It must be one of the most photographed of modern buildings. Yet the Sydney Opera House still elicits a gasp of awe every time one sees it in the concrete. Danish architect Jørn Utzon’s expressionist masterwork is a remarkable melding of form and function, and of architecture and engineering. It is also a wondrous evocation of the imagination. The story of the Machiavellian politics that surrounded its construction, and led eventually to the resignation of Utzon from the project, and […]
‘Times change and they change in difficult ways. Not knowing what to do about it, I go back to simple stuff — which is, I hope, to make photographs thinking about truth and justice’. So said Mel Rosenthal, the New York photographer who died last week. ‘To make photographs thinking about truth and justice.’ That may sound crass and tacky. Rosenthal’s photographs were anything but. They were not shouty or strident or agitprop. But they were infused with warmth and […]
‘I saw the monuments, the great ancient remains. From every ruin I learned, from every building I absorbed something.’ So wrote Mimar Sinan, perhaps the greatest architect of the premodern Islamic world, a figure whose work has been compared to that of the Renaissance architects and artists Brunelleschi and Michaelangelo, with whom he was a sixteenth century contemporary. Sinan was talking of the great ancient buildings of Baghdad and Damascus, of Persia and north Africa, one of his many sources […]
Tili Wiru Tjuta Nyakutjaku. ‘Looking at many beautiful lights.’ That’s the Pitjantjatjara name for Bruce Munro’s ‘Field of Light’ installation at Uluru in Australia. (Pitjantjatjara is one the two main languages of the Anangu, the local Indigenous group.) ‘Field of Light’ is an art installation that Munro has created in many sites across the world: London’s V&A Museum, the Eden Project, Cornwall, St Andrew Square, Edinburgh, Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Cheekwood Museum, Nashville, Mexico City. But in bringing it to Uluru, […]
Nothing quite prepares you for your first sight of Uluru. Amid the vastness of the arid landscape of Australia’s red centre, fringed by ill-shapen hills and mountain ranges, there is something wondrous and almost magical about this monumental slab of sandstone, most of which actually lies beneath the ground. The monolith was created more than 500 million years ago, and is a remnant of a vast mountain range formed during the creation of the Australian continent. Much of the surrounding […]
Off Byron Bay, where I was speaking last week at the Writers Festival, lies a headland which forms the most easterly point of Australia. The point over which dawn first breaks. There is inevitably something clichéd about images of sunrise. But there was also something dramatic about first light over Byron Bay, a light very painterly in its composition and palette. So, a few images from the break of day over Australia.
The terrible fire that engulfed Grenfell Tower in West London last week, and may have taken up to a hundred lives, may prove to be a turning point in British politics. The raw anger that it has exposed of the voiceless having their voices denied; the deafness of so many politicians to that fury, including the unwillingness over many years to listen to the Grenfell Action Group, the tenants association that has long been warning of such a tragedy; the […]
Harlem was not always synonymous with African Americans. In the late-nineteenth century, it was home to a predominantly Jewish community – in his book When Harlem Was Jewish, historian Jeffrey Gurock estimates that almost 200,000 Jews lived there on the eve of the First World War. By 1930 that had fallen to just 5000. ‘Harlem’s era as a landmark on the Jewish map of New York was over’, Gurock observes. The reasons for the transformation were many and complex – […]
The Wellcome Image Awards are for images of living processes and structures using sophisticated microscopy and photography techniques – photographs, 3D models and digital illustrations. They are often extraordinarily beautiful. The 2017 winners have just been announced. Here is a sample of the work. The full set of images are at the Wellcome Image Awards website. . Vessels of a mini-pig eye A 3D model of a mini-pig eye using CT scanning and 3D printing. Created by ophthalmologist Peter Moloca, vascular biologist Ruslan […]
He was blind in one eye through a childhood accident. But what a wondrous eye was the other! It is almost impossible to miss a Malick Sidibé photo. Black and white and suffused with life. Sidibé, who died last year, was born in 1935 or 1936 (he was not sure which) to a peasant family in what was then French Sudan. ‘We knew nothing of the outside world’, he was later to say. ‘We were enclosed in a capsule. It […]
In 1693 Sicily was devastated by a great earthquake. The cities of the south-east – Ragusa, Modica, Noto among them – were destroyed completely. In the wake of the disaster came an extraordinary period of reconstruction. Not for the poor, of course, who continued to live in primitive hovels at the edge of cities. But for the nobility, and for the Church, rebuilding the cities became an occasion for the flaunting of wealth. The result was a series of dazzling […]
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 […]