In the recent wonderful British Museum exhibition on the historical cultures of Sicily, the curators described 12th century Norman rule as a ‘Golden Age’ , an ‘Enlightened Kingdom’ in which the ‘coexistence of Western, Islamic and Byzantine cultures created what was probably the most progressive court in Europe.’ From the perspective of the time, the relationship between different peoples in Norman Sicily, as in Moorish Iberia, was remarkably tolerant. There was, of course, nothing equal in the relationship between different peoples; […]
. …the shattered side Of thund’ring Etna, whose combustible And fueled entrails thence conceiving fire, Sublimed with mineral fury, aid the winds And leave a singèd bottom all involved With stench and smoke… John Milton, Paradise Lost Now let hot Aetna cool in Sicily And be my heart an ever-burning hell! William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus Some say its name derives from aitho, the Greek for ‘I burn’, others that it is a corruption of attuna, the Phoenician word for ‘furnace’. For poets, […]
The North Coast 500. Scotland’s answer to Route 66. Or perhaps not. ‘Get your kicks on NC 500’ does not quite have the ring of Nat King Cole’s original. The North Highland Initiative’s branding of a 500-mile circular route that begins and ends in Inverness as Scotland’s answer to the iconic US highway may make sense in terms of marketing, but not much else. But however one brands the route, what is unquestionable is that this is one of the […]
It may be the most God-fearing place in Britain. So strongly Presbytarian is the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides that it is said to be to be the last place in Britain where the fourth commandment – Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy – is observed in letter as in spirit. It is not just that virtually every shop and cafe and museum and sports hall and workplace closes its door. It is also that barely […]
I rarely set explicitly out to photograph lines or shapes. But the images are often defined by them. Perhaps I only notice the lines and shapes around me when I later look at the photographs. Here, though, is a somewhat random collection of photos from over the years defined by lines and squares and other shapes. And I will leave you to work out where each is from.
Two of my favourite contemporary photographers are Yener Torun and Damion Berger. Each transforms the way we look upon the world by using colour in almost opposite ways. Torun is not a professional photographer but an architect from Istanbul, whose work I have published before on Pandaemonium. His shots of Istanbul, usually taken on an iPhone, are of the city as few will have seen it, not the Istanbul of ancient buildings, grand mosques and tradition, but that of modernist […]
The Latvian capital Riga has a long and turbulent history, one that is, in a popular saying, as complicated as the Latvian language, and constructed out of as many influences. There existed a settlement on the site as far back as the second century CE. Its modern history begins in the thirteenth century with the arrival of German mercenaries and missionaries. German merchants had established an outpost from around 1158. Then, in 1201, the newly-proclaimed Bishop of Livonia, Albert, landed […]
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 […]