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Picture Stories

A few picture stories ‘& essays
Scroll Recent Posts‘ and ‘Categories‘ for more words & pictures combinations.

 

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Picasso: Challenging the Spin

A ‘combative encounter’ with Picasso and groveling art-speak.

I’m not Picasso’s greatest admirer and I went to the National Gallery’s Picasso  exhibition armed with my usual misgivings about the nature of Pablo Picasso’s so-called ‘genius’. Whilst I haven’t previously seen many of Picasso’s paintings in the raw, the ones I did make efforts to view, including Guernica, didn’t exactly scorch the depths of my being.
Anyhow, it was a once in a lifetime  opportunity and for that reason was not to be missed.

It is a cliché that Picasso was one of the (if not THE) most influential artists of the 20th century. But how you see his influence on the world of art depends on your understanding of what the true essence, purpose and pinnacle of art actually is.
For the sake of my own simple mind, I sometimes imagine art through the ages as being one long tapestry through time, on which the (varying shades of) genius of each generation has left its indelible mark. When we get to the beginning of the last century, much of the tapestry starts to get cloudy, as can be seen in Claude Monet’s ‘Water-Lillies’ in Tate Modern. Brush strokes then fragment as isms and ists spring up like ‘toadstools after a rain’, and art’s tapestry is blurred by murky footnotes and textual spin. Judging purely from Picasso’s paintings in The National Gallery exhibition, he was quick to seize upon deconstruction and what unfolded through the six rooms was less like a painter eagerly ‘responding’ to the past’s rich tapestry, as one ripping out the threads and re-weaving them to suit his own ends. And whilst the styles may flutter, the hub of the work on the walls was unchanging.

Two defining facets of genius are these:
Firstly, that it rarely (if ever) comes via a committee’s approval, and secondly, that compromise makes an uneasy bedfellow. Continue reading Picasso: Challenging the Spin

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Everton Goodison Park

Goodison Park Everton

The brother of a friend tells a good story about Everton’s football ground.

In the days when he worked for a Spanish bank, he decided to take one of the bank’s bigwigs to a European night match against one of the Spanish sides. The fact that it was November 5th and bonfires were raging across the city didn’t raise any alarm bells, until they drove through one of the rougher parts of the city that now resembled a war zone.
Continue reading Everton Goodison Park

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Highbury Stadium Arsenal

Arsenal’s Highbury Stadium on Match Day

Photographically, I have many regrets, especially in relation to those football grounds that have disappeared forever. But I’m super-glad I had the foresight to get to Arsenal’s Highbury Stadium, before it shut its doors to football’s paying public. Continue reading Highbury Stadium Arsenal

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South Beach Miami

Colony Hotel Ocean Drive, South Beach

I think this picture of the Colony Hotel at sunrise is amazing and not just because I shot it (print available here).

South Beach Miami. The Colony Hotel in a sumptuous light
South Beach Miami. The Colony Hotel in a sumptuous light

I’ve been many times to shoot pictures at the tennis tournament on Key Biscayne, just south of Miami, though I always ended up in some cheap and tatty dive on Collins Avenue or Indian Creek. Continue reading South Beach Miami

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Es Vedra

Es Vedra, Ibiza

The rock of Es Vedra, on Ibiza’s Cala d’Hort, was the body double for the Island of Bali Hai in the movie South Pacific and – amongst many other walk-on parts – it featured on the cover of Mike Oldfield’s Voyager album (not his best work). In fact, the house with the very impressive view of this Mesozoic slab was owned by Oldfield (and latterly by one of the well-known musical Manc brothers in sky blue shirts…allegedly). Continue reading Es Vedra

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Salamanca

A while ago I had an idea for a (grown-up) younger person’s novel, about the ghost of a Priest from the Spanish Inquisition, who – for his sins – had been condemned to tread unnoticed amongst buildings from his own time, until one day he meets….(hey, the idea’s too good to share).
But where to set it?
A trawl through my stack of guide books suggested Salamanca. Continue reading Salamanca

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Hacienda Manchester

I have no recollection whatsoever of these picture (other than I was going through a phase of colouring my flash with blue filters!), though I have the feeling I’d been shooting pictures somewhere else beforehand and managed to get my cameras past the doormen (maybe with one of G.L.’s many forged VIP passes!). Continue reading Hacienda Manchester

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Clitheroe

Clitheroe, Lancashire
Clitheroe, Lancashire

Like much of the Ribble Valley and Lancashire, the weakness of under-funded tourism-cum-marketing is also its endearing strength. There are some wonderful places to see and things to do around these parts. But happily for those of us who avoid the crowds, comparatively few folk know about them: if it thrives, it does so because of locals and surrounding villages, though the train brings in a good number of walkers. Continue reading Clitheroe

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Manchester Cathedral: Ten to Seven

mancheste_2_CATHEDRAL
‘Ten to Seven’. Manchester Cathedral made more complete, by amazing light and an unsuspecting understudy.

In an ideal world (for photographers), people would look at an image and appreciate only the juggling of the various elements that make that hallowed image. Continue reading Manchester Cathedral: Ten to Seven

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Gabriela Sabatini

gabriela_sabatini-nu_3
Gabriela Sabatini, pictured contra jour in Miami.

On the main stadium courts at tennis tournaments, everything is staged and everyone is clambering for the same shots (and these days independent photographers would struggle to even get a credential… agencies are the new cartels). Continue reading Gabriela Sabatini

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John Rylands Library

John Rylands Library Deansgate.
John Rylands Library Deansgate.

The John Rylands Library, on Manchester’s Deansgate, has never seen as many Tories as it does in the film about Winston Churchill, Darkest Hour.  Apart from the Historic Reading room, the original men’s toilets is also made good use of, where Neville Chamberlain defies library rules by using the loo to take his morphine. Continue reading John Rylands Library

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Downham

Downham.
Downham.

There’s a subtle perfection about Downham, and throughout the stunning May of 2018 I’ve intended merely to pass through (on my way to Bolton-by-Bowland or the Trough), only to get hijacked by seasonal subtleties of light and texture that won’t let me go until I’ve done it some kind of justice. Continue reading Downham

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Goya

Francisco de Goya

I’m tempted to state that anyone even remotely inclined towards artistic expression will know the pain of compromise, particularly if working with (and in) the media or on commercial commissions.
But this is perhaps less true now than it ever was, and here are two of the reasons why: Continue reading Goya