Monday, 3 June 2013

Crossing the Bar : The Photographer and the Poet : a collaboration

I've just returned from the Isle of Wight. Whilst there, I visited Dimbola Lodge at Freshwater, the former home of Julia Margaret Cameron (1815 - 1879) , the Victorian photographer. It is now a photography museum and stages exhibitions and events. Julia Margaret Cameron took on the challenges of handling large cameras and dangerous chemicals at a time when photography was known as 'The Black Art'. Ignoring conventions, she experimented with composition and focus. Today she is credited with creating the first photographic close-up portraits. Amongst the many portraits she took was of a neighbour in Freshwater, the poet Alfred Tennyson. One of his most famous poems was written on the ferry between Lymington and Yarmouth called 'Crossing the Bar'. The ferry service still runs and is one of three in operation - the others being Southampton to East Cowes : the route we used this time and Portsmouth to Fishbourne.

A past collaboration between a photographer and a poet and a whole community of visitors to the studio to visit a photographer who is seen now as one of the most pioneering of her time, ignoring established conventions socially in her life and pushing the boundaries in technology available.

Crossing the Bar by Alfred Tennyson  (1809 – 1892)

Sunset and evening star,
  And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
  When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
    Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
    Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
    When I embark;

For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
    The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
    When I have crost the bar.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

First Flash Fiction

I went to a writing workshop at No 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, the birthplace of Dylan Thomas on 27 October 1914. It will be his 100th birthday next year and parties are already planned in Swansea and afar to celebrate. The house has a special atmosphere and has been carefully restored to how it would have been when the Thomas family were the occupants in the 1920s.
The workshop was part of the Pili Pala Festival literature and music festival held in the Uplands over the last two days to raise money for a charity dealing with drug rehabilitation and alcohol abuse. As part of the workshop, we were given a black and white photograph and asked to apply what we had learnt and write a Flash Fiction. Here's my attempt :
The Car
The last flames were extinguished on the shell of the burnt out Ford Escort. "Lucky it didn't go over the cliff edge" said one of the two attending police officers. "Log book says registered in 1976. Drug dealers I'd say - don't think Mrs Hyacinth Fogarty would have been at the wheel" The officer took a close look at the twisted metal and pronounced "Insurance write-off, one for the knackers yard...there's stuff in the boot though, Harry." The four hands started sifting through an old Kia-Ora orange squash box full of photographs found underneath a beige duffel coat and an Marks and Spencer navy blue wool fisherman's sweater with a toggle missing. "Movie stars - I love these old black and white images". Harry picked up a faded and slightly soggy white card and read  "Edward Browning - a lifetime achievement award in film cinematography - presented by the British Film Institute 28 November 1980...I didn't expect to find that...wonder how it got here ?" 

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Exhibition Walcot Mortuary Chapel Bath July 8-14 2013

Once again in 2013, I will be exhibiting some of my photographs with our group of artists : Rose Davies, Melanie Ezra, Kara Seaman, Owen Martin and our guest artist from Bath, Jeni Wood. We are known as Commensalis, which derives from a Medieval Latin word meaning working together in an informal way towards a common goal or end. The location of our exhibition will once again be in Walcot Mortuary Chapel, Bath. The chapel is owned by Bath City Council and rented out for use by artists for visual and performance art events. This year we have decided to raise some funding from a crowdfunding source and to date we have reached 50% of our target of £750. It isn't easy for artists to obtain official funding in the current economic climate and we are very appreciative of the support from our generous backers. If you would be kind enough to support us, please go here to vist our donation site on We are really appreciative of all support we receive!

Thursday, 25 April 2013


On a very wet (and snowy) day on 25 April 1981, Christina and I got married. We hadn't rushed into it by any means - we met while we were both students in London back in 1976 (the year of the hot summer and drought). We had a ground floor flat in Southfields, London SW18 right opposite a listed art deco building and a paint factory run by a company called Ault and Wibourg. The flat had one bedroom, a living room and a room at the back which we made into a kitchen. As there was no inside toilet and bathroom, we were lucky enough to get a home improvement grant from the Greater London Council to put in a bathroom in the middle of the flat. We lived there until 1987. We didn't spend a bomb on wedding photographs - a friend of mine was just starting out as a photographer so we asked him to take some colour and black and white. A lot of people remarked how much like my grandfather I looked - once a Jones always a Jones so the saying goes!

My grandparents were married in the St Mary's district of Southampton in June 1914. Thomas Richard Jones was born in Aberystwyth in 1886. He was a Welsh speaker and only learnt English when he joined the merchant navy and moved to Southampton where he met my grandmother, Agnes Gertrude Wilson who came from a large family (many of whom were in domestic service). They actually lived in Bevois Street, Southampton where many families who had members serving as crew lost on RMS Titanic were living. It must have been a worrying time to be serving at sea just after that disaster and just before the outbreak of the 1914-18 war. My grandfather served on the Atlantic convoys during World War 2 in 1940-43 and that also must have been a difficult time for the family with the constant threat of torpedo from German submarines and warships like the infamous Bismarck.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Moving Images

I've started a new travel blog in response to many messages and suggestions from friends. You can go to it from here - Moving Images - let me know what you think!