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Showing posts from 2014

For One Day Only

Once a year, and after a few primer lessons, we throw our first year photography students in at the deep end asking them to be street photographers for a day. Today was that day, with the three staff leading from the front, we spread out over Manchester, meeting regularly to check technique and review shots. The photography gods were with us and the winter sun was strong, casting long seductive shadows across Mancunian faces and surfaces. So here are some of my own favourites from the day:    You can see a previous years pictures here too:

Heightened Tension

The city knew how I felt today.

Curb The Kerb

Lines Yellow  Tarmac Yellow  Concrete Yellow

Spring In My Step

The last 24 hours have been so enjoyable. I attended the Blog North Awards last night with no thought of winning, but hey guess what, I won! It has surprised me how much it has put a spring in my step to receive this metaphorical pat on the back, especially as the quality of the shortlisted blogs was so high. I was lucky enough to share the stage with the talented Emmeline Pidgen as there were two winners in our category - Best Arts & Culture Blog.  It was actually a really good evening, with readings from some of the shortlisted bloggers, and a newly commissioned piece for the Manchester Literature Festival, of which this is all a part.  During the evening I started to think about the strange, touching nature of the event as most bloggers work away on their own at home, pouring their hearts into a computer keyboard never expecting any response to their musing. One of the bloggers doing a reading last night General Lucifer described the act of blogging as "shouting


My life as a grower and my photography practice seem to be converging, happily. I spent the morning attempting to tame the wilder elements of my allotment. The brambles creeping through from the wasteland next door are now so big that they tower over me by several feet. I've been waiting to pick the last of the blackberries before hacking them back.  It was a beautiful autumn day with strong, low sun that helped draw attention to the incredible colour palette all around me, very different even to a few weeks ago. So along with my harvest of apples, tomatoes, raspberries and the last of the wild blackberries I snipped a few of the leaves and blooms of the non edibles. The afternoon was then spent experimenting with these on the floor of my box room, lit by the same light that had illuminated my morning work.  Fingers crossed for this coming Wednesday as it's the Blog North Awards, where this very blog is shortlisted in the Arts & Culture category. If you fanc


It's unsettling to think that everything is temporary so I prefer to believe that life is cyclical. These flowers were a gift and looked stunning for a week or so before they started to wilt. Now they are off to the compost heap for a year, maybe two after which time their remains will feed another plant, which will look stunning for a week or so... Anyway I'm back working in the daylight studio or box room as it's more commonly known, scrabbling around on the floor thinking about colour.  There are some earlier blog posts with my other experiments made in this way if you'd care to look: Stilleven Glow Acid Flawlessly Typed and Spaced There is still time to vote for this blog in the Blog North Awards if you'd be so kind! Big thanks.

Skinny Yellow Legs

One of the perks of being a photography lecturer is that I get to go out making pictures with the students. Today was the annual typology shoot, tapping into the collector in each of us, deciding on a subject and then hunting it down in urban Manchester. After a few false starts I decided to go for these skinny yellow legs that are all over town. I like that scaffolding at ground level has to be 'dressed' these days in a dapper outfit to avoid confused passers by marching straight into it. It does add a graphic edge to the streetscape. It also looks like the recession might be over as there is a huge amount of building and refurbishment going on in this neck of the woods.  Just a little reminder that there is less than a week left if you'd like to vote for this blog in the Blog North Awards - I'm really chuffed to be shortlisted and overwhelmed by all the positive messages and support, many thanks!


I saw this scene down the corridor this morning as I rushed to get ready for work and thought - yes that's exactly how I feel, squeezed. It's been a hectic week but the highlight was discovering this very blog has been shortlisted for a Blog North Award! I'm in the Arts & Culture category, if you fancy voting for me I'd be honoured.

Welsh Sea Monsters

I keep seeing monsters... These three were spotted emerging from the sea at Llandudno having just clambered over the fence designed to keep them out. If you missed my previous encounter you can find it here:  Belgian Flower Monsters


I much prefer the word oblong to rectangle, it sounds more descriptive and less technical.  I'm always pleased when something emerges through my photography that has been bouncing around in my head and these two pictures from a trip to Llandudno yesterday are a case in point. I've been thinking about height and width, shape, composition, framing, in short the canvas size that we all have to consider when making pictures.  I imagine that most photographers happily stick to the shape of the picture forced on them by the maker of their camera, this usually being based on the proportions of the sensor and reflected by the shape of the viewfinder or screen. Although it's possible to change this in the menu or to crop the image later on in post-production, I wonder how many people do this on a regular basis.  One of the reasons I struggled with digital photography for some time was the shape of the final picture. Most contemporary cameras adopt the proportions of a 35m

The Colour and the Shape

Humans love control.


Why does imagination fill in the gaps?

Pink Wall, Green Wall

A hidden disused space in the centre of Antwerp, with a pink room and a green room next to one another. One of the things I enjoy about Antwerp is that history is everywhere as you stroll or cycle through the streets. Generally contemporary developments are of a high standard and often pretty experimental, creating an interesting dynamic when buffered up against building that may have stood for hundreds of years.  Although Manchester is a much more exciting city than when I moved here, I get frustrated that the powers that be seem content to allow developers to rip down interesting older buildings and replace them with cheap generic blocks. We could learn a lot from the Belgians.  There are two such buildings under threat at the moment. The first Century House is a 1930's building that looks perfectly proportioned in the streetscape with a unique relief of George Fox the founder of the Quakers on it's frontage. The other is The Cornerhouse on Oxford Street whic

Flora & Fauna

  We think we can control flora and fauna, but nature will always win.

Belgian Flower Monsters

Over the water from Antwerp is Linkeroever, the left bank. It is the city's frumpy, less stylish sister left looking longingly back across the river Scheldt at her hip, urban sibling. It has a unique atmosphere, due to it's wide open suburban street plan and relative lack of people. I always feel like I'm in a sci-fi film, maybe a zombie movie. So I was particularly excited to discover a new addition this summer - the Belgian Flower Monsters. These bizarre beasts aren't designed to frighten, they are meant to beautify the concrete and tarmac expanse, however to me they look like leftovers from a 1970's episode of Dr. Who. 

Golden Scissors

My dad has a theory that we are often fascinated by the era that came just before we were born. Maybe this is because you hear older family members reminiscing about this time with affection as you grow up and it takes on a magical aura. The 1950's and 60's have this allure for me. I love the aesthetic of this period, which seems to encapsulate a sense of optimism and innocence missing from some of the modern world.  I was a little over excited to say the least to stumble across aux Ciseaux d'Or in Brussels last week. I was with my friend Heleen and drawn in by the elegant typeface of the signage we crossed the road to inspect the window display, which turned out to be eccentric and stylish, furnished with curious vintage mannequins. Frustratingly the shop was shut but luckily returning to the car later in the day we could spy people inside. My multilingual friend used her charms to get us over the threshold where we found a perfectly preserved and functioning clothes