Category Archives: Photography

Super Exhibition Saturday: Ice & Diamonds

All you London based culture vultures might want to check out two interesting exhibitions in our fair capital over the next month or so.

The first is called ‘Enduring Eye: The Antarctic Legacy of Sir Ernest Shackleton and Frank Hurley‘ at the Royal Geographic Society. The Enduring Eye exhibition will open to the public on Saturday 21 November, exactly 100 years to the day that the crushed Endurance sank beneath the sea ice of the Weddell Sea, and run until 28 February 2016.

The RGS website describes how, as one of the first truly modern documentary photographers and film-makers, Australian born Hurley hoped to have his images seen at as large scale size as possible. 100 years later, this intention will be honoured with giant dimension prints, some over 2 metres in width and height, at the heart of the exhibition, providing viewers with a sense of awe and wonder.

In addition to the newly digitised images, the exhibition will include a number of ‘precious survivors’ – personal artefacts that were carried through every stage of the successive journeys for survival from the Weddell Sea to Elephant Island and onto South Georgia.

The second collection of objects of wonder can be found in The Victoria and Albert Museum’s ‘Bejewelled Treasures‘ exhibition, which also opens to the public on Saturday.

More than 100 objects owned by Sheikh Hamad Bin Abdullah Al Thani, a member of the Qatari royal family, have been loaned to the V&A for the show, which explores 400 years of Indian jewellery. It is being exhibited as part of the museum’s India festival.

As well as the objects from the Al Thani collection, our Queen has lent three pieces from the crown jewels including the spectacular “Timur ruby”. This ‘ruby’ is a source of much intrigue since it was never actually owned by Timur and is not even a ruby. (It is in fact a very large, 352-carat spinel, a type of red stone found in Badakhshan.)  The spinel was owned by Jahangir in the 17th century, and in 1851 it was given to Queen Victoria after the British annexed the Punjab. It seems a trifle odd to me to have your country ‘annexed’ only to then send a whacking great jewel to your new Empress, but it’s a nice touch.

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Maison de la Photographie in Marrakech

The ever wonderful Maison de la Photographie in Marrakech sends out a monthly photo if you sign up to receive emails their collection. I hope they will not mind me sharing this month’s image with you all, as I think it’s exceptionally beautiful.

The Maison de la Photographie is a wonderful quiet venue to admire their impressive collection of photographs of the 20s-60’s. Enlarged images bring the history to life, and many of the scenes depicted can be found in ‘real life’ just outside the walls.

If you are keen, you can find out more here, and also sign up for next month’s image:

Pierre Boucher, Femme se maquillant, Tirage aux sels d'argent, 1936 (Woman and her make-up, Silver print, 1936)

Pierre Boucher, (Woman and her make-up, Silver print, 1936.)

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Classical Paintings, Modern Settings

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Bloodhound and the Traffic Wardens

Despite this being parked on Keble Road this afternoon, I did not see one Traffic Warden proffering their usual friendly Penalty Notices. Still with a top speed in excess of 1000mph (no, that’s not a typo) catching Bloodhound might be an issue. Until it reaches to a corner…

Bloodhound

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The elephant and the machine gun.

I just love this photo; it’s utterly bonkers! Taken in an unknown location in 1914, it depicts a US Corporal aiming a Colt M1895 atop a fully grown Sri Lankan elephant.

I would wager that the brave Corporal has not attempted to fire the machine gun, as I doubt the placid looking beast he rides would appreciate the clatter and shock of having 450 round a minute dispensed so close to his lug holes.

The gun is John Moses Browning’s M1895 Colt-Browning machine gun, nicknamed the ‘Potato Digger,’ as the movement of the arm required some eight inches of clearance at the underside of the weapon, lest the gun dig itself into the dirt. Or in this case the elephant’s shoulders…

Elephant mounted machine gun 1914The elephant looks suitably unimpressed! Perhaps he has never seen Far Cry 4, or the Lord of the Rings films?

 

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A Shard of Light

Tim and Becky Shard

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February 6, 2015 · 11:16 am

World War One. My Family’s History.

Today marks the centenary of Great Britain joining World War One. There have been salutes, flypasts, vigils, and tributes paid by all quarters, and much done to honour the dead. And quite rightly so; their sacrifices made possible our freedom, and we will all, ever, be thankful.

My own family were surprisingly lucky during the war. My mother’s side of the family were all in India for the duration, and only started to drift back to Blighty at Independence, while there are little or no records from my father’s side. My grandmother (on my father’s side) however used to tell me tales of her father, my great-grandfather, and his time in uniform.

When I was a child she would stroke my hair when she spoke to me of him, and tell me how much I reminded her of him… she described how his hair was exactly like mine… ginger and much like a wire brush. Apparently we have the same eyes, but I know mum’s side also lays claim to my (somewhat useless) ocular ancestry. Kelly was much luckier, and avoided the ginge altogether.

The only records we have of Frank Kittle (Nan called him “Pop”, but then our grandfather was also “Pops”, so maybe this is a generational thing?) are some photographs and stories.

The photograph of him before he went to the trenches shows a thin, nervous, smile, and a rather optimistic attempt to Brylcream down the wire wool with a side parting. In the photo he must be in his mid 20’s, and has the badge of the Royal Garrison Artillery on his shoulder. Shortly after the photo was taken, he was sent to France, and was gassed at the Somme while serving with one of the Brigades of The Royal Field Artillery.

Pop Kittle Pre War

He was lucky to live, and was invalided back to his native Norfolk. He spent time recuperating from the effects of the mustard gas at hospitals in Bristol and Yarmouth, but had a hacking, rattling, cough ’till the day he died. A photo of him taken some years later, still in his uniform, shows a more confident face, and the slightest hint of a smile.

Frank Kittle

His cough stayed with him all his life, and Dad describes how he was always ill and bronchial. He served as both a Policeman, and Fireman in and around Yarmouth during both the interwar period, and during the Second World War. There is a family story that describes how he was the only policeman on duty when a local fisherman caught a German U-Boat in his nets, and towed it into Yarmouth harbour. Pop took the surrender of the U-Boat Captain, and his crew, and accepted a set of binoculars as a token of friendship. While this may or may not be true, it does help to explain the Nazi U-Boat binoculars that have been kicking about for years! This is him in his Police uniform, with his bicycle.

And a definite smile.

Policemand in Yarmouth

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