Bird tales – and a different election

2-cygnets-bristol-harbourThis isn’t a topic I generally publicise but I am a bit of a bird lover; not a twitcher or even a proper birdwatcher (there are whole groups of birds I’ve yet to distinguish one from t’other) and I make no serious attempts to photograph them – I don’t have the long lenses and neither do I usually have the patience – I simply enjoy the sight and presence of birds; they’re the most readily visible wildlife for many of us, their various habits are intriguing to watch and I do like bird shapes, the Continue reading

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‘Halloweenify’ special

Some seasonally spooky examples of the Google+ ‘Halloweenify’ effect (part of Google’s ‘Auto Aweswome’ enhancements as featured in my recent post), if there are faces in the photo that the software can detect they’ll get an undead makeover (or something less scary if you choose the ‘fun effect’), if it can’t recognise a face your image will be transformed into a ghostly scene. Continue reading

Englishness / England – Keep’n it shabby.

Is this a uniquely English pursuit? Nature tamed and tormented at the local flower show.

Is this a uniquely English pursuit? Nature tamed and tormented at the local flower show.

Over the last few months I’ve encountered a range of ‘stuff’ – exhibitions, books and articles – that has English written through it like seaside rock; some are featured here, more may follow in future. It seems there’s been increasing debate about this elusive quality of Englishness going on for a while now (centuries really), and clearly there’s been some specific focus on the topic lately – the forthcoming Scotland vote on independence is churning up an awareness of the UK nations; the wild aspirations of our national football team had some people’s blood up for a while in the summer and much was made in the media of the Commonwealth Games a few weeks back – I was intrigued to discover that the English ‘national anthem’ played at the Commonwealth Games was ‘Jerusalem’ – but it’s only now that I seem to have become attuned to the recent output on Englishness.

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‘Umbra Sumus – We are but shadows’ (or, Down Brick Lane)

I started writing this last summer, not long after a visit to Spitalfields in the East End of London but since it was no more than a record of a day out it seemed a bit pointless. However, it was a very intense and stimulating day that’s stuck in the back of my mind, and since the visit last year some intriguing information about my own and my partner’s family histories has emerged that is closely, and unexpectedly in my case, tied to the locations we visited.

sundialClearly ours are not the only families to have relatives whose circumstances have sucked them in to London in search of work in difficult times; ours followed the Rivers Lee and various tributaries of the Colne in the late 19th Century from the city’s rural fringes 20 miles away during an agricultural depression, but others came to this London village from 17th century France, 18th century Ireland, 19th century Russia, and 20th century Bangladesh.

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Photographic employment in the 1980s – the wild world

It’s 1984 and three years into motherhood and although Orwell’s Big Brother hadn’t quite materialised we were five years into the reign of Margaret Thatcher, but here I’ll grudgingly admit she managed to do one good thing for our family. In order to camouflage escalating unemployment figures a number of job creation schemes were initiated by her government. I was employed on one as a photographer for a project based in the Natural History department of Bristol’s Museum. The schemes initially provided a year-long contract for Continue reading

World of Small – Portishead

On a sweltering hot day in mid July, Local Journeys, with support from Avon Wildlife Trust, took 60 children plus teachers and helpers from Portishead Primary School on a visit of investigation and imagination to Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve. This was part of another World of Small project – a complete contrast to the first one in Pill during the November 2012 flooding! The bird hide made a pleasantly shady temporary sculpture studio, while pond-dipping and explorations around Continue reading

School photo-surveys 1950s Bristol housing estate

Another Local Journeys project (see previous posts on World of Small and Kite making at Brean), this one was commissioned through the English Heritage Schools initiative to work with Year 3 and 4 children at Frome Vale Academy in March 2013 as part of their Community History project to investigate their Continue reading

‘World of Small’ with Local Journeys

I helped out on another Local Journeys project recently, a workshop project called ‘World of Small’, with Crockerne Pill Junior school.

Items collected by children near a pond and photographed with digital microscope

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Connections and Twitter

I’ve been a bit slow to take up Twitter (had been warned it was full of people telling the world what was in their sandwich or stuck to their shoe) but after a few months I’m learning the value and interest to the point where I’ve just indulged/invested/wasted (delete as your ethos sees fit) a morning checking out links from tweets by people I now follow – see below for a selection – and then extended the trail beyond that which has taken me to some very immersive terrain about past and future technologies.

This trail led to a rediscovery of the 1970s TV Connections series by James Burke. I’d often thought I was a out on a geeky limb in believing that this introduced a revolutionary, and for me exciting way of looking at history / science. Pleased to find a copy of the ‘book of the series’ tucked away on a shelf at home! Continue reading

National Trust – ‘Tyntesfield through the Lens’, September 2010

Tyntesfield-schools-artwork-section

A section of the montaged artwork created from photographs taken by young people from Westhaven and Aschcome schools for the ‘Tyntesfield through the lens’ project.

I worked with the National Trust’s learning officer at Tyntesfield (in conjunction with the North Somerset Find Your Talent initiative) to devise and deliver a workshop over 3 sessions at the house and estate. The participants were Year 6 children from Ashcombe Primary school, and GCSE Photography students from Westhaven special needs Secondary school who were to mentor the younger pupils. The older students came on their own for a first visit to see the house and gardens, learn about some of the history and take photographs of their own, but with our support they also planned how they would guide the younger pupils round the house and estate on the following visit and help them to use cameras to create a ‘portrait’ of Tyntesfield. Continue reading