The French word <canivaux> means the gutter. In Paris, every day, street sweepers (wielding lurid green plastic versions of the witch’s ‘besom’ broom) block off the gutters near to drains using carefully crafted mini dams made of rolled up carpet tied with string. They turn on the water from a hydrant further up the street and let the water sluice all the trash down towards the ‘dam’. They then turn off the water and scoop up the rubbish into their carts. I began photographing first the exotic rolled up carpet-dams, then the content of the gutters themselves. The ‘odd one out’ in this series is the pink ball, washed up on a beach in Thailand… This was the image that started me thinking of photographing found (or abandoned) objects in the streets of Paris – unexpected objects out of their original context. The series is part of my work on abandoned objects in Paris, called Paris Traces.
Meditations on the relationships between humans and the rest of the natural world
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iPhone photos around West Hampstead
I walked into the courtyard of Somerset House a week or so ago, drawn by an arc of wrapped animal heads around the fountains. I only found out later that these were by Ai Weiwei, his forthcoming exhibition, still under wraps. As we still do not know where he is, it somehow seemed appropriate to see his work hidden, gagged.
A few days ago I led a group of students on the Goldsmiths MA course in Photography and Urban Cultures along the Ravensbourne River in Deptford, starting at Brookmill Park and ending at the Thames. The river becomes Deptford Creek at Deptford Bridge. It was a damp day and we arrived at the park later than I’d hoped, so the tide was already coming in. This makes the river appear to be flowing backwards (upstream).
While most of the students were off exploring the park, Cati, one of the students, from Portugal, and I struck up a conversation with two men – Terry and Paul – who were sitting on a bench gazing at the river. I’ve met Terry (on the right in the photo) before and know that he’s very knowledgeable about the wildlife in the park and around the river, as it winds through reeds and willow trees. They quickly pointed out a fox, hunting on the opposite bank as a heron also hunted at the water’s edge. A family of ducks swam up and down the river, watchful of the fox. The fox, who had an injured leg, moved slowly towards the heron. But as it came close, the heron took to the air, beating its great wings like a pterodactyl, lifting itself heavily into the air and flying downstream.
Spending a couple of weeks’ holiday in Union Hall, on the south-west coast of Cork, Ireland, with the family, we met painter Paul Ringrose, who has been showing a magnificent set of paintings of woodland interiors, mostly fringing the coast near to where he lives. The show was at the Doswell Gallery in Roscarberry, and came down on 3 September. Photos of the paintings on the gallery’s site give a good idea of the work.