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Add perspective into your life.

In her own words. One woman’s life, and what a lesson it is for us all.

“I am not sure of my exact year of birth but I think I should be around 66 or 67 years old. 

I was born around here, near Dharamsala,  and lost my mother as a child, I was raised by my stepmother. Later I was married at the age of 15. I lost my husband at the age of 24, to some unknown sickness due to stomach pain. 

I moved back to Dharamsala from my inlaws place after the death of my husband as I faced a lot of problems and was not wanted there. I sold off whatever little farmland I had and I bought a small piece of land and built a mud hut in Gamru village (quite close to Mona, the doll makers studio) as till I was 24 I could work on the farm but after my husbands death it became difficult to farm, tend to cattle and take care of the girls as I had my three daughters alone. 

I now have two cemented rooms added to the mud -house which I rent to Tibetan refugees for a monthly rent of 2,000 Rs each (about £20 ). Over that, I make money from working at Dolls for Tibet and knitting dolls clothes which gives me enough money to survive and to have a peaceful life. 

Earlier I used to work part-time at other peoples houses as a cleaner and a maid,  but now I am unable to do heavy work so I quit that.

My life so far has been all right (her eyes tear up when she begins speaking about her life’s experience). I earned some on my own and God gave me the rest. 

I managed to educate my three daughters, the eldest one I could only educate till 5th grade, the middle one till 12th grade and the youngest till her graduation. I got all of them married they all live in other towns and cities and we meet sometimes.

I tell them and all others to… 

“Do well, don’t lie, work with honesty and courage. Don’t bad mouth others”

There are always tough and trying times and we must overcome them. No one can be there for you at all times, when there is trouble then only you yourself have to live through it. And we must have faith in god. As when things are good family, friends and everyone is around, when things go wrong no one wishes to be around. I have seen this in my own life. 

By keeping myself busy knitting for Dolls for Tibet and earning money I pass my time, I feel better doing this rather than sitting at home and doing nothing. Sometimes I think that I find life difficult now, whereas earlier I had no time to think. I woke up before sunrise, I tended to cattle, I cooked for my children, sent them to school, worked on the farm. Milk the cows, sell the milk to earn money, take the cows out to graze, cut firewood before dark to cook the meals on, Take care of my daughters. 

Now I am alone and my mind wanders, as I don’t have much to do, so I think a lot.” 

Brahmo Didi. 

Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, Northern India. 2016.

My thanks to Abhishek Madhukar, Journalist and film-maker, for conducting this interview and providing the translation.
You can see some of Abhishek’s work here…

Just a little of Birmingham’s brutalist architecture.

Three Brutalist building in Birmingham. Two of which have gone.

The first is the now-demolished Birmingham Central Reference Library designed by John Madin and constructed in 1974. It lasted 41 years before its recent destruction.

The second is the signal box at New St Station (comprising 2 images), designed by Bicknell & Hamilton and W.R. Healey and completed in 1965. This is listed and so remains.

The third is 103 Colmore Row, the Nat West Tower, as it was known. Designed by John Madin. It opened in 1975.  It was demolished in 2015-16 and is to be replaced by another, taller tower.

Fairground attraction 1970’s

Back in the late 1970’s, I would wander around my home city of Birmingham, camera in hand.

At the time it was all Black-and-White work, self-developed and printed in a makeshift darkroom. I had different cameras to choose from, nothing exotic. I used twin lens reflex and 35mm. These images were from my 35mm camera probably on *400asa film hence the grain.
*(I must check as I have the original negatives somewhere)

The images below were from a sojourn to an impromptu fairground, many popped up like this around the city. This one appeared in Hay Mills, adjacent to the A45 near to Small Heath.


Differing opinions.

For me, a satisfying image has shapes and layers.

I was at the SteamPunk festival in Lincoln on Saturday. This image was from the lower half of the city (where there were fewer SteamPunk attendees).

I was drawn by the incongruous hat of the SteamPunker – a white military helmet surmounted and enclosed by an Octopus. I use that as the front layer and slightly out of focus, with shoppers passing in the next layer. 

The layer which first attracted me contains the Irish Dance Busker making eye contact with the delighted little girl. 

Finally, in the last layer of interest is the shop attendant peering out of the window.

I find this image satisfying even though it’s far from perfect containing as it does elements others may believe detract from the image.

As you maybe aware, my images are just for me so you may not agree. That’s OK. That’s what makes this art form so interesting – alternative views of the same thing and differing opinions.

Full Circle.

An exhibition of Images by Emma Bowater and James Millichamp.

Taking their inspiration and source images from the built environment, particularly urban decay and dereliction these two artists have worked to produce the images for this show.

At first glance, you would imagine this exhibition is by one artist, such is the consanguinity of their approach to the work and the resulting images.

The exhibition notes speak about their images much better than I could, so…

“We have always shared a fascination for the built environment, and particularly urban decay and dereliction. Over the past year we have been working together to exploit this theme through various processes, cross-pollinating and stimulating each other’s practice. Through painting, drawing, print and cyanotype we aim to capture the atmosphere of a space, alluding to the history lost through the process of decay. A disused building can act as a symbol for the temporaneous nature of mans’ achievements, or as a metaphor for emotional abandonment. Through the works, we seek to document the vacant and transient environments of architecture. Empty spaces, devoid of human life, freeze and reaffirm human existence. Detailing remaining relics of human presence, the images emphasise a sense of isolation and abandonment; echoing the emotional anxiety of absence.”

The show is well worth a visit. Go see if you can.

It’s running in the Digbeth Art Space Gibb St., Digbeth, Birmingham B9 4AT

ENDS… 2nd September 2019

Faded Grandeur.

In traditional Japanese aesthetics, wabi-sabi is a world view centred on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.

I’m not sure this image shows that principle exactly, but somehow, the imperfection of dilapidation and the consequent transience has a beauty of its own, albeit the process has perhaps gone just too far.

Nevertheless, this image of an old French Colonial townhouse in Pondicherry, Southeast India, for me anyway, has a faded grandeur and a presence all of its own.

Peter Barton
July 2019