Herengracht 401 lies at the heart of Amsterdam’s beautiful canal district. For more than 70 years it was home to the artist Gisèle van Waterschoot van der Gracht, known usually just as ‘Gisèle’. During the Second World War it was a place of safety for Jews and others fleeing the Nazis. Today it is home to Castrum Peregrini, originally set by Gisèle in the 1950s as a literary magazine, but which has evolved into a space for exhibitions, discussion and […]
Vienna has more than its fair share of magnificent, beautiful and historically significant buildings. The Hofburg Palace, the Belvedere, Stephansdom, Schloss Schönbrunn, the Secession Building, Staatstoper, Karlskiirche, Hunderstwasshauss, Maolika Haus. Along Helinganstädter Strasse, at the end of the U4 U-Bahn, stands a building that even its greatest admirers would not describe as magnificent or beautiful. It is, however, historically significant – though of a history that is often forgotten – and architecturally striking. The Karl Marx Hof, built between 1927 […]
Neduntheevu is one of the remotest parts of Sri Lanka – a small, oval shaped island in the Palk Strait, off the northwest coast. It is still known, even to many locals, by its Dutch name, Delft. (The Dutch came in the seventeenth century, driving out the Portuguese who, a century earlier, had seized large parts of Sri Lanka). Delft is home to wild horses and boabab trees, the former introduced by the Portuguese, the latter by Arab sailors almost […]
It is not quite as strange as Orford Ness, that desolate and derelict, haunting and wild, edge of the Suffolk coast, of which I have written, and photographed, before. But Dungeness beach, on the edge of Romney Marsh in Kent, is strange enough. The largest shingle beach in Europe, it’s a bleak landscape flanked by the concrete blocks of a nuclear power station, adorned with two lighthouses, dotted with the rotting hulks of fishing boats and fisherman’s huts, punctuated with […]
It is not often that I enter a room and gasp out loud ‘Wow’. But entering the caves of Dambulla, with with their magnificent statues of the Buddha, and their stunning frescos, was definitely one occasion. The second cave in particular, is one of the most spectacular, yet moving, works of art I have seen. The cave temples, near the town of Dambulla in central Sri Lanka, date back to the first century BCE. King Valagamba (also known as Vattagamini Abhaya) […]
The ghosts of war still haunt Jaffna. It is almost seven years since Sri Lanka’s brutal 30-year civil war was brought to a particularly brutal and bloody conclusion. Somewhere between 40,000 and 70,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the last months of the conflict, as the Sri Lankan army penned the remnants of the LTTE (the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam), the Tamil insurgent army, together with tens of thousands of civilians into a tiny pocket of […]
I publish the occasional photography post on Pandaemonium, but my main photography site is Light Infusion. You can see more of my photographs there, and in a larger format. You can order prints from Light Infusion, too (could be handy with Christmas coming up…). As an introduction, here is a slideshow of a few of my favourite shots.
‘Fynbos’ means ‘fine bush’ in Afrikaans. It describes a narrow coastal belt, up yo 200 km wide, in the Cape region of South Africa. The fynbos comprises much of the Cape Floral Kingdom, one of the world’s six Floral Kingdoms – and the tiniest. It is, though, incredibly rich and concentrated, considerably richer than rainforests. There are in the Cape Floral Kingdom more than 9,000 plant species, of which 70 per cent are endemic. The Cape Peninsula alone has more than 2000 […]
I’m no twitcher. I probably couldn’t distinguish the call of a starling from that of a swift. But in South Africa, while the big beasts – the lions and the leopards, the elephants and the cheetahs, the giraffes and the rhinos – grab the wildlife headlines, what really caught my eye was the birdlife. South African birds are strikingly beautiful, varied and different. South Africa has almost 1000 different species, some 10 per cent of all the bird species in […]
I knew, of course, of Table Mountain and of its beauty and majesty . But nothing quite prepared me for just how spectacular it is – especially in the winter when the peculiar climatic conditions of Cape Town envelopes the Table with a shimmering cloth of cloud. The cloud does not simply sit atop the mountain; it flows over and down, in a manner I have never seen before. It being winter, Table Mountain was closed to the public for […]
There is a thrill to seeing close up a whale swimming with her calf, or a cheetah on the prowl, or a lion simply languidly stretched out across your path, that no photograph can ever convey. Nevertheless, here is a collection of photos of creatures great and small from my recent trip to South Africa. Most were taken in the De Hoop and Kwandwe Reserves.
District Six lies at the heart of Cape Town, along the flank of Table Mountain, and just south of the city centre. It was so-called because it was the sixth municipal district in Cape Town. In it lived freed slaves and immigrants, labourers and artisans. It was a rundown area, overcrowded, many houses without running water or sewage. But District Six was also Cape Town’s cosmopolitan heart. In a nation defined by ‘aparthood’ it was an area in which blacks […]
I dislike photography that seeks self-consciously to be ‘painterly’; still less paintings that aspire to photorealism. A photographer is not a painter, and a painter is not a photographer, and to pretend otherwise is to diminish that which gives each form its meaning. But sometimes you take a photo that captures the spirit of a particular artist. You discover something in a scene, or evoke something within it, that brings to mind the way that he or she may also […]
Beth Moon is an American photographer whose work is infused with wonder, awe and mystery and which straddles the border between fantasy and reality. She has spent years photographing ancient trees from around the world. Through her eyes, trees become something quite different to the everyday objects we walk past all our lives. There is a sense of strangeness and otherness that make her compositions quite bewitching, as if they had been plucked from a fairy tale. They are fabulous […]
Oxford may be a city of spires. London is a city of cranes. There is almost no vista unsullied by those markers of urban development. Cranes are the epitome of the industrial, the brutal, the ugly. They are also a symbol of urban change and renewal. And, for all their brutal ugliness, cranes can be surprisingly visually striking, even photogenic. So here is my elegy to the crane. Two of the photos, incidentally, are not of London. I will leave […]