Arles July 1-6th

Philippe Chancel – Datazone

This is an exhibition on a grand scale showing what we are doing to our planet and our people. His work ranges from the environmental issues of global warming at the arctics to the rapid changes taking place in Khazakstan. He presents images of new walls and dividing fences growing around the world. Powerful images of North Korea. The work is well curated. It tells a coherent and frightening story of what we are doing to our own planet and each other as we walk blindly in to the abyss.

The exhibition is in sections for each region and topic he covers. Each section has its own power and then becomes a jigsaw piece in the bigger story. He has created this work over a period of 20 years.

This image presents horror, humour and a sublime beauty. You missed with an x in between suggesting perhaps this is where the bullet needed to go to succeed.

The images here are harrowing. A barbed wire fence creating a border keeping people in and keeping others out. There is an ordinariness to the clothes being arranged neatly, (to dry?), as the human beings accept where they are and get on with their lives. These images do important work as they show us what we are doing to other human beings now. This image has a horrific beauty to it.

Here he has cleverly captured melting ice in the arctics but in the shape of a falling man. There is irony and metaphor in this image. Again it does important work to inform. Whether human beings are capable of responding to this information in a sensible way is doubtful to me.

An informative image again about what is going on in Nigeria as oil resources are being exploited. It shows a human hand covered in oil and the pictures around show desolation and disregard for the local communities. This one makes me thoughtful as I worked for BP for 30 years and experienced great efforts to make our business ethical in all its actions. How does this happen then? The photograph asks for journalistic enquiry to tell the story. Does this oil come out as gasoline in Shell petrol stations? If so how can this be acceptable? I imagine that somewhere there is a shady crossing of a line. All the problems in this picture can be portrayed as the actions of the corrupt officials giving out ‘legal’ licences and not enforcing the required health and safety measures. At some point the shading line is crossed to provide petrol that goes in to your car and mine.

Oliver Klink – Cultures in Transition

Before writing about the images I want to talk about this beautiful book. The cover, the heavy pages and the silky paper are all a real pleasure. Then add in the images that somehow achieve the incredible range, depth and texture of his images on the wall and I hold a masterpiece.

Oliver has put this work together over a period of 15 years and says this work is now complete. The images are remarkable. Interview with Oliver Klink.

Walls of Power – Man Made Barriers Throughout Europe

A powerfully curated exhibition of what human beings are doing to each other. I left with a deep realisation of the number of conflicts taking place now which we effectively turn a blind eye to. The conflicts in Serbia and Hungary resonate personally as my family on my mothers side were migrated from Croatia up in to Hungary which was then annexed in to Austria before my mother came to England. After seeing the images I felt tearful and frustrated. I feel what I am seeing here is so so wrong but feel helpless to do anything about it. Can this be right? Photography is doing its job when it presents images like this.

Speechless, frustrated and try to understand.

I cannot even begin to imagine what these people are feeling.

Istvan Bielik must go to great efforts to be able to record these images and I will research more in to his work. The job he does as a photographer is important to make all of us aware of what is happening now in the world. What is shocking and deserves more consideration is why these images are not on the front pages of our newspapers every day.

La Movida

A powerful selection of photographs from the Movida movement in Madrid post Franco 1978-88. Great change was taking place during this time. I am running out of time to write about the many interesting takes but include a couple.

I am interested in what the surface image shows about what is going on behind the surface. This image caught my attention for the savage portayal of a kiss. The colour saturation also adds something to the effect. Is it a deconstructed kiss or a snarl? Look at the eyes. Disturbing but captivating.

The eyes caught me in this image. They penetrate and look in to me as if I have disappointed her and she is trying to understand why. It is a simple pose of a friend of the photographer but it works so powerfully.

Valérie Belin – Painted Ladies

The images in this exhibition immediately caught my eye and held it.  The images are a mixture of a painting and a photograph and I was not sure which.  Going in closer made it no easier.  Beyond that there is something about these images that appears to dig deeper in to the person presented. 

The photographer Valerie is going to say that there is no real person there.  A model, some face paint and some digital manipulation presents something I project on to.  But I do it so convincingly and I believe it.  In Madrid I was taken aback when Elina Brotherus replied to my question which best represented her with a ‘none of them’ ‘none of them are me.  These images of Valerie are real and convincing but I know they do not exist as human beings to touch, be with or embrace their soul.

Karel Forman

Karel Forman just started covering the walls of his house with images as his parents looked on. This is the end result. Hits the eyes in the show and must be quite a sight. Elton John did a similar thing with black and white photographs covering all the walls and ceilings of his house in Atlanta.


This area is one of my steep learning curves and this my first visit to a photobook exhibition. I clearly have lots to learn.

Categories: Contextual Research, Surfaces and Strategies


I am a Photographer. As well as taking many photographs I am currently studying for an MA in Photography at Falmouth University. I will direct my attention through the lens of my camera for the next couple of years and see what shows up. I see a photograph as a little bit of magic capturing a moment in time. If successful it surprises and engages your emotions. It tells a story about the wonders of being alive or tells us what we need to change to make it a better world to live in. That is enough for me to get going and then like walking a 1000 miles, which I did across the UK in 2010, or walking 200 miles across Cyprus, which I did in November last year, it is one step at a time.

I was a writer. The title of my unpublished book was ‘You Would Have Done The Same.' It is about a successful guy in love with his wife who lets her die when he discovers her in the process of committing suicide. The title gives a clue as to what I think you would have done. The book is 200 pages long. I found it cathartic to write it but after two years of work and reviewing with agents decided it probably needed another 2000 hours to get the whole book up to the standard of some of the pages. Writing is great but it is a lot of sitting down so I decided to get out and walk, play tennis, play bridge, go birding, watch football at Nottingham Forest, Arsenal and Valencia and anywhere else if I can, meditate, cook and eat. I was a writer who has so far failed to become an author.
I was a young man who loved Mathematics and thoroughly enjoyed getting a BSc at Liverpool University. While there I went often to Anfield and the Philharmonic Hall. I was all set on doing a PhD until I went for interview practice at BP and got seduced by the excitement of an International business career. BP was a great adventure building trading teams and businesses in London, Antwerp, Cleveland Ohio and Singapore. Fabulous people and some great challenges and also very hard work, constant jet lag and lots of fun along the way. I married Karen, my stunning wife, and had the most amazing time with her and our three boys Alex, Tom and Dan. She has multiple sclerosis and we have taken on many challenges together but somehow keep creating a new normal against the horrors thrown our way. She is the love of my life.

After BP I decided to coach senior executives and quickly realized I had a lot to learn
about what makes people tick. I had a fantastic 18 months on the International Programme of the Cleveland Gestalt Institute. A great faculty and a
wonderful group of people on the programme. We studied and worked in Dingle, Singapore, Holland, Cape Town and
Lisbon. This also got me interested in the way we think and make decisions so I studied for an MSc in Psychology atUniversity College London in 2010. The
Masters was in Cognitive and Decision Sciences and I found it fascinating what
we do know but also how much we don’t know about how we think and make

I loved coaching and making a difference. I got a number of people to hear themselves, remove some of their own chains and free up the way they thought about the world. I remain fascinated by how people react to and engage with the world. My Masters thesis was why do two people given the same information make different decisions? Put simply, it is because each of us are unique in the way we are constructed.

Since returning from Singapore I found English winters tough so moved to Spain where I now live. The people are lovely, the scenery amazing, food delicious and the sun shines all the time. Almost.

All of these experiences will feed in to my time now as a Photographer. Three motivations I am lucky to have are enthusiasm, curiosity and a continuous interest in learning. All the time I look forward to meeting old friends and making new friends and experiencing this wonderful life together.