Three photos that I had in a show called 14 x 14: 14 artists, each showing a few pieces 14 inches square. I added some pragmatic white space for the show, obviously. It was at the long-gone Mafuji Gallery, on the second floor of a Victorian workshop building on Shacklewell Lane, Dalston (possibly Shacklewell – not sure where the boundary runs, strictly). It ran from 17 November to 15 December 2001, back when Dalston was the throbbing pulse of the obscurely avant-garde, a club I was unqualified to join, despite living in a bedsit on Evering Road. It was fun to go to exhibitions in semi-derelict post-industrial spaces, though, and try to work out what was the art and what was the debris – a confusion that I think was deliberately fostered. It’s still a popular gambit today, as I saw at last year’s Liverpool Biennial in the old sorting office on Copperas Hill. Last night I saw that it’s trickled down to post-retro pub design for the thirtysomething middle classes in Walthamstow, if the updated Chequers on the High Street is anything to go by. Anyway, these pictures now seem to nicely sum up some of my persistent obsessions. The numbers came from a bag of spare cassette labels that I’d been keeping for about 20 years by that point, sure that they must come in useful some time. I was right.
Thanks to the splendid Cinzia Cremona, in February 2005 I got to play with the cool kids for once. This was in a group show at Project 142, which was living quarters and studios for artists and musicians in a Victorian factory complex on the Lea Bridge Road in Hackney. Now, of course, redeveloped. I didn’t have much money or time, so I contributed one of my periodic attempts to get away from cameras – although this is the only work I’ve ever shown that was made without one. Without the machine itself, that is, though as you can see I could think of no topic more interesting. You can see more of it here.
This was fun – full set here. There was an entirely different story to be told at the Hippodrome, too, as when we first visited there, was a riding lesson for little French girls in progress, complete with their steely-casual mothers. But neither of us wanted to do something about expats. I was quite pleased with my pictures. Some of them got taken by BBC online for a horribly compressed gallery, with quotes from Lara’s story (and a weird headline about “desert horse-racing”. Bamako’s pretty hot and dusty, but not quite a desert). I also sold two to a photo agency, but they’re not here, as they chose the most boring ones. They always did.
So the RCA didn’t want me, and I didn’t take any photos for a while after that. Then Stephen and I decided we needed a project to get us each going, so we decided on London monuments. He picked five, I picked five, and he wrote poems and I took pictures. I hired a Pentax 67 with a huge 500mm lens, then bleached and toned the prints. No more aimless street photography for me. Planning, consistency, craft. That was the way to get people to take you seriously. Continue reading Monuments
I’m still a bit sore about all this, to be honest.
This was in a show I helped organise with other students on the Central St Martins part-time BA Fine Art course. It was called Bite and was on at the Menier Gallery – an old chocolate factory, so they said – in Southwark from 25 to 27 June 2002. Close-ups if you click on the image.
Probably the high point of my short career as a photojournalist. It was 14 May 2004; Gadaffi was in Bamako for a summit meeting. I spent all day at the airport, one president after another to be photographed. I left my hat at home, and being out on the tarmac most of the time got a very burned head. I think this one went on the cover of Jeune Afrique.
(This picture is held by AFP – click here to visit their site.)