I’ve got one brother, his name is Paul, and he’s 2 years 10 months and 6 days older than me – and I guess I was that annoying little brother, “Moi ?! C’est ne possible pas !” – well, OK, maybe it is. He was born in London in 1966, at St Bartholomews’ Hospital (“Barts” – WikiPedia tells me it’s the oldest hospital in Europe being founded in 1123) and it’s debatable if you can hear the sound of the Bow Bells from Barts so it’s not confirmed if we can call him a true cockerney, and I’m saying NO (maybe that’s the little brother thing – just there).
He visited this Easter weekend just gone and it was a great opportunity to catch up, and of course take some pictures for #Project14. Dad popped over with Joyce on Good Friday for lunch, bringing with him a leg of lamb to add to the silverside joint of beef we cooked and as you can imagine, we all ate far too much and drank far too much beer and wine. Dad does know how to cook a leg of lamb – I must take my hat off to him !
Alex is Paul’s son and always comes down to see us when Paul comes. The last time he came was to go to the Emirates Stadium to watch Arsenal play Naples in the Emirates Cup – a two day pre season friendly tournament used to sharpen skills before the football season proper starts. Alex was a Manchester United supporter before last summer’s Emirates Cup but Paul bought him an Arsenal shirt and once he’d been in the Emirates Stadium he was hooked and now talks nothing of Man Utd but all about the Arsenal – a job well done I say.
So there we have it – another chapter in the life of #Project14 – I used the Mamiya C33 and black and white film to capture some pictures in the full ethos of #Project14 but thought it’d be rude not to capture the Welsh Contingent (another reason I’m sticking to the non-Cockerney status – he moved to Wales around the turn of the century) for blogging purposes – I do like the way these portraits have turned out. I think I’ll use this technique again !
Get in touch if you’d like some family photos done – email me direct – firstname.lastname@example.org.
… came over to see me this morning to pose for and be part of my Project 14. I hadn’t seen him for a few weeks so I went over to see him yesterday morning for a coffee and took my camera with me to photograph him doing what he normally does on a Saturday morning. I got there too late to go with him to the paper shop but he was back and doing the crossword when I got there, always The Times crossword, he used to do the crossword in the Telegraph but that got a bit too easy so he moved on to The Times.
Project 14 is the project I set myself to photograph people and places that have influenced me or had a bearing on my life from day one in 1968 to the present day. I’m doing all this with the Mamiya C33 medium format film camera, using black and white film, developing that film and printing the negatives in the darkroom. So, obviously, Dad comes top of that list. I took a few shots with the digital camera which are on here today and I also took 6 rolls of Ilford Delta 400 over the two mornings so I’ve got them to develop and add to Project 14.
I always remember Dad watching Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy on telly back in the late 70s – he worked shifts and was never able to get to see the scheduled 9pm on Tuesday night but along the way he always managed to catch a repeat or rerun so he could get to see the whole series (this was before the days of VHS and Sky+ wasn’t even on the horizon).
As old school family businesses go, “Lakes for Volvos” in Wyboston, Bedfordshire is a true gem. I have recently become the proud owner of a rather old 2.3l Volvo 850 T5 (T5 being the fast one, the one used by the police in years gone by) .
More often than I’d hoped in the last couple of weeks I’ve visited Wyboston in the hope to find the fix to my ongoing breakdowns and too frequent calls to the fourth emergency service.
Whilst there yesterday and talking to the owners I thought they deserved a piece being written about them so I returned this morning with my camera.
All day long the phone rings, it was never off the hook while I was there this morning and the stream of visitors through the door kept part-owner Barry at the office.
The place is run by Barry and Bernard who have run their business at Wyboston for nearly 30 years. Bernard’s Grandson Ethan (18) was busy breaking an 850, he works weekends in the workshop while he’s at college studying Economics and Politics “A” Level, he’s got his exams this summer and is expected to pass with As all round.
Barry is very proud of the fact they work in an “old school” fashion doing honest and fair business with customers who return time and time again.
I bought this beauty a few weeks ago off ebay – I’ve been out with it a couple of times and so far I think it all works as it should. The C33 is a late 60s Twin Lens Reflex (TLR – view through the top lens and take the picture through the bottom lens) medium format professional camera manufactured in Japan – it uses 120 roll film and produces square negatives 6x6cm in size. It doesn’t have any metering and is fully manually operated, so to take a picture you either fly by the seat of your pants and use your best guestimate to choose aperture and shutter speed or you have some kind of light meter. The thing to the left of the camera in the picture is a 1950s Weston Master Universal Exposure Meter (another ebay acquisition), I’ve had it checked out and it works fine.
The plan, oh yes, there’s a plan, is to produce a body of work (15 to 20 black and white pictures) that I shoot, develop and print myself. The project will be loosely based on who I am and where I came from. We moved around quite a bit before the family settled in Luton in December 1976 – remember that hot hot summer of ’76? We lived in Milton Keynes for 9 months in 1976 before moving to Luton, before that we lived in a high rise block of flats (almost) overlooking Arsenal’s Highbury Stadium (and now even closer to the Emirates Stadium), before that we lived in Army Married Quarters in Bushey after moving back to England from Germany where Dad was stationed and I was born.
So that’s the plan – I’d like to think that by the end of 2014 I’ll have that set of prints that I’m happy with. It’ll take me to places I’m guessing will look quite different from what I remember. I’ll try and keep the blog updated with a few pictures along the way but the main aim of the project is to produce those pictures through film, negative, wet print and probably a few headaches from the darkroom chemicals – can’t wait !!
Popped up to High Town yesterday to see how the festival was going. High Town is a wonderful part of town, it’s underestimated and not given the credit it deserves. The High St is currently part of a regeneration scheme by the government whereby new startup businesses on the High St receive reduced business rates to help with the early years of trading. Shop 33 (Luton Community Arts shop I blogged about a few weeks ago is on the High St) was very busy yesterday with a programme full of local musicians coming into the shop to do an hours set.
Street photography is an art, your mind has to be alive and awake at all times, you have to be able to see stuff going on and capture it quickly. You also have to be mindful of people’s wishes, I stood to take a photo of a young barber cutting hair (it looked great – it was a tight afro with a pattern being sculpted into it) and I noticed as soon as I lifted the camera to my eye he caught me out of the corner of his eye and turned around sharpish. I dropped the camera, smiled through the window and asked if it was OK, he waved as if to say no so I gave him the thumbs up, he gave me a thumbs up back and we went about our business. Most people are fine and even relish the thought that someone thinks they are interesting enough to be photographed but if they’re not happy about it, I find it best to honour their wishes – no harm done.
These guys were very happy to have their picture taken and very good they were too, there were lots of scheduled events but I liked these guys and stood and watched them for about 15 minutes. Impromptu street corner busking, they just pitched up with their guitars and mouth organs and started playing, and very good they were too.
This blog is about Luton – the positives within Luton – it’s about the town but more importantly for me – it’s about the people – there are fantastic people in Luton. People who are proud to say they are from Luton, and this in a week where Luton, again, has been listed in the top 100 crappiest towns in the UK, an honour they won in the books 2004 publication. Here’s what Wikipedia says about the whole crap town affair. Well you know what !! I don’t give a shit about that book and I know a lot of Lutonians don’t either. I could go to ANY town in the country and shoot a series of photographs of dirty back streets, bins overflowing and general detritus. Luton’s got it’s bad points but it’s got a hell of a lot more good points ! I think this subject needs a full blogpost all to itself – I feel quite strongly about this !! Watch this space …
… Central Bedfordshire College have brought Dunstable Town Centre to life by moving their annual end of year Art Exhibition from the college campus to 4 vacant shops in the heart of the Quadrant. Dunstable is no different to any other small town up and down the country – every time you walk through the town centre there’s another boarded up shop or that thing you went in to town to get – you can’t get because the shop has closed down. Well someone at the college had a great idea to bring a bit of life to proceedings.
For almost a week – starting tomorrow 21st June and going on until next Wednesday 26th June – the empty shops will have art installations on show and students and teachers will be on hand to discuss work and generally help viewers get around. The 4 shops are close in proximity to each other near the exit from the Quadrant onto High St North.
I really can’t think of a better way to use empty shop carcasses – I don’t know what financials are going on but I would hope the college have a good deal with the landlords and when I say that I mean I hope they are getting the space for free. This exhibition should increase the footfall in the town centre dramatically over the next few days.
While you’re in Dunstable don’t forget the college’s more permanent space at The Store – in between the college building and the Gary Cooper – where they are also exhibiting photography, sculpture, graphic art and graphic design.
The project was designed for the student to deconstruct something and work with it. This student deconstructed a doll and made casts of the component parts – I thought these pieces were fantastic!
If you are in the area in the next week it would be an hour well spent looking around the exhibition – grab a coffee from Costa and have a wander. I might see you there!