Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Delhi’s Jantar Mantar closed for protests

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

 

 

I was very sad to read that the Delhi government has, under the pretext of the violation of ‘environmental laws’ closed the protest site at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. The order was carried out this morning evicting and  razing the temporary shelters of protestors.

For those that don’t know, the street was a kind of Speakers Corner crossed with an Occupy site that allowed a very limited amount of protests to be carried out by those with a grievance. The street – adjacent to the famous monument – was chosen as a protest site in 1993 after the Ayodhya-Babri Masjid movement raised security concerns and the government banned protests at previous demonstrations sites. The Jantar Mantar site was one of the few places where people in the city could protest and let off steam. It was also a fascinating place to walk through and see just what kind of issues affected everyday Indians – and their faith in their democratic right to that protest.

I’d been to a few demonstrations at the Jantar Mantar over the years. They never made great pictures – the gatherings – the pushing and shoving with the police were formulaic and regimented by the authorities. However,  it was always heartening to see the faith that especially the rural poor – many of whom had come from all over the country to shout about their (usually myriad) grievances – displayed. Heartening but of course ultimately futile: policy in India is rarely affected by such organised protests and increasingly one sees that cold, hard hand of the State for what it really is. As a symbol for where modern India is moving the broken tents and the tarpaulin of protesters scattered across the street that I’ve seen this morning in the Indian media could not however be more telling. How similar they look to the scenes that I’m reading about in Kathputli Colony as well today as the authorities seem to have finally decided to tear that Colony down for ‘development’. You can read about my previous writings on Kathputli here.

I leave you with two images. The first from the Jantar Mantar, not of a protest but of what I remember best from the place – engaged activists talking and debating. Creating a space where people were able to discuss their city. The second, from Kathputli in 2014 of local residents discussing the future of their slum colony that had clearly already been decided long ago for them.

Both of these spaces – so crucial to cities are now areas where the poor and voiceless are systematically excluded – and thus from the narrative of Delhi. It’s enough to make you wonder who these cities are actually for…

 

Two men talk by a demonstration near the Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, India

 

A local meeting of residents and activists at Kathputli Colony that is faced with destruction and closure, New Delhi, India

 

A new book – The Englishman and the Eel

Friday, September 29th, 2017

 

 

I’m delighted to say that my new book, The Englishman and the Eel will be published by Dewi Lewis this  November.

A sort of companion to my last book (also with Dewi), The Palaces of Memory – Tales from the Indian Coffee House, it explores the eel, pie and mash shops of my childhood. In doing so it examines the rich, largely undocumented cultural heritage of generations of working-class Londoners in a city whose only constant is change. After spending the best part of twenty-five years working in Asia and Africa, this marks a departure and a conscious effort to return home and examine Britain at a crucial juncture.

You can order the book from Dewi’s site or directly from me.

Here’s one of my favourite, but less obvious images from the book…

 

Cindy and customers at T and J Kelly Pie and Mash shop, Loughton, Essex

 

Triggering Article 50

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

 

 

Whilst looking through my archive yesterday for something completely different, I happened to chance upon this image that I think, whichever way you voted in the EU Referendum, might sum up today’s triggering of Article 50 by the British government. It was from an assignment for the Times Magazine on David Miliband in 2008. I’d travelled with him to Kiev, Brussels and errr… Birmingham as well as shooting a portrait at his home in London. This was taken after a rather laborious interview in the European Parliament’s TV studio. Everyone else had cleared off and just the dying buzz of the tv feed remained in the air. Clearly weary, he held his face in his hands as the lights started to dim. It’s never been published before and I’d forgotten all about it but I thought today it might have some … resonance.

 

David Miliband, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and Member of Parliament for South Shields, Tyne and Wear after a live broadcast with a TV channel in the European Parliament, Brussels, Belgium

The picture that changed my life…

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

Amateur Photographer Magazine recently asked me what image that I’ve made, had had a profound effect on me. I told them about photographing a deeply disturbed boy forced to commit atrocities by the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda. Here’s the full piece …

 

The sad demise of the Independent…

Saturday, February 13th, 2016

There was some inevitability about it of course but after thirty years, The Independent Newspaper has decided to close the print edition(s) and move online. In the late 1990s and early 2000s I worked on quite a few stories for the excellent Sunday Magazine picture desk that was Victoria Lukens and Susan Glen.

Susan, now a respected photography consultant is featuring some of the Independent’s work on her site and has just published my story about the mental landscape of war amongst child soldiers in Africa, The Lord of the Flies 

Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 11.53.47

You can see the full set here

 

A talk at the Photographers Gallery London

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

On Saturday I gave a lecture about my work at the Photographers Gallery to a group of talented young photographers. I was delighted that one student, Melissa Fund encapsulated those couple of hours in an excellent diagram with my portrait at its centre. I thought I’d share that here.

Thanks to her and the excellent Lottie Davies for the opportunity.

 

©Melissa Fund

©Melissa Fund

A Small Voice Podcast

Thursday, October 15th, 2015

 

I was delighted to be interviewed by Ben Smith recently about my career for his excellent pod cast show, A Small Voice on iTunes.

I ramble on for an hour talking about how I got started, the business and of course, my new book.

Do have a listen here. Or click the image below –

 

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BBC World News interview about my new book

Monday, October 5th, 2015

 

I was delighted to record two live interviews last night for BBCWorld’s Newsday (shown at breakfast time in Asia) about my new book, The Palaces of Memory, my love letter to the Indian Coffee Houses.

You can see one of them here or by clicking the image below.

 

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Holocaust Memorial Day – Buddy Elias

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

 

A few years ago I was delighted to photograph Anne Frank’s cousin, the mercurial Buddy Elias in Basel for the Times Magazine. Elias,  the force behind the Anne Frank Foundation was charming and entertaining and we spent a very enjoyable day together.

His mood quietened only when I photographed him at his bedside where he keeps a photograph of Anne.

 

Switzerland - Basel - Bernhardt "Buddy" Elias, Anne Frank's cousin. Elias sits on the bed in the room that was occupied by Otto, Frank's father after World War Two. Behind him are photographs of Frank and himself before the war.

Switzerland – Basel – Bernhardt “Buddy” Elias, Anne Frank’s cousin. Elias sits on the bed in the room that was occupied by Otto, Frank’s father after World War Two. Behind him are photographs of Frank and himself before the war.

 

 

London School of Economics Cities Programme

Monday, November 17th, 2014

Some assignments are straightforward, some take a bit more thought. When the London School of Economics assigned me to photograph Delhi for their global cities conference I was delighted but also slightly nervous.

The brief was to image the city illustrating the difficulties of living in and governing India’s sprawling, chaotic capital. My preference is always to try and make beautiful pictures – but trying to marry that with an exacting shoot list that focused on academic concepts was always going to be challenging. It was however, the shoot list (and my drivers and assistants – notably the ever-cool Sunayana) that saved me. I’m always talking about the importance of scripting what you shoot and this was a perfect example of how it can really help. This wasn’t an assignment about what I wanted to show of Delhi or interpreting the city – but clearly illustrating issues that affect it. In fact, it was a very interesting way to work – trying to find places or people that evidenced concepts as diverse as public/private space and illegal adaptions of utilities.

Born and brought up in London, I’m fascinated by cities and the way that they develop and change and Delhi for me has been a kind of surrogate city – a sort of prism through which to view myself and see how metropolises (and I dare you to find the correct plural of metropolis…) evolve and change. Delhi, like London is palimpsestic in that cities have been built on top of cities. I can walk through any number of places in Delhi and find the exact same things that Dickens wrote about for example – the very foundations of a modern industrial world – but I can also find something much older – the Vedic prayers intoned by people still worshipping on the banks of the hideously polluted Yamuna.

One of the highlights was returning to Kathputli Colony that I’ve written about before and making work with the people there trying to save their homes and way of life. I was delighted to be re-united with the singer Bhagwan Das and it is his wife Sarbati that’s shown at the end in the last picture here at the conference in front of a giant poster and on the cover of the magazine.

Here are some of the images that I made.

 

 

India - New Delhi - An overview of the city from an apartment block in Dwarka

India – New Delhi – An overview of the city from an apartment block in Dwarka

 

India - New Delhi - A man  seen through a tangle of illegal electricity and water cables in the Munika area.

India – New Delhi – A man seen through a tangle of illegal electricity and water cables in the Munika area.

 

India - Delhi - A local meeting of residents and activists at Kathputli Colony that is faced with destruction and closure

India – Delhi – A local meeting of residents and activists at Kathputli Colony that is faced with destruction and closure

 

India - Delhi - Crowds in Sadar Bazaar

India – Delhi – Crowds in Sadar Bazaar

 

India - New Delhi - Young people in make up perform a street dance on a road blocked to cars in a section of Connaught Place during a Raahgiri Day

India – New Delhi – Young people in make up perform a street dance on a road blocked to cars in a section of Connaught Place during a Raahgiri Day where traffic is halted and people take over the streets.

 

India - New Delhi - Traffic and Metro construction work at South Extension Market

India – New Delhi – Traffic and Metro construction work at South Extension Market

 

India - Delhi - Workers on the new footbridge over the Yamuna River

India – Delhi – Workers on the new footbridge over the Yamuna River

 

India - Delhi - A romantic couple sit in the gardens of the Ambiance Mall, Saket,

India – Delhi – A romantic couple sit in the gardens of the Ambiance Mall, Saket,

 

India - New Delhi - Sarbati Das from Kathputli Colony (in front of her cover image used as a poster at the LSE Cities Conference) and the excellent Sunayana Wadhawan

India – New Delhi – Sarbati Das from Kathputli Colony (in front of her cover image used as a poster at the LSE Cities Conference) and the brilliant Sunayana.