Max Colson: Tales

Photojournalism MA student at the LCC

Posts Tagged ‘UK

Simon Norfolk at the Tate Modern (a Tate video)

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Bullet-scarred outdoor cinema at the Palace of Culture in the Karte Char district of Kabul - Simon Norfolk

Bullet-scarred outdoor cinema at the Palace of Culture in the Karte Char district of Kabul, 2002, Simon Norfolk

“I’m trying to photograph my disappointment. When I came [to Afghanistan] in 2001 I was angry with what the Americans had done, I thought it was a mistake…Ten sorry miserable years have gone by, half a trillion dollars have been spent on this country and it looks worse than it was…It’s a disappointment of ten years of warfare. Tens of thousands of Afghans murdered. Lots of Americans and Europeans killed as well. Billions wasted and nothing achieved: nothing, nothing, nothing achieved…” – Simon Norfolk

If you’re reading this in the UK you may have seen that the Guardian did a big feature on Simon Norfolk’s new Afghanistan photographs and their relation to John Burke’s Afghanistan photography in the Weekend magazine a couple of weeks ago. Personally I think Simon Norfolk is easily one of the most important photographers around right now (and if you don’t agree with that then you must agree regarding photojournalism at least).

Here is a 17 minute video produced by the Tate in advance of his exhibition of new work at the Tate Modern which is entitled, Burke + Norfolk: Photographs From The War In Afghanistan. Working on the understanding that Afghanistan has been the location of an imperalist intrusion for many decades Norfolk has produced a collection of photographs which link the current war with those from its past and asks the powerful question (amongst others): What has changed?

Narrated by the artist himself this video explains the work, puts the current Afghanistan war in the context of the country’s war torn history, and likens  the “billion pictures per hour” photojournalism that is pouring out of the country right now to a “sewer pipe with a crack in the side of it”. He also  comments that “beauty is a useful tool.” He then says lots more.

This is rational, conscious, and incisively critical photography of the highest order. Really, really worth watching.

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Inside the National Liberal Club (home of the Liberal Democrats)

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William Gladstone, served as UK Prime Minister four times (1868–1874, 1880–1885, February–July 1886 and 1892–1894 - -> more than any other person)

A couple of weeks ago now I was able to take some photographs at the National Liberal Club in London, the private members club and home of the Liberal Democrats (a significant UK political party currently in our Coalition Government for those non-UK readers). Although it’s a bit tough to photograph in there normally as I was photographing a charity concert there I was able to take these photographs without too much hassle. Full to the brim with beautifully decorated members rooms and political artifacts, it was the kind of society that I rarely photograph.

Significantly for me the National Liberal Club also houses Gladstone’s Axe which is the old axe that the Liberal Prime Minister William Gladstone used to hack away at trees at the bottom of his garden when he was working out the big stuff in his head. I LOVE THIS AXE: you really don’t understand how much. Here is an excerpt that Evelyn Ashley famously wrote about Gladstone’s axe, tree chopping, and their significance as dramatic symbols (excerpt taken from William Gladstone’s Wikipedia article):

“One afternoon of November, 1868, in the Park at Hawarden, I was standing by Mr. Gladstone holding his coat on my arm while he, in his shirt sleeves, was wielding an axe to cut down a tree. Up came a telegraph messenger. He took the telegram, opened it and read it, then handed it to me, speaking only two words, namely, ‘Very significant’, and at once resumed his work. The message merely stated that General Grey would arrive that evening from Windsor. This, of course, implied that a mandate was coming from the Queen charging Mr. Gladstone with the formation of his first Government. I said nothing, but waited while the well-directed blows resounded in regular cadence. After a few minutes the blows ceased and Mr. Gladstone, resting on the handle of his axe, looked up, and with deep earnestness in his voice, and great intensity in his face, exclaimed: ‘My mission is to pacify Ireland.’ He then resumed his task, and never said another word till the tree was down.”

Here’s the axe as well as other glimpses from inside the members club. I would like to photograph there more. We’ll see what they say.

William Gladstones Legendary Axe

Drinks in the smoking room

Man with tea (with a portrait of William Gladstone in the background)

Entrance to the smoking room

Even more smoking room

Loadsa smoking room

Motoki Hirai – concert pianist performing in aid of the Japanese earthquake relief

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I recently photographed the concert pianist & composer Motoki Hirai at a concert he gave in partnership with the Japan Society for the Japanese earthquake relief.

Motoki’s performance was incredible. I’m hoping there will be more opportunities to shoot him in the future.

I also have had a play with my water-mark. Not quite sure it’s there yet though.

Written by Max Colson

April 17, 2011 at 9:04 pm