Disappearing acts: Turning a bowl on a pole lathe

This is a great subject, just the kind of simple story about one person's work that I really love to see told. If it had been narrated by Robin Wood - the pole lathe turner in question - rather than Jon Henley (I assume) and if Christopher Thomond's photographs had been complemented with a little bit of video it would have been perfect.

View it here.

Condition Critical

The other week I saw Marcus Bleasdale and Stanley Greene in conversation at the Host gallery in London, talking about their two new books (more on them once I've read and digested them). Marcus is well known for his work in the Congo - a region torn apart by a conflict sparked by the 1994 Genocide in neighbouring Rawanda with a death toll not seen in one war since the Nazi's invaded Poland and everyone kicked off. Incidentally, the Congo has long been a place of turmoil. For an interesting account of some cold war politics being played out with guns in the Jungles of the Congo I recommend Che Guevara's diaries...

I said to Marcus that I hoped he would realise his aim and get his book into the hands of people who could do something about the situation there and noted that beyond buying the thing myself there wasn't a lot I could immediately do, to which he replied; "You could go shout at your MP."

Of course.

There is always something you can do. Sometimes it may not seem a lot, but lots of little things add up to one great big thing - as I am often fond of saying.

One little thing we can all do is to go to the wonderful Condition Critical website (thanks to Benjamin at Duckrabbit for pointing me in the direction of this) and leave a message of support. That's all. It may not seem like much but as anyone who has ever felt that they are having a tough time will tell you, sometimes all you need is to know that people care.

Francoise's Story from duckrabbit on Vimeo.

Sometimes a little can mean a lot.

Top Ten

With everyone compiling top ten lists of this and that for 2009 and indeed for the first decade of the 21st Century, Médecins Sans Frontières obviously could not miss out - so here it is; the top ten humanitarian crises of 2009. With plenty of photography to boot.

MSF Top 10 Humanitarian Crises of 2009

The Climate

I don't seriously see how anyone can deny the fact that human activity in this industrial and electronic age is having a dramatic effect on our environment and is a major (actually THE major) cause of the climate changes and associated problems we are witnessing today. You know what I'm taking about; rising sea levels, shrinking ice caps, holes in the ozone layer, deforestation, desertification, pollution, despoilment, destructive mining, species extinction, CO2 production, resource consumption, greed, overproduction, unequal distribution, migration, disrupted weather patterns, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, drought, floods, population explosion, the poverty gap, war, pestilence, famine, death....

Cheery stuff right? Maybe that's why some people won't or can't admit that it's their (our fault). I'm as guilty as anyone. I consume too much. Buy things I don't need. Waste water. You name it. I just hope - still hope - it's not too late for us to slow down and reverse the effects. That's what our leaders are discussing this week in Copenhagen. Lots of things going on, and a lot of political hot air.

For now though, and on a photography tip - I suggest anyone interested in the issue of climate change (or as I said to a friend the other day, perhaps we should use a slightly less tame sounding term - maybe climatic apocalypse...) should check out the Consequences by Noor website and the UNDP picture this competition. For starters. Maybe after looking at those the urge to reduce, reuse and recycle, grow your own, eat seasonal, shop local, become energy efficient, demand biodegradable plastic, use solar, wind and wave, walk more, go green, live in peace and avert disaster will be stronger in you than it appears to be in our illustrious leadership.

Now if you'll excuse me I'm off to get some sleep before catching a flight which I haven't bothered to offset my carbon emissions for. Shame on me.

Stop and Search

In a couple of weeks I will be spending some time in the U.K. I will be taking photographs. I might be threatened with arrest. Nothing new there. I have been confronted by Police officers in the U.S. and the U.K. and had the anti terrorism laws of both countries cited to me. So it helps to read in the British newspaper 'The Independent' that recent legislation that has been used to harass everyone from professional photographers to tourists taking snapshots is being clarified by no less than Craig Mackey, who speaks for the Association of Chief Police Officers. He states in this article that: "It goes back to the issue of briefing and training of staff and making sure they are clear around the legislation we are asking them to use. There is no power under Section 44 to stop people taking photographs and we are very clear about getting that message out to forces."

Let's hope the message gets through, because it's been a long time coming. For more on this see this earlier post..