Photos taken: Tooting High Street, market and purple compositions at home
I’m doing a fine art photography course, and my first task was to capture purple. It’s easier said than done: purple is a tough colour to find naturally. I discovered that the imperial purple dye of regal Roman robes was extracted from rare tyrian sea snails. The colour signifies wealth, spirituality and wisdom.
It turns out that aubergine, violet, and plum don’t really count. I have always thought that purple was a mixture of red and blue. So it left me pondering, what exactly is purple then?
"Syrians have spent two winters without shelter. We say no to a third winter"
Around 300 protesters - mainly British-Syrians - march on a gloomy Saturday from Hyde Park to Downing Street, waving placards, the emerald green-white-black tricolor flag, and chant “Assad Out”. The mood is solemn, as there are reports of infighting among rebels and activists
Syrian writer Rana Kabbani tells the crowd that “the Syrian regime was never legitimate” and that it does not represent the majority of the Syrian people
Other speakers say that history will never forget, the hypocrisy of the “West”, Obama’s red-line and the uselessness of the UN will be remembered
Yet the message of the protesters is unclear. Diplomatic efforts and what is perceived to be a political game is criticised: Russia, China, Iran and Hezbollah are especially condemned, while British Prime Minister David Cameron’s words are described as “empty”, however no other solutions are offered. No one mentions military intervention
One Syrian activist tells me that she is marching for solidarity. It is 30 months since the beginning of the “Syrian Spring” which was about freedom, justice and dignity
Doctors have signed a joint letter, published in the Lancet, which highlights the extent of the humanitarian crisis, and aid is where we should focus our efforts
Communicating with people, while your face is partially obscured, is an art in itself
The recent outburst on the niqab, with that stock image of a Muslim woman, her face covered with black cloth showing only her heavy kohl eyes, splashed across the front pages got me thinking: why is it our right to see someone else’s face anyway?
I recall a recent masquerade fundraiser at an independent coffee shop, just off Brick Lane. Organised by creative young Muslim women, the emphasis was on craftivism combined with spirituality. While munching our canapés, we were treated to the Sufi beats of Pearls of Islam, the spoken word of turban wearing Sofia Servando Baig from Montreal, and taught how to make masks by Hannah Habibi Hopkins, who wore an impressive Frida Kahlo disguise
It reminded me, that a person’s character is what matters most. Diversity is beautiful. What’s the point in wasting so much energy on judging? And women must be free to choose - that’s at the heart of the issue. Whether it’s a niqab or a masquerade, who cares?
I thought the voice of niqabi women was missing from the debate, and you can read my article here
Review - The Press Photographer’s Year, National Theatre London
Walking through the Press Photographer’s Year exhibition is like stepping back in time. You are instantly gripped by powerful and iconic shots. Whether the photo captures the fear in the eyes of a Syrian rebel fighter, a London furniture shop in flames during the 2011 riots or a deer’s frosted antlers at dawn in Richmond Park, the best of 2011-2012 UK photojournalism is showcased in this gallery.
Immediately drawing you in is the gritty black and white photo (pictured above) of a young man breaking through the surf of the Gaza strip. The waves are at an angle, the splash is in focus, and a whistle hangs around the surfer’s neck. Andrew McConnell’s award-winning photo essay is a rare insight into Gaza, and the freedom of surfing contrasts with how Gaza is usually depicted in the news: as a war-zone and an open-aired prison.
Human tragedy is encapsulated in a photo of a mother who is comforted by her son over the bodies of her two younger sons, killed during the civil war in Syria. Jack Hill’s incredibly poignant photo is poetic, not clichéd. The love of the grieving family is what sticks in your mind.
Human triumph is also celebrated. The expression in Mo Farah’s face as he crosses the finishing line and Usain Bolt taking a selfie with spectators on a mobile phone captures some of the best of the Olympics, and we are also treated to a slideshow.
The strength of this photo exhibition is that it displays the variety of humanity and how ordinary citizens on the ground tell a story and are newsworthy too. It does not fetishise conflict, but presents a very human side. It also highlights that are living in historic times and very aware of it. This is a must-see for all current affairs buffs and those who pine for the Olympics and Royal Wedding again.