Tearsheet – Renegade Magazine

 

I’m delighted that one of my images is featured in a new travel magazine called Renegade. It’s small, beautiful and full of interesting stuff. Here’s my double page – an image The Tree of Life in Iraq.

 

Iraq - Basra - Boys climb the tree of Adam at Al Qurnah near Basra. The tre, according to legend marked the Garden of Eden, at the convergence of the Euphrates and the Tigris Rivers
Iraq – Basra – Boys climb the tree of Adam at Al Qurnah near Basra. The tree, according to legend marked the Garden of Eden, at the convergence of the Euphrates and the Tigris Rivers

A big lump of red

 

I feel the weather turning. The mornings are colder. I hate it. I need cheering up. Here’s a picture with a big lump of red in it to do that.

 

India - New Delhi - A stage set for a wedding with chairs and garlands
India – New Delhi – A stage set for a wedding with chairs and garlands

 

Why did I choose this image? Just chatting to Michael Regnier at Panos. Sparked a thought about a lyric – John Foxx’s Hiroshima mon amour. Wonderful… “Features fused like shattered glass, the sun’s so low/Turns our silhouettes to gold/Hiroshima mon amour”

No relation to Delhi of course, but that image of light… I can feel the warmth of the late afternoon sun in the big lump of red…

 

Palermo Palavar

 

In a blog post yesterday, I showed a very quiet image of a priest reading and walking around a cloister. Below is perhaps a more typical image of Palermo and (southern) Italy in general. It’s said that Italians can only speak with their hands and the New York Times has a recent, rather prosaic piece here on that very subject.

The consensus seems to be that somehow, in such crowded places people needed a further way to make themselves heard. Perhaps. Some years ago I stayed at a rather expensive hotel in Naples and they gave me as a gift, a lovely book (see below) about the secret meanings of Italian hand gestures. There are hundreds: some pleasant, some decidedly unpleasant. It occurred to me that in one sense it was a code, a language of the initiated in the way that rhyming slang was to the Victorian Cockney. A very real way to subvert authority (and of course the law) and build an identity that was separate and uncontrollable. Naples like Palermo are exquisite places full of art and beauty but are also brutal and fearful. Norman Lewis in his highly entertaining Naples ’44 recounting his time in the Intelligence Corp in that city remembers constantly being offered women by their families in order to eat. Peter Robb in his exquisite Midnight in Sicily (and later in his Street Fight in Naples) shows a labyrinthine society with bestial corruption at it’s very heart and violence meted out by mafiosi at every level. A society moved by an unofficial nod of the head, parallel governments. Secrets. Robb lived in Southern Italy, the Mezzogiorno for years. He immersed himself in the language and the culture and his writing shows the depth and commitment of that effort.

A photographer wandering the streets is usually a little different. He walks and sees a moment developing in the chaos of colour and movement and steps towards it. He takes two pictures and the image changes. He might have recorded something significant, something trivial but he has little hope of understanding anything on a deeper level than the symbol in the image – a gesture between two (or in this case three) people. The words he hears don’t mean anything – the gestures might be theatre. He might be ignored, or as in this case, sworn at and threatened. The language he is trying to communicate is equally symbolic as the hands of an Italian yet inevitably painted with a thicker, less subtle brush. He just sees the signs the hands make, not necessarily the subtlety of the meaning. He might interpret those signs as meaning something completely different – something as part of a visual culture that he has absorbed. Photography is as valuable but blunter than words. A more democratic code. Perhaps.

By the way, the title of this post comes from yet another language. Another collected word from another country. Palava(r). A word that I used to hear in West Africa all the time. Apparently it is Portuguese in origin. I didn’t know. Non capisco. So many words, so many countries. A mixture, an argument, a conversation. A beautiful mess. Just like Palermo.

 

Italy - Palermo - A man and a woman in a heated conversation in a lane behind the Capo Market
Italy – Palermo – A man and a woman in a heated conversation in a lane behind the Capo Market

 

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The Art of Gestures in Naples

 

Kissing in Sicily

 

… seemed to be a good deal of kissing on the island recently…

 

Italy - Palermo -  A young couple kiss as they part by horses used to ferry tourists at the Quatro Canti (officially known as Piazza Vigliena) a Baroque square
Italy – Palermo – A young couple kiss as they part by horses used to ferry tourists at the Quatro Canti, a Baroque square

 

Italy - Cefalu - Tourists photograph, chat and kiss on the sea wall
Italy – Cefalu – Tourists photograph, chat and kiss on the sea wall

 

Music on a rainy afternoon

 

Here’s another image from a recent Conde Nast Traveller story in Sao Tome and Principe. It shows singer Guilherme de Caravlho playing at home in Sao Tome. Outside the heavens had just opened and a rain storm was passing overhead. Behind the curtain his daughter danced to the music.

I’ve written before about music from former Portuguese colonies: the melancholy, the saudade. Here was a perfect moment to illustrate it. I hope that I did his song justice…

 

 

Sao Tome and Principe - Sao Tome - Singer Guilherme de Caravalho plays guitar at home
Sao Tome and Principe – Sao Tome – Singer Guilherme de Caravalho plays guitar at home

All a bit of a punt

 

An image from a recent shoot in Cambridge. I don’t work much in the UK – and sometimes I think I hardly know the country – something I’m trying to change…

UK - Cambridge - Punts and passengers glide past The Clare College (founded 1326) on the River Cam past the Garret Hostel bridge, Cambridge, UK
UK – Cambridge – Punts and passengers glide past Clare College (founded 1326) on the River Cam by the Garret Hostel bridge, Cambridge, UK

The boy with the facepack

Amazing what you find walking the streets of Cairo (my new favourite city I think)…

 

 

Egypt - Cairo -
Egypt – Cairo – A young man smokes a shisha pipe outside an ahwa (coffeehouse) whilst wearing a facepack to look his best for his wedding later that evening