4000 years ago Cessero crouched by the river Herault under Scorpio’s crystal tail
swallows, bats and doves built lives out of river rock and meadow grass
Sicking spit and courage to the crumbling walls above relics of saints and open tombs
Above the bell tower Neptune slides from view
Children laugh and scrape the cobbles pushing summer into the dead of night
A 600 year old Benedictine Abbey sits on its roman footprint
Who knows how many times Taurus raised star dust above its polished flag stone floor
The chapel alter bathed in morning light
A congregation of shadows wait out an eternity of mornings in an empty church
The Sun had taken the day off. Skipped town and found something better to do with it's 5 billion or so years till expiry. The dockland and distant skyline are painted in coal dust coloured rain.
The yellow cab surged and halted. The oxygen starved interior made me feel nauseous. There was a chance I would vomit. The cab had done it's duty and felt ready to be crushed and forgotten. The multitude of bodies that polished it's rear seat to a high gloss gone.
The drivers seat a nest of requirements. Photographs of smiling children, the madonna, a beaded seat cover and an empty coffee cup. He sat slumped against the B pillar, his skin washed red with the glow of resting tail lights. The traffic on interstate 78 ground to a halt and the half hour trip into Manhattan was going to take an hour and a half. I needed to open a window. Waves of nausea rolled up through my gut and broke hard behind my temples. I wondered why, in 2018 a task as simple as moving a body from an airport to a hotel had become an act that was almost medieval. It seemed like technology had given our lives one thin coat of hope for a more organised and efficient future. Underneath it's glowing binary surface planet earth was grinding to a damp smoggy halt outside Jersey City.
The cab driver apologised for the delay and chuckled, looking at me in the rear view mirror. "You OK? You look whiter than you need to brother" He wound my window down from the button on his door and blasted me with opaque spring air. In the panorama of the oversized rearview mirror I could see his eyes crease into a smile, he slouched down against the B piller again, resigned to the idea that sitting there, waiting for the day to come when he could sell his cab medallion and build a new nest for himself in a Jersey walk up.
The traffic thinned out and the car sped forward sucking us both into the lurid yellow glow of the Holland tunnel.
The 200 Women Exhibition ran at The Pen and Brush Gallery, NYC for 6 Weeks in June 2018.
Here are a few set up shots of the amazing crew from Blackwell and Ruth and our wonderful American friends at Pen and Brush setting up the show.
ELLEN BRYANT VOIGT AT INDIAN FOOT FARM.
After I’d finished taking this portrait I sat on the barn floor and listened to Ellen talk about Art, poetry and life. Outside the fading light Vermont glowed amber and gold – Ellen talked about a mark of orange paint on an artists canvas – how that one brush stroke can make an average painting perfect. It’s the same with poetry- you can spend days thinking about the inclusion of one word. The success of a verse can rest on something as simple as that.
It’s difficult to communicate, impossible to understand. Everything is ever so slightly lost in translation. Intent is inverted and actions blamed on the “other”. It’s not about us, you or me, it’s about them. We’re not the benefactors of war. The hidden ugly blind and greedy that fill their egos and pockets own that role, waiting to see what happens if another atrocity is casually drawn across the internet. Nothing most likely. Nothing for those screaming innocents, the maligned millions who don’t crouch in the shadows, who choose to walk open and innocent. Targets. Collateral rocks in a school yard fight to be thrown and forgotten by those ugly men who should know better.
It’s taken 200 interviews and now I’m convinced, Government doesn’t strive to create the best possible solution for the people, individual people do that, and in most cases it takes a lifetime.
I photographed Angela Davis in a hotel room in Oakland.
The sun smudged carpet and bug stained screen doors were at odds with the flat screen TV and Wifi refit.
Four large men played poker and drank beer at a picnic table on the terrace below, sending shards of laughter into the negative space of our conversation.
Their world turned as it always has, in their direction and according to their rules.
Inequality, injustice, poverty and violence exist when the population lack the strength to repel it. Give people access to education, healthcare and the means to live with dignity and well-being and those evils will lack the oxygen to survive.
Everything Angela said was delivered without hesitation, as graceful and lethal as a Samurai. She pulled back the dusty screen door and let the clear light of logical thought fill the room. People change governments – governments don’t change people.
THE UNFORTUNATE TRANSIT OF ALAN KURDI::
A pale blue fishing skiff cuts through the surface of the Mediterranean. It’s unstoppably beautiful, charming it’s way through wars, shipwrecks and exodus. The bureau perfect renderings and love sick scribblings of travel writers purge this prince of seas of all it’s morbid history.
Alan Kurdi’s lifeless body horrified us, but not enough to taint the white sand and reflex blue sea and sky, the holiday shaped faces of tourists and cynical shoulder slapping locals.
Today the Mediterranean is an occupied state. Occupied by the desperate, the good and the normal. Me and you – all of us. The plight of refuges has been with us since Moses lead his people out of Egypt and the idea caught on – we are all in some way seeking refuge. From poverty, violence, corruption, xenophobia and hardship. I’m the great grandchild of bone thin immigrant Irish.
My country welcomed us, put us up, cooked a fine dinner. I have a home, a flag and a passport. All is well. How good does that freedom feel? Do you ever take time to think about that passport you have hidden away? It’s the one thing you can’t get by without. Your identity – rite large in offical type face. You are free to travel, open a bank account, buy a house, start a company, belong.
Alan Kurdis parents had a choice. They could be brutalised by Assad, enslaved raped and murdered by Da’esh or set sail on that most holy of oceans. Forfeiting their status, their rights and their most precious of cargo to join that nation of the great unwanted.
Ghana Masrieh is a Grandmother. She was born in a refugee camp outside of Beirut. She is a non person. Her greatest joy is being productive, contributing to society and her greatest sadness is that society couldn’t care less. If she could have one wish it would be to go home to Palestine, return to a non state, to live in fear of occupation, to feel her homeland under her feet, to be someone who belongs and to be distracted by the sparking sea.