Archive for October, 2019

Shot in Soho

Thursday, October 31st, 2019

It’s a while since I’ve been to the Photographers’ Gallery, which once used to be a regular place to call. I was a member for many years, probably more than 30, and used to attend most of the openings there, as well as dropping in occasionally when I was in town, perhaps to have a coffee, lock and the pictures and browse in the bookshop, as well as attend some of the lectures and workshops that took place there.

Back in the old days the gallery had an extensive library, mostly I think donated by photographers and run by volunteers, and it was a good place to visit and study books that were no longer available or too expensive to buy.

Back in the 1980s I was a member of a photographers group that had regular meetings there mainly looking at work that others had brought in, and some well-known photographers would drop in and show a portfolio and comment on our work. It was a part of the gallery’s education programme that that was needed for their charity status, but one that their education officer found hard to handle, and was very pleased to be able to drop in 1987.

I also worked at one time with a group set up to produce educational material there, getting some time release from the college where I was working. I’m not sure that we ever produced any material but it was interesting and fun to do.

There was a different atmosphere to the place in the old days. I used to go to the bookshop or café not just to look at books and drink coffee but for intelligent conversation about photography both with staff and other users. This just doesn’t seem to happen any more.

In those days the gallery was in Great Newport St, just a short walk from where I often find myself with some spare time in Trafalgar Square. Nowadays I tend to go into the National Gallery or the National Portrait Gallery instead. Since 2009 The Photographers’ Gallery is now a little further to go in Ramillies St, but mostly I gave up going because so many shows there held little interest for me.

I continued being a member for some years, even though I only went very occasionally until one year the cost of membership increased significantly for me and others of advanced years when they removed concessionary membership rates. Of course I could have afforded it, though I’m not rich, but the jump in cost made me think whether it was worth it.

What got me thinking about this was an on-line post on the British Journal of Photography web site. Again I was a BJP subscriber for many years, when it was a weekly trade journal and as well as publishing some well-written reviews of equipment and exhibitions had a useful listing of exhibitions. Then the BJP was an essential guide to what was happening in photography in the UK, but at some point it morphed into a monthly doing what other photo magazines already did, often better, and sometimes mainly featuring work which was of little interest to me. There seemed little point in continuing my subscription.

Of course it does still publish some interesting articles on good work, and the article I read on the web site by Marigold Warner, Anders Peterson on Soho, Cafe Lehmitz, and intention is a fine example. 18 images by Peterson are in the show ‘ Shot in Soho‘, along with work by William Klein and several others at the Photographers Gallery, London until 09 February 2019 (more pictures, some rather boring on the press release) and I will be finding time to go along and see the show, probably after 17.00 when entry is free. Usually the gallery closes at 18.00 but stays open until 20.00 on Thursdays.


Grenfell scapegoat scandal

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019

I hadn’t expected much of the official report into the Grenfell fire, but was still shocked when details of it were released that is was so clear and determined an attempt to shift blame onto the London Fire Brigade. Monumental scapegoating is no way to get at the truth, and hindsight is always cheap.

Had the LFB known what people in the TMO and Kensington and Chelsea council responsible for the cladding and the failure to properly maintain the building knew – and that the complaints by residents about fire safety had been ignored – or worse, they could be blamed for incorrect advice. But the council had deliberately hidden the truth about the building.

The Tory government too had played its part, cutting what it described as “red tape” over building regulations and allowing private companies to carry out essential safety inspections at cut price, which at best meant cutting corners and at worst simply not doing the job.

It was Boris Johnson as London Mayor who made sweeping cuts to the LFB, severely diminishing their capability to deal with fires such as this. Despite the number of high rise properties in London the service had to call on Surrey for an engine capable of dealing with a building of this height. Firefighters protested on the streets against the cuts to their capabilities driven by a Tory government and the Mayor.

Protest against closing fire stations in 2013

You can read the comments of an experienced and now retired fire-fighter on the “Stay Put” policy, who states he has attended “dozens upon dozens of fires in high rise residential buildings.” These buildings are designed to contain any fire within one flat, and would normally burn themselves out even without the fire brigade turning up. It didn’t work at Grenfell mainly becuase the building had been covered by cladding which some have described as “like petrol“. But the LFB didn’t know that. SteveDude68’s post includes a telling photograph of a serious high-rise fire he was in command of tackling in Bow in July 2018, “much more serious at the outset (than Grenfell) but extinguished within 20 minutes. ” Flames and a huge plume of black smoke pour out of the windows of the one flat, but nothing from the rest of the tower. Contrast this with the pictures of Grenfell.

It shouldn’t have taken this long to get at the truth about the fire – and of course it didn’t. Architects for Social Housing released their report The Truth about Grenfell Tower around 5 weeks after the disaster, and little has changed since then. After a similar fire in Japan, those responsible were in court just over a month later.

I’ll end with a quote from a comment today from the Facebook group Grenfell – The truth is out there :

Please remember the names of those directly responsible for what happened:
RYDON
ARCONIC
EXOVA
CEP
KCTMO
Please remember that the residents warned the KCTMO for years about their concerns.


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.

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.


South Pole and Back

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019

If you’ve not already done so, make sure you read Brian Harris’s post Stuart Heydinger-the South Pole and Back posted on his Brianharrisphotographer’s Blog a few days ago. It’s a post with interesting memories about legendary press photographers of the previous century, particularly Bill Warhurst, whose epic story about Stuart Heydinger is retold by Harris and the photographer. Heydinger’s photograph of a 1958 meeting between Dr Vivian Fuchs ( later to become Sir ) and Sir Edmund Hillary at the South Pole shows something of the initiative, planning, bravery and sometimes a little luck that went into what became a grand scoop, with Heydinger able to get his pictures of the meeting he had managed to set up back to The Times in London days or longer before other photographers present at the event.

In his research, Harris managed to track down Heydinger, now 92 and living in Germany and the article includes some lengthy comments written by him.

After recounting that story, Harris goes on to recount his own later experiences photographing on separate occasions both Hillary on Snowden on the 25th anniversary of the Everest climb, and making a much more formal portrait of Fuchs, both taken for The Times.

The piece is an interesting comment on the old adage about photojournalism, “f8 and be there”. Being in the right place at the right time sometimes takes and incredible amount of planning.


End Live Transport

Monday, October 28th, 2019

My heart sinks when any event I am intending to document is described as a “photo-opportunity”, or, as in this case has clearly been designed as such by someone working in PR. It’s like when someone tells me “this will make a great photograph” and I’m obliged to take some rather pedestrian images, often of large groups doing something not very interesting.

I’m a photographer, and see it as my role to come up with ways to tell the story and not to be told how to see things, often by people who seem bereft of any power of thinking visually. Of course it’s useful if people have made posters and placards, but very few really add to a scene if reproduced in large numbers. Perhaps the only example of those that do I can think of offhand are those produced by David Gentleman for Stop the War protests.

The idea of a poster showing part of a cow’s face that people could hold up in front of them and complete with the left side of their own face wasn’t a bad one, and it works well when photographing one or two people, but doesn’t at least for me for a whole herd. It simply isn’t possible to see what it is meant to be – and I’ve only photographed around half the herd in the picture above.

Cut down the numbers and you can see it beginning to work, but I think the best attempt I managed was the image at the top of this post, with only two people involved.

Perhaps it could have been even better with just one person, but I chose to photograph John Flack, who recently lost his seat as a Conservative MEP with another poster which made clear by its text what the event was about. I know nothing about his background, but to me he looks very much the image of a wealthy farmer, though appearances are often deceptive and Wikipedia informs me that as well as being an active animal welfare campaigner he was a chartered surveyor and a director of various property companies. After a distinct lack of success in his campaigns for parliament and failing to become an MEP for the East of England in both 2009 and 2014 he rose to that status after sitting MEP Vicky Ford was elected as an MP in 2017.

The event marking Stop Live Transport International Awareness Day was a curiously Conservative one, with as well as John Flack, Tory MP Theresa Villiers speaking. Other speakers were Compassion in World Farming CEO Philip Lymbery , Professor Jo Cambridge of Vets Against Live Export and actor Peter Egan .

More at Rally to end Live Animal Transport.


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.

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.


Grenfell – 2 Years on

Sunday, October 27th, 2019
Just Us – the community has responded to the disaster while council and government mouth empty promises and attempt to let long grass grow over Grenfell

Thousands walked in silence from close to Grenfell Tower remembering the victims of the disaster on the second anniversary of the disastrous fire which killed 72 and left survivors traumatised.

Some people brought flowers to mark the occasion

Promises made by Theresa May and her government and Kensington & Chelsea council have not been kept and the inquiry seems to be simply providing an excuse for inaction and passing blame onto the fire-fighters who risked their lives to save people. There have been no arrests, no prosecutions, no improved building regulations and few buildings have had unsafe cladding removed.

and many – including this photographer – wore green scarves for Grenfell

The community feels failed and abandoned by the authorities and angry that Grenfell victim Reis Morris in jail for the anniversary after an angry exchange with a fire chief over the flammable plastic cladding on the building in which the traumatised campaigner who lost a relative in the fire put his hands around the fire chief’s neck.

Grenfell Tower has been covered up, but the community refuses to let the atrocity be covered up
Some carried portraits of the victims who died in what was the largest mass killing in this country since the war
but one for which no one has yet been brought to justice.

A large slogan on the bridge over Ladbroke Grove stated “In The Face Of Injustice Anger Is Justified – #IamReis Morris – #JusticeforGrenfell“.

More pictures on My London Diary: Grenfell Silent Walk – 2 Years on.


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.

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.


Naked Bikers

Friday, October 25th, 2019

I hadn’t gone out of my way to photograph the London World Naked Bike Ride, but the point where all the riders who start at a number of points around central London meet up for the final section of their ride was close to the station from which I get my train home, so it seemed to be worth taking a few minutes to cover the event.

The first London WNBR took place in 2004 but with very little advance publicity – I’d attended and photographed ‘Bikefest’ which it is associated with on the day it took place but remained unaware of it. In 2005 I was out of the country when it took place. So I first photographed this event back in 2006, when quite a few people I knew were taking part.

This year I think there was nobody I knew in the event, or at least no one that I recognised without their clothes on. The ride is billed as “a protest against oil dependency and car culture” and back in 2006 it appeared to appeal to many people involved more generally in environmental protests. The message of the ride has never been very clear to those watching it and I think over the years the participants have changed, and it now seems much more dominated by naturists and has a rather smaller proportion of women taking part. The total number of riders this year, stated to be 1300, was roughly twice that in 2006.

There are some problems in photographing the event. It take place on the public highway, where no one has any expectation of privacy – and indeed people ride naked to make a statement, but some have tried to restrict photography in various ways. Not that this has ever had any effect on the crowds of tourists who the ride surprises who almost to a man (and many women too) get out their phones and take snap after snap.

But while the legal position on taking photographs of the event may be clear, there are problems in publishing the images in some media and particularly on platforms such as Facebook. I try hard to take at least some pictures with discretely placed saddles and handlebars.

I’d had enough after around 15 minutes and didn’t bother to try and follow the cyclists after they had moved off, though it would have been fairly easy to catch them several more times as they cycled around central London. But I went to a nearby pub with a friend I’d met photographing the event, and then on to cover another event. Or at least to try to; I arrived outside the Home Office at the right time on the right day to find no one there. I waited for a bit, checking the details on my phone, but after waiting for 20 minutes caught a passing bus to Vauxhall for the train home.

More pictures from the 2019 London World Naked Bike Ride.


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.

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.


Close all Slaughterhouses?

Thursday, October 24th, 2019

I have nothing against anyone who wishes to be vegan. Although I’m not myself vegan, I think it laudable that some people have chosen to live in this way. For all of us, cutting down the amount of meat we eat is a good thing, probably for ourselves and certainly for the planet. The same is true for diary products, though I think to a lesser extent.

But I can’t agree that we should stop all animal farming and would hate to see the end this would mean to seeing animals grazing in fields, many of which would be unsuitable for growing crops. Grazing animals have an important role in keeping soil healthy, cutting down the need for chemical fertilisers and contributing to biodiversity.

Back in the day successful farmers cared for the animals they farmed and it was in everyone’s interest to treat them well. I’d certainly call for the end to highly intensive farming that now produces meat more cheaply but with great cruelty, and we try to avoid buying meat produced through animal cruelty. But I think it wrong to suggest that all farming of animals is cruel.

Much of the campaigning in the posters and speeches at events such as this is I think misleading, playing on emotional responses to pictures of cute animals. Much also seems to me to fail to understand the basics of the natural world, where many species do prey on other species; what we do in farming animals is a more organised and arguably less cruel extension of this. Foxes may look cuddly in photographs and videos of them playing, but put them among the chickens and you get a bloodbath, nature indeed red in tooth and claw (but of course we shouldn’t make a sport out of hunting foxes.)

The premise of many protesters is that there is no such thing as humane slaughter, and this protest calls for the closure of all slaughterhouses. It unfortunately isn’t had to find examples of cruel practices and to make horrific videos showing them. It’s certainly good that such cruelty is exposed and that the laws that exist against such practices are used with full force to outlaw them – and where necessary that such laws are strengthened. We certainly should try to develop more humane ways to kill animals for food, which I think has been the aim of our previous legislation in the area, but I’d sure this could be improved.

I think all species are inherently “speciesist” and we should not feel any guilt about thinking there is something special about humanity. To suggest that cows or pigs or sheep are “just like us” is simply wrong; in many important ways they are simply not, though of course there is much we share.

Of course some of the claims made are simply wrong. Dairy cows have been extensively bred to produce many times the amount of milk their calves require. We can drink it or use it to make butter and cheese without “stealing it from the calves.” We take honey from the bees (something I’ve certainly done myself) but have to give them sugar to keep the colonies healthy so they will produce more honey for us in following years and so on. As I wrote back in June, “keeping animals and killing them for food or milking them can be done in a decent and humane way and one that has an important contribution to our environment.” Like everything in nature it needs balance.

More pictures at Close all Slaughterhouses.


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.

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.


Trump protest – Whitehall rally

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019

People had gathered in Trafalgar Square for the short march to a rally opposite Downing St where President Trump was meeting Prime Minister Theresa May.

There were many speeches from Jeremy Corbyn, Caroline Lucas, Frances O’Grady, Diane Abbott and other leading politicians and activists sending a clear message that President Trump is not welcome here. Corbyn is often said to be a weak speaker, but his speech here was cogent and delivered powerfully to a huge reception.

After the speeches the march continued, going around past the Ministry of Defence to the Embankment and then on to Parliament Square. By the time it reached there I’d had enough. Standing in one place as I was listening to speeches is bad for my legs now, inflaming my varicose eczema and I needed to sit down and rest. I left to sit on a train on my way home after a few minutes.

There were a handful of pro-Trump protesters who came and stood on the sidelines and shouted at the people marching past, some making the OK or Ring gesture adopted by white supremacists. Shortly after I left a woman – one of the Brexiteers who regularly make a nuisance of themselves outside Parliament – attacked the large baby Trump dirigible with a knife, puncturing it.

Extinction Rebellion’s ‘Red Brigade’ in blood-red robes also put in an appearance at Whitehall and in Parliament Square. Trump has taken the USA out of U.S. the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change and is a leading climate change denier and promoter of fossil fuels.

Many more pictures, including most of the speakers at Thousands protest against Trump.


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.

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.


Trump protest – Trafalgar Square

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019

President Trump’s State Visit to the UK in June was apposed by a large section of the British people and thousands had come to Trafalgar Square to protest and state their opposition to his climate denial, racism, Islamophobia, misogyny and bigotry.

Many of us are appalled at both his policies and his behaviour in office, and his continual lies and dishonesty, denouncing true stories as fake news and making up and repeating lies, misusing his position to unfairly attack and smear opponents.

Corrupt to the core, that his business activities have not resulted in him being in jail rather than becoming wealthy and the president demonstrate that something is very wrong with the US legal and political system. Though given that another charlatan, Boris Johnson is now our prime minister our UK system is little better. Both are evidence of the failure of democracy.

Trump is totally ridiculous. It’s difficult to distinguish the real Trump from the satire, often less ridiculous than the real. But there was plenty of amusement among the placards and caricatures of the man on display. Though it isn’t really funny that this imbecile is now in charge of the most powerful nation on the planet, one that that tries to impose its will on countries around the world through both covert and open military methods.

People met in Trafalgar Square to march the few hundred yards to a rally that filled Whitehall – and which I’ll write about in a seperate post.

More pictures at Thousands protest against Trump .

Osterley House

Monday, October 21st, 2019

Osterley is a place few people seem to know about, though many pass through its station on the Picadilly Line between Central London and Heathrow or drive past it on the Great West Road. It’s place where few actually live, a handful of streets to the north of that road along with a huge estate of Osterley Park House and an even vaster area of Green Belt with sports areas and a golf club between Southall, Heston, Hanwell, Isleworth and Brentford, whose football club have a training site there. Now the M25 runs through the northern part, cutting it off even more.

I knew it from my early years, an easy bike ride from my home in a densely built up part of Hounslow, with a grand avenue of Sweet Chestnuts where you could rummage through the grass to pick up chestnuts to take home and roast in the oven. Doubtless in earlier years one might have been transported to Australia for such theft, but things were easier in the 1950s.

Later I ran through the ‘Hole in the Wall’ into the fields of Osterley Park on cross-country runs from my secondary school – at least until we learned to disappear into Jersey Gardens on the way there, hiding out enjoying a few fags until the mud-spattered runners came past on their way to the finish a few hundred yards away, coming in respectfully down the field.

Osterley was a country house for two of the wealthiest of English Bankers, the first house built here for Sir Thomas Gresham in 1576.  Sir Francis Child acquired it after a mortgage default and his two grandsons had Robert Adam do a much more fashionable makeover in the 1760s. The stable block survived and now contains the shop and tea-room.

On the death of his brother the property as a whole passed to his younger brother Robert Child; when his only child, a daughter eloped with the Earl of Westmoreland the enraged father changed his will leaving the property in trust to his as yet unborn first granchild. She was born a couple of years later and went on to marry George Villiers, the 5th Earl of Jersey (later he got a royal licence to change his surname to Child Villiers) which explains why Osterley’s main road along which you approach the estate is Jersey Road.

The house was first opened to the public briefly by the 9th Earl in 1939, before becoming a Home Guard training establishment. After the war he moved to Jersey selling the furniture to the V&A and giving the house and park to the National Trust – who handed it over to the Ministry of Works and the V&A for restoration. There was some limited opening of the house to the public and I remember going there when quite young, but it was only in 1991 that it was handed back to the National Trust.

Our visit to Osterley was a short one, and I didn’t have time to go around the house but after a meal in the stables (not hay, but I don’t recommend it) did go into the gardens. Although the wider park is free to the public, there is a charge for the house and gardens, but free entry for members of the National Trust and the Art Fund.

More pictures at Osterley Park.
Images taken on National Trust property are copyright but not available for reproduction or sale.


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