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A change of camera

A while back I ventured out with a different camera. I went out with this. As you can imagine I got some strange looks but nobody took it seriously at all. I was largely ignored.

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Just out of interest, here are the results…

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Reduced Landscapes:

I’ve admired the work of the abstract expressionist artist, Mark Rothko for many years.
His reduction of images to blocks of colour, mainly in the horizontal plane, appeals to me.
The images are not complex; perhaps that’s the attraction.

Though not specifically a landscape photographer I’ve produced many images in that genre. Most early pieces of my work are picturesque, over-sentimental, touristy pieces, but over the past 20 years, I’ve been attracted to stripping down the image, Rothko like, to bands or blocks of colour.

Book Review: Small Town Inertia

Title: Small Town Inertia.
Photographer: J A Mortram.
Essays: Lewis Bush. Paul Mason.
Poem:  Jamie Thrashivoulou
Reference: ISBN 9781908457363
First published:  Hard back 2017 by Blue Coat Press, Liverpool
Website: smalltowninertia.co.uk
Size:310mm x 215mm x 20mm

Jim Mortram, the master of the Long form of photo story, has released his first book. I’ve known Jim Mortram for a few years and all the while he’s been building up to producing this book; closely working with his community in and around his hometown in Norfolk.

Jim’s output is reminiscent of others who have chosen to highlight this sector of our community. The disadvantaged and the disabled.

He is following on* from others like:

Bill Brandt, who in the 1930’s produced hauntingly beautiful images in the East End of London, the North East of England, and Yorkshire. Much of his work was published in the excellent Picture Post in the 1940’s.
Nick Hedges photographs of the poor taken for ‘Shelter’ in areas of deprivation around the UK in the 1960’s and 70’s. About his work Hedges said…

‘Although these photographs have become historical documents, they serve to remind us that secure and adequate housing is the basis of a civilised urban society. The failure of successive governments to provide for it is a sad mark of society’s inaction. The photographs should allow us to celebrate progress, yet all they can do is haunt us with a sense of failure.’

Sir Don McCullinwho’s work in Bradford, shown in his book ‘In England’ highlights the condition of the disenfranchised.

And yet Jim’s work is different. Those excellent photographers were able to walk away. No matter what pain the images they took inflicted on each of them, they went home at night, away from the abject misery they pictured. Away from the districts the impoverished lived in. Away from the conditions they had experienced that day.

This excellent photographer, Jim Mortram does not. He lives in the community he photographs. Being a full time carer for his mother, he experiences first hand the grinding oppression of the careless state on those less able to care for themselves.

His view is long term. His view is personal. His view is compassionate.
And it shows.

Buy it and read it.

Peter Barton
October 2017

*it’s a sad reflection that we need people to ‘follow-on’ to highlight the plight of the disadvantages in this country. Governments should be ashamed.

(my apologies to any photographers I have not included in my short list)

Travel: My fellow passengers.

Like just about everyone, I travel. Sometimes on buses, trains, planes; you know, public transport.

People on the move are fascinating. Often they are immobile. Sitting, waiting, standing. It’s at those times when their bodies are in transit but still at rest and their minds are thinking of other things they most intrigue me.

When they are moving patterns develop and present themselves.

People watching is an endless and engrossing occupation. I simply capture some of those experiences.

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UK Closed doors

The order of things in Britain has changed over the last few years. It has changed at a pace unlike any I’ve seen in my life. Or, does it just seem to be changing faster because I’m getting older? I can’t tell. I can only view the pace of change from my own perspective, distorted or otherwise.

Many of our institutions we once thought rock solid have gone or changed so they’re no longer recognisable. It’s inevitable, I suppose. Change has altered much of the fabric of our society,  none more so than the media. The BBC, long regarded as the bastion of independence and autonomy seems to have buckled with its new apparent right leaning bias.

The Newspaper industry, always powerful, now seems to have gained a renewed influence as its many independent elements have coalesced around certain powerful individuals. It wasn’t always like that.

Britain has a fine record of independent newspapers dotted around the country. The Stamford Mercury, for example, Britain’s oldest continuously published newspaper title having been running since the early 1700’s. The paper remains in print today.

Over the last few years, many established daily local newspapers gave up the ghost entirely or shrank to a weekly, full of advertising and with few real stories. Pale spectres of what they once were.

One such is what was known as the Coventry Telegraph. With, in its heyday, around 600 staff, including upwards of 200 journalists and photographers. This was the premier newspaper for this thriving Midlands industrial city from 1891 when the newspaper, then known as The Midland Daily Telegraph, was founded by William Isaac Illife.

The foundation stone of the ‘New” headquarters was laid in late 1957 by the then proprietor, Lord Illife G.B.E. And the building remained much the same until printing ceased there and the building fell out use.

The building remains on Corporation St Coventry to this day. Standing empty. A sad reflection of what it once was, with a boardroom and Lord Illife’s personal flat and staff quarters on the top floor with their delightful 50’s, currently chic, style. Offices below and largely gutted print works and reception area on the ground floor.

The building is set for conversion to a boutique hotel in a year or so. Meanwhile, it stands testament to it once being a part of an industry now unrecognisable to those who worked in there many years ago.

Long gone are the days but in my mind’s eye I can see and still hear the newspaper seller in Birmingham crying ” ‘spatch-a-mail” ( Despatch and Mail the names of local newspapers at the time). But being here, in this building brings it all back.

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Meeting room

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Bathroom of Lord Illife’s flat.

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Sitting room in The flat.

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Stair well

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Managing Director’s office

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On the Print floor

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Where machines once would have stood

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A nod towards Citizen Kane in the print rooms

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Remains of a Printing Press

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The reception area. The public interface.

 

With a lot more than just a nod to the title, these images were inspired by the work being carried out by fellow photographer David Barrett (@streetphotouk) who publishes this genre of work under the hashtag #ukcloseddoors over on Twitter.