Don McCullin

In a documentary on BBC2, celebrated war photographer, Don McCullin, discusses some of the harrowing images of war and man’s inhumanity to man that still haunt him. He has turned to landscape photography as a way of forgetting.

I’m going to spend the rest of my life trying to eradicate [these harrowing memories]. I’m just going to photograph landscape. The English landscape is my heaven. But the one thing that upsets me about it is that there’s always a threat surrounding the things you love. When I hear a chainsaw in the distance, I think a tree is dying. When there’s pheasant shooting I think there’s going to be some blood somewhere. The gunfire immediately switches on another part of my nervous system. I feel that as much as you try to run away from these things, someone always presses a button and says ‘here’s a reminder of what you used to do.’

Towards an Iron Age hill fort, Somerset, 1991. Don McCullin
Towards an Iron Age hill fort, Somerset, 1991. Don McCullin



sights and sounds

ImageOn a  walk around Kenwood this morning, the repeated notes of a song thrush were, for once, the first I heard, rather than the squawking of ring-necked parakeets that has started to dominate the birdsong in the woods around here.  The ribald laughter of a green woodpecker interrupted  the caws of carrion crows and  descending song of a chaffinch. Familiar sounds that seem  at home here among the old oaks and beech trees. But there are human parakeets today, dressed in fluorescent lycra, sweating as they jog or wade like space-age shepherdesses among flocks of spaniels, poodles and grinning labradors.

Far off sounds of an aeroplane, an ambulance siren.  By a pond, what I think is a fisherman under a large green umbrella turns out to be a homeless person lying on a sun-lounge, his bald head emerging from a sleeping bag. And in a car park in the Vale of Health, fairground people live in caravans called Monza and Barracuda, next to a jolly painted cart advertising Happy Falafels, in the shadow of bankers’ houses.