Took shots of the launch of 'The Hazel'; a 100 year-old wooden canal boat (they are usually made of steel - wooden ones are quite rare). She is in the process of being restored by volunteers of the Wooden Canal Boat Society (WCBS), which is based at the Heritage Boatyard on Knowle Street in Stalybridge. The Hazel was launched into the Huddersfield Narrow Canal this week, after the oak hull was thoroughly restored and coated with the customary black tar. The superstructure and interior will now be rebuilt. The launch was attended by the Lady Mayor of Tameside and other dignitaries. Instead of the champagne more customary for ocean-going liners, The Hazel was anointed by the smashing of a bottle of beer across her hull by her former owner. The bottle contained 'London Pride'. Rumour has it that no-one was prepared to see proper northern beer wasted.
One observer likened some of my work (my more art-related photography than my commercial work) to that of Dorothy Bohm. Flattered I'm sure!
Very excited. The Wooden Canal Boat Society, which has its maintenance boatyard in Stalybridge, is about to (re)launch the Hazel: a 100 year old wooden-hulled narrow boat, which they have just rebuilt in oak. I'll be doing the photographs of the launch. Very much looking forward to it. Will post more on here soon. Meanwhile, this is some information the Society gave me on its work and activities:
The Wooden Canal Boat Society
“New Lives from Old Boats”
The Wooden Canal Boat Society restores and maintains a number of wooden canal boats which are put to community use.
The canal boats are kept at Portland Basin where they are maintained and made available for the public to enjoy and to learn about the local canal heritage.
Every month, WCBS volunteers take Forget Me Not and Lilith on waterborne community recycling trips and the collected items are sold through our Charity Shop.
The Charity Shop
The WCBS Charity Shop is at 173, Stamford St, Ashton-under-Lyne. It has a fulltime manager and volunteer helpers. Most of the income needed to maintain the boats is generated through the shop.
“Hazel the Wellbeing Boat”
We are currently restoring “ Hazel” at our boatyard in Stalybridge. She is being restored as a traditionally built wooden canal boat with back cabin and accommodation for up to 10 for day trips or 6 for overnight accommodation. “Hazel” will be commissioned in 2014 to provide “wellbeing” trips for people with social care / mental health needs and commercial trips for paying customers and local businesses.
We are slowly turning “Southam” into a “floating classroom” to provide accredited training in a range of community boating roles.
The Heritage Boatyard
We are developing a heritage boatyard at Knowl Street, Stalybridge. This will be equipped with a wide range of traditional tools and specialist boat building techniques. This will have the potential to provide a service to the boating community and long term opportunities for volunteering , skills training and job creation.
The Wooden Canal Boat Society provides many opportunities for volunteering. In fact we rely on volunteers to keep the society going.
Boat maintenance. The boats that have been restored need to be well maintained to prevent them deteriorating.
Boat conservator. Each boat needs someone to look after it. This needs common sense, ability to use a paintbrush, keep brasses polished and tidying.
Charity shop sales. Displaying and selling items of clothing, sorting out bric a brac for resale in our shop in Stamford Street.
Van driving. Someone to drive the van to pick up large, heavy items or undertake a variety of deliveries.
Marketing. We need to raise the profile of WCBS through leaflets, posters, merchandising, attending local festivals connecting with sponsors and customers,
Fund raising. We need people who are good at fund raising, making bids for grants and finding sponsors.
Community recycling. We need people to help us collect bric a brac on the first Sunday, Monday and Tuesday of each month.
Internet sales. We have lots of items that could be sold on ebay.
Selling bric a brac. Could you sell bric a brac for us at car boots, flea markets, so, if you are honest, reliable and think you could help with any of these activities, please phone the shop on Stamford Street (0161 330 8422) and leave your name and contact number. We will get in touch.
April 2013, continued:
Just saw some of the shots from the Eastleigh by-election by my friend, street photographer, Paul Russell. Great stuff! Thought the one of Michael Fabricant was particularly engaging! Available as book in a PDF download. See Paul's website. http://www.paulrussell.info/
Paul also put me onto the work of an up and coming student photographer, Christopher Bethell: http://www.christopherbethell.com/ - worth checking out.
Done some great new architectural shots recently, of a fabulous new building in Cheshire - soon to be posted on this site.
Speaking of portraits – saw, recently, a documentary on Saul Leiter. His work is not all portraiture, but he often appropriates people into his street-scene compositions. Leiter lives in New York and has for most of his long life, and he is reputed to take most of his shots within a few blocks of his home. Leiter was also one of the pioneers of colour photography, back when only black and white was considered an appropriate form for the serious photographer. Like Eggleston in this regard, Leiter is something of a mould-breaker. Love his stuff (and Eggleston’s).
Done a few portraits lately. Find I am more attracted to character-full portraits, rather than that fashion-of-the-moment style, where everyone appears with bleached-out face against a bleached-out white background. Would be very pleased if I could emulate Jane Brown’s image of Samuel Beckett.
Photoshoot in Castlefield, Manchester. Great opportunity for photographs of modern and historic sites in Manchester city centre.
Photography in Stockport, Greater Manchester last week: Fantastic shots of a giant scale model of the Space Shuttle Discovery.
Photography in Stalybridge, Tameside: historic sites along the Huddersfield Narrow Canal.
Took part in and gave guest lectures on the visual arts at the Sine Dubio Festival of Art, Low Wood Bay Hotel, Windermere, Lake District, Cumbria UK
I now have a new studio in Mossley in Greater Manchester. See 'Contact' page.
I have moved and am now based in Greater Manchester. Email and telephone contact details unchanged.
Shot interior pics of Holiday Inn, Hotel, Winchester.
shot interior and exterior pics of amazing house in Sandbanks, Poole.
Images used by City College Southampton in publicity material.
Conducted photoshoot at North Euston Hotel, Fleetwood.
Conducted photoshoot with Northern Soul aficionados on Bournemouth Pier; in the Twisted Wheel Club, Manchester; and on the sites of Wigan Casino and Blackpool Mecca.
Images published by Soanyway Magazine (online)
Exhibited at Mt Pleasant Media Workshop, Southampton
Images and written article about Ferndown Jitsu Club published in Dorset Life
28 July 2011:
Wrote the following review which was first published on this date in AN Magazine's 'Interface' section:
Jane and Louise Wilson - Nature Abhors a Vacuum, Hansard Gallery, Southampton. 16 July - 10 September 2011
A review by Dr Stephen Riley
The main and newest work in this show is a set of photographs taken in Pripyat, a town a short distance from the Chernobyl power station; the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, in 1986. Pripyat – previously a model late-twentieth century industrial town, built to house workers at the once prestigious power station – was abandoned at the time of the disaster and is now a ‘ghost town’.
The photographs are large, floor-to-ceiling images of the interiors of public buildings: hospitals, labs, offices, theatres. They are shot with a large-format camera and thus remain sharp and incredibly detailed, even at this great size. The images are profound, sublime even, on several levels. Their size speaks of their importance: they confront the viewer on more than equal terms.
Like most Wilson-twins projects, they concern places where crucial and frightening things once took place, but which are now silent and abandoned. As such, they invite us to imagine what happened there; to project ghosts into the void; to think of the day when the alarm went and when normal chat, laughter and routines gave way to panic and flight.
The decay wrought by time on the interiors of the buildings is captured minutely by the camera. We see a pair of symmetrical institutional doors, but we also see peeling paint, cracked plaster and a parquet floor erupting due water ingress and a lack of heating, as materials intended for a controlled indoor environment are met with the full force of Ukraine’s seasons. If these were paintings, we would perhaps be referring to the restlessness of the artist’s brush marks on an ever-changing surface. And it is to the traditions of painting that one is drawn by these works.
The soulful pleasure we take in gazing on decay and considering its metaphors takes us back (at least) to Friedrich’s corroding gothic cathedrals. The sense of the sublime – also, of course, a key Romantic theme – is here in references to nuclear Armageddon and the flimsiness of mankind’s works in the face of nature’s power. This is referenced in two ways: failure to control the immense natural forces at work in the power station and the pace with which nature is reclaiming these once proud buildings. It is 25 years since the Chernobyl incident. What, if anything, will be here in another 25 years?
It could also be that certain types of mid-twentieth century abstract painting, like that of Jackson Pollock, which fidgeted its way all across the surface, or that of Antonio Tapies, which combined surface with references to texture, objects and architecture, inform the ways we see this work and the pleasure we take in it.
Although these are magnificent photographs, the question also arises, given the references made above, how it would be possible to take bad photographs of these buildings. Even shot with a more modest camera, these references would still be implicit. Pripyat is a readymade; a latter-day Pompeii. The camera can do no more than record what is already spellbinding.
Perhaps this is why the artists have included some minor interventions into the photographs and exhibition space. Each photograph contains a ‘metre stick’ – an old-fashioned, fold-up measuring device, marked with black and white stripes – which has been prodded into a door-frame or laid next to similarly shaped objects on the floor. More of these create simple frameworks in the gallery. You have to walk past or through them when looking at the photographs. From some positions, you see the photographs through them. They make a connection: what is actual in your space as the viewer is tangibly also there also in Pripyat. Perhaps the idea is to break down the distancing qualities of the photographs: the same thing is present on both sides of the highly-polished picture surface. We too are in a looking-glass world.
The metre stick also serves as a metaphor: it is a crude device; something intended to measure and control, but demonstrably, through its obsolescence, acknowledged to be fallible. Its black and white stripes also echo those used on tall structures – like power station stacks – to enhance their visibility and warn-off passing aircraft.
These are interesting asides, but the power of the photographs is all, and the rest seems unnecessary.
17 July 2011. What happened to the colour purple?
I am currently preparing work for the Lomo Wall Project, which will take place at the Mount Pleasant Media Workshop in Southampton in October (closing date for submissions 22 Sept 2011 – all welcome).
The idea is that those who care to submit Lomo or Lomo-style photos themed by colour. A giant rainbow-like work will then be assembled from everyone’s submissions.
I chose purple. Not an easy one, I know. I loaded up a film into an old 35 mm point-and-shoot camera and set off. In two hours of searching I found 2 purple things: a dustbin and a bike. There were things that were nearly purple: things that might have categorised more as, perhaps, mauve, lilac, violet, lavender or magenta, or maybe maroon – or is that the same as mauve…? But I saw very little of what one might think of as full-blown purple, and after a while I started to question my own judgment and wonder what purple actually looked like; how it was distinguished from say, a violet or a mauve; where one thing finished and another started.
I blame Lawrence Llewellyn Bowen. He made purple fashionable very briefly and in certain quarters in the 1990s. As a consequence, it wasn’t fashionable in any other quarters around at the time and evidently hasn’t been with anyone who has come to maturity since. I’m sure its time will come again. But will my roll of film expired before that happens?
I'm currently taking part in a photography show called ‘Belonging’ at Mt Pleasant Media Workshop in Southampton. Please check it out: http://www.mpmw.co.uk/