One of the joys of 2013 has been meeting and working with the acclaimed photojournalist, Tom Stoddart.
As his site describes:
“During a long and varied career Tom has witnessed such international events as the war in Lebanon, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the election of President Nelson Mandela, the bloody siege of Sarajevo and the wars against Saddam Hussein in Iraq.”
On meeting for the first time, I couldn’t help but think that the clinical environment of my studio was surely at odds with many of those frightening, desperately upsetting scenes to have passed before Tom’s eyes.
When he calls to let me know that a photograph is on its way for me to print, it’s hard to know exactly what will appear on my monitor — especially when the file is entitled ‘Cool Dude’.
So, what will a photograph by Tom Stoddart be like that’s called ‘Cool Dude’?
Well, it’ll be like this:
A striking image and one with an equally striking story:
COLOMBIA – NOVEMBER 1996: Cocaine is worth billions of dollars to the Colombian drug traffickers. More than 70,000 people have died in the cartel wars, and Colombia’s elite Special Forces have battled hard to stem the flow of drugs from the jungle region of Guaviare which covers an area of 26,000 sq miles and produces more than half the world’s cocaine. The photograph shows Special Forces after blowing up a landing strip used by cartels to transport cocaine from a coca-processing lab in the heart of the Colombian jungle.
Tom candidly told me about another facet to this photograph:
Having flown in by helicopter, a 4×4 vehicle belonging to the cartel was found nestled in the bushes. Unusually, the Special Forces decided to try and drive it back to the Police station some 100km away.
So, Tom now had the choice of returning by car or helicopter.
He chose the latter, which was fortunate as the 4×4 was ambushed en route. One of the Special Forces’ men was killed, the others were wounded but survived…
Tom has kindly given me a copy of his stunning book, iWITNESS.
Published by Trolley, printed in Italy and with a foreword by Sir Bob Geldof, it’s a beautifully produced tome full of anguish, sadness, desperation, horror, hope and optimism.
As Tom said when he handed it to me, “It’s just so sad that images like this even have to exist.”
Reed Ingram Weir and I met in June last year when working together on a series of his prints leading up to a winter exhibition.
We soon realised a common interest—the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights.
However, one major difference between us became clear—Reed proactively tracks down the Aurora within the Arctic Circle several times a year.
He is an Aurora-Chaser, whereas I, on the other hand, continue to merely dream of seeing them one day…
Reed also seems to have a knack of making sure his work is seen by a wide audience, particularly after striking lucky recently in both Northern Ireland and Northumberland’s Holy Island.
As we discussed at the time, it’s incredible what can arrive on your doorstep when you stop looking for it.
I asked Reed what attracts him to the pursuing the Aurora Borealis, to which he replied:
“I love the connection between the Sun and the Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights); I enjoy how something so beautiful is created by our most important source of light and how that, every now and again, we are reminded of its power with such a beautiful light show in the form of the Northern Lights.
“When I was a wee boy, I remember seeing a picture of the Northern Lights and being completely amazed by them. I always told myself I would view them one day. Now I am completely hooked on seeking them out and making photographs of them.”
“To me, they are enchanting, they never look the same twice. When I mention the Aurora, most seem to know little about this natural phenomenon or how it’s created. However, it always seems to have a place in their hearts and an instant connection is made.
“Even though I find the chase most frustrating, this element of the ritual gets my photographic juices pumping.
“Capturing the Aurora is fraught with technical difficulties—I look forward to the day I can swiftly and perfectly capture my shots so that I can stand back and enjoy the performance for myself, knowing my photographs are in the bag…”
I make Reed’s prints using HP’s archival Vivera pigment ink-set and Hahnemühle Photo Rag 308gsm.
All are for sale and can be purchased by contacting Reed through his site.
I have only ever printed three images for Andrew McConnell, who first came my way in 2008.
A stark reminder of how the ‘other other’ half live, those three images, however, are particularly striking and have remained imprinted on my mind ever since. It was, therefore, a pleasure to revisit them for Andrew last week and I thought you might like to see them too…
As Andrew writes:
“The images were taken in early 2008 in the province of North Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“At that time there were on-going clashes between the Tutsi and Hutu rebels in the area and many people were being forced to flee their homes and seek refuge in IDP camps.
“The camp in Kichanga was just beginning to form but already there were 4000 people in it and they hadn’t received any aid because the area was so remote and fighting was preventing aid organisations from getting in.”
Over the past few days, I have enjoyed working with Rachael Clewlow on two of her new acrylic pieces—not least for my love of infographics!
You may have seen from my last post that my trusty Fuji Lanovia has been running ten-to-the-dozen lately. All the stops have been pulled out again for the scanning of Rachael’s works, each around 140cm long…
Scanned in several parts and meticulously stitched together, it is always my endeavour to treat the reproduction as sympathetically as possible; it’s a challenge to differentiate the pencil markings in my Archival Pigment Prints from the original, particularly where Rachael’s pencil signature sits beside printed elements.
Here’s an explanation of the pieces from Rachael:
“The UK map is made up of circles, each representing a place I’ve visited and colour coded for elevation (height of the land fall above sea level).
“It is comprised of 56 colours, which run from magenta through to a dark purple, contrasted with a yellow through to green.
“The map is above the key at the top of the painting. The key, below, is made in two parts – on the left hand side the towns/cities of which the map comprises are in alphabetical order, so the colours appear in a random order. On the right hand side the colours appear in tonal strips, yellow through to green and magenta through to purple, and represent the elevation.”
And the second piece? A map of London:
“This is taken from the London OS map. It is comprised of 56 places I have visited over the last few years along the Thames, through central London, some of them very well known others not so much.
“Each place is carefully plotted out and marked with a grid reference point and a target. Each target is colour coded and made up of two contrasting colours, going through the same colour spectrums as in the UK map. For example, a strong magenta and a lime green are paired together, and bluish/purple is paired with a strong yellow.”
In the latter part of this year, I’ve enjoyed working with David Todd on two of his fantastical drawings.
The high resolution scans of David’s work (made with my Fuji Lanovia) are as beautiful as ever, enabling the production of the edition—Twenty A1 Archival Pigment Prints on Hahnemühle Photo Rag 308gsm.
The latest piece, ‘The Battle of Waterloo’ truly is a sight to behold—the detail is so meticulous that the viewer sees something new every time.
Here is the drawing in its entirety, followed by photographs depicting some of the details within the print:
And finally, a glimpse of ‘The Battle of Britain’…