Art, Books, Review

Book : Mark Power – DTLFTSOTE

A few weeks back I started to follow Mark Power on Instagram. I already had ‘The Shipping Forecast’ his brilliant 1996 book of black and white photographs. (I was lucky enough to pick this up in Oxfam for a couple of quid). At the time I started following he was posting a series of images which struck accord with me. As it turns out they were from his recent project “Destroying the Laboratory for the Sake of the Experiment.”   A series from a number of road trips the photographer had undertaken with a poet Daniel Cockrill.

Looking  at the stream I felt the images were indeed a reflection of the direction of travel that the country has been on as pointed out on the purchase page on the Mark Power website.

Intrigued by the images and the description I decided to buy the book, which only seems to be available from the bookstore on his website. First impressions are good, it arrives with a wrapper and the style is a bit like a Moleskine type notebook  – befitting the fact the book is a collaboration with a writer. The book also has an embossed cover and a wrapper which when you fold it out and flip it over reveals a Concréte Poem in the style of a map.

So far so good, then. On opening the book the positives continued, I think the poems are on point and reflect the work well. Some of the presentation of those poems is very clever and relates back to the photographic work. I particularly enjoyed the sequence around a couple of smokers outside a bar called Smokie Mo’s where graphic the language of the signboards is employed for the writing, inviting the reader to consider how the words and images have been created together on Power and Cockrill’s trips.

So, I really enjoyed the book and in general the images and the words are both strong and they do have a clear relationship and, of course, those are key to any book of this kind. I am, however a little ambivalent about the design of the book; while it works in the example above, probably because of the clear relationship between the graphics and the images, I’d have preferred a less fold-outs and whatnot. That said I have returned to the book a several of times in the couple of weeks I have had it.

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Art, Projects

Sunset Over England 

Another shot from my Little Chef road-trip. This in a Lay-by come trick stop on The A1. The flag is planted into a wooden picnic bench which has Been swallowed by the undergrowth, it’s next to an abandoned transport cafe made from a transportable cabin; pictured below.

Incidentally, the flag pic was shot with the C/Y fir Zeiss 135/2.8, which is one of my least favoured contax lenses.

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Architecture, Art, Projects

Little Chef Road Trip Pt II

As per my last post, I’m expanding on the Little Chef thing. Also, I’d really appreciate feed back and thoughts on this post, and the project it is about.

Little chef is a bit of an institution in the UK, as a Kid I loved the bright red roadside diners an always looked out for them, even if we didn’t stop at them. The pair at Balhaldie on the A9 are a major landmark for me.

A couple of years back I noticed that the last Little Chef restaurant on the routes I travel most often these days closed down – this was at Lamberhurst on the A21 between Tunbridge Wells and Hastings. There were another coupe of closed which re-opened as Starbucks, near Eastbourne on the A27 and A22. This got me thinking about change and corporate influence.

I then wondered if there might be something in looking at the re-use of of Little chefs and if it actually might show something about the UK now. A bit of research about former little chefs turned up a number have become Adult Shops, successful because their roadside locations allow anonymity to  customers. This seemed kind of interesting given the child friendly history/nostalgia around the brand.

So, instead of big corporates, A lot of these roadside establishments which were marginal at best are being taken up by lower end uses, which are more varied and interesting, Though there are some exceptions. With these half baked notions in mind and a tank full of petrol I set out over a couple of days last weekend to get out there and gather some images.

Initially I travelled North on the A1, as this is the prime hunting ground for the Sex shops, but also travelled East into Essex and will be making more trips and adding more images over the next few weeks to see if there is a valid body of work here, I suspect there is but I think the scope and the message are still poorly defined.

Also I’ve been under a couple of influences – I’m following Mark Power on Instagram and after seeing his ‘Destroying the laboratory for the sake of the experiment’ and coming into contact with Paul Graham’s A1: Great North Road series the idea of a road trip chimed as a logical way to survey the nation (Graham’s Little Chef from the series isn’t on his site). At the same time I hope it works slightly differently and but without slipping into an Ed Ruscha/26 gasoline Stations territory or Becher style cataloging. On that basis I hope to use the landscapes around the existing and former sites in an attempt to broaden the scope.

 

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Art, Photography, Projects

Little Chef Roadtrip Pt I

I have been doing quite a bit of driving over the las vouple of days. I’ve taken a couple of hundred shots, almost exclusively with my A7r and FE 35/2.8. More on that to come once the files are processed. In the meantime, here is an iPhone food shot.

I stopped at the ‘Heston’ style Markam Moor and enjoyed a surprisingly good Haloumi-Burger…


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Architecture, Art

A Sea of Steps

My wife and I visited the South-West of England over the weekend past and one of the places we took in, albeit far too briefly was Wells Cathedral. As a student of architectural photography I was only too aware that one of the most famous early 20th century architectural photographs – ‘A Sea of Steps’ was made there by Frederick H. Evans (the first link is to Christies and shows a print of this famous image has sold for $233,000).

According to Britannica Evans was; “A man of strong opinions on many subjects … constantly involved in controversy. His most impassioned beliefs involved what he considered to be the proper practice of photography. A purist, he believed in never altering a photographic image after exposing the film. His goal was to create an aesthetically and spiritually satisfying image, utilizing the play of light and shadow on static architectural structures.”

I would subscribe to much of this and do try to take very straight shots which require as little processing once they are off the card as is practically possible so, as a little homage to Evans, I decided to reprise that iconic image of the stair to the Chapter House. I popped my Zeiss 18mm on to the front of My A7r and made a couple of exposures. A cropped from which is here.

While the soft, filtered light of the cloudy day is very beautiful I don’t think I achieved the composition…_DSC5155-2

I also made a shot of the Chapter house ceiling itself (below) which make full use of the lens’ low distortion and 100º diagonal field of view.

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