Monday, December 31, 2012

ADVERT: Palestine is normal


Do an image search for the world Palestine and almost every result contains the national flag. Of those results that are photographs, most show Palestinian protesters. In some there is the added ingredient of an Israeli Defence Force soldier to add contrast.

It is not so easy to find images of the country of Palestine, its landscape and its normality.

Palestine is a dry, hard, mountainous region. Its roads are dusty and, outside of the major cities, are free flowing.

Sometimes it takes a little bit longer to get from, say, Ramallah to Bethlehem, because somebody built a bloody big wall across the road which you now have to 20 miles round.
In the West Bank there are a lot of bloody big walls. But there are also a lot of roads, a lot of cars and lot of advertising.

The huge advertising hoardings are proof that, even in a country of military occupation whose people continually suffer in the struggle for freedom, anyone can still be persuaded to buy crap.


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Folk off dancing

Surely there is no better way to celebrate a day accidental activism, antagonising Israeli soldiers and visiting the birthplace of Jesus Christ. A night of traditional folk dancing.

If there is any form of dancing guaranteed to have you off the edge of your seat, half asleep and mind-numbingly bored, it’s folk dancing.

Anywhere in the world, this ritualistic jive is the reserve of the organised trip, where an unwitting captive audience is forced to witness unnatural body movements coinciding with music that no sane person would actually want to own.
And here we have folk dancing Palestinian style, where the smiles of the dancers hide the hours of pain spent perfecting a dance nobody wants to watch.

I attended this event after a day-long tour of Bethlehem and Hebron in the West Bank.

In Bethlehem I visited the Holy Church of the Nativity, built on the site of Jesus’ Birth 2,000 years ago. In Hebron I went into the old town H2 district, controlled by the Israeli Defence Force and inhabited by Israeli settlers.
H2 is not the best place for a group of 50 international activists to start singing ‘Free Palestine’ songs. Especially when they are already surrounded by IDF soldiers.

We got out of Hebron safely. Our local guide faired less well. Later that evening Israeli soldiers came to his home and arrested the Palestinian. He has been in an Israeli prison ever since.

While he was beginning his detention stint, we enjoyed the dancers. Just another day in the West Bank.
NOTE: Photographed at the Ramallah Cultural Palace on November 12, 2012.

Palestiniana, the book about my visit to the West Bank, is out soon on Amazon and for Kindle.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Nablus, West Bank, Palestine


Its pristine An-Najah national University university is the rated fifth in the Arab world. The university was closed by Israel during the First Intifada between 1988 and 1991.

Nablus is noted for its hot cheesy Kanafeh sweet and olive oil soap.

From my notes: Walk round the old town. We saw area of an old soap factory bombed by Israeli jet planes. On wall is a large poster of the family and people who died.

Took photo of young man outside shop (shop sold detergents etc) also photographed with owner. Ate deep-fried cheese sweets.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Yasser Arafat's final day of resting in peace (with visitors) - November 11, 2012

It was a surreal day anyway. Two hours sleep with an Italian/Canadian couple in the wrong hotel, then realising I was on an anarchist's bus tour through Palestine when they started spraying slogans on an Israeli settlement wall. And it was raining heavily. Not your usual day in Palestine.

And so, as the biggest thunderstorm to hit this region in decades descended, we were dropped off at Yasser Arafat's tomb in Ramallah. He had died, aged 75, eight years earlier to the day.

Arafat, former leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization, was one of the most recognisable political leaders of the last 100 years.

The very next day this mausoleum was closed to the public as plans were put in place to exhume his body in order to certify whether he had been poisoned to death with polonium-210.

The soaking walkway to his tomb building is easily the most treacherous stretch of marble I have ever navigated. The red carpet had already turned into the world's longest sponge.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

This is Palestine

This was not the trip I was expecting. Experience Palestine during National Youth Week, the email said.

So, after less than two hours sleep, after losing several journalists at airport immigration, after being taken to the wrong hotel where I am now staying in an apartment with a married Italian and Canadian couple and after killing a dog on the two-hour coach journey to Ramallah, how come I have ended up standing in front of reels of barbed wire watching international activists spray-paint a huge concrete wall which separates this desolate part of Palestine from the Israeli settlement beyond it?

Our Palestinian guide on this magical mystery tour, who has just been shouting at us to spray ‘Free Palestine’ in as many different languages as are present in our entourage, is now slightly more alarmist as he bellows: “Ten minutes, ten minutes. You must be quick. We can’t be here for more than ten minutes, the Israeli army is watching us. They will be here in ten minutes.”

This is the start of my five days in Palestine, which coincided with – some say sparked – the November 2012 conflict between Israel and Gaza.

A story of tears and tear gas across a nation where there are no youths in National Youth Week.

Palestiniana will be released on Kindle soon.

Save Whalley Village Action Group protest

A lot of people in Whalley don't want new houses in the village. 
The reasons are obvious: roads are already clogged while the school has had to place some pupils in a higher year group to cater for increased class sizes from the Calderstones estate.
For the proposed 116-home development in a floodplain field next to the A59 fly-over on Mitton Road, residents held a protest. I took the photographs.
Star of the show was Mitton Road's Karen Czapowski (above).
Whalley royalty was also in attendance - Sheena Byrom OBE attended. Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans also came along.

The story made the front page of Clitheroe Advertiser and Times.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Good/bad websites #001

[gallery]BAD WEBSITE
The Telegraph
Slideshows have to be manually clicked on. To see each new photo, the page requires a reload – THIS IS VERY BAD. Actual image selection is very good but it takes too long to view them.


NOTE: This is the first in a series of irregular reviews of websites displaying photography. Imagery is crucial to websites and some display them better than others. Some, sadly, display photography in such a way that it is too much hastle trying to view them. This is bad. Many photographer's websites fall into this category. THIS IS VERY BAD. Let's put a stop to it.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Communities procession at Preston Guild 2012

The communities procession of the 2012 Preston Guild was the third of four processions. Most schools in Preston, and including Penwortham, had the day off to allow children to take part. It was held on Friday, September 7.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Outsiders, Interactive Newsprint, Fieldguide, Brompton Design District, London Design Festival. Or to make it simpler, some of my images are involved in a paper technology experiment in London from Monday September 17

Yes, I know it's a lot to take in. Briefly the Interactive Newsprint (IN) project is displaying its prototype designs - including some of my images – at London Design Festival (Sept 14 to 23, 2012).

The images include printed buttons which play back various pieces of audio. The paper is also connected to the internet via wi-fi. It's very exciting.

If you want to go along and see it and other amazing examples of the groundbreaking technology, it is at 4 Cromwell Place, just up from South Kensington tube station and just down from the Natural History Museum and V&A.

I wrote about IN a previous blog. And here is the website for Brompton Design District.

The London Design Festival is rather amazing and anybody interested in innovation will love it.

If you've gotten this far and are still interested, here are some words sent to my by the Brompton people about what's going on at Cromwell Place:

For London Design Festival, Fieldguide has brought together a diverse mix of designers, technologists, artists, musicians and journalists to show some of their most exciting work from the last year. These projects, prototypes and products will demonstrate how insight journalism can be used as a tool for design research, how paper can connect to the internet and how design can be used to speculate on a physical digital society.

The exhibition features new work from Brendan Dawes, author of the inspirational book “Analog in, Digital Out” which collected his thoughts on interaction design and featured amongst other things: books wrapped in brown paper, bits of code, cheese, hardware hacks, Play-Doh and stories of origami swans left on trains. For London Design Festival he’s collaborating with Bare Conductive, electrically conductive materials pioneers, to create a new version of his Happiness Machine, an Internet connected printer that prints random happy thoughts by random people from across the web. 

Alongside Brendan will be #UNRAVEL, a collaboration by FOUND, best known for Cybraphon their BAFTA-winning ‘Autonomous Emotional Robot Band’ and Aidan Moffat, the Glasgow-based author and musician formerly of the seminal band Arab Strap. The interactive sound installation encourages people to unravel the truth about The Narrator’s life by playing records from his collection. Each 7” record represents a different memory, but unlike conventional vinyl recordings they sound different each time they are played. The memories embodied in the installation will distort, evolve and warp depending on external influences: the time of day, the size of #UNRAVEL’s audience, the local weather, and what people are writing about the installation on twitter from moment to moment. 

The exhibition will also include work from design consultancy Uniform, design provocateur Patrick Stevenson-Keating, and design researchers Product Research Studio as well as feature work from two groundbreaking collaborative research projects funded by Nesta and the Digital Economy programme from Research Councils UK that pioneer the use of insight journalism to uncover the potential of digital R&D in the cultural sector and explore how newspapers can harness the potential of printed electronics.

The end. Well done.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Third Proclamation and Trades Procession

This was the Third Proclamation at the 2012 Preston Guild, plus the Trades Procession which followed shortly afterwards.


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