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The Chelsea Fringe Festival, 2012

The Chelsea Fringe Festival, 2012

A gallery of photographs from my tour of Chelsea Fringe Gardens. The Fringe, in its inaugural year, is a new garden festival, directed journalist and author, Tim Richardson.

From their website :

“The Chelsea Fringe festival is a brand new initiative, entirely volunteer-run in its first year. It’s all about harnessing and spreading some of the excitement and energy that fizzes around gardens and gardening. The idea is to give people the freedom and opportunity to express themselves through the medium of plants and gardens, to open up possibilities and to allow full participation.  Entirely independent of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show (though acting with its support), the Fringe will explode out of the showground geographically, demographically and conceptually. It will range from grassroots community garden projects to avant-garde art installations. Our open-access principle means that just about anything goes – as long as it’s interesting and on the subject of gardens, flowers, veg-growing or landscape”.

19.5.12, Chelsea Fringe Festival: The Edible High Road, Chiswick. Left: Devonshire Road, Right: Turnham Green Terrace

19.5.12, Chelsea Fringe Festival: The Edible High Road, Chiswick. Left: Devonshire Road, Right: Turnham Green Terrace

The Bicycle Beer Garden team - taking a break at The Edible Bus Stop.

The Bicycle Beer Garden team - taking a break at The Edible Bus Stop.

20.5.12, First Chelsea Fringe Festival, Floating Forest on Grand Union Canal at Portobello Dock.

20.5.12, First Chelsea Fringe Festival, Floating Forest on Grand Union Canal at Portobello Dock.

21.5.12, Chelsea Fringe Festival - Pop-up Flower Shop at COS in Brompton Road, London - A collaboration between Clifton Nurseries and COS

21.5.12, Chelsea Fringe Festival - Pop-up Flower Shop at COS in Brompton Road, London - A collaboration between Clifton Nurseries and COS

Chelsea Fringe 2012: Left: Deborah Nagan, designer of The Garden of Disorientation. Right: Julia Barton, artist, maker of the Heavy Plant Crossing or mechanical plant.

Chelsea Fringe 2012: Left: Deborah Nagan, designer of The Garden of Disorientation. Right: Julia Barton, artist, maker of the Heavy Plant Crossing or mechanical plant.

20.5.12, First Chelsea Fringe Festival - Idler'€™s Grove - A medieval herber with odoriferous herbs

20.5.12, First Chelsea Fringe Festival - Idler'€™s Grove - A medieval herber with odoriferous herbs

Left: The Edible Bus Stop team. Right: Julia Barton, artist, maker of the Heavy Plant Crossing or mechanical plant, outside The Serpentine Gallery

Left: The Edible Bus Stop team. Right: Julia Barton, artist, maker of the Heavy Plant Crossing or mechanical plant, outside The Serpentine Gallery

20.5.12, First Chelsea Fringe Festival - Garden of Disorientation - Unlikely scented garden in a former slaughterhouse. Wall mural detail.

20.5.12, First Chelsea Fringe Festival - Garden of Disorientation - Unlikely scented garden in a former slaughterhouse. Wall mural detail.

Chelsea Fringe, 26.5.12 - 'Reliable Utopias' artist Elisabetta Buffa, with her installation at Exchange Square near Liverpool Street

Chelsea Fringe, 26.5.12 - 'Reliable Utopias' artist Elisabetta Buffa, with her installation at Exchange Square near Liverpool Street

21.5.12, First Chelsea Fringe Festival - Wish Trees of Chelsea, Dovehouse Green, Dovehouse Street, London

21.5.12, First Chelsea Fringe Festival - Wish Trees of Chelsea, Dovehouse Green, Dovehouse Street, London

21.5.12, Chelsea Fringe Festival - Pop-up Flower Shop at COS in Brompton Road, London - A collaboration between Clifton Nurseries and COS

21.5.12, Chelsea Fringe Festival - Pop-up Flower Shop at COS in Brompton Road, London - A collaboration between Clifton Nurseries and COS

Julia Barton with her Heavy Plant Crossing or mechanical plant. Outside The Serpentine Gallery on her journey to the Chelsea Flower Show.

Julia Barton with her Heavy Plant Crossing or mechanical plant. Outside The Serpentine Gallery on her journey to the Chelsea Flower Show.

Chelsea Fringe 2012. Left: Oranges and Lemons Garden at St Leonard's, Shoreditch. Right: Pop-up Flower Shop at COS in Brompton Road, London - A collaboration between Clifton Nurseries and COS

Chelsea Fringe 2012. Left: Oranges and Lemons Garden at St Leonard's, Shoreditch. Right: Pop-up Flower Shop at COS in Brompton Road, London - A collaboration between Clifton Nurseries and COS

20.5.12, Chelsea Fringe Festival: The Mojito bar at The Garden of Disorientation - an unlikely scented garden in a former slaughterhouse.

20.5.12, Chelsea Fringe Festival: The Mojito bar at The Garden of Disorientation - an unlikely scented garden in a former slaughterhouse.

19.5.12, Chelsea Fringe Festival, Dalston Eastern Curve Garden,

19.5.12, Chelsea Fringe Festival, Dalston Eastern Curve Garden.

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall at the Geffrye Museum, 30.5.12 - planting up a herb container.

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall at the Geffrye Museum, 30.5.12 - planting up a herb container.

21.5.12, First Chelsea Fringe Festival - Left: Pimp Your Pavement - London, near Elephant and Castle. Right: Pimp Your Pavement - Globe Street near Elephant and Castle

21.5.12, First Chelsea Fringe Festival - Left: Pimp Your Pavement - London, near Elephant and Castle. Right: Pimp Your Pavement - Globe Street near Elephant and Castle

Tony Heywood & Alison Condie's underground landscape installation for Cityscapes Garden Festival, at the Old Vic Theatre tunnels, London. Not part of The Chelsea Fringe, but acknowledged in the same spirit on the Fringe website. http://www.chelseafringe.com/underground-performance-at-the-old-vic-tunnels/

Tony Heywood & Alison Condie's underground landscape installation for Cityscapes Garden Festival, at the Old Vic Theatre tunnels, London. Not part of The Chelsea Fringe, but acknowledged in the same spirit on the Fringe website.

Tony Heywood & Alison Condie’s underground landscape installation 

 

 

 

Remembrance Day

8 years ago news, photography 0

I went to a Remembrance Day service this morning. It was a shame that a local resident decided 11am was an appropriate time to start manoeuvring a car next to the memorial. Couldn’t even wait a couple of minutes. It made me think about some of the sites I’d visited over the last 18 months – Thiepval, Fromelles and Delville Wood. Amazing places to see, though very sad.

Grave of unknown soldier at the Fromelles Cemetery, France

Grave of unknown soldier at the Fromelles Cemetery, France

The Olympic Stadium, Stratford

8 years, 1 month ago news 0

I’ve been to the Olympic Park a couple of times recently, photographing some the grounds and landscaping set out by Nigel Dunnett. After one of these visits, I was allowed to stroll through the stadium itself. I just wonder if the red notice is a warning to Mr Rooney! It was interesting to see though. The football pitch seemed dwarfed by the bank of seats, and without the track in place, looked no bigger than a tennis court!

The Olympic stadium during construction

The Olympic stadium during construction

Eradicating ecocide mock trial

8 years, 2 months ago news, People 0
Polly Higgins interviewed outside Supreme Court, which staged the Ecocide mock trial, 30-9-11

Polly Higgins interviewed outside Supreme Court, which staged the Ecocide mock trial, 30-9-11

The concept of ecocide, or crimes against the planet,  has been brought into the consciousness of many people by the barrister and author, Polly Higgins. She has been campaigning for several years, negotiating with the UN, and governments around the world, asking for ecocide  to be adopted as the 5th crime against peace. Her book, ‘Eradicating Ecocide‘, highlights the problems and why it is necessary for large corporations be environmentally responsible and accountable for their actions.

Polly Higgins at Ecocide mock trial press conference, Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

Polly Higgins at Ecocide mock trial press conference, Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

On Friday a mock trial was held at the Supreme Court in London, where the proposed new law was tested. Two company CEO’s (played by actors) were put on ‘trial’ using evidence from real events. Standard court procedures were used with Michael Mansfield QC leading the prosecution team and Christopher Parker QC leading the defence.

Michael Mansfield QC at Ecocide mock trial at Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

Michael Mansfield QC at Ecocide mock trial at Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

Christopher Parker QC at Ecocide mock trial,  Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

Christopher Parker QC at Ecocide mock trial, Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

Each member of the jury was sworn in and real expert witnesses were called to give evidence too. In reality, a trial such as this would last several months, so the time constraints of a day could only give a very brief insight in what would really happen. But the message was clear – there is an appetite for such a law.

And the verdict – guilty.

Ecocide mock trial photo gallery

8 years, 2 months ago news, People 0
juror, Ecocide mock trial at Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

juror, ecocide mock trial at Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

The defendants, Mr Tench and Mr Bannerman, played by Nicholas Deal and Robert Hilder at Ecocide mock trial at Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

The defendants, Mr Tench and Mr Bannerman, played by Nicholas Deal and Robert Hilder at Ecocide mock trial at Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

Presiding Judge, Ecocide mock trial at Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

Presiding Judge, Michael Norman, at Ecocide mock trial at Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

Christopher Parker QC at Ecocide mock trial at Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

Christopher Parker QC at Ecocide mock trial at Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

Michael Mansfield QC, with Christopher Parker QC in background, at Ecocide mock trial, Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

Michael Mansfield QC, with Christopher Parker QC in background, at Ecocide mock trial, Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

Ecocide mock trial at Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

Ecocide mock trial at Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

Michael Mansfield QC, at Ecocide mock trial, Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

Michael Mansfield QC, at Ecocide mock trial, Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

Ecocide mock trial at Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

Ecocide mock trial at Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

Steven Powles from Doughty Street Chambers, at Ecocide mock trial, Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

Steven Powles from Doughty Street Chambers, at Ecocide mock trial, Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

Jane Russell from Tooks Chambers, Peter Robinson, Expert witness and Michael Mansfield QC, at Ecocide mock trial, Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

Jane Russell from Tooks Chambers, Peter Robinson, Expert witness and Michael Mansfield QC, at Ecocide mock trial, Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

Adam Hiddleston, from 3BP Chambers, at Ecocide mock trial, Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

Adam Hiddleston, from 3BP Chambers, at Ecocide mock trial, Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

Michael Mansfield QC at Ecocide mock trial at Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

Michael Mansfield QC at Ecocide mock trial at Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

Judge summing up at Ecocide mock trial at Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

Judge Michael Norman summing up at Ecocide mock trial at Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

The jury leaving to decide on the verdict, Ecocide mock trial at Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

The jury leaving to decide on the verdict, Ecocide mock trial at Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

The defendants, Mr Tench and Mr Bannerman, played by Nicholas Deal and Robert Hilder at Ecocide mock trial at Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

The defendants, Mr Tench and Mr Bannerman, played by Nicholas Deal and Robert Hilder after the ecocide mock trial verdict at Supreme Court, London, 30-9-11

RPS photography course at Mill Dene Gardens


Mill Dene Gardens in Autumn

Mill Dene Gardens in Autumn

After the success of the flower photography course Jason Ingram and I ran last May with the Royal Photographic Society, the follow up was held last weekend. This time it was for two days,  with detailed assessments and plenty of time for practical experience in the beautiful gardens at Mill Dene, in the Cotswolds.

Photography student at Mill Dene gardens

Photography student at Mill Dene gardens, June 2011

Again we had a full house with 10 students who all appeared to enjoy themselves, despite the fact that at 6am the expected beautiful morning light was, in fact, rain! Plan B came into play and a daylight studio session was held instead.

Our next planned course will be a one day event at Batsford Arboretum on 30th October 2011, photographing the beautiful Autumn colour in the extensive grounds.

Acer at Batsford Arboretum

Acer at Batsford Arboretum, Autumn 2010

Garden Photographer of the Year competition 2011

8 years, 9 months ago exhibitions, Garden Photography, Gardens, news 0

This year I have been lucky enough to have a single image selected in the final of the IGPOTY competition and have a portfolio commended. The exhibition will be on show at Kew Gardens from May 14th.

The single image is a portrait of a gardening team in the WW1 cemetery at Le Trou Aide Poste, near Lille, Northern France. This photograph is based on an image, taken around 1920, of a team of War Graves Commission gardeners. It is part of a story on the Fromelles Cemetery near Lille, opened in 2010 for the reburial of British and Australian WW1 soldiers, whose bodies were discovered in a mass grave in 2008. The gardeners still work in teams, and move around various cemeteries in a particular region. Many are second or third generation, and are related to the original gardeners, many of whom fought in WW1. Kneeling on the right is Jean-Pierre (Jimmy) Macdonald whose British grandfather fought in the war and who settled in France in the employ of the War Graves Commission. For more information and images see www.pauldebois.com and look at the Fromelles gallery.

Team of War Graves Commission Gardeners at Le Trou Aide Poste Cemetery, near Lille, Northern France

Team of War Graves Commission Gardeners at Le Trou Aide Poste Cemetery, near Lille, Northern France

The Polaroid SX-70 portfolio was based on a photograph I took at Kew Gardens in 1982 as a photography student. Using the same camera, along with newly-released film I returned with the aim of capturing the atmosphere of this building, creating a ‘retro’ feel, with soft, almost monochromatic images. Polaroid SX-70 film was discontinued many years ago, but new film has been released, made by a company who bought what was left of the original Polaroid factory. This film has its own peculiar characteristics, but like the original Polaroid, produces very soft images – optically and tonally. The Palm House has lots of shade and I had to think in terms of black & white as the film could not render colour very well in these conditions. The photographs are not intended as literal portraits in the conventional sense.

The Palm House, Kew

The Palm House, Kew taken with Polaroid SX-70 film

The full size images can be seen in the previous posting ‘Shake it like a Polaroid picture‘.

Joiners and montages

8 years, 11 months ago Garden Photography, Gardens, magazine feature, news 2

One of the unusual jobs I did last year was to produce three photo montages for SAGA, illustrating parks that had been restored using lottery grant money. Actually it was one of those jobs that was great fun to do because the brief was very open. I had free range over the interpretation, providing each image was identifiable with each of the respective sites. A rarity! The parks in question were Myatt’s Field in Lambeth, London, Catton Park near Norwich, and Sandall Park near Doncaster.

Due to the hot weather in early July 2010, the time scale for shooting was short.  Grass was burning up and flower displays were quickly going over. So immediately after the press day of the Hampton Court Flower Show, I headed up to Norwich at the start of a long three day circular journey.

The ambient lighting or weather conditions are the same in any montage I have made – stable! It can be overcast, rainy or sunny. I don’t care. Anything but changeable. Ideally you want the same lighting from the first frame to the last, otherwise it makes it very difficult to join the images together once working on the computer. I now always shoot this type of image with a digital camera. The first ones I made whilst at college in the early 1980’s were obviously on film and were much smaller scale – they were rarely more than 20-30 individual photographs arranged together. The ones I now produce can have anything from 200 up to 600 individual frames. With this number, you have to have similar contrast and colour balance.

Even with 600 images, speed is still needed. The basic set will be produced in around 60 minutes, with maybe additional key shots taken immediately afterwards. I never use a tripod, as I’m not trying to get a symmetrical line of frames for a seamless join. Actually, human error is a key part. One small aberration at the left of the frame will have a knock on effect on the right and vice versa. But this is part of the adventure. It creates distortions – and the fact that the angle of views are often 240 degrees to 360 degrees,  perspectives are deliberately false.

Underneath each image is a link which will reveal an animation in a new window, showing the construction of the photograph, from the first frame to last.

Myatt's Fields montage, 2010

Myatt's Fields montage, 2010

Myatt’s Fields – click to view animation


Catton Park montage, 2010

Catton Park montage, 2010

Catton Park – click to view animation

Sandall Park montage, 2010

Sandall Park montage, 2010

Sandall Park – click to view animation


My first montages were made from SX-70 Polaroids. They were slightly easier to join up as the prints were produced instantly and you knew immediately whether you needed to shoot more frames to complete the set. The following are made up from only four shots each.

Polaroid SX-70 montage 1, from 1980

Polaroid SX-70 montage 1, from 1980

Polaroid SX-70 montage 2, from 1980

Polaroid SX-70 montage 2, from 1980

With these images, I scratched the surface with sand paper as an experiment to reduce the gloss finish. I even remember setting fire to some to see what distortion effects I could achieve. Not normal practice, and I remember as a sheepish 19 year old trying to explain what the burning smell was to my mother. For those who are curious, they smell like  burning car tyres!

The following sequence is from more recent work.

Kew montage 2, from New Views Exhibition, Kew Gardens 2004

Kew montage 2, from New Views Exhibition, Kew Gardens 2004

M40 junction 6 montage

M40 junction 6 montage

Trafalgar Square montage

Trafalgar Square montage

Kew Montage 2 was in the New Views Exhibition at Kew Gardens in 2004. Trafalgar Square and M40 Junction 6 appeared in the Garden Photographer of the year exhibitions in 2007 and 2008 respectively.

The parks images can be seen in the March issue of SAGA Magazine.

Worth a look…….Vivian Maier, nanny and street photographer……and The British Council film collection

8 years, 11 months ago film, Gardens, news, People, photographic material, photography 0

Just a quick note on a couple of things worth looking at. The first is a clip from a WTTW broadcast on American TV called Chicago Tonight. It details the discovery of a collection of street photographs taken by a nanny named Vivian Maier, who worked in New York from the 1950’s through to the early 1990’s. The collection amounts to an estimated 100,000 negatives, and could be one of the most important photographic discoveries for many years. The work is largely unknown – even her employers through the years didn’t really appreciate what she was doing. But it is a fascinating document of street scenes and people in New York during the middle of the twentieth century.

The photographs were discovered by John Maloof at an auction in Chicago 2007, who bought just one of the lots offered for sale. When he discovered the quality of the work, he traced the other auction buyers, and bought their collections too. There are even boxes of unprocessed film, which is slowly being developed. He is currently working through the negatives, a monumental scanning task that could take many years. Ultimately the collection could prove to be worth a significant amount of money, and there are plans for exhibitions at the moment in the USA.

It brings up the oft quoted discussion of film versus digital – will it be possible in 50 years time to discover a box full of hard drives in an attic and still find that the technology works well enough to fire up and retrieve the data? In reality, it is probable with the absolute mass of material being produced digitally now, that discoveries will be made in the dusty corners of networking sites like Flickr or their successors – these organizations are less likely to delete data now that storage has become so cheap. With ‘Digital Clouds’ too, offsite storage will replace the general use of hard-drives. So will ‘discoveries’ become more common? And then what happens to copyright? Another argument!

The programme has been posted on YouTube, and gives a good account of something many photographers and collectors would dream about!

You can see some of the stills in this video:

The other thing worth a view is probably less significant, but nevertheless, still fascinating. The British Council is making 13 archive films from its collection publicly available for the first time. Some can be seen on Vimeo and one in particular comes to mind. The World Garden (1941) is a Technicolor film of Kew Gardens made during World War Two. Largely a morale boosting film, it takes you round the gardens and looks at the work of the people and it has a beautiful colour, reminiscent of the slightly saturated botanical books printed in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Thanks to my colleague, Sally Nex, for pointing this out on her BBC blog.
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Also, have a look at The Life of the Rabbit – a wildlife film from simpler times!

Gardeners’ Question Time Christmas broadcast

8 years, 11 months ago Gardens, news, People 4

Eric Robson at the Christmas 2010 Gardeners' Question Time recording

Eric Robson at the Christmas 2010 Gardeners' Question Time recording

I’ve listened to BBC Gardeners’ Question Time for years, so when recently asked by Gardeners’ World Magazine to photograph the Christmas recording, I really looked forward to a behind the scenes view of how the show was put together. It was also the first time they had all panelists together for one broadcast.

Gardeners' Question Time panelists during a briefing before recording the 2010 Christmas programme

Gardeners' Question Time panelists during a briefing before recording the 2010 Christmas programme

Briefing before the Christmas 2010 Gardeners' Question Time recording

Briefing before the Christmas 2010 Gardeners' Question Time recording, with Matt Biggs and Bob Flowerdew in the foreground

The production company’s office is located in a small side road near Old Street Tube station, and like many London streets, the building numbering is a bit haphazard.  Whilst checking the address on my phone, I was approached by a very nice man who asked me, “Are you looking for something else.” Previous experience has taught me not to hang around in situations like this, but strangely, I found myself saying, “Yes.”

“I thought so,” he replied,  “I could see your tripod – you need the first door on the right.”

Somethin’ Else produces several radio programmes including GQT, and is involved with many other media activities too –  so  lost photographers in Brunswick Place must be a regular occurrence.

studio at the Christmas 2010 GardeneThe studio during the Christmas 2010 Gardeners' Question Time recordingrs' Question Time recording

The studio during the Christmas 2010 Gardeners' Question Time recording

Some of the GQT team I had photographed before – either for magazine features or for my 43 Gardeners’ Hands project, so I knew them to say hello to – a useful icebreaker when shooting reportage pics. The only problem was the noise of my camera – I think it was expected that the occasional clack of the shutter and mirror would disappear into  the background chatter. Obviously the sound technician was hearing something much closer to a rifle shot, so I had a tap on the shoulder from from Howard Shannon, the producer, who asked me to wait for breaks. I think every whisper could be heard. In all the behind the scenes shoots I did for Top Gear, I was never asked to stop during filming. Perhaps it was just the noisy cars!

Christine Walkden, Bunny Guinness and Chris Beardshaw at the Christmas 2010 Gardeners' Question Time recording

Christine Walkden, Bunny Guinness and Chris Beardshaw

Chris Beardshaw and Christine Walkden the Christmas 2010 Gardeners' Question Time recording

Chris Beardshaw and Christine Walkden the Christmas 2010 Gardeners' Question Time recording

Bob Flowerdew trialing some grapes with Rosie Yeomans at the 2010 Christmas recording of Gardeners' Question Time

Bob Flowerdew trialing some grapes with Rosie Yeomans

Pippa Greenwood and Anne Swithinbank at the Christmas 2010 Gardeners' Question Time recording

Pippa Greenwood and Anne Swithinbank

What seemed to differ with a TV recording is the speed in which it was done, and how few breaks there were. It was finished in around 90 minutes, with large chunks recorded ‘live’, and not many stops for errors. Eric Robson controlled the discussion with the panelists like a conductor, with answers to questions unscripted, and a queue to respond. There was a genuine air of fun which interesting to watch. The programme will be broadcast on 26th December 2010 at 1400.

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