All posts tagged: Birmingham

That was the year that was 2018

As the calendar year draws to a close there is a temptation to take stock of where you’ve come from, how the journey has been and where you have arrived at. So here goes… This has been a year of change. I suppose you could say that about most years, but I do feel this year has been about re-evaluation and change. Simplification and stripping back have been recurrent themes running through most of what I have done over the past 4 years but none more so than this year. That extends to camera gear, clothes (though don’t take the ‘stripping back’ too literally here), car, the accoutrements of daily life even my watch; all becoming as simple as possible. Simplification even changed our travel destinations. Sue and I haven’t travelled long-distance this year. No trips to the far-flung. Southern Spain and Greece have been our chosen countries this year. That, in itself, was a sizeable change. However, more significantly, photographically I have been working on other projects. For those who are curious: I have …

Victorian cast iron men's urinals under railway​ arches. Central Birmingham. Late 1970's

I talked yesterday of beauty in decay…

Yesterday  I reviewed the book ‘Beauty in Decay’. I mentioned in that review I was interested in this as a subject myself. I have very little work to show in this genre, despite being involved in urban renewal myself, which inevitably meant the destruction of these buildings. Way back then, sadly,  I didn’t carry a camera wherever I went. That’s a great regret to me – and should be a lesson to us all. However, in the mid to late 70’s I did get the occasional frame which indicated my leanings in this direction. I post three here. I hope they interest you. At an exhibition of some of my work back in the 70’s a critic said I was from the “dustbin school”. I was offended back then, I would take that as a compliment today. The image at the top of the page shows a Victorian, cast iron, men’s urinal in central Birmingham. It was placed underneath the railway arches on the approaches to New St Station, near to the Bullring. I returned …

Opening night at the Argentea Gallery, St Pauls Birmingham

New photo gallery opens in Birmingham.

  The Argentea Gallery opened for business in St Pauls Square in the heart of Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. Not, as you might think to sell jewellery but to exhibit contemporary photography. Set at the top of this refurbished 18th and early 19th century square with St Paul’s church at its centre the gallery fits in with re-purposing of the square’s fine buildings. It’s perfectly positioned to bring added culture to this fine square.

Navvie Birmingham

Four connected portraits.

I have chosen 4 of my pictures, all of which are over 40 years old, in order to show ‘related’ images. Odd you may think, but this choice reflects my desire to return to what I saw then. Not what I actually saw, you understand, but more my ability to see something else. Yes, they are out of focus. Yes, they are grainy. Yes, they may have been treated with a heavy hand when scanning and printing. All of these are faults by modern day standards. And yet, for me,  these images manage to contain some of what todays ultra-sharp, perfectly exposed and wonderfully printed images lack, That ‘Je ne sais quoi’ that I’m struggling to regain. Perhaps it’s the magic of time passing which has provided that curious, mysterious essence. Or maybe it’s just that these characters aren’t around anymore; disappeared from our more homogenised society. Who knows. It goes without saying they were shot on film. All Black and White. One, the Navvie, was shot on 6×6 the others on 35mm. And all …

Tommy Mesham riding an Indian Motorcycle on the Wall of Death 1970's

It was the wall of death that did it.

Back in the late 70’s I was at the Tulip Festival in Birmingham’s Cannon Hill Park. There was a Wall of Death booth. I was fascinated. I had my camera with me and I took a few frames. This being the one that worked. I used a friends darkroom to print the image. The picture came out of the liquid in the red light.  It was probably the first picture I had made which had that ‘quality’ to it. That certain something I had seen in the pictures of others. I loved it and still do. Is it my favourite? As Elliot Erwitt says when asked about his favourite picture  “I hope I haven’t taken it yet”. And that’s the case with me. Still trying after all these years. Peter Barton.