Friday, December 31, 2010

My Year and a few Photos

I have to end the year with a big blog post! People have commented that I haven't had a lot to say recently, and it's true. I would have liked to discuss art and photography with you, but laying floors, preparing walls and fitting baths, sinks and toilets have shut me up, plus I have the tedious chore of earning a crust. But I make no apologies for the lack of words, I've always been here for you with regular photographs and at the bottom of this page I've added a few you haven't seen this year.

Despite the work on the house, I've managed to take a photograph almost every day during 2010. The odd days I didn't take a photograph, I did a bit of drawing. I've used 5 different cameras this year. I've worn out a 60 year old Kodak Retina IIa, and had a Canon digital fall apart after 3 months use.

Because of the lack of time to pursue art, my working methods have changed. There hasn't been a lot of planning involved, most of the work has been conceptual (created on the spot). I've enjoyed the freedom and randomness, but I long to return to the routine of research, planning and prearation.

I could never survive if I had to rely on my business skills, and this year, for the reasons above, I gave up trying to promote my photographs. So I've been amazed that the things are still selling. I've had over 250 direct art sales, a few good agency sales, and I'm pleased to say, I've made some good friends in the creative industries who I'll be working with in the future.

I stopped collecting in 2010. And although I still have the desire, I've stopped buying everything except clothes, books and music (I give the books away, once I've read them). I've been accumulating cameras since 1970. As I was packing boxes of cameras, to move to a different country (this time last year), I had an overwhelming desire to dispose of the lot. In March, this year I started selling my camera collection. As of today, I've found 195 happy new owners, who I hope will have great fun using my old cameras. When a camera sells, I climb into the loft and bring another one down. Surveying the collection this morning, I estimate it will take another 5 years to empty the loft.

2010 will go down as a big year, with lots done. 2011 will be a bigger year for me! More art, travel and work. As our year runs out, I have to tell you I've enjoyed sharing this year with you. If not for you I wouldn't have typed a single word. You are my motivation. I wish you the greatest happiness for 2011, and that some of your dreams come true.

Love & Peace - Tim

Bridgette - Photograph by Tim Irving
Bridgette, a patient model - Tim Irving
It must be a zoo - Photograph by Tim Irving
It must be a zoo - Tim Irving
The Full English - Photograph by Tim Irving
The Full English - Tim Irving
Summer Girl - Photograph by Tim Irving
Summer Girl - Tim Irving
My Favourite Book of 2010
The Seaside, catching crabs - Photograph by Tim Irving
The Seaside - Tim Irving
Cambridge - Photograph by Tim Irving
Cambridge - Tim Irving
New Friend - Tim Irving
New Kennel - Photograph by Tim Irving
New Kennel - Tim Irving
Breakfast View - Photograph by Tim Irving
View From My Breakfast Table - Tim Irving

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boxing Day Walk

Red Head. Photograph by Tim Irving
Red Head - Tim Irving
My traditional Boxing Day photo walk turned into a fiasco, nothing new there. All the sites I'd planned to photograph were inaccesible. High fences, deep snow and even a river came, between me and my subjects. I'll  be back out tomorrow, blizzards permitting.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I'm Here for Christmas

The East End of London. Photograph by Tim Irving
The East End - Tim Irving (click the image to enlarge)
I'll be around over Christmas, blogging live on Christmas day. So there's every chance I'll have a photo to show you or something to say. 

The photograph above is Brick Lane in East London. Last June I had the opportunity to rent some space in the Old Truemans Brewery, to exhibit and sell my photographs. I couldn't do it at the time because the house needed so much work. But I've given it some though over the past few days, it's growing on me. So next year, maybe.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mailman Blues

Post Office. Photograph by  Tim Irving
Post Office - Tim Irving

Post Haste

‘If I'm reincarnated,
I'd like to be a snail’.
So spake the postman, as
He handed me my mail.
With a snail as a postman
The service might be better
And I don't think I'd mind
The odd slimy letter.


Monday, December 13, 2010

What a Fish

The Barreleye Fish
I saw this fish on the BBC web site, and I can't stop looking at it. It's beautiful, a piece of art. The BBC are broadcasting a documentary about modern discoveries. In the last decade, scientists and explorers have discovered a quarter of a million new plant and animal species around the world. The Barreleye fish was already known as a species but only recently filmed in the deep for the first time.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Paris Remembered, eventually

La Mortuacienne Lemonade Photograph by Tim Irving
La Mortuacienne - Tim Irving
Why do I need a book to improve my memory?
Well, I was pulled up sharp last week when I discovered 2 un-developed films from my Paris trip last August. It's very embarrassing and I'm only telling you because I know it wont go any further.

On my return from Paris, rather than send all my films to be processed, and risk losing the lot (I'm not stupid), I only sent the slide films. The negative films I left in a camera bag to be processed when the others were returned. Scroll forward 3 months and I remember the films.

I rely on lists and notes written on scraps of paper to remember things, it's very un-reliable. Until yesterday, I didn't even know my own phone number! Because I wrote it on a scrap of paper last February I never took the trouble to remember it. I've started the memory book and I'm finding the exercises difficult, but it's helped me already, I can now remember my phone number. I'm hoping to aquire a reasonable memory, it should make my life easier.

The forgotten photographs were worth the wait. I've got some nice images here, mostly cafes and shops. I'll show you a few this week.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Memory Man

My mornings go something like this: Eat a light breakfast, drink orange juice, swallow one cod liver oil capsule (joints),  and one zinc pill (colds and flu). I walk the dog. I've walked him after breakfast every day since he turned up on my doorstep, I've never missed a day. I realised too late that I'd made a rod for my back with the walks, now the dog considers a twice daily walk his legal right.

Depending on the route we take and the people we meet, the walk can be anything from a half hour, to an hour. Post walk cleaning the white dog can take up to 10 minutes. Then I make tea and turn on the PC. (I've left out certain morning routines, but I can assure you I'm clean and presentable for the walk).

The first task of the day is to check my photograph sales. These are online shop sales, not agency sales. If I have any sales, I cross my fingers and walk to my photograph file to retrieve them. If the crossed fingers work the photographs will be in the file, but sometimes crossing my fingers doesn't work and the photo isn't in the file, this is because I forgot to replace it the last time it sold. Drat!

This is exactly what happened yesterday morning. It was an order from the US for 2 prints, one I didn't have.  Normally I would contact my laboratory, order the required print, then wait 4 or 5 days to have it delivered, but today is the last posting day before Christmas to the USA. I felt it my duty to ship out the order to arrive before Christmas and that meant an hours drive to personally collect the print.

There was an hours wait at the lab, so to kill time I visited a little cafe and had a delicious home baked roll with bacon and egg. The cafe was pleasant enough but it had odd acoustics, entering teh cafe was like walking into Phil Spectors wall of sound, but the wall was produced by 4 elderly ladies having tea and fruit cakes.

After the cafe (and to get to the point of this post), I walked into a charity shop run by  The Cats Protection League. I went straight to the bookshelves and there among last years celebrity cook books I found the 2 books at the top of the page. "Documentary and Anti Graphic Photographs" is a reproduction of a 1935 catalogue of the New York exhibition featuring Henry Cartier Bresson, Walker Evans and Manuel Alvarez Bravo. All but 2 of the Cartier Bresson Images I've seen many times before, but the 2 I hadn't seen are spectacular. There were several Walker Evans I hadn't seen before and a handful of the Manuel Alvarez Bravo that were new to me.

The other book "Once Upon A Time in Wales" by Robert Haines, provides an intriguing look at a Welsh mining community in the 1970's. The seventies don't sound that long ago, but the photographs in this book are from a time I barely remember, but the memories came flooding back after looking at these photographs. The seventies were hard times for some. Excellent photographs. The books cost £3 each.

Today I bought another book, but from a from a bookshop. 52 lessons to improve my memory. I've made a start and in lesson 1, which I completed 2 hours ago, I can still remember a tree, clock, mouse and car. That's real progress. I'll let you know how I progress.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Oblique Strategies

Today, 8am. Photograph by Tim Irving
Today, 8am - Tim Irving
Yesterday's weather forecast promised snow, I woke up to mist! If I cared I would go crazy. All my photographs look like Christmas cards, so it's time to stop trying and do something else.

Coming up with new ideas is difficult, but I'm not happy if I continue to plough the same field even it it's making money. I know of several techniques to change track, one worth mentioning that I've used with some success is Oblique Strategies. It sometimes comes up trumps.

Oblique Strategies is a set of cards (subtitled over one hundred worthwhile dilemmas). They were created by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt during the seventies. The cards are mostly used by musicians to generate new ideas, to break free of cliches. I can assure you that Phil Collins has never used Oblique Strategies, but David Bowie, David Byrne and Bryan Ferry are adepts. It's a bit like I Ching for musicians. Thinking about it, I Ching would be very useful too!

I have an original pack of Oblique Strategies, but there's an on-line version with same dilemmas that you can try here. Just pick a random card and think about it, within the context of your work. If it doesn't work, pick another card. If it does work, let me know.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ink Drawing

Ink Drawing. Photograph by Tim Irving
Ink Drawing - Tim Irving
It's difficult to motivate myself during this cold snap. Fortunately, at this moment in time, I'm carefree. The temperature outside is minus 5 and clear, the sun is shining. Yesterday's weather forecast promised me mist. I woke up early to photograph in the mist, pulled back the curtains, and was greeted with.... Nothing! Not even a scotch mist.

The great thing about living on a small island is that we all suffer together, 50 odd million of us. It's hard for me to get anxious about not getting out with the camera when 1000 cars were abandoned last night, becasue of a snow storm. Until the country warms up I'm drawing and photogaphing indoors.

After my morning chores, walking the dog, earning a living etc, I finished drawing a portrait. It's based on a pencil sketch I did in 1993, I've done it again, in ink (that's it above, next to the cold tap). Now it's finished it can go in the loft. If I live long enough, or experience another cold spell, I might one day do it again, in oil, on board.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Snowed In

The United Kingdom has come to a halt! The snow has caused chaos on roads, railways and the second largest airport in the country, Gatwick, has suspended all flights. Schools have closed and the entire population has been advised not to make unnecessary journeys. The government has called for an enquiry in to why the country ceases to function when it snows. I'm certain they've held similar inquiries in the past, winters aren't a recent phenomenon.

Winter Roses. Photograph by Tim Irving
Winter Roses - Tim Irving
I've been out and about and I've done a couple of longish walks, but it's too cold to take photographs. It's too cold to take my hands out of my pockets.

I was looking out of the kitchen window this morning, pondering the jobs that should have been done in the garden, and believe me, there's plenty of work out there. Plants that should have been moved to a sheltered spot before the snow, bulbs that should have been planted weeks ago, the list is a long one. In my un-tidy garden, the roses should have been pruned in late summer, but they weren't. The flowers died months ago, and the stems are woody.

The dead roses are my subjects until the thaw. Taking the photographs has turned into a ritual. I wrap up in several layers, go into the garden and have a good look at them, then I take a photograph and come back inside. I'm doing this 3 or 4 times a day as light and snow change the scene. They do look dead, but because I'm studying them very closely, I can see a beauty in them and I can't wait to get out there with them. I'm very pleased with myself that I didn't prune them.


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