Summer Sale!

Following the success of my pre-Christmas sale, and the fact that I keep taking pictures, it's time for another!

Some of the pictures you've seen before, others are new. Prices are discounted upto fifty percent.

There are also some print-only offers, but you'll have to come visit to see most of those! Local sales only. Feel free to ask questions and arrange a viewing!

My chosen charity this time is Women's Aid, who will receive ten percent of all sales. Women's Aid provide lifesaving services to women and children across the country.

Feel free to tell your mates!

Thanks

Amanda xx

Plastic People Shot on a quick scoot around Istanbul on my last day in this great city. One of my favourites! Cross-processed image on Hahnemuhle German Etching Paper. Frame Size approx 20 x 15"  COST £40.00

Plastic People

Shot on a quick scoot around Istanbul on my last day in this great city. One of my favourites!

Cross-processed image on Hahnemuhle German Etching Paper.

Frame Size approx 20 x 15" 

COST £40.00

Crossed Lines Sumptuous hues make this Somerset scene look like America. Cross-processed image on Hahnemuhle German Etching Paper. Frame Size approx. 22 x 17"  COST £50.00

Crossed Lines

Sumptuous hues make this Somerset scene look like America.

Cross-processed image on Hahnemuhle German Etching Paper.

Frame Size approx. 22 x 17" 

COST £50.00

Wheels of Steel *SOLD* Framed in a brushed aluminium. Amazing richness to this shot! Cross-processed image on Lustre photographic paper. Frame Size approx. 20 x 16" COST £44.00 *SOLD*

Wheels of Steel *SOLD*

Framed in a brushed aluminium. Amazing richness to this shot!

Cross-processed image on Lustre photographic paper.

Frame Size approx. 20 x 16"

COST £44.00 *SOLD*

Rusty Remnants **SOLD** A firm favourite. This is number 4/25. Shot in the golden light of Dungeness. Frame Size approx. 19 x 13" COST £40 **SOLD**

Rusty Remnants **SOLD**

A firm favourite. This is number 4/25. Shot in the golden light of Dungeness.

Frame Size approx. 19 x 13"

COST £40 **SOLD**

Tokyo Microcosm A picture that makes you go wow! The sprawling metropolis of Tokyo, presented in a stylish dark grey frame. Could keep you entertained for hours! Frame Size approx 23 x 17". COST £75.00

Tokyo Microcosm

A picture that makes you go wow!

The sprawling metropolis of Tokyo, presented in a stylish dark grey frame. Could keep you entertained for hours!

Frame Size approx 23 x 17".

COST £75.00

Which Way Now Taken from 300 metres high in Tokyo's Sky Tower, allowing unique views over the city. This is part of a series of six images which was recently exhibited with London Independent Photography.  Frame Size approx. 23 x 17", painted in a dark, oily blue. COST £75.00

Which Way Now

Taken from 300 metres high in Tokyo's Sky Tower, allowing unique views over the city. This is part of a series of six images which was recently exhibited with London Independent Photography. 

Frame Size approx. 23 x 17", painted in a dark, oily blue.

COST £75.00

Up on the Roof Taken from 300 metres high in Tokyo's Sky Tower, allowing unique views over the city. This is part of a series of six images which was recently exhibited with London Independent Photography.  Frame Size approx. 23 x 17", painted in a dark, oily blue. COST £75.00

Up on the Roof

Taken from 300 metres high in Tokyo's Sky Tower, allowing unique views over the city. This is part of a series of six images which was recently exhibited with London Independent Photography. 

Frame Size approx. 23 x 17", painted in a dark, oily blue.

COST £75.00

Seeing Green Taken from 300 metres high in Tokyo's Sky Tower, allowing unique views over the city. This is part of a series of six images which was recently exhibited with London Independent Photography.  Frame Size approx. 23 x 17", painted in a dark, oily blue. COST £75.00

Seeing Green

Taken from 300 metres high in Tokyo's Sky Tower, allowing unique views over the city. This is part of a series of six images which was recently exhibited with London Independent Photography. 

Frame Size approx. 23 x 17", painted in a dark, oily blue.

COST £75.00

The Real East End Often mistaken for a screenprint, this image was taken a stone's throw from the Olympic Park in a more traditional east-end back street. Cross-processed image on Hahnemuhle German Etching Paper. Frame Size approx 19 x 15.5"  COST £40.00

The Real East End

Often mistaken for a screenprint, this image was taken a stone's throw from the Olympic Park in a more traditional east-end back street.

Cross-processed image on Hahnemuhle German Etching Paper.

Frame Size approx 19 x 15.5" 

COST £40.00

Ebb & Flow An atmospheric image shot on black & white film. I have a copy of this in front of my bed, and it's a very relaxing image for the bedroom ;) UNFRAMED £30.00

Ebb & Flow

An atmospheric image shot on black & white film. I have a copy of this in front of my bed, and it's a very relaxing image for the bedroom ;)

UNFRAMED £30.00

Sea Of Letters **SOLD** An evocative shot from Whitstable, and a great image for those who love a bit of Vintage! Cross-processed image on Hahnemuhle German Etching Paper. Frame Size approx 19 x 15"  COST £40.00 **SOLD**

Sea Of Letters **SOLD**

An evocative shot from Whitstable, and a great image for those who love a bit of Vintage!

Cross-processed image on Hahnemuhle German Etching Paper.

Frame Size approx 19 x 15" 

COST £40.00 **SOLD**

High Frequency *SOLD* An unusual view of Alexandra Palace, shot on black & white infrared film. This gives a softer feel to the image and creates more drama in the sky. I did sell a copy in the last sale, but subsequently needed to print another copy for an exhibition, so here it is again! Printed on Hahnemuhle German Etching Paper. Frame Size approx 25 x 18.5"  COST £75.00 *SOLD*

High Frequency *SOLD*

An unusual view of Alexandra Palace, shot on black & white infrared film. This gives a softer feel to the image and creates more drama in the sky. I did sell a copy in the last sale, but subsequently needed to print another copy for an exhibition, so here it is again!

Printed on Hahnemuhle German Etching Paper.

Frame Size approx 25 x 18.5" 

COST £75.00 *SOLD*

Arthur Smith Need an image for your comedy Hall of Fame?! Frame Size approx. 25 x 18.5"  COST £50

Arthur Smith

Need an image for your comedy Hall of Fame?!

Frame Size approx. 25 x 18.5" 

COST £50

Howard Marks, legend to many. It turned out we shared the same birthday, and he loves a curry. That may be where the similarities end! Black & White photographic print. Frame Size approx. 21.5 x 17"  COST £50.00

Howard Marks, legend to many.

It turned out we shared the same birthday, and he loves a curry. That may be where the similarities end!

Black & White photographic print.

Frame Size approx. 21.5 x 17" 

COST £50.00

Silver Birch This image was shot on black & white infrared film. Would suit a modern home. Printed on Hahnemuhle German Etching Paper. Frame Size approx. 20 x 15"  COST £55.00

Silver Birch

This image was shot on black & white infrared film. Would suit a modern home.

Printed on Hahnemuhle German Etching Paper.

Frame Size approx. 20 x 15" 

COST £55.00

Dry Cleaners This was shot in the New Zealand town of Napier. Following earthquake devastation in 1931, the town was rebuilt in the mode of the day, Art Deco.  Shot on black & white film, and framed in a black frame with grey border. Frame Size approx. 24 x 19"  COST £40.00

Dry Cleaners

This was shot in the New Zealand town of Napier. Following earthquake devastation in 1931, the town was rebuilt in the mode of the day, Art Deco. 

Shot on black & white film, and framed in a black frame with grey border.

Frame Size approx. 24 x 19" 

COST £40.00

Flight of Fancy Another image from Napier.  Shot on black & white film, and framed in a black frame with grey border.  Frame Size approx. 25 x 18.5"  COST £40.00

Flight of Fancy

Another image from Napier. 

Shot on black & white film, and framed in a black frame with grey border. 

Frame Size approx. 25 x 18.5" 

COST £40.00

Tate Addition The simplicity of  the white frame sets off the unique hues of this cross-processed print. Shot whilst the new wing of the Tate Modern was being erected, it is unlikely to ever be reenacted! Cross-processed image on Textured paper. Frame Size approx. 22x 16.5"  COST £60.00

Tate Addition

The simplicity of  the white frame sets off the unique hues of this cross-processed print. Shot whilst the new wing of the Tate Modern was being erected, it is unlikely to ever be reenacted!

Cross-processed image on Textured paper.

Frame Size approx. 22x 16.5" 

COST £60.00

The Age of Enlightenment This image was taken as part of a project looking at how both people and places age, forming stories through their facade. Digital Image printed on Hahnemuhle German Etching Paper. Frame Size approx. 20 x 15"  COST £45.00

The Age of Enlightenment

This image was taken as part of a project looking at how both people and places age, forming stories through their facade.

Digital Image printed on Hahnemuhle German Etching Paper.

Frame Size approx. 20 x 15" 

COST £45.00

Must Call William A vibrant image, shot outside the William Morris Gallery, London and printed onto aluminium.  Finished Size approx. 21 x 14"  COST £45.00

Must Call William

A vibrant image, shot outside the William Morris Gallery, London and printed onto aluminium. 

Finished Size approx. 21 x 14" 

COST £45.00

China Red Light It is China, but only just! Took a day-trip from Hong Kong. Must do better. I think this was shot on film! Printed onto canvas.  Finished Size approx. 24.5 x 15.5"  COST £40.00

China Red Light

It is China, but only just! Took a day-trip from Hong Kong. Must do better.

I think this was shot on film! Printed onto canvas. 

Finished Size approx. 24.5 x 15.5" 

COST £40.00

 

 

Get Focused for February

So, it's 8th March. February always leaves me feeling short -changed!

After living a relatively solitary life for the past couple of years, I managed to catch up with a few friends this February and chased my tail around town for various events (not so unusual).

Who’s been enjoying all the great movies this February? I have missed out on plenty, but managed to watch Split, starring James McAvoy last weekend. Slipping into myriad characters as a sufferer of Dissociative Identity Disorder, McAvoy did a great job. Suspense, darkness, terror…

A friend of mine has started a film-club which sounds awesome – they recently watched an amazing sounding Chinese Film ‘In the Mood for Love’ whilst sipping on Shanghai Cocktails! As much as I would like to go, I am being fiercely determined to stick to my master – plan (mildly ethereal) so have to turn down some great offers.

Don’t give up what you want most for what you want now. (Probably Neal. A Maxwell)

I took a trip with my colleagues from Vintiners Framers down to Maddox Arts in Mayfair. ‘Cabbages and Kings’ is curated by one of our great customers, Cuillin Bantock. There are works from ten contemporary painters, but with no prompting, we all chose Mr. Bantock’s Matisse-inspired Gouaches as our favourites.

Photo Credit: Laura Coates

Photo Credit: Laura Coates

Running until the end of March. It’s worth a visit if you’re in the West End.

http://www.maddoxarts.com/exhibitions/

I attended the talk and Book Launch for Mimi Mollica’s Terra Nostra, exploring the effects of the Mafia in Sicily.

As the large ‘Belgravian Door’ of the Italian Cultural Institute opened I clocked a friend of mine from the Boxing Club. That was unexpected! She attends weekly Italian lessons there, so had come as part of her cultural journey.

I somehow managed to get a seat in the packed room, avoiding watching the talk on a screen in the overflow room/library. I had clocked a variety of seats with VIP reservations, so hovered by the doorway. Time was ticking and some of these people weren’t there. Right enough, the seats became available to anyone in close-range, so I had a great position to watch the panel discussion between Mimi, Sean O’Hagan, Dewi Lewis and Marco Delagu, the Director of the Institute.

Following the talk I was first in line to get my book signed before Jo led us through the ‘servants quarters’, upstairs where a generous drinks reception, replete with recently delivered boxes of Pizza and a taste of Melanzane Parmigiana were ready for consumption. Time well spent.

This month I stood down from the committee of Islington Art Society. I have been a member for several years, and it’s been a great experience. I feel I am still mid-career, and wanting to push my work in a certain direction, so time to let this one go. If you’re an artist with time on your hands, I would seriously consider getting involved with a group like this. Based on a mutual love of the arts and a sense of community, these institutions are a glimmer of light in a dark world!

Kicking off next week is the group annual show of the Crouch End collective of London Independent Photography. The private view is on Wednesday 15th March, 7 – 9pm if you want to come.

I shall also be in attendance on Sunday 19th March from 1 – 4pm and on Thursday 23rd March from 4 – 7pm. Hope to see you there!

The group chose one of my images for the poster: Tokyo from above!

The group chose one of my images for the poster: Tokyo from above!

My work has been varied this month, from helping students at St. Martin’s photograph sets for their interior-styling course, and helping an artist-friend build a website. I have been busy photographing for a couple of projects, but not ready to reveal, so in the meantime, here are a couple of shots of some special people in my life!

We need to talk!

We need to talk!

Spot the Ball!

Spot the Ball!

For the past few years, I have been working at streamlining my life, with February as no exception. You only get one shot at this, so make some sacrifices and stick to your quest. I am not saying make rigid plans, as adapting to challenges and reassessing your journey is paramount to continued growth, but if you want something, do something. Get started, and enjoy the ride!

So ends the lesson for today!

See you soon

Amanda xx

 

January Jump-start...eventually!

New year, new start...nah! Scrap that. I prefer to try and make improvements all year round - why restrict yourself to the new year, and who invented the calendar anyway?!

I haven't made any resolutions, but there are a few things I would like to achieve this year. If I do, you will surely read about them here!

I have found more time for reading over the past year or so, and quite recently read Gandhi's Autobiography - the main objective was to learn more about this eminent figure. As it was written by himself, in a rather flat manner, I cannot say I was awestruck, but I did find some of his behaviour fascinating and the core of his intentions admirable. His lessons in self-restraint were phenomenal, bordering on self-abuse. This must have struck a chord somewhere, as I have taken to abstaining from eating 'land-animals' and bread for the whole of January, purely as an exercise in self-discipline. I can't say either has been particularly difficult to go without, but I have learned that bread is so convenient. Notice how I didn't choose alcohol - one step at a time folks! (*In the spirit of honesty I have to admit to accidentally eating bread once. Yes, accidentally! I had a very weird couple of days where within 24 hours my Uncle died, my Mum was admitted to hospital with high blood-pressure and unexplained chest pain, and my aunt was having investigative tests for her own unexplained pains at the same time. This resulted in a flying visit home and a day in the hospital. We ended up in the cafeteria and I was so busy trying to avoid meat that I figured I would just have a sandwich...as I peeled back the wrapper I exclaimed "No way, I can't believe I bought a sandwich"! Too late. I was a little disappointed, but it didn't seem appropriate to waste the food. 

A Time to Reflect 

A Time to Reflect 

Following the Downtime exhibition, I certainly had some 'down' time of my own, to the point I was wondering what the hell I should or could do next. Luckily, I recognise that any creative mind needs time to reflect and recharge. The way I work on personal projects and 'life-plans' means I circulate a lot of ideas and bits of ideas over a period of time(from weeks to years), and then one day it will all form into one glorious (and often difficult to achieve) idea! I am now armed with three clear projects, ranging from mini to maxi, and I am really looking forward to getting my teeth stuck into them. 

Apart from filing my tax return, and the odd job, January has been full of teaching for a variety of reasons - I had a lady who wanted to improve her photography skills for a new online business, and another lady who had set a resolution to come out of auto-mode. I also put together a two-week teenage photography course after a number of enquiries. The poor souls had to brave zero degrees so we could put our theory to practice. I think the next one will be in the spring!

Um. What does this button do?!

Um. What does this button do?!

Demonstrting shutter-speed whilst warming up!

Demonstrting shutter-speed whilst warming up!

The Palm House was closed, ruining my cunning plan to warm up. Do not be fooled by the pretty picture. It was freezing!

The Palm House was closed, ruining my cunning plan to warm up. Do not be fooled by the pretty picture. It was freezing!

I offer photography tuition locally, on a one-to-one basis, starting from £59.00 for a two-hour session. I can also facilitate photography workshops for community groups. 

Talking of teaching, if you follow me on social media then you should know that I qualified as a BoxingYoga™ Coach last June, and now take regular classes in Crouch End as follows:

Sundays at 11am, the Picture House Cinema, 165 Tottenham LaneCrouch End
N8 9BY https://www.picturehouses.com/cinema/Crouch_End_Picturehouse

Monday and Thursday evenings at 7.30pm, Total Boxer, 21 Cranford Way, Hornsey, N8 9DG

Breaking some moves!

Breaking some moves!

A few years ago I would never have believed that I'd eagerly await a double-session of Boxing at the club on Friday nights, so if you fancy a challenge, there are worse things you could do. Check out Total Boxer and their amazing new premises here http://totalboxer.com

Until next time,

Amanda x

It's an Art Sale!

After bringing home around 25 framed images from the Downtime exhibition I realised that unless I want to build my home out of frames it’s time for a sale, and what better time than Christmas!

You can bag yourself a bargain or buy a unique gift for a loved-one…

Prices stated are the sale prices. They are listed with a reduction of upto fifty percent. I will donate 10% of any sales to the Crisis homeless charity. 

I am happy for people to come and view the pictures at my flat in Crouch End, if necessary. Equally happy to deliver to Swindon over Christmas should any of my homies want to make a purchase!

Happy Shopping, and please share in your own circles.

Thanks!

Amanda xx

About the images (if you want more!)

As well as trying to earn a crust in various commercial sectors of photography, I have always loved capturing something unique from everyday observations. With my location photographs it is often a spontaneous reaction to what I see that inspires me to take a picture. Instinctively I tend to produce work of a more graphic nature; quickly adjusting my vision to create images with strong compositions.

High Five! From the series Hanami - shot on location in Tokyo earlier this year as people celebrated the arrival of the Cherry Blossom. A very popular image, and one that is sure to bring a smile to your face every day!  Frame Size approx. 21 x 17"  COST £55.00  

High Five!

From the series Hanami - shot on location in Tokyo earlier this year as people celebrated the arrival of the Cherry Blossom.

A very popular image, and one that is sure to bring a smile to your face every day! 

Frame Size approx. 21 x 17" 

COST £55.00

 

Panama Man **SOLD** You won't believe how busy it was when I took this shot. I had composed the image, and was waiting for the 'right' kind of person to enter the scene. The sea of people parted and along came Panama Man. It was almost biblical! Cross-processed image on Hahnemuhle German Etching Paper. Frame Size approx 22 x 17"  COST £38.50 **SOLD**

Panama Man **SOLD**

You won't believe how busy it was when I took this shot. I had composed the image, and was waiting for the 'right' kind of person to enter the scene. The sea of people parted and along came Panama Man. It was almost biblical!

Cross-processed image on Hahnemuhle German Etching Paper.

Frame Size approx 22 x 17" 

COST £38.50 **SOLD**

Plastic People Shot on a quick scoot around Istanbul on my last day in this great city. Little did I know my flight would be cancelled and I'd end up bored-stupid in an airport hotel room. One of my favourites! Cross-processed image on Hahnemuhle German Etching Paper. Frame Size approx 20 x 15"  COST £40.00

Plastic People

Shot on a quick scoot around Istanbul on my last day in this great city. Little did I know my flight would be cancelled and I'd end up bored-stupid in an airport hotel room. One of my favourites!

Cross-processed image on Hahnemuhle German Etching Paper.

Frame Size approx 20 x 15" 

COST £40.00

Crossed Lines Sumptuous hues make this Somerset scene look like America. Cross-processed image on Hahnemuhle German Etching Paper. Frame Size approx. 22 x 17"  COST £55.00

Crossed Lines

Sumptuous hues make this Somerset scene look like America.

Cross-processed image on Hahnemuhle German Etching Paper.

Frame Size approx. 22 x 17" 

COST £55.00

Sea Of Letters An evocative shot from Whitstable, and a great image for those who love a bit of Vintage! Cross-processed image on Hahnemuhle German Etching Paper. Frame Size approx 19 x 15"  COST £40.00

Sea Of Letters

An evocative shot from Whitstable, and a great image for those who love a bit of Vintage!

Cross-processed image on Hahnemuhle German Etching Paper.

Frame Size approx 19 x 15" 

COST £40.00

The Real East End Often mistaken for a screenprint, this image was taken a stone's throw from the Olympic Park in a more traditional east-end back street. Cross-processed image on Hahnemuhle German Etching Paper. Frame Size approx 19 x 15.5"  COST £40.00

The Real East End

Often mistaken for a screenprint, this image was taken a stone's throw from the Olympic Park in a more traditional east-end back street.

Cross-processed image on Hahnemuhle German Etching Paper.

Frame Size approx 19 x 15.5" 

COST £40.00

Wheels of Steel Framed in a black deep-edged frame. Amazing richness to this shot! Cross-processed image on Lustre photographic paper. Frame Size approx. 24 x 19"  COST £55.00

Wheels of Steel

Framed in a black deep-edged frame. Amazing richness to this shot!

Cross-processed image on Lustre photographic paper.

Frame Size approx. 24 x 19" 

COST £55.00

This shot is just to show a group of images hanging together for inspiration! In case you're wondering what Cross-Processing is all about, it is a traditional photographic process which can be tested either way, but I shoot my images on negative film. I then process the images through the wrong chemicals (one's for slide/E6 film). In the past I would have then printed from the negatives, but now I scan them onto disc and work from those files. I find the colours pretty much immovable, so I get what I'm given! This process results in quirky colours and high-contrast images. I like the unpredictability of it.

This shot is just to show a group of images hanging together for inspiration!

In case you're wondering what Cross-Processing is all about, it is a traditional photographic process which can be tested either way, but I shoot my images on negative film. I then process the images through the wrong chemicals (one's for slide/E6 film). In the past I would have then printed from the negatives, but now I scan them onto disc and work from those files. I find the colours pretty much immovable, so I get what I'm given! This process results in quirky colours and high-contrast images. I like the unpredictability of it.

High Frequency **SOLD** An unusual view of Alexandra Palace, shot on black & white infrared film. This gives a softer feel to the image and creates more drama in the sky. Printed on Hahnemuhle German Etching Paper. Frame Size approx 25 x 18.5"  COST £75.00 **SOLD**

High Frequency **SOLD**

An unusual view of Alexandra Palace, shot on black & white infrared film. This gives a softer feel to the image and creates more drama in the sky.

Printed on Hahnemuhle German Etching Paper.

Frame Size approx 25 x 18.5" 

COST £75.00 **SOLD**

Hornsey Highlight **SOLD** An imposing view of Hornsey Town Hall, shot on black & white infrared film.  Printed on Hahnemuhle German Etching Paper. Frame Size approx. 21.5 x 17"  COST £65.00 **SOLD**

Hornsey Highlight **SOLD**

An imposing view of Hornsey Town Hall, shot on black & white infrared film. 

Printed on Hahnemuhle German Etching Paper.

Frame Size approx. 21.5 x 17" 

COST £65.00 **SOLD**

Silver Birch This image was shot on black & white infrared film. Would suit a modern home. Printed on Hahnemuhle German Etching Paper. Frame Size approx. 20 x 15"  COST £70.00

Silver Birch

This image was shot on black & white infrared film. Would suit a modern home.

Printed on Hahnemuhle German Etching Paper.

Frame Size approx. 20 x 15" 

COST £70.00

Dry Cleaners This was shot in the New Zealand town of Napier. Following earthquake devastation in 1931, the town was rebuilt in the mode of the day, Art Deco. A fascinating place. Shot on black & white film, and framed in a black frame with grey border. Frame Size approx. 24 x 19"  COST £40.00

Dry Cleaners

This was shot in the New Zealand town of Napier. Following earthquake devastation in 1931, the town was rebuilt in the mode of the day, Art Deco. A fascinating place.

Shot on black & white film, and framed in a black frame with grey border.

Frame Size approx. 24 x 19" 

COST £40.00

Flight of Fancy Another image from Napier.  Shot on black & white film, and framed in a black frame with grey border.  Frame Size approx. 25 x 18.5"  COST £40.00

Flight of Fancy

Another image from Napier. 

Shot on black & white film, and framed in a black frame with grey border. 

Frame Size approx. 25 x 18.5" 

COST £40.00

Tate Addition The simplicity of  the white frame sets off the unique hues of this cross-processed print. Shot whilst the new wing of the Tate Modern was being erected, it is unlikely to ever be reenacted! Cross-processed image on Textured paper. Frame Size approx. 22x 16.5"  COST £69.00

Tate Addition

The simplicity of  the white frame sets off the unique hues of this cross-processed print. Shot whilst the new wing of the Tate Modern was being erected, it is unlikely to ever be reenacted!

Cross-processed image on Textured paper.

Frame Size approx. 22x 16.5" 

COST £69.00

No Public Access *SOLD* A nice square print from a Hasselblad I laid my hands on! Somewhere in a French Village. Traditional Colour Print. Frame Size approx. 17 x 17"  COST £49.00 *SOLD*

No Public Access *SOLD*

A nice square print from a Hasselblad I laid my hands on! Somewhere in a French Village.

Traditional Colour Print.

Frame Size approx. 17 x 17" 

COST £49.00 *SOLD*

The Age of Enlightenment This image was originally displayed alongside a portrait of an old man (see below): something about the connection between old people and old places.  Digital Image printed on Hahnemuhle German Etching Paper. Frame Size approx. 20 x 15"  COST £45.00

The Age of Enlightenment

This image was originally displayed alongside a portrait of an old man (see below): something about the connection between old people and old places. 

Digital Image printed on Hahnemuhle German Etching Paper.

Frame Size approx. 20 x 15" 

COST £45.00

Bob does Tweed. Not for sale.

Bob does Tweed.

Not for sale.

Flatbread **SOLD** This is a popular image. I love it!  Framed in a Farrow & Ball 'Offblack' painted frame. Slick. Digital Image printed on lustre photographic Paper. Frame Size approx. 21 x 17"  COST £45.00 **SOLD**

Flatbread **SOLD**

This is a popular image. I love it!

 Framed in a Farrow & Ball 'Offblack' painted frame. Slick.

Digital Image printed on lustre photographic Paper.

Frame Size approx. 21 x 17" 

COST £45.00 **SOLD**

Must Call William A vibrant image, shot outside the William Morris Gallery, London and printed onto aluminium.  Finished Size approx. 21 x 14"  COST £45.00

Must Call William

A vibrant image, shot outside the William Morris Gallery, London and printed onto aluminium. 

Finished Size approx. 21 x 14" 

COST £45.00

N8 **SOLD** A study of an old road sign, printed onto aluminium.  Finished Size approx. 12 x 8"  COST £35.00 **SOLD**

N8 **SOLD**

A study of an old road sign, printed onto aluminium. 

Finished Size approx. 12 x 8" 

COST £35.00 **SOLD**

China Red Light It is China, but only just! Took a day-trip from Hong Kong. Must do better. I think this was shot on film! Printed onto canvas.  Finished Size approx. 24.5 x 15.5"  COST £42.50

China Red Light

It is China, but only just! Took a day-trip from Hong Kong. Must do better.

I think this was shot on film! Printed onto canvas. 

Finished Size approx. 24.5 x 15.5" 

COST £42.50

Howard Marks, legend to many. It turned out we shared the same birthday, and he loves a curry. That may be where the similarities end! Digital image converted to Black & White, and printed on photographic paper. Frame Size approx. 21.5 x 17"  COST £50.00  

Howard Marks, legend to many.

It turned out we shared the same birthday, and he loves a curry. That may be where the similarities end!

Digital image converted to Black & White, and printed on photographic paper.

Frame Size approx. 21.5 x 17" 

COST £50.00

 

Merry Christmas!  nfs

Merry Christmas! 

nfs

Remember Remember this fun-filled November

That has to have been one of the busiest months of my life and was a true test of my mettle. As I am writing this, I guess I passed the test.

I belong to both London Independent photographers and Islington Art Society. For the past two years I have been a committee member for IAS (these things can happen by accident, be warned). Both groups held shows in November, and for Islington Art Society, as well as preparing my works, I had to attend and photograph the Private View and invigilate a couple of times. I also found myself painting plinths for the ceramicists, as it was my bright idea to get some more made up. With the help of some fellow members we had got two of the plinths delivered to my flat a good month before the exhibition. Needless to say I finally got around to painting them two days before delivery!

Just want to take this opportunity as a ‘keep-fit’ advocate that I think coping with a hectic lifestyle is made a whole lot easier by keeping fit & active…when necessary, I can literally run from one place to the other, and lugging equipment and framed works around town when you don’t drive needs a certain level of strength and determination! I am not suggesting we should run ourselves ragged, but when several opportunities happen at once, you need to be at the top of your game to accept them. 

Beautiful Plinths!

Beautiful Plinths!

I managed to get a quick trip to Leigh-on-sea with a fellow photographer. After having fun on the barren beach, we went to see Laura Pannack's exhibition at the Francesca Maffeo Gallery. This was my second visit since it opened back in June. I get the distinct feeling I will become quite familiar with that part of Essex!

Me and Leigh-on-Sea

Me and Leigh-on-Sea

Other highlights were the Alexandra palace Fireworks display and a ‘Giving Thanks’ dinner held at my friends’ on Thanksgiving. The idea was we would take it in turns to say what we were grateful for. Some people were more grateful than others!

I have been very disciplined of late, so allowed myself to let my hair down at the Total Boxer (new venue) House-warming party, and managed to bust some moves which for me usually indicates a successful evening!

Ooh...aah!

Ooh...aah!

Work wise, I took my annual outing to Islington & Camden cemetery for the Mayoral Remembrance Service: I have been photographing the event for around nine years now! Yesterday (30th November), I did a job for a new client, WCAL. They provide educational resources for children, so I was photographing kids looking happy about learning! I had a lot of equipment to lug, so had to take cab both ways - on the way there I got to listen to a radio phone-in, discussing Tony Blair & the Chilcott enquiry, and on the way back we hit Arsenal match-day traffic which added 30 minutes to the hour-long journey. My driver told me he has worked for Uber since May and this was his worst journey to date!

I was pleased to see the Mayors of both Camden and Islington are young women this year.

I was pleased to see the Mayors of both Camden and Islington are young women this year.

New client work

New client work

Footnote. Whilst writing this the website has crashed at least ten times, which means I have been re-writing, then saving words after every few sentences! I also wanted to upload some other pictures, but have discovered one of my memory cards has corrupted. This is just how it goes sometimes :(

The overwhelming amount of energy this month, unsurprisingly went on Downtime/Hanami – my biggest solo-show to date…

My son, Sam, turned sixteen mid-month, so I squeezed in a cake-making enterprise in two sessions: one late at night and one early the next morning. I needed sustenance that week, so a slice a day kept my energy up! The exhibition was hung on his birthday with the generous help of three LIP members– one of whom had only joined the month before. He offered his services and I was happy to have any help I could get!

Mmm...chocolate!

Mmm...chocolate!

The Private View was immense, especially as I was busy tearing my hair out making labels not long before the grand opening. A good friend of mine had arrived early to help, and was telling me for at least an hour that I should probably get ready now! Lots of people turned up, including a good number of my subjects – many more of them visited at other times. It was nice to see people reading the mini-stories that went alongside the images, and discussing the people and their passions. 

Showtime!

Showtime!

Throughout the show, I got to meet new people, catch-up with old friends and family members, and got my name out and about in photography circles. I attended meetings with Picture Editors, sold some work and got myself some tuition clients. That can't be bad! 

My exhibition was part of Photomonth, an international Photography festival that takes place most years in the east of London and runs from 1st October to 30th November. It facilitates the opportunity for hundreds of photographers, amateur and professional to showcase their work in a multitude of environments. Through the show and the space I got to meet some great people, and feel more than ever that photographers are helping each other out, in recognition of a shared passion. Two people that deserve mention are Nick Findlar, conflict photographer and Marcus Bastel, Landscape/ people photographer. 

Nick was showing at Republic when I took Sam down to show him the space. We chatted about all things photography and he subsequently put me in touch with a wine supplier, who gave me a good deal on wine for my Private View. 

Marcus Bastel dropped by my exhibition as he was preparing for his own: Faces of Mustang which is running now - check it out! Marcus recognised one of my pieces, as another version was on show at the Photomonth Photo Open in Richmix, where he also had work. It turned out  that due to work commitments I could not collect my piece from Richmix when the show ended, so I had  brainwave, and asked Marcus if he would mind picking mine up, figuring he'd be collecting his own. He agreed and I shall collect it this afternoon when I go to see his show!

It's over a week since the exhibition ended and I am yet to recall all that happened. I was hoping to avoid too much of a comedown, but like any show, there is always a little deflation after the build-up and performance. You're only as good as your last job/show as they say.

I worked on Downtime for around three years, and I am sure it will continue in some way. I would love to bring you an account of some of the things that happened whilst building the images – from appeasing Park Wardens to racing around for an essential prop that I was told would be on site! In the meantime, there are a couple of other projects brewing which I will be working on in the New Year.

Until then!

Amanda xx

My general reaction to the Downtime show!

My general reaction to the Downtime show!

 

 

 

 

 

Exhibitions a go go!

The past eight weeks have been crammed with the organisation and implementation of various exhibitions and competitions. Some things are yet to be decided, but November will see the fruits of my labour, as I will be featured in four exhibitions across London Town!

Here they are in chronological order…

PHOTOMONTH PHOTO-OPEN

Preview 2nd November 6- 8pm

Rich Mix E1 6LA

Runs 02 – 26th November

Sun-Thurs 10am-12am, Fri & Sat 10am-1pm

 

This exhibition was open to all kinds of photographers, professional and non-professional,

students and young people from all over the UK and the rest of the world. All images

submitted will be screened on a projector, and a selection printed. Participants will not

discover if they have been selected for print until they visit the show!

***UPDATE! I had a piece selected for the wall, which was  nice surprise!

 

ISLINGTON ART SOCIETY AUTUMN SHOW

9th – 26th November

The Original Gallery, Hornsey Library

Crouch End N8 9JA

Private View Wednesday 9th November 6-8.30pm

I’ll be there armed with my camera. There’s lots more than photography to see.

Please come along!

The picture used for the exhibition poster was taken by yours truly and is an image of Alexandra Palace that I shot on black & white infrared film. Several people have commented on never noticing that tree before, but it seemed well-established to me. All the more reason for walking around with our eyes open!    

The picture used for the exhibition poster was taken by yours truly and is an image of

Alexandra Palace that I shot on black & white infrared film. Several people have commented

on never noticing that tree before, but it seemed well-established to me. All the more

reason for walking around with our eyes open!

 

 

LONDON INDEPENDENT PHOTOGRAPHY 28TH ANNUAL EXHIBITION

Espacio Gallery

159 Bethnal Green Road

15th – 20th November

 

London Independent Photography is a community organisation for amateur and

professional photographers with more than 500 members. There is a wonderful array

of satellite groups across the City who come together once a year to hold an annual

exhibition. Our independent selectors this year were Max Houghton (Senior Lecturer in

Photography at London College of Communication), Melanie King (curator and founder of

London Alternative Photography Collective), and Michelle Sank (Senior Lecturer in

Photography at Falmouth University).

I am pleased to announce that I have had a piece selected.

The Private view is on Tuesday 15th November, and I am not sure if I’ll make it myself! It

happens to be my son’s birthday and the day I hang my own show, so it will take a concerted

effort and a great deal of efficiency to find time to drop by for a quick hello!

DOWNTIME & HANAMI

16th – 21st November

The Gallery at Republic

Capstan House

2 Clove Crescent

E14 2BE

Private View Wednesday 16th November 6.30 – 9.30pm

Weekdays 11am – 7pm Weekend 12 – 6pm

This is big!

Two projects come together to form my biggest ever solo show…

Downtime shines a spotlight on what we do for kicks, outside of office hours.

Hanami captures some of the people who visited Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, to welcome the arrival

of the Cherry Blossom.

Needless to say that I am very excited to have this opportunity, and I do hope you will join

me at the show!

We are half way through Photomonth, and although I have managed to squeeze in a few shows, there is so much I have missed. Never have there been so many image-makers in the world!

My favourite so far was a small yet exquisite collection of black & white images by Mimi Mollica: Terra Nostra is his personal project, documenting Sicily and the impact the Mafia have had in the region. Expertly printed by and on display at the Printspace. Blink and you’ve missed it.

I nipped by the launch of Girl Town (celebrating the culture of the Female in the 21st Century), a collaboration between Shutter Hub and the Old Girl’s Club. There were 200 images from photographers across the UK and the world. A simple idea, well executed; recreated screen shots of instagram images with their numbered hearts and comments for all to see, and displayed as snapshots on the wall.

Talking of Shutter Hub, they have been very kind in writing a couple of pieces about my show and me. There are worse ways to spend your time, so why not grab a cuppa and settle in to what’s hot on the Shutter Hub site https://shutterhub.org.uk/blog

Not technically part of Photomonth, but within the timeframe I went to see William Eggleston Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery. I particularly liked his use of angles and unusual viewpoints. Something I am trying to incorporate more into my own work.

Keep smiling!

xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What's not to love?

Melonie Stennett, Teacher Part of Downtime which goes on show six weeks today!

Melonie Stennett, Teacher

Part of Downtime which goes on show six weeks today!

...Quite a lot probably, but let's not dwell on it.

To be honest, I can't stop being grateful for the number of sunny days we've had this summer, and they keep on coming! I am hopeful that I've packed in enough vitamin D to keep me buoyant throughout the winter.

And, with sunshine comes energy and I've needed a lot this past month as September was a roller-coaster...

I took on a couple of physical challenges: ten days straight of BoxingYoga™ to improve for everyone's benefit, and the Summer Sweat Challenge at Total Boxer which required a class-a-day for ten days: that would have been fine if I hadn't done a Strength & Conditioning class on day three - my arms were screaming for days!

Work has picked up a pace, so I am mostly running on adrenalin. I like being busy, and I like diversity in what I do, but I have to say my brain has felt a little challenged this month as I flit between photographer, tutor, mother, framing assistant and yogi . I could do with swappable heads like Wurzel Gummidge used to have! 

I photographed a teeny-tiny wedding for some friends. They've been together 27 years, and didn't want a big 'do'. I felt privileged, as apart from four witnesses and the registrars, I was the only one there! 

They did it!

They did it!

The exhibition and competition flurry continues, which always brings fun and anxiety. I have made some great connections recently by banding my images around, so never miss an opportunity to expose yourself is my advice!!

I've picked up a new client in the education sector and I'm booked to give a talk this weekend to a large audience of mosaicists - giving them an overview of practical photography and how best to shoot their work.

It's now just six weeks until my solo exhibition opens in Docklands. That's okay; I only have to make the invites, print & frame the pictures, promote the show, work out how to hang it, and organise the Private View! Somehow, I don't think October will be any quieter. In fact, I am off to Norfolk tomorrow to shoot one of the last images for Downtime.

Offers of help welcome! In fact, I am looking for an 'intern' at the moment - aged 25 upwards, just the odd day, work-experience/expenses covered and payment when I have help on real jobs. Must be interested in photography (video a bonus), and social media. Someone keen on strategy and data would be great. Do spread the word and let me know if you know anyone.

Thanks

Amanda

Eight weeks to go!

Graham Bayliss, Fitter

Graham Bayliss, Fitter

Graham is a ball of energy - his relaxed mode is like most people's hard-work!

Welcome to Gravel Lane Vineyard, owned and run by Graham and his industrious wife Alison. 
This photo comes from project Downtime, which will be exhibited as part of @Photomonth in London this November:

The Gallery at Republic, Capstan House, 2 Clove Crescent, E14 2BE London

 Opening times:

    Wednesday 16th 11 -7pm

    Thursday 17th 11 -7pm

    Friday 18th 11 -7pm

    Saturday 19th 12 -6pm

    Sunday 20th 12 -6pm

    Monday 21st 11 -7pm

Get in touch If you want more information, and I hope to see you there!

 

 

 

Downtime: Nine weeks and counting

David Exeter, Architect

David Exeter, Architect

David was one of the first people I photographed for Downtime. We had met at a local business meeting and I must have been on the lookout for participants! All along I have been blown away with people’s willingness to get involved, especially as my sessions are not a quick-snap scenario.

It was a very cold morning when we headed to Epping Forest with woolly hats donned and a car-load of equipment. We had a little run-in with the Park Ranger - Royal Parks red tape. Some fast-talking and a sprinkling of charm allowed us to go ahead with the shoot.

I used Profoto heads with a battery pack as I was looking for a clean light to cut across the greens of the forest. There was no action in the sky.

I think through a combination of the tribulations of the day and the final image, with it’s sumptuous greenery and stark-white suit, this photograph remains one of my favourites from the series.

The show runs from Wednesday 16th November through to 21st November.

Monday-Friday 11am – 7pm

Weekend 12 – 6pm

 The show will form part of Photomonth East London International Photography Festival.

 This will run from 1st October to 30th November across galleries and venues in East London.

 For more information on the festival click here

http://2016.photomonth.org

 

 

Downtime Showtime!

Robbie Hopper, Economist

Robbie Hopper, Economist

The countdown has begun.

The biggest solo show of my career to date will be kicking off in ten weeks time, and I’m a tad excited!! There is a lot to organise, but I will be regularly (such is the intention) updating you with progress reports!

Showcasing my Downtime project and a sprinkling of Japan it will provide an insight into the variety of things us humans get up to in our spare time.

With a nod to people’s professions, we may be surprised that a Postman dresses up like a Jedi or a cancer scientist makes her own clothes.

The show will run from Wednesday 16th November through to 21st November.

Private view on 16th, all welcome!

Monday-Friday 11am – 7pm

Weekend 12 – 6pm

Hope to see you there!

The show will form part of Photomonth East London International Photography Festival. London’s answer to Les Rencontres d’Arles!

It will run from 1st October to 30th November across galleries and venues in East London.

For more information on the festival click here

http://2016.photomonth.org

 

 

Auspicious August

 

I am quite partial to the month of August, what with it being summer, and the month of my birth. It's been so lovely to have so many blue skies and short-sleeve-wearing opportunities. 

It's been a busy month for both business and pleasure...

My son, Sam and I took a trip west, firstly celebrating my birthday in my hometown with family and friends, then heading to Cornwall for a regular whirlwind tour. 

In Cornwall we hooked up with one of Sam's first/best school friends following his return from a four year seafaring circumnavigation of the globe. I was on the communication loop from base, and was kept in complete awe of the crew of four - the youngest was a baby when she left, so it was great to see she could balance on solid ground! Their scariest moment was when a humpback whale decided to give them a nudge. Hats off and a testament to self-belief and determination.

Yes!  Rospletha Cliffs

Yes!  Rospletha Cliffs

Sam, Ruth and Sailor. Our lovely hosts showing us around.

Sam, Ruth and Sailor. Our lovely hosts showing us around.

Twas a tad windy!

Twas a tad windy!

The Clockmaker's Daughter at the Minack. Great setting for a theatre.

The Clockmaker's Daughter at the Minack. Great setting for a theatre.

Moon over Mousehole

Moon over Mousehole

Sports have featured highly this month - not just with me, but I'd almost forgotten the Olympics just happened. It's good to see there has been some kind of legacy from 2012 with investment in a lot of sports around the country. Really pleased to see Britain getting so many medals, and Brazil pulling off such a good show. 

I have been teaching BoxingYoga™ regularly and decided to practice the full routine myself for ten days on the trot to enhance my practice and examine some of the moves more intently. It has taken me years to fully appreciate the saying 'practice makes perfect'. There really is always room for improvement.

Doing the Crow, where nature intended.

Doing the Crow, where nature intended.

 

I went on a couple of bike rides with Sam. He has been cycling a lot over the past few months, so sees himself as some kind of expert! We rode down to Waterloo via the scenic route, which involved riding down the River Lea until we reached the Olympic Park and hooking onto the Regents Canal until Limehouse Basin, then getting slightly disorientated until finding the Cycle Super Highway which I must say was amazing. It was another glorious day, so the fact that it took three hours instead of one (if we'd done the big roads) was no bother.

Our destination was St. John's Church at Waterloo. We were going for a scout around 'The Crypt' which is where Southbank Mosaics have their headquarters. I will be doing some work there in October, when all will be explained. On the day, a kindly gent' gave us a guided tour.

Hanging out in the Crypt.

Hanging out in the Crypt.

And so, to Photography.

If you've only been following my work or blog since having this new website you probably don't know much about what came before...

I have been freelancing in the photographic industry for twenty years, starting out as an assistant to advertising, then editorial photographers. After freelancing for some time I worked primarily for one photographer in the home & lifestyle sector. Despite him berating the fact that his day rate hadn't increased for fifteen years, he was shooting for most of the top lifestyle magazines. I was learning a lot about photography and client liaison - these were still the days when we had big team lunches, and the clients seemed to drink coffee all day long! We worked consistently for two years on 'Changing Rooms'. You remember, the TV programme with the most outrageous approach to home decor! They had a subscription magazine that ran alongside the programme which we worked on: step-by-step images of how to stencil a table for example as well as photographing fully decorated rooms. There was a lot of set-building and painting involved, which is in part to thank for my DIY skills. The magazine industry at this stage was still flourishing, and photography still looked like a good career choice.

With that experience, most people would have pursued a career in this area, but I've always had a sense of adventure and wanted to travel the world. Paired with a keen interest in writing I decided I would become a travel writer and photographer, and why not! I did my research, read books, attended talks by my peers and had my trip planned, including a working visa for Australia.

Just a few weeks before I was due to leave, I found out I was pregnant. Oh, the irony! Let's just say, this had quite an impact on my unfounded career. Ever determined, I still managed to go away for two months; the first with my partner and a month on my own as per the plan. I took hundreds of pictures. They never did make it very far, as hospital appointments and nesting was a little distracting.

Once we brought the baby home my approach to photography was fairly scrappy for many years. Never really having the headspace or wherewithal to know what I should do, I did lots of things!

I had some success with children's portraits (I'll never know why I let that slip), then weddings when I was shooting on film. My switch to digital was unwelcome and unenjoyable. I felt my standards dropped before they rose again, by which time the wedding industry was filling up with people who were way more excited about weddings (in their entirity,) than I ever was, so I decided to leave it to them.

Then what? Then what indeed. I started working for all kinds of businesses and picking up work for various councils and charities, plus some more creative work that I have always maintained - images I would sell at craft stalls and markets.

Reach for the Sky

Reach for the Sky

Then came the recession. I immediately lost a regular client, people's budgets were cut and even companies that could afford it started using the doctrine 'we haven't got much of a budget'. Councils bought digital cameras for their staff and the phone pretty much stopped ringing. Interesting times.  

Things got pretty bad, so at the beginning of twenty-eleven I took on a part-time role as a Framing Adviser in a local shop. This is one of the best moves I have ever made. The fact that it is not photography is precisely why it works: better to do something that is completely different than take on shoddy photography jobs that you'll regret. The fact that all of the staff are creatives has allowed me to share ideas with like-minded people in a way that I had rarely had the chance to do for years. I have met so many interesting people there and finally allowed myself to see myself as an artist. Yes, I am!

Over the past four years I have been reassessing what it is I intended to do, what I am doing and what I want to do. I have made a lot of big changes in my life.

I hope you don't think it's all been difficult? Here are some highlights of my career so far:  travelling to Kenya to document a trip in collaboration with The Prince's Trust, doing a job inside 10 Downing Street. Having Sir Peter Blake admire my work in a gallery in Mayfair and photographing a wedding at the Tower of London. I have had some amazing opportunities and met many inspirational people along the way. And of course, I have had the absolute pleasure of seeing my son grow and flourish. He has been nothing but a joy to me, ever since a few weeks after the initial shock that is. 

I am glad I have stuck with it, I am glad I can write this and see what a mess it all was. I just hope that my reawakening or whatever it is gives me enough time to see me produce work that means something to me, and that other people enjoy. That is all I ever wanted out of photography. I don't expect to get rich, but I do need to earn enough money to pay my way in this astronomical city, so over to you!!

High Five!

High Five!

Oh yes, August! 

You may remember I mentioned the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize last month?  I didn't quite make it into the National Portrait gallery, but I did get shortlisted from around six thousand images to under 400. I think they end up with around sixty for exhibition. Maybe next year!

Big news for now is that I am going to have a solo exhibition this Autumn as part of Photomonth. You will hear a lot more about this nearer the time, but here are the main details:

The Gallery at Republic

Republic is a six acre commercial and retail estate located in East India Dock, London. 

Opening times

Wednesday 16th November 11 - 7pm

Thursday 17th November 11 - 7pm

Friday 18th November 11 - 7pm

Saturday 19th November 12 - 6pm

Sunday 20h November 12 - 6pm

Monday 21st November 11 - 7pm

Private View Wednesday 16th November 6.30 - 9.30pm

Also in November I will be exhibiting with Islington Art society and there is a chance that I may be in one or two more shows, depending on selection, so don't expect to see much of me for a while!

Over and out

Amanda xx

 

 

 

Reasons to be Cheerful (the July roundup)

Another month of being a photographer who doesn’t take many photographs, but there is plenty going on behind the scenes. Funny how one of the main drawers to photography for me was the thought of not being stuck at a desk - isn’t technological progress great.

Despite the daily dose of single-acts of hate and the horrors of mass-killings around the world, I am feeling resolutely upbeat. 

My favourite job this month was a simple reportage-styled affair, recording the day's events at a community Funday in a place called Chalkhill, northwest London. 

The sun was shining and the MC made a point of stating that people were there to celebrate diversity and their rich community. There was a one-minute silence for those who lost their lives in the 'Nice Terror Attacks' which had happened a couple of days before. 

Three local councillors attended and each one of them was well received. The Mayor of Brent, Councillor Parvez Ahmed was very charismatic and everyone seemed to know him!

There were lots of events and entertainers throughout the day, including an amazing performance from some traditional African acrobats. Alongside this, local people were thanked for their contributions, including a couple of long-serving foster carers. It truly was a community event and a reminder of how easy it is to serve your fellow humans.

Community spirit

Community spirit

Light my fire! Fanti Acrobats International.

Light my fire! Fanti Acrobats International.

Other things that happened this month:

I entered the Holy Grail of Portrait photographers’ competition, The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait prize. I am looking forward to the day I see one of my pictures hanging in the National Portrait Gallery!

I went to see Last Shadow Puppets at Alexandra Palace. Great crowd, very entertaining and walkable from home. Win win....win.

On the theme of music, my friend Daisy and I went along to watch The Fuze in Camden. This is a guy whose promo-shots I took about six years ago when he was starting out. A hippy-happy-rock fusion. Lovely atmosphere, not sure I dig the music, but we managed to win the prize for best dressed (slight coercion from Daisy)!

I actually had my picture taken this month, by my talented friend, Chris Brock.

Peace and out

Amanda

Jumping Jack June

Half the year gone, and June seemed to be a whirlwind of activity. I certainly packed it in, and will now try to restore a bit of calm. 

There was a lot of action amongst fellow photographers, big names and small, so I found myself at myriad events. Although it's important to feed your creativity in an industry like mine, you (note to self) have to be careful that you don't spend all your time in the research zone, or you'll never get any work of your own completed. It's a constant balance between earning and learning, and as I am going through big changes in my approach to my work I need to pare back as much of the unnecessary actions that can sometimes plague a day.

I find this quote can be very effective 'Don't give up what you want most for what you want now'.

Here are some of the events that happened in June: 

 - I qualified as a BoxingYoga™ Coach and last night I took my first official class. From a nervous beginning, I led the class  to a glorious end!

BoxingYoga™ Salutation

BoxingYoga™ Salutation

- I took a trip to Bournemouth for an Uncle's funeral, and have now witnessed for the third time how quickly cancer can take someone's life. He was a man who loved life and had an amazing energy, so made the most of his time on earth. I urge you all to do the same!

- Islington Art Society held their summer exhibition in trendy Shoreditch at the Espacio Gallery. We had a buzzing private view and I made it into the local rag with an interview for Camden New Journal. 

Royal Academician, Anne Desmet (right) and our Chair, Jo Pethybridge open the show.

Royal Academician, Anne Desmet (right) and our Chair, Jo Pethybridge open the show.

Spilling onto the street at our Private View

Spilling onto the street at our Private View

 - The Print Space on Kingsland Road has positioned itself as one of the most accessible lab's in London. As well as being friendly and helpful with the technical stuff they host an array of talks & events.  Adam Hinton, photojournalist, was speaking a couple of weeks ago, so I dropped by for a beer and an insight to Adam's work and practices over the last twenty years. Afterwards we had a chat about the industry, along with his agent. We have conversed by email since which has been very useful. It really doesn't matter where you are in your career, it's always good to have peers and like-minded people around you. Something I inadvertently let slip when my son was younger. It's amazing what a difference it makes to your output and self-belief. 

https://www.theprintspace.co.uk

- I've been working on location a lot this month, and earlier this week found myself taking pictures for the best part of eight hours across a couple of cemeteries! It was an interesting and action-packed day. We concluded that there are around one hundred thousand graves within the sites, including Vaults, Mausolea, and traditional graves. Various memorials, two chapels, a crematorium and other specifics needed to be documented. The pictures will be used for a new website and printed materials. 

Lawn-styled cemetery where only flat memorial plaques are allowed

Lawn-styled cemetery where only flat memorial plaques are allowed

Funeral Blues (tell me if it's too much)

Funeral Blues (tell me if it's too much)

Laying in wait

Laying in wait

With Respect

With Respect

-  The opening of the Francesca Maffeo gallery set me off for a pleasant afternoon in Leigh-on- Sea, Essex. Ephemera by Spencer Murphy was to be the opening exhibition. I was first introduced to his work at the Taylor Wessing Exhibition 2013 with his striking image of Mark Rylance. I have been keeping an eye on him ever since.

- A friend of a friend heard I'd been to Japan, and wanted a reminder of her own recent trip to Japan. She came around to view my images, and ordered a nice big print for her daughter's bedroom. This is a service I will be offering online as soon as I have time to create the webpage!

- I just made it to the Martin Parr curated show Strange and Familiar at the Barbican. Showcasing a diverse mix of international photographers' work from the 1930's onwards, all of which portray British Life through their unique lenses.  All in all the show provoked a good range of nostalgia, shock and endearment from 23 artists...

There was much to admire. Almost immediately I was struck by an image by Edith Tudor - Hart: Ultraviolet light treatment, south London hospital for women and children. Ca 1935 ( I can't find a  way of showing this), but it shows a group of naked children aged 2-4, alongside two nurses. They are wearing protective goggles and stand around a circular wooden fence-like structure. Hanging about three feet from the ground and central to the circle is a large lamp. I have subsequently learned that "It shows light treatment for children suffering from vitamin deficiencies, a standard cure at the time. The South London Hospital was founded in 1912 “to meet the growing demand of women for medical treatment by members of their own sex”. Tudor-Hart campaigned throughout her life for health reforms for women and children, part of a wider movement of women whose activity was vital to the formation of the National Health Service in 1948". Source: National Galleries, Scotland.

There was an image from Henri Cartier Bresson showing women in Blackpool from 1962 with their hair in rollers and headscarves - a far cry from Dougie Wallace's more recent Stags, Hens and Bunnies, a Blackpool Story.

I really liked an image by Bruce Davidson Teatime in the car 1960. This depicted three people in a parked-up mini enjoying a cup of tea, the front passenger with a terrier on her lap. A typically British scene that anyone born outside the M25 could relate to.

One of my favourite collections was that from Paul Strand - a mix of portraits & landscapes from a 1950's Hebrides.  This reminded me to book for Paul Strand's solo exhibition at the V & A which I visited last weekend. I think that's enough exhibitions for one month, but it's not my fault the curators don't spread out the work I want to see!

- Whilst pottering around outside one day I noticed there were several wasps regularly going in and out of a shopping trolley that had been parked up over the winter. I figured there must be something going on in there, and did some research. I tentatively opened the bag and revealed an exquisite structure. I then spent about fifteen minutes stood on a chair, with my trousers tucked into my socks and my hood pulled up, trying to photograph the nest! It was an extremely dark and overcast day and the nest was in an awkward position, making photo opportunities slim. That coupled with a constant buzz of stinging-machines, I chose to withdraw. The picture below was taken after the cull. 

This is what a Wasp's nest looks like!

This is what a Wasp's nest looks like!

Brexit - Hex it

What the hell just happened? This isn't the platform to express how genuinely upset I am by not just the result, but the underlying issues we face as a nation: one which in many ways was perceived as progressive. Time to get on with it in true British style, but hang-on, there may not be a Britain for much longer.....

If anyone out there has the ability to look at the whole world and can see a formula for uniting humanity, please let us know. 

Thanks and peace,

Amanda xx 

Photographer AND Boxing Yoga Coach!!

A little short of three years ago I ran into a guy called Matt Garcia He was talking about something called 'Boxing Yoga'. Having practised yoga fairly consistently for many years I asked 'what the hell is that?'

From there I embarked on a 20-day/do as much as you can introduction to Boxing Yoga.

Held at the formidable boutique Boxing club that is Total Boxer I was trained by chief yogi Kajza Ekberg and my first impression was 'this lady is mad if she thinks I can do that'. Full of encouragement I went back for more, and it is fair to say that I soon fell in love with it.

A yoga regime deigned for Boxers, athletes and anyone who wants a
serious workout, this is where it's at.

Roll forward a year and I was ready to try boxing as a sport - how quickly you get hooked: Boom Boom!

Throughout that time I have been gently pushed to places I never considered, and guided by a bunch of amazing and inspirational people.

Thanks goes to Katarina Hromnikova and Denise Grundmann for showing how it's done and special thanks goes to the superstar that is Deniz Ates who has given his time generously towards this auspicious day...

Today I passed my Boxing Yoga Teacher training assessment, so can now officially kick butt wherever I see fit!

Thanks to my lovely friends who attended today's session in the intense heat Daisy Caird Tom Aldrich-Smith Laura Ann Coates Ben Casablanca Els Caballero-Kolster Jackie Mcmanus Tasha Burroughs

The future is bright...the future is Boxing Yoga!

http://www.boxingyoga.com

xx

 

Photo London (with a large pinch of Alec Soth)

I headed down to Somerset House on a brighter-than-expected day, where Photo London was being held for a second year. Bringing together eighty of the world's leading galleries and offering a series of talks, exhibitions and book signings, this is a great event to connect with what is going down in the photographic world. 

I joined the queue for a talk I had booked between the photographer Alec Soth and curator of Media Space at the Science museum, Kate Bush.

It was a sell-out affair in a basement auditorium. I was sat quite far back, so couldn't see much of Alec and Kate, but there were four TV screens on stilts dotted around the room. These were used to show photos of Alec's work, spanning the past ten years; fragments of stories from his travels across central America. Kate tried to draw him into a history in line with some of the great American photographers, but he tried to emphasise how he hadn't consciously gone out to emulate a tradition, but was looking for stories from an often misrepresented portion of American society. 

Alec's work pieces together landscapes, portraits and inividual items, sometimes photographed and sometimes real. He talked of how he often finds photography restrictive, and struggles with the lack of narrative in the single image. This is something I am working on myself. 

Mostly as an aside to the conversation, the slides were being changed intermittently. When discussing Soth's work Broken Manual, about men who had attempted to escape the conformist lifestyle end lived as hermits or runaways, Kate suggested we discussed a particular image: A wide shot of a flat surface with something small and rubbery on top - to me it looked like a leg-of-lamb. Just peaking in the side was the end of a measuring rule. Alex squirmed as he said 'Kate. Well, this is what we call a pocket-pussy, and something a lone man in a forest may carry around with him'. She blushed and the audience giggled. A moment shared!

Alec mused that he runs a 'pretend company' called Little Brown Mushroom, under which he posts any social media. Every Friday he posts a poem...

Kate was asking him about his 'fame' and he offered us the idea of striving to be as authentic as possible in his work, always. Something that most artists will associate with, and something that must get harder once you have built a reputation on a certain project or style: how to create your own work when the eyes of the world are watching you.

It happened to be a Friday, so Alec read a little from the day's poem which relates to the idea of losing yourself to the darker side of fame:

'The Strife between the Poet and Ambition' by Thomas Merton, starts:

Money and fame break in the room

And find the poet all alone.

They lock the door, so he won't run, And turn the radio full-on

And beat the poor dope like a drum.

I only became aware of Alec's work around 18 months ago when I saw 'Charles, Vasa, Minnesota, 2002'.  http://alecsoth.com/photography/?page_id=14

Something about that image made me want to find out more. 

I was very excited then, when I discovered last Autumn that he would be showing at The Media Space in the Science Museum. The exhibition Gathered Leaves which brought together work from four of his collections created over the past decade.

At Photo London there was an opportunity to buy the boxed work from this exhibition, so I hot-footed it to the publishers section full of excitement. Hmm, it cost three times my budget, and I'm slightly embarrassed to say that I had to call my Mum to ask if she wanted to contribute in advance of my birthday. After explaining that no, I didn't need it, but it would be a good investment and a great reference she agreed, and I got to meet the man. I told him I had been to his talk, and he asked what I thought, suggesting that it was a bit short. I said it was good to know that we all struggle, and he joked that he was struggling now as he couldn't get the box to close. 

There was more than Alec Soth, honest!

Looking at Mick  

Looking at Mick

 

I made my way to the galleries area, where some great photographers are being represented by people in suits to sell their works. 

My first encounter was a young Sloane-style couple wafting pass the artworks. The woman  laughingly indicated a striking image of a young Rolling Stones to her suitor 'that would look amazing in your living room'. The man yawningly stating 'can we hurry up as I quickly get bored in these places'. To be fair, I have heard this mantra over and over, across the class divide. Seriously.

Without intention,  the first gallery I saw represented Mr. Soth, and I got to see some works I hadn't seen before. There was some great work from the Ibasho gallery, Antwerp who had various oriental photographers under their belts including some evocative work of Cherry Blossom trees by Yoshinori Mizutari...nice to see how each artist interprets a subject with such varaition.

Then there were the stunning photographs from Nick Brandt's series 'Inherit the Dust'. In real life they were a good three metres wide. Check this out! http://nickbrandt.inheritthedust.com there was a transaction taking place.

I wouldn't want to hazard a guess at how much one of them would set you back, but to know that Photography is being seen as a serious investment to collectors is a good thing.  

Other highlights were Don Mcullin - I am always glad to see his work as he is the photographer I admired and wrote about most when studying for my A levels and beyond.

Don McCullin

Don McCullin

Don McCullin has more recently been photographing the fringes of the Roman Empire. He shot a series in Palmyra within the last decade, which has highlighted again, how easily history comes back to haunt us, and for me, why it is important to record our lives today. Things can change very quickly.

Don McCullin has more recently been photographing the fringes of the Roman Empire. He shot a series in Palmyra within the last decade, which has highlighted again, how easily history comes back to haunt us, and for me, why it is important to record our lives today. Things can change very quickly.

Another large exhibition was that of Russian photographer Sergey Chilikov.  I didn't find his work instantly impressive, but it works well in the context it was made: A response to a stark and oppressive life under the Brezhnev era of the USSR.       

The curator, Olga Sviblova says "Sergey Chilikov's photography is a unique way of visualising Chekov's worldview, in which the absurd and the torment of the free spirit are found in the closed contexts of everyday banality. http://flashbak.com/photoprovocations-sergei-chillikov-draft-60200/

I'm not the only one who enjoyed myself!

I'm not the only one who enjoyed myself!

 

 

 

The Final Frontier

I awoke on our final day to a soft watery sound, and hoped it had something to do with the Onsen. I drew back the curtain, and saw a heavy rain was falling. The mountains were cloaked in a heavy fog. I told Samuel 'I don't think we'll be seeing Mount Fuji'. 

We went down to the basement where our only 'inclusive breakfast' was to be served. First up was a whole fried fish, which Samuel declined.

The buffet consisted of rice - dry or in a porridge style, shredded lettuce, a green-bean salad, potato salad and a whole load of strange looking vegetation, pickles and packaged items. One thing I picked up was some kind of bean, coated in a glue-typed substance accompanied with little packets of mustard and possibly soy sauce. As I peeled back the lid I reeled from the stench, but determined to try, my tastebuds went into overload: it was sharp and sour and pretty vile.

One of the ladies apologised for not having any bread or sausages. We weren't sure if we had missed them, or she had an awareness of what a westerner might want. That was a tough one! 

Half-fed we left the Ryokan for a very wet walk. We headed into the main part of Hakone down the hills and past a gushing river. At least the umbrella didn't have a wasted journey! 

I tested Samuel's patience whilst waiting for the perfect composition for a shot I had set up. We watched trains coming down the mountain-side then went to the Tourist office to ask what we could do in four hours, in the driving rain. Turns out just enough to satisfy our souls...

We hopped aboard the Hakone Tozan Line train formed of three squat carriages, and were fascinated when the train came to a stop at a buffer. The driver got out and proceeded to the other end of the train where he set off again, driving in the opposite direction. Because of the way the tracks are laid into the mountain it makes a zigzag journey uphill. I think the driver exchanged ends four times in total. At the final destination we swapped for a bus and headed for Motohakone-ko, making a pit-stop for hot chocolate which we drank whilst looking out the rain-lashed window. We could see Lake Ashi and snatched a glimpse of a sight-seeing (well, maybe not today) boat traversing the water. This is where on a fine day you would go out on the lake and witness the majesty of Mount Fuji. We would have to make do with pictures on this trip. 

Adopting the 'Keep calm, it's only water' attitude, we walked onwards toward the cedar lined avenue that leads to Hakone-jinja Shrine. Then down a stone stairway to the lakes edge and the red torri (gate). This was mammoth, and the painted red figure stood out more than ever against a grey sky. 

By this point our shoes were squelchy, and the wind had picked up, so we walked back to 'town' to await a bus, taking us all the way back to Hakone.

We had two thousand yen left, so peered at restaurant menus, making sure we could afford the meal. It is not common to tip in Japan, so we could manage a bowl of steaming noodles each and be left with 50 yen - around 30 pence.

The stooped old lady in charge started saying 'window, window' to us. Ah! I exclaimed to Samuel...she wants us to point at what we want in the window. We've managed a lot by utilising hand signals and nods of the head!

We collected our baggage from the Ryokan and proceeded on our final trip to, and across Tokyo, finishing on the monorail to add to our myriad rail journeys.

Annoyingly, I had wound down the Yens, but needed to get some money to pay for the monorail as it wasn't included on the rail-pass. It can be quite a task finding an ATM that allows foreign-card usage, and when you do, the minimum withdrawal is often 10,000 Yen - around £60.00. The budget was going well until the last two days!

Japan is still very much a cash-country which if I was a native would suit me just fine. 

We got to the airport with plenty of time and boarded our Air France plane to Paris Charles de Gaulle. We managed some sleep, two movies and they served Champagne as an aperitif. Gotta love the French!

A couple of hours before landing a fellow passenger came to speak to me, saying she'd been told we were changing to Orly airport too, so did we want to share a cab with her and her partner.

Well, I'd obviously forgotten this minor detail, but it seemed to make sense. As the airplane taxied on the runway, I had a message come through to say our flight would be delayed by three hours. We already had a three hour wait, so increasing it to six was not welcome news. 

We tried our luck on getting an earlier flight out of Charles de Gaulle, but the 7.30am was fully booked. 

Off we went to Orly at a cost of €40 per pair. Ouch. 

Air France gave us a five-euro voucher each for breakfast, as some form of apology, so we headed to Paul for some chocolatey treat and I am writing the final post whilst watching some plane activity out the window!

We are now back on home turf, so until I blog again...

Here are just a few anecdotes and observations from our short, but action-packed trip:

I discovered at the airport that my camera bag weighs more than Samuel's suitcase                                                               

We heard an announcement we had never heard before: Skytree Tokyo, reassuring visitors that they are prepared for an earthquake.

The Japanese are even more apologetic than the Brits

I could get used to heated toilet seats

Face masks are all the rage (we kinda knew that already)

There was something very special about Hiroshima

Ambulance drivers have mega-phones with which they make announcements alongside regular sirens. I have no idea what they are saying, so decided to make up my own words, like 'get out the way you little buggers or you'll be joining us for a joyride'. Oh! the benefits of a misspent youth.

Nodding of the head - why bother with words?

There is a lot less aggression on the public transport system than in London which was a welcome change.  

Our biggest observation was an over-riding veil of quietness. Regardless of Tokyo being massively built up and with a population of around thirteen and a half million people, the average Japanese person walks quietly, talks quietly, and keeps themselves to themselves. The only overtly noisy, and acceptable practice is slurping on noodles!

  Wet and Wild

 

Wet and Wild

The annoying shot

  Little ole me

 

Little ole me

  The final hurdle

 

The final hurdle

  Home

 

Home

Coming to a close

 

5th April

Another late start. We almost left our luggage in the hotel for storage, before realising it would only add more time to our journey later- sometimes there is just too much information to process: where we are going, where we even are!

We headed to the JR SCMAGLEV & Railway Park. Back in the UK when I was planning this trip, I managed to get Samuel to help with itinerary one evening, and told him about a train museum I had read about - this would entail us staying in Nagoya strictly for that purpose, but knowing his interest in trains and my plan to do the same for a museum I wanted to visit, it seemed only fair. 

Anyhow, I asked him in passing to check the opening hours in the guidebook (over the years I have been caught out in many countries with museum opening times).

He said 'it's closed on Tuesdays', so I checked my diary, and sure enough we were due to be there on a Tuesday. Damn! 

Sam suggested we looked at the museum website, so we did.

It revealed that during school holidays and following a public holiday the museum would be open. According to our sources there was a school holiday, and their calendar indicated it would be open on Tuesday 5th April. We are currently on a train heading for the museum, so I sincerely hope the information was correct!

Hurrah! Locomotive-love affirmed - amazingly informative museum with lots of trains to see and explore!

Now back to Nagoya for a three hour train journey to the last 'N' stop of Nagano. 

We picked up some food from the station and felt like one of the locals, tucking into our Bento boxes on the train. 

We swiftly located our guesthouse(50/50 ratio on that so far) and swapped our shoes for fleecy slippers - not sure Samuel has embraced back-packing yet, as he commented 'it's a bit run down'. Obviously been treating him too well!

We wound down, and had our first (relatively) early night in ages!

 

6th April

It was an early start and a fast scoot to the train station.

Last night I was doing my planning for today and discovered we'd be having a four hour train journey south later, which meant a re-jigging of plans to fit everything in. 

Right now we're off to Obuse on the 'snow monkey' train. The announcement 'snow monkey' sounds particularly cool with a Japanese accent - reminds me of 'Monkey' which was a Japanese (taken from a Chinese story) TV programme that my brother and I used to love watching as kids.

We were pointed in the direction of a cafe and were greeted by an older lady with the famous line 'I don't speak English'. Makes me smile every time. She was flanked by a younger woman, and both were very genial. We were the only people there and the menu offered three choices: vegetable curry set, quiche and toast set or toast set. I thought I had ordered just the toast, but along came a mini quiche - without the pastry! A very tasty little egg concoction with two doorstep slices of white bread (very popular in Japan) and a little side bowl of yoghurt with a pear compote. It was very good indeed. 

Now on to the main event...over the past five or ten years I have become quite a fan of Japanese art - especially fond of wood block prints. I am no expert, but the undisputed master (or most famous?) artisan is Katsushika Hokusai, so when I saw there was a museum dedicated to this man in a place called Obuse, I knew I had to make the pilgrimage. 

Hokusai started his practice, as with most arts in Japan by being an apprentice to another master. He specialised in Wood block prints for much of his career, but broadened his practice to include brush painting, amongst other things over time. He was a man dedicated to his art and practiced day and night until his death at the age of ninety, spending the last thirty years of his life in Obuse. 

This was a quaint little town, and famous for chestnuts. We were informed from a lovely lady however, not to buy any at the is time of year as they are imported from China, and she feels tourists are unduly led to believe they are local chestnuts. We still sampled a 'chestnut icecream' which was decent, wherever they came from!  

Whooshing through towns on the Shinkansen we got to see some agricultural land at last, and a tractor which always makes me feel at home!

Lunch (and dinner) was a sandwich made with a brown, spongey bread consisting of egg, tuna, edamame beans, broccoli and a light mayonnaise. The kind of thing I would never throw together at home, but it tasted real good! 

We shared a small tube of Chip Star - the Japanese equivalent  of Pringles, and a bottle of Blood-orange Orangina. I am hoping they have this in the UK as it's my new favourite drink! 

We had to make three changes on today's train journey, the last one taking us up, up and away into the Mount Fuji region. It was coming towards dusk and we were hoping to catch a glimpse of the mountain, but it didn't happen. Maybe tomorrow...

We awaited a bus that served as a drop off for various mountain hotels. Once dropped off, we followed the convoluted route through an adjacent hotel lobby, up to the eighth floor, outside and up a very steep slope to the entrance!

We listened intently to the concierge who explained how things worked here - this Ryokan offers Onsen which I have been looking forward to experiencing.

Onsen is a traditional hot-bath, synonomous with Japanese culture, but maybe not so well known as a Turkish Hammam. The water in an Onsen is drawn from natural hot springs and often contains a mixture of different minerals, which are reported to aide various conditions.

This is a naked experience, to which Samuel didn't feel the urge to participate. I left him in the lobby where he could connect with the ether, as there was no way I was missing this opportunity. 

I almost had a Fawlty towers moment as it took me three attempts to get started - wrong location, wrong towel etc...

Dropping my gown, along with my inhibitions I entered the fray. 

The ritual starts in a shower room, where you sit on a low stool, making sure you are washed & rinsed thoroughly, whereupon you step outside, literally, and have a choice of various bubbling pools: be it jacuzzi style or a hot pool. There was also a steam room and extremely cold plunge-pool. As the sandtimer syphoned it's grain and the sound of bubbling echoed all around, I thoroughly embraced the moment. Bliss!

I returned about an hour later to find the boy exactly where I had left him. Even the fact I am re-writing this as I lost the first draft is not disturbing me!

This will be my last post from Japan. All being well I'll round up when we are firmly back on home soil.

Thanks for reading!

Amanda xx

What kind of nose do you have? 

What kind of nose do you have? 

Just pretty

Just pretty

At a crossroad

At a crossroad

Admiring the Master

Admiring the Master

Chestnut icecream

Chestnut icecream

Off to the Onsen

Off to the Onsen

N is for nomad

3rd April 2016

There is a four day stint of us staying in places beginning with the letter N. Last night was Namba, tonight Nara, then Nagoya followed by Narita. If this was a card game I'd be winning hands down.

Due to another late night we had a slower than planned start to the day. Gladly, it only took ten minutes to get to the station this time around. We had around half an hour to spare until making a connection, so pulled in to 'Italian Tomato cafe' for a bite to eat. I don't know if it's by sheer volume of people, but there always seem to be people eating and drinking any time of day. 

In contrast to Europe, it is okay to smoke in restaurants and cafes (many of which have a designated area, or even room). You are however, generally not allowed to smoke on the streets.

Around eighty percent of the cafe's clientele were smokers, and there was mellow jazz music playing in the background which may well have been the best music I have heard all trip. I have to say that I have been sorely disappointed with any music I have heard so far in Japan. I'm aware there is a massive Beatles fan-base here, and that some decent bands play here regularly, but apart from John Denver's 'Take me home country roads' resonating from a Karaoke bar one night all I have heard is cheesy jingles played at train stations and via random adverts out on the street.

I am not sure if it's in the pop charts here, but I have heard a saccharin version of Doh Ray Me (is there another kind) a few times now, playing in shops. I listen to music a lot back home, and this is troubling my punk/indie/Rock/house deprived ears!

I did muse to Samuel that maybe we are a bit too cynical back home, and how I like music with a bit of bite. Maybe we should roll back the sweetness, and allow for a bit more cheese. You decide! 

En route to Kyoto we jenned up a little on the city, and chose a few places to attempt to see in the roughly six hours we had. We are now on a 'one-place, one-night agenda' as Samuel likes to call it. 

This wasn't all intentional, but with difficulty finding accomodation, and the not-knowing if and when we might come back to Japan I figured we should try and get as much ground covered, whilst getting a feel for the country. Lugging twelve kilos of camera kit around most days might not be the wisest idea, but there are worse things to be doing!

Kyoto train station is a destination in it's own right: fifteen floors of steel & glass, with tens of escalators carrying locals & inquisitive visitors to various locations around the station. A sound-system boomed music and voice from somewhere in this cavernous hub. 

Our first task was to locate the lockers, so we could leave our cases and lighten our load. We found a room containing more than 300 lockers of various sizes. We were not alone in our quest, and so started a game of cat and mouse.  There were a few groups and individuals who were seeking somewhere to store their baggage, and awaited other people to come and claim theirs, freeing up the space. Soon, a group of girls were swapping baggage for a free hand, and the same with an older gentleman. We needed the biggest sized locker, and weren't striking lucky, so I went to investigate the baggage storage that I had noted a sign for before. I left Samuel with 700 yen and wished him good fortune. When I got to the baggage room there wa a sign saying it was full, so they were suspending the service for a while. The thought of dragging around our suitcases for the day was not working for me, so I headed back to Samuel with no change on the situation.

Just then, two men approached the locker room, and proceeded to empty a large locker. They gave us a knowing smile and we eagerly stuffed our cases in and went to explore the station in more detail!

Ascending several floors, Samuel and I took the skywalk from one side of the building to the other: there are two viewing platforms offering a panoramic vision of the city. Impressive stuff. On the 11th floor there is a tight collection of eateries - all with queues of people eager to chow down!

As we climbed further we could see a wide row of around eighty steps that served as seating for the stage below: this is where the noise was coming from, and as we glanced over our shoulders we could see a group of five dancers performing a fusion of traditional and street dance.

There was a flow of performers ranging in style, and we chose to sit down just as it went a bit crazy!

Around twenty teenage girls appeared, wearing kimonos, then the same number of guys in traditional dress. This was followed by younger children, to the point there must have been a good fifty in total. They proceeded to perform a collection of somewhat comical dances, and encouraged audience participation. Around ten western tourists joined in, but it seemed nobody really had a clue what was going on, including us. It can best be described as something akin to heads, shoulders, knees and toes!  

Leaving the station, apart from going on a wild goose chase to find a revered shrine, we spent most of the remaining time in Kyoto at Nishiki Market, a wonder-world of strange and intriguing food. I bought some broadbean biscuits, but the skewered octopus didn't tempt me. There is so much food in Japan that I have no clue about. I am sure they could do a good version of the Bush Tucker Trial in most restaurants! One thing that has been a sad surprise is the lack of fruit readily available. We are probably so used to all the imports, that maybe they work on the seasonal-fruit model. I shall have to investigate.

On to Nara...

4th April

I left a sleepy-boy dreaming whilst I rearranged the bags and went to the lobby to finish some postcards and drink a freshly ground coffee; the first in some time. We left our baggage at Ugaya guesthouse, and set off to explore the area.

Nara was Japan's first capital, established in 710. Thirty years later construction started on Todei-Ji Temple and it's adjacent buildings by order of Emperor Shomu.

We decided to follow a route mapped out by lonely planet and spent a lovely afternoon walking through ancient gardens, quiet roads and through swarms of crowds at Todai-Ji which holds an almost fifteen metre tall, 500 tonne image of the Great Buddha.

The Daibutsu-den Hall which holds the Buddha has been rebuilt three times due to fire and earthquakes. Now standing at 48 metres tall, a third smaller than it's original size, it is still the largest wooden structure on earth.  Scale is everything! 

Nara-koen park is populated by deer, once considered messengers of the gods. They are completely at home amongst the crowds and sniff around for food, leaving some tourists aghast at their behaviour! 

As we walked from shrine to shrine we witnessed a devotee coming out to chant his prayers. Further on there was a whole load of wooden hearts hanging across beams and within a little shrine. This is where young women have written their hopes & dreams of finding a suitor. Probably just as effective as Tinder and the like, not that I'd know! 

We strolled back to town and found a restaurant for dinner, where I had quite a feast and finally got around to sampling the Sake - I could take it or leave it. 

We collected the bags and headed for Nagoya to our first and only hotel, which is where I am writing this from now. It is coming up to 2am and the boy is sound asleep. 

Tomorrow we are set to go to a huge railway museum, which I will explain about more in our next posting.

Until then,

A & S

 

Heads, shoulders, knees and toes

Heads, shoulders, knees and toes

It's a sign

It's a sign

ElectriciTree!  

ElectriciTree!  

Ugaya Guest House - stay if you are ever in Nara

Ugaya Guest House - stay if you are ever in Nara

For real! 

For real! 

Light up your life

Light up your life

You looking at me  

You looking at me  

Fit for a Queen...glad to report the slab of Tofu that looked like chamois leather was really good! 

Fit for a Queen...glad to report the slab of Tofu that looked like chamois leather was really good! 

Todei-Ji

Todei-Ji

Peace and Bedlam

 

1st April 2016

We bid farewell to Tokyo and exchanged our travel voucher for a weeklong Japan Rail Pass. This pass is unique to foreigners and you have to purchase your 'exchange order' before arriving in Japan. You then swap it for a pass at a JR terminal and it allows you to use a number of Japan's efficient train services, including the Shinkansen/ bullet trains! 

We waited on the platform as an army of ladies busily cleaned inside the train, and were both impressed with the fact that the seat rows turn around, so that you are always facing in the direction of travel. Once aboard, we zoomed along swapping densely packed Tokyo for low lying buildings and large factories. I was nodding off a little, and opened my eyes to see a huge snow-capped mountain rising from the damp...my first snatch of Mount Fuji!

Something shifted in the train's mechanism and before we knew it the train had come to a complete standstill. This was not on the agenda. We waited on the tracks for around ten minutes, and eaves dropped a tour-guide who was further down the carriage. It didn't seem like anything to worry about, and sure enough we were soon on our way. 

We arrived in Hiroshima, after spending most of the day in transit - by foot, train, and tram. This time our map worked and we found the Ikawa Ryokan no problem. It was a traditional Japanese room with Tatami mats and futons. A good place to take five and have a little refuel. 

Samuel watched some YouTube videos in the bathroom, as is his habit, and I did fifty sit-ups and a couple of planks. I am missing my excercise!

The light was fading, so it was time to hit the streets and get our bearings before nightfall.

We were a short walk to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, where a certain calm seemed to emanate. The park is situated between two rivers and spans in various directions, with many memorials offering clear explanations. The park has been expertly landscaped, and has a straight line running from the Atomic Bomb Dome (one of very few buildings left standing near the epicentre) to the Cenotaph. This sweeping concrete monument contains the names of all the known victims of the bomb. The memorial that resonated with me the most was the Flame Of Peace; set to burn continuously until all the world's nuclear weapons are destroyed. 

Hiroshima, and if the information given is to be believed, the whole of Japan desires a world without Nuclear weapons, and more broadly without war. It makes you wonder, after all of the accounts of pretty much anyone that has been actively involved in war over the last hundred years say that it serves no purpose, that it has to end, why we are still seeing scenes like this repeated around the world today...

We continued to look around the park, wander down by the river and stumbled into the busy shopping zone. We had decided to seek out a guidebook recommendation for dinner, and after a little to-ing and fro-ing we reached our destination 'Okonomi-Mura'. We took the lift to the third floor which is one of three levels containing 26 stalls, all offering a version of Okonomiyaki. These are savoury pancakes filled with cabbage, and a choice of meat, veg, or seafood, plus an omelette-style egg that sizzles up in seconds when it hits the hot plate. Unusually it contains noodles too: they are slung onto the hotplate straight from a vacuum pack. The chef adds a few secret ingredients from various shakers, and the whole combination is stacked and sliced into sections, before being placed on the hotplate in front of you, keeping it warm. It works amazingly well and is definitely our favourite meal so far.

We awoke on Saturday to glorious sunshine, and packed up before heading back to the Peace Park. Presumably because it was the weekend the park was busier than ever, and lots of people were already partaking in Hanami, with picnics under blossom trees that ran along the riverside.

We got ourselves some brunch in a relatively authentic tapas bar and headed for the Hiroshima Peace Memorial museum: a sobering experience.

There are lots of articles on display that were taken from the rubble or donated by family members. Many of them from children, such as a scorched tricycle and a lunchbox. When the bomb was detonated at 8.15am on 6th August 1945, hundreds of children were busy demolishing buildings for fire lanes as part of the war effort. They suffered horrific burns and subsequent painful deaths. One display showed the clothing remains of a fifteen year old boy. I looked across the museum floor at Samuel and felt grateful. 

We left the museum in a contemplative mood, and made our way back to the Ryokan to collect our bags, and make our way northwards to the Osaka prefecture.

More fun on the trains, and a more or less seamless journey to Namba station. That's right, all is well until we hit street level. 

We had our work cut-out, as the lame Google-map printout and some unclear instructions from station staff left us bewildered once more. We walked in various directions, and with aching shoulders proceeded on asking various people until about forty minutes later we found our resting place.

When I was seeking accommodation from England I got stuck on 2nd April, to the point I was willing to take our chances on finding something on arrival, but at the final hour, a friend of a friend of a friend came up with a place in Namba. I am not sure why, but I had imagined it would be a small unassuming town, but how wrong could I be? The area was buzzing. 

We headed out fairly late and attempted to make a call to my Mum as it's her birthday today. It just wasn't connecting, so we sent her some pictures from the hub instead!

We headed for the Dotonbori region which I had researched last night, and it didn't disappoint. Something akin to Camden, but on a grander scale. It was mayhem! 

We had Okonomiyaki again. It was another vending machine scenario, so you order what you want before entering the restaurant. I think we freaked out the staff a little by ordering dishes without a carnivorous bent. We are not big meat-eaters at home, and it has proved difficult to find main dishes without meat. That meant I had a bowl of rice, a bowl of spring onions, a soft-boiled egg and some gyoza. I mixed everything but the gyoza in another bowl and added some soy-typed sauce and some chilli paste. Tasted like a fine combination to me! 

We soaked up a bit more of the atmosphere and stopped off for a cheeky coffee and cake, but the last surprise of the evening was the slightly bizarre sighting of a couple of Owls and a bunny on a lead in a fairly busy walkway. The two ladies who were in charge of the animals were from an animal rescue service, and seemed genuine enough. The animals did not seem at all uncomfortable and there was lots of paperwork asking people not to make loud noises or use flash photography. All the same it was a very unusual scene to witness.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend people

Sayonara 

xx

 

Fasten your seatbelts!  

Fasten your seatbelts!  

image.jpg

We had a game of 'guess which section of the wardrobe I am in'.  

 

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

Okonomiyaki 

Okonomiyaki 

Can't get enough of the Hanami, or people in facemasks! 

Can't get enough of the Hanami, or people in facemasks! 

Crab selfie

Crab selfie

Animal 'welfare' 

Animal 'welfare' 

Wise up

Wise up

Return of the native

Last time we saw Takumi was in 2011, when we were a 'host family' and he stayed in our home to get a sense of living with an English family. We weren’t really in a position to travel much at the time, so thought it would be a great experience to bring the world to us. Within a five year period we hosted thirty-seven people from fifteen different countries, and Takumi was our first Japanese guest. He was only twenty at the time, fairly quiet, and a massive Arsenal football club fan - As I recall, he had a whole suitcase full of Arsenal paraphenalia to take back home. Takumi and I have loosely kept in touch via Facebook, and it was great to have him show us around Tokyo for a couple of days. He is more of a country boy and not the biggest fan of Tokyo, so we are even more grateful for his time!

Our first day saw us visit Senso -Ji Temple: Greeted first by the massive red 'Thunder Gate' there was then a long walkway of stalls selling anything from chopsticks to kimonos. It was heaving. 

Once we had navigated our way through the crowds the majestic site of the temple presented itself. There was a smoking-stone-incense-bowl where according to legend, if you want yourself in the smoke your dreams will come true. I got the feeling there were many ways one could enhance their fortunes, if they were so inclined!

We left via the back road which was far more bearable, and headed to the world's tallest free-standing tower: the Tokyo Skytree. It was so busy we had to grab a voucher that would enable us to return in three hours to purchase a ticket! No problem, it was lunchtime! 

The wait was well worth it, and we spent some time looking down from 350 metres above the city. Even the most buzzing city can look peaceful from above.  

Today, March 31st was one of those very special days, that even at 2.30am my mind is still buzzing with thoughts and memories that I am sure will last a lifetime.

We met Takumi at 10am and headed for Rikugien Gardens in Komegome, and were surprised by the orderly queue that had formed around an outside wall...

Before leaving London I conceived an idea for a photographic feature and got a load of model release forms together. Takumi thought this place may offer the right kind of setting, as the series is based around the art of cherry blossom viewing, so a full bloom was hoped for. Ueno Park has a lot of trees, but attracts thousands of tourists a day and the trees are obscured by some ugly fencing. 
Rikugien was a gem of a park, full of well-dressed Japanese pensioners and a huge and amazing cherry blossom tree. Of course it was surrounded by people and park-guides keeping the path clear. Executing my idea was looking tricky, as we prepared to leave.

As is the Japanese way, it's not always easy to gauge enthusiasm or to know if someone has had enough. I had asked a lot of Takumi by enlisting him to translate my idea to strangers and asking them to sign a model release form for me. I was very happy when he said I have another idea, and suggested an alternative location about twenty minutes away.  

We entered Yoyogi Park and walked up the main boulevard. Ahead of us I could see a canopy of light-pink fluffiness. I was optimistic. Clusters of blossom trees were divided by a busy pathway, and as far as the eye could see were groups of friends and family sitting, chatting eating and building up for a great afternoon of Hanami.

I laid out the cotton throw I had brought from home and set up my camera and tripod. Sam filmed some of the action and Takumi started the task of asking for people to be photographed, with me smiling politely by his side. We got off to a good start with a group of five young women, which was swiftly followed by three men drinking Sake and beer, that we lured away from their own spot a few blankets away! We stopped for some sustenance after managing five shots, and I think Takumi was hoping it was over! I told him I would like to double the figure (less than my original target) so he politely agreed and we got back on it! Some people said no, but I really think we got some great photos. I am afraid they will not be posted on Facebook as they are destined for the 'real world' but I will be happy to show anyone who asks when I get back home. All I will say, is we asked one guy who must have been at least seventy and with his dog if he would participate. When he sat down, he widened his legs, and adjusted his hips. He did the full side-splits and raised an arm in the air. Turns out he is a Master Yogi, so for all my yoga friends, this was inspirational! The portrait-sitter of dreams. 

As if that wasn't enough, I have learned how to say ' I am a photographer' in Japanese. It sounds a little like this 'Wa tashi wa shishenken dis'. 

Leaving the park on a high, we took a stroll around Harajuku, and ended up in Bill's for coffee and cake.  It was more like a swanky restaurant than it's English counterparts, but very enjoyable! 

It was time to bid farewell to Takumi, so we thanked him again and assured him we would stay in touch and send plenty of pictures from our two days together.

Just to wrap up the day's activities and I know I'll be having less than five hours sleep (did someone say holiday?). When Sam and I went for dinner tonight we asked directions to a restaurant from two young guys. Soon, four of their mates turned up and four out of six of them were busy on their mobiles  trying to find it. With minimal English and lots of hand gestures they said to follow them. Turned out the restaurant was closed, but these boys were now on a mission to find us somewhere to eat! They were on their phones, then apologising for taking too long, and then we were off again. We got to a shopping mall that was part of a train station, and most businesses were winding down for the day as it  was coming up to 9.30. We found the building plan with various restaurants, and they were apologising again, saying they don't yet understand, which I took to mean they weren't sure which floor it was on. Then, there was more excitement when they realised it was on the 8th floor. Amidst giggling and the boys banter with each other, we bundled into a lift, where they escorted us to the restaurant. As is my method of communication, I whipped out my phone and took a picture of the boys with Samuel, and reciprocated with one of their phones.

They told us they were from North Korea, but I think they were settled in Japan and were all Rugby players. What a joyous day. 

Goodnight. Sleep tight.

 

 

 

Takumi and Sam

Takumi and Sam

The boy and me

The boy and me

Tokyo Sky Tree

Tokyo Sky Tree

Amanda Panda says hi...made of sugar 

Amanda Panda says hi...made of sugar 

Blossom woos the crowds

Blossom woos the crowds

Hanami... This is how we do it! 

Hanami... This is how we do it! 

The North Koreans have my baby! 

The North Koreans have my baby! 

I've been rumbled. 

I've been rumbled.