it was closed. Perhaps it was a Saturday or Sunday, or, as it was taken in August, perhaps the owners were taking their annual holiday, but the place was clearly still normally in business.

I can’t remember either what had taken me to north London, but I suspect I may have been carrying a large orange box of Agfa Record Rapid, following a visit to “the Brovira Boys of Muswell Hill“, Peter Goldfield and Martin Reed, who imported this holy grail of photographic paper into the UK, and published in 1978 ‘The Goldfinger Craftbook For Creative Photography‘, now rather dated but available on-line. Later I got to know Peter, and wrote a short piece on my >Re:PHOTO blog when he died in 2009. Martin Reed went on to continue the work they started at Silverprint, for many years from 1984 in Southwark and still in business, though without Martin, in Poole and by mail order.

Record Rapid died so far as photographers were concerned around 1988, when Agfa were forced to re-formulate it without cadmium for health and safety reasons. Cadmium compounds are highly poisonous, and are still used in artists’ pigments, but while they are fixed on the surface of paintings, and thus safe unless artists licked their brushes, a considerable proportion ran off into the drains when photographic paper was processed, and their use was banned in most countries. Papers containing cadmium salts continued to be made in other countries for a few years but none achieved the properties of the old Record Rapid, and probably the closest approach to it now involves using some inkjet papers.

Peter Goldfield
The Goldfinger Craftbook For Creative Photography
Silverprint
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There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________