Mauvais Air

It means bad air, apparently. The name ‘malaria’ coming from the belief that the disease was spread through the air. Hence Mauvais Air as the title for this exhibition by William Daniels running at the Gallery @ Oxo until May 10.

The images are stunning. Take a look at this one for example. The haze is caused by being shot through a malaria net that the accompanying text informs us is wholly inadequate for the job. Each photo works in the same way – a richly textured visual is given context by information that makes the scene defiant, disturbing or otherwise redefined. Women sitting with their babies in a nondescript room are given meaning when we are told that they are waiting to have diagnoses of malaria in their children confirmed – and as the WHO notes, every 30 seconds a child dies from malaria.

In many ways the beauty of the photography overwhelms the shocking stories it is revealing – but this is an important exhibition and the fight against malaria can be won.

This exhibition needs to be seen.


Marilyn and Audrey, Proud Central

Sam Shaw was a lucky man. Camera in hand he followed Norma Jean Baker and Audrey Ruston … and took some of the definitive images of them.

Proud Central is showing them off over the next few months.

The one from the Seven Year Itch is here alongside Marilyn at the beach in full glorious colour. The interesting ones have Marilyn alongside Arthur Miller as they drive, walk and occasionally sit in some New York locations.

Audrey Hepburn is in Paris most of the time. Some wonderful grainy and slightly blurred black and whites showing her in an almost postcard version of that city.

As ever, Proud are selling – so all this work is available at around £1,800 a pop (add another £100 for a frame). If you have the means, I highly recommend an immediate purchase. For the rest of us, it’s a more than pleasing diversion from swine flu and the ongoing financial apocalypse.

(See the above image large here).


All the best people get their first credit in the Bucks Examiner, you know.

And I’m no exception.

This photo can be found on page 85 of this week’s edition.

I believe the next stage in my career will be a major retrospective at Tate Modern of my ‘early, somewhat puzzling’ works created on a Dixon’s disc camera in 1985.


Behind Basra

The last exhibition I saw at the Bargehouse was all about how delightful Sardinia is and wouldn’t you like to visit us soon? This one’s about Basra. In Iraq. Maybe you’ve heard of it.

It’s the work of a single photographer – Essam al-Sudani – working on a DFID commission and it aims to present the ‘real lives’ of the people of Basra. Not being a Basran I can’t say how successful it is.

The images in the exhibition, and there are probably about twice as many as there need to be, are presented without text to explain the who, what, where, when and why. This is a bit annoying as given that ‘we’ have been defending liberty in Iraq for six years now it would be useful to know which are the more recent pictures.

That said, the majority are interesting and there is one absolute stand out – two women in Muslim dress walk down the road, on one side an armoured vehicle of the occupation, on the other a man selling a vanload of mangoes. All aspects of life captured in a single frame.

The comments book is worth reading as you leave. It seems that for a lot of people it’s been eye opening to see that there is a normal life in the middle east – away from suicide bombers, occupying forces and jihad.

I think I’d still rather holiday in Sardinia though.


Whoa! Slow Down London …

I owe Slow Down London a debt of thanks.

There I was, camera in hand, staring out to the river and trying to create some Gursky-esque shots of water and beach (without much success) and then I turn round and what do I see …

Well, the first thing I saw was Olivia Colman.

But the next thing I saw was …

A man with a cardboard box on his head and another with a tortoise on his noggin. I didn’t snap Olivia Colman but I did get some (deliberately) blurry ones of the slow down folk.

The other two shots are here and here.

The Slow Food Market is coming to Southbank Centre this Friday to Monday. Be sure and stop by the hog roll stand. It’s perfect for a … ahem .. quick bite.

See the above shot large here.


The Bad Photographs’ Home

The Photographers’ Gallery has a new online wheeze – it’s Beautiful Disasters “a place for sharing your photographic blunders”.

There’s a load of photos there already. I shall have a rummage for some that can join them but so far only this one seems to have the right combination of blur and potential meaning.

I’m a bit suspicious of some of those there to be honest. They look a bit too much like planned disasters. But there’s a lot of arresting images nevertheless.

It’s not the same now we’ve gone digitial anyway. No more Boots warning stickers for any of us.


The Shield of Buckinghamshire

I’ve been to Amersham Chiltern rugby union a few times this season as they’ve stomped over everybody in their division bar Newbury Stags.

Yesterday in the spring sun was the Bucks Shield final against Phoenix of Taplow.

And a decent match it was too. 8-5 at half time and it stayed that way through most of the second half as both teams defended their territory ferociously and attacks came agonisingly close to the decisive score before being snuffed out. Two late scores made it 20-5 at the death but it really was a lot closer than that.

Still they seem pleased.

Apparently Chiltern will be stepping up a level next season so hopefully there will be more games of this standard to point the camera at.

There were at least four ‘serious’ cameras in the crowd so there will be better photos out there. Mine are here – and see the top one large here.

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