Carnival – Up Close and Impersonal

After 2 years of Covid restrictions, Europe’s largest street party, the Nottinghill Carnival made a comeback appearance on the streets of West London, over the last Bank Holiday weekend in the UK. I went around 10am on the ‘Family Day’ Sunday, walking up the parade route in reverse which I always do, so as to encounter the bands and performers as they head out from the assembly point on Kensal Rise. It was a warm sunny day, but noticeable cooler than the heatwave of a few weeks earlier, which reached 35 – 40c. It was only 23c that morning but the sun was shining and it felt hotter, due to the fast-paced dodge-walking amongst tightly packed crowds and performers.

Family Day means fewer or no big costume floats, the kind that rivals the best of Rio, those are reserved for tomorrow, Monday. Nevertheless, there are plenty of sights and sounds to saviour as well as Caribbean street food, rum punch and beer.

I don’t think I got any ‘gems’ photographically this year as I didn’t stay on long enough after a quick lunch of jerk chicken and rice, but it was good to see visitors from all over the world back in London having a good time again.

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Drought declared in UK

Temperatures reached over 40C in July, the highest ever recorded in the UK, and much of the country hasn’t seen substantial rainfall since. Many parts of the country have officially declared drought status where restrictions on domestic water use will be enforced.

Picture : Parched tree, Kensington Gardens.

Back in time : Kuala Lumpur

It’s Sunday and where I live it’s now Tier 2 of the latest Covid-designated level of restrictions. Tier 1 being Medium risk, 2 meaning High and Tier 3 is the absolutely no mingling stay home, pub-closing variety. Anyway the scientists (who listen to scientists anymore, I wonder) say all these tiers are confusing and pointless, since the virus cannot read and they fly around in the boundary-less air with the wind, and they will come and infect you whether you are drinking in the pub, exercising in the gym or do sweaty yoga unless you are in Westminster and your name is Dominic or so they say.

But I digress. Here are some pictures of KL central, from way back, yes in 2008, when I was hoping to be a successful ‘street’ photographer (don’t we all) since almost every photowalk that has ever been organised that I recall always starts in Petaling Street and teaches street photography.

Has it changed? I wonder where these people are today, their faces frozen in time. Do you recognise them, it would surely be interesting to know. Apologies for the garish oversaturated colours, but like sepia and spot colouring, it was in trend back then. I’m more into muted tones now.

Earth Day 2020

Earth Day 2020 today, calls for Climate Action. Clean air is a major factor to healthy living. During the current pandemic, many industrial centres across the world – China, India – have seen a dramatic improvement if air quality and a reduction in CO2 emissions. In the UK there are current research into the causative effects of London’s highly polluted air and the number of serious COVID-19 patients. The city of Milan in Lombardy, the most polluted and affected region in Italy, has announced an ambitious plan to rededicate 35kms of city centre roads to cycle and pedestrian use this summer.

I hope for a cleaner and healthier post-pandemic world, which could begin with forest regeneration and less reliant on fossil fuels.

Bruno Cattani : Eros & Memorie

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I had the pleasure of acquiring not one, but two photography books from Italian photographer Bruno Cattani last November at the Photolux Festival in Lucca. So much has happened since my rained soaked weekend in the beautiful walled city of Lucca where Puccini was born, and I was recently reminded gently by the gentleman, Mr Cattani, if I could give him my views on his books.

With the current lockdown in the UK due to the pandemic, and with ample ‘lounging-around’ moments throughout the days (weeks and even months ahead…) I finally got to look at, and into – the photographs in these publications.

Not often, I find myself so intrigued in fine-art photography – especially in book form, since most of my recent acquisitions were documentary works  (see Road to recovery : Noriko Takasugi & Catalina Nucera). Documentary works inform and illustrate stories told by their authors – of distant lands, events and peoples, their struggles, their celebrations and their encounters.

Eros, 2018 and Memorie, 2014 do not do that. However, they evoke feelings and emotions, sometimes repressed and locked away in one’s mind.

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Eros is a collection of detailed black and white studies of marble figures. In Europe, these decorate the internals of churches, in public spaces and museums in all their splendour, magnificence and artistry, as common as can be. However, Bruno’s pictures capture the sensuality and erotism in their depiction of the often accentuated female and male forms made more pronounced by detailed lighting, texture and composition, which is his signature style in this series.  Ambiguous representation of marble or flesh? Figurative depiction or human skin? Abstraction or true form. Seeing beyond what is present in the shapes and shadows. The human body fascinates me, all the same.

Some of these thoughts will surely cross a viewer’s mind, as they did with me. Translucence is the emotive phrase I am thinking. Of mind, body and spirit, where clarity and opaqueness meld into each other.

Sometimes, we encounter an image, a sound or smell that triggers our hidden memories and they become as clear as the present day. Looking at some of the photographs in Memorie did just that for me. Even as I have not lived in or visited the city of Reggio Emilia in northern Italy, as the collection in this book depicts, it acts like a proxy trigger to similar places and experiences I have experienced in my years living in Europe.

That’s why I love this book so much as the scenes, some mundane and private only to the author, allows the viewer an insight to the personal encounters and memories of the photographer and at the same time gives me an opportunity to rediscover my past experiences too. More than feelings.


Contact the photographer for more information here :

http://www.brunocattani.it/en/?page=Publications

A people’s Carnival!

I seriously think there were 1 million people trying to get in by the time made my way out of the carnival route at 3pm. So happen it was the hottest ever recorded Bank Holiday weekend in the UK at over 34C, and that also brought out the crowds.

Shot with the little Ricoh GR Digital with daylight flash and a slide film filter. Great little camera.

Past Notting Hill Carnival posts here

Dog Day Afternoon

Been out at Victoria Tower Gardens by the Houses of Parliament on this bright and chilly Sunday afternoon with Kipper in tow to join the many Stop Brexit supporters and their pets at the second Wooferendum gathering. Barking mad, you might say, but the organisers have a point. If the UK leaves the EU on 29 March without a deal, any deal, then not only the population, but dogs who frequently travel to and from the continent will have to go through more checks and red-tape, vet medicines may increase in price, and the staffing of veterinary surgeries may be impacted also. Afterall, dogs are man’s best friends and we need to take care of them.

Time to heal

Encountered an anti-fascism and anti-racism rally in Central London this afternoon.  There seems to be a protest of some sort every weekend in this city and this weekend is no different. Division and hate are so prevalent in many societies today, from East to West it seems like they are inherent in the very being of humankind. We just commemorated Armistice Day last weekend, a stark reminder of what man can do to each other.