Friday, 29 May 2020

Daily photos no. 42: Going Back In Time

One of the strangest places you might ever visit is the Land of Lost Content (a Housman reference) in Craven Arms. It's essentially a massive warehouse full of discarded household detritus - the ephemera that rarely get preserved by the institutions that look after High Culture. Old packaging, adverts, board games, popular decorative items, cheap underwear, perfume bottles, TVs, a telephone exchange, badges from every campaign going, local radio presenters' signed photographs, eiderdown covers and anything else you might think of. It's a curious place, fascinating and revealing, half in museum culture and half in the art world: there was even a deal with Wayne Hemingway of Red or Dead fashion to produce clothes referencing its holdings at one point. There's a section dedicated to racist memorabilia: Robinson's Marmalade golliwogs, 'mammy' and 'sambo' postcards and the like - a horrifying and yet necessary reminder of the centrality of racism to British culture. And yet on one visit I found this cabinet labelled 'Black History Month', which felt flippant at best and itself racist at worst. This stuff was never Black history: it was white history.

I've been a few times, always with a group of students doing a cultural studies module (RIP), to get them to consider lived experience - some really get it, some don't.

These are from my first visit, in 2011.

Smoke yn Gymraeg! 

Don't have nightmares…

As seen in every 1950s aspirational household

As seen on Justin Trudeau

Hilda Ogden lives

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Daily photos no. 41: Going Potty

Stoke's British Ceramic Biennial is always an interesting event. It's held in the semi-derelict former Spode factory in the heart of the city, and attempts to resituate Stoke's mass pottery industry with a more art-oriented approach. Some of the work is banal, some is beautiful or striking, and the aesthetic of the setting is heavily influenced by ruin porn - I'm never quite sure whether it's an insulting suggestion to the local population that they live in an post-apocalyptic hole (it's certainly post-industrial) or simply making the best of it.

Some years the ceramics astonished me, but not a lot caught my eye the first time.

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Daily Photos no. 40: Poole's Cavern

These are from a wander around Buxton in 2011, including a trip into Poole's Cavern which I strongly recommend when all this over (or now, if you need to test your eyesight). I don't think I'd quite worked out the white balance of the new camera at the point, but you get a sense of what an awesome place it is.

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Daily photos no. 39: Bethesda

Bethesda Chapel in Stoke is one of the distressed jewels of the north - a sort of Methodist Cathedral (I know, it's a contradiction in terms) which fell into wrack and ruin as did the wider city and working-class chapel protestantism. It was included in some TV programme which ran a competition to raise restoration funds but fell short, and a gradual repair job has been going on for years. These shots are from early on, in 2011: I haven't had a chance to go back since but fully intend to.

A row of organ pipes

Friday, 22 May 2020

Daily photos no. 38: On the beach

This was my first visit to Ros Beithe / Rossbeigh beach in Ciarraí/Kerry- now one of my favourite haunts. It's on the north coast of the Iveragh peninsula, looking out to Dingle, but before you get to the open sea and the Sceiligs (of which more later). The swimming is fantastic - rolling waves, good depth and a bracing temperature. The weather changes constantly which is great for photographers: buckets and spades in the sunshine one moment, howling gales and torrential downpours the next. It's also a very mobile place: the dunes and spits are rearranged by wind and tides from year to year. There's a century-old wreck that's in a different place every time I visit, and the passing of time can be seen in the erosion of the fields above the cliffs.

What could be more Irish than the right Taytos in the rain?

Sunshine over Dingle

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Daily photos no. 37: Back to Puck

2011 was my second visit to Puck Fair. This time I had an idea of what would be going on, and a camera better equipped for some of what I wanted to do. The Horse Fair is a must - they'll always tell you that trade is terrible, even if they're clutching wads of grubby notes. The street entertainers are always interesting, and the fair is irresistible - all that neon, and shades of The Third Man and Brighton Rock. It was a rainy year, which suits me fine. I can't stand hot weather, and rain is always good for photography.

The best pub in Ireland (open only during Puck Fair)

Killorglin's Moondog

I don't know either

King Puck atop his tower