Monday, 19 January 2015

There were five in a bed...… on larking about, shoes and fashion photography…..

There were five in a bed

And the little one said, 'roll over'…….      

are the words that come to mind when I look at this image by Guy Bourdin, fashion photographer , (1928-1991).

His work is currently showing at Somerset House, and I can't remember when I last had so much fun at a photography exhibition.

Guy travelled around the UK from Paris in a cadillac on a road trip in the 70's to make images for Charles Jourdan, the French shoe designer.

The images that he made using a pair of mannequin legs were inspired, and make for an exuberant and amusing first part of this large exhibition.

He painted in his spare time, on  similar themes to those of his photographs. Ladies in underwear and intimate interiors, lounging on chairs.

My how fashions have changed in the world of underwear.

I can't say I am sorry not to have to wear a Playtex living girdle or equivalent as part of my under garments.

Anyone who knows me will know that I don't do shoes……….or handbags either. Most fashion photography leaves me cold. Not so with Guy's work.

punters at somerset house

Guy used polaroids to test his carefully composed scenes for light and structure in the way that current photographers might use their mobile phone.

His use of light and shadow was masterful.

He was quite good at making cine films too……….

The whole exhibition is beautifully laid out at Somerset House, and I went home completely uplifted by his sense of fun and stunning photography.

I'll leave you with some legs……….

and some more shoes.

Not a high heel in sight.

Visual poetry for photographers and leg lovers alike.

You can find out much more at 'Guy Bourdin:Image Maker'  on the Somerset House website.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

on crossing boundaries, keeping cheerful and mixing things up.

turbine hall -Tate modern

It's been a serious week.

Another very good friend diagnosed with cancer. 

A trip to Conflict, Time, Photography at the Tate Modern.

Events in Paris that shocked the world.

Sometimes it is less easy to think positively. Just back from watching 'The Theory of Everything' about Stephen Hawking at the cinema I feel challenged to do just that.

Stephen Hawking's quote......

 ' However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at,'......... 

was made at a time when he was unable to walk or speak, but had nevertheless gone on to write "A Brief History of Time". 

When I heard him say this in the film it really hit home. Packed an emotional punch.

It is a sentiment that feels important to hold onto when times get tough.

So now for some good news.......

  • While at the Tate Modern I watched a father walk his very small son all around the turbine hall to look at the strange red textile hanging. Small son enjoyed the echo in the hall and became quite vocal. It was a joy to watch, and when I offered to send his father some images he gave me his email address without question, and we communicated in a positive way. 

  • This week I have an exciting new challenge to participate in.

At  The School Creative Centre, Rye resident artists are going to pass a half finished piece of work to another artist for completion. This is intended to stir us up, shake us out of our comfort zones, and be good fun.

So all day I have been wondering how I pass a 'half complete' photograph to another artist. 

Options include giving a half developed roll of film, over exposing or underexposing an image to remove half the detail. giving an undeveloped negative, starting a collage out of old prints, and more.

But I have decided that the best way to fully participate would be to really get out of my comfort zone and do a drawing based on one of my images. 

The results may or may not be displayed here later...........

  • I am now the proud owner of a new scanner. Here I am in about 1970 writing my diary - no change there.........
the diary that got lost long ago....

I have hours of fun to be gained revisiting my photographic archives, but also wish to experiment with bits of nature.

dry winter hydrangea petal; scanned and photoshopped

  • I am learning how to composite ( make one image from multiple images) on my ipad. This with the help of 

I am always looking for ways to use my stone collection from around the world, so I made this image with one of my stones and the tree from my back garden.

They represent home and away......... two sources of pleasure. There may be more to come.......

composite image © Caroline Fraser 2015

Reasons to be cheerful?









and grass

in no particular order

and many more.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

the man with a tortoise on his head - on portraits and poses

I am returned from Vancouver; a visit to my daughter who is lucky enough to live with a view of the mountains and parks from her city apartment.

On the way back I slept as 2014 eased into 2015. Rudely awoken at one point by a very loud announcement that I should prepare myself for an emergency landing, adopt the brace position, and  find my life jacket from under my seat.

It brought home to me the recent loss of another airliner into the ocean, and gave me a small taste of the fear that must have been felt for those moments before lives ended.

Fortunately for us, as we were informed by the captain some 30 minutes later, this announcement was a 'mistake'. Someone hit the wrong button. We carried on cruising and landed without further hitches. My heart beat settled, and we enjoyed the rantings of a London taxi driver for another hour before finally reaching the peace of home.

I learnt from the taxi driver a few cheerful facts about recent events

  • the ebola crisis has arrived in the UK
  • 1000 refugees have been abandoned on a boat
  • 20 million pounds have been lost on Boris bikes
  • it is dull and rainy because of a warm front stuck off the coast of Ireland
  • Southampton beat Arsenal; not good news
  • shares in the Post office are falling steadily
  • buses now control traffic lights in London, and you only get 8 seconds on green.....
  • thousands caught out by snow in the alps
  • an airplane crash......

By the time we got home I felt that either he or I should be treated for depression. Nothing like starting the New year on a happy note.

But at least I have some photos to remind me of the good times we had on our holidays.

Portraits of ones we love. Moments recorded for posterity. Remembering the good times.

A trip to MOA ( Museum of Anthropology at the university of British Columbia) had a fascinating exhibition, 'Pigapicha' on the culture of studio portrait taking in Nairobi over the past century.

Pigapicha means 'take my picture'

Studio portraits change with the fashion, just as our clothes and hairstyles do.

Rigid formal poses loosen up and smiles appear over time.

So much of the story is in the eyes.

Frames and borders change with the times too, as do studio backdrops and props.

These ones below particularly formal.

What do studio portraits say about us?

Why do we make them when we all have cameras and phones with which we constantly capture our daily lives?

Which are the better representation of ordinary life?

Would you rather be photographed with a tortoise on your head and with your watch ostentatiously front stage, to show that you have a sense of humour and are wealthy, or with a warm smile and a 'natural' pose?

Backdrops also change with fashion. 

Would you like the alps behind you?

Or prefer to be portrayed sitting on a coca-cola bottle or flower?

Times have changed. Many of the Nairobi studios have closed down now, and these type of images are no longer popular.

My daughter gets married this year.

I hope she looks happier in her wedding photos than the bride below.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Silver - a winter experience - at Smallhythe Studio

It has been a real privilege to take part in this exhibition, and there are still five days left to see it.

Images by Jane Beecham inspired by snow and ice.

Art works enhanced by words on a winter theme

The curation by Rowena McWilliams skillfully uses subtle colour change around the room.

Monochrome moves gradually to colour.

Kate Schuricht's wall vases complement wood framed images.

I recommend a visit. The nice thing about this gallery is that so much else goes on in the space.

The highlight of last week was a poetry tea.

Clare Winchester read her poem from her limited edition book 'Dusk to Dark' . The book contains wonderful intaglio prints on the theme of a moonlit walk, all created from memory as soon as she returned to her studio after a late evening walk.

I recommend a look.

You can see what else they get up to at Smallhythe  here

And you can see my nature inspired poems 'Hawkwood' and 'The secret Garden'  here.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Streaming on the intergalactic superhighway

 Dungneness sunset

OH ( other half)  has decided that we need a broadband upgrade.

Doctor Who keeps stalling during intergalactic transfers

And  footballs keeps getting stuck between the player's boot and the goal………

Daughter in Canada freezes mid sentence on Skype. Not always a pretty sight; strange contortions held until the cogs get whirring again.

It is time to embrace the super highway he says.

I have to admit to having shown little enthusiasm for this change, despite being the 'early adopter' of technology in our relationship.

Status quo versus internet black hole as everything goes pear shaped and we are left with nothing but a land-line is my preferred option.

I am quite happy with what we have now. The thought of losing contact with my friends in The Arcanum or not being able to back up or upload  my photos are my main concerns . OH is not a technical prodigy; his expertise lies elsewhere, in the land of real people.

So when the new internet box arrived through the post, my heart sank and I decided to head south, to Camber Sands, in order to be absent throughout the period of teeth gnashing and mild to moderate swearing.

Down there there is no internet ( at least where we stay), so I have to read books and work on my images of rocks on the beach .

So this morning, I got up early to be down on the beach at low tide, to see how the rocks are doing. Men in high vis clothing and cranes were in action early. They looked picturesque on the bank. Photogenic even.

I switched on my camera. 'low battery'

This is becoming a habit, and is one of the perils of trying to escape suburbia. I always leave something behind. 

I framed my first photo, and the camera died. So I am going to have to share some old images of the works, taken when the workmen had all gone home.

 After a short walk in the early morning soft and gentle sunlight I headed off to my studio to prepare for the 'Feast of Delights'.

My 'delights' are boxed sets of cards and small framed images that might do for Aunty Mabel's or Uncle Bernie's christmas presents. I am an expert on making white boxes, and find it very therapeutic after the travails of worrying about my internet connection and a very unwell family member.

Camber Collection © Caroline Fraser

Light on Water cards © Caroline Fraser

As I sat making boxes OH rang me. He was busy setting up super fast broadband.

'I need your password to BT ' quothe he.

'It is in my book of passwords' I replied, and advised him where to find it.

He duly found my notebook of passwords and read what he could of my incredibly tidy handwriting.

I realised what was written and told him what the encrypted note said.

'that's a really stupid word' was his response.

'well it works fine for me'……..( and anyway, it was meant to be a secret , thought I)

'And how was I supposed to know that from what was written?'

'you weren't…………passwords are meant to be secret……..a book of passwords that anyone could read would not really be a very good idea……….' 

(Even I know that………)

Anyway reader, the really good news is that we now have new wifi that works, which is  huge relief.

Later that day I asked OH if it is faster and fulfilling his wildest dreams.

' I guess it does…..' he replied.

 I quote verbatim here.

Not really the response I was expecting. 

'I'll only really know when I try streaming…..'

What could I say?


But I was so relieved that we remain connected that I went into Rye to buy cakes and took them over to Dungeness for a cup of tea and watched the sun go down with gentle folk who are lucky enough to work and live in the land of big skies.

tea and smoked garlic at the Dungeness Smokehouse

Roll on the next episode of Dr Who. Then we ( OH)  will really be riding the intergalactic superhighway.