Human Gatherings, a photo exhibition.

October 17 2020 – Hastings.

A few weeks back I saw a call out on a local BookFace group for people to search through their photographic archive and look for images of human gatherings for an upcoming exhibition being organised by Photo Hastings. While Hastings and St Leonards-on-Sea have escaped Covid restrictions in any major way (so far) we are covered under the England wide ‘rule of 6’ guideline that attempts to ban any sized gathering. The idea of Human Gatherings is just a memory now, but a memory that should be remembered and celebrated, while we can.

We are now not that far away from a ninth month of some sort of lock down restriction, which has meant no gigs, or any other form of entertainment. Worse than that is the thought that things like this will happen in the UK before Christmas has long been erased from any sane persons mind. I cannot foresee the date when they will eventually happen either, it all seems such a mess.

This makes me extremely jealous of New Zealand, which, at the time of writing, has Covid very much under control and life is pretty much back to normal with gigs and all other events back on again. I hope it remains like that through summer and for when we eventually return, hopefully  later next year.

I trolled though some old gig photos and submitted four to the organisers, who selected one for the exhibition; a photo from a Dan Deacon gig in Auckland in 2009, back when I was doing regular gig photos for the website that can no longer be named.

The exhibition opened three weeks ago at the Priory Meadows shopping mall in Hastings, it is on the back wall of an empty shop and is open Friday-Sunday 14:00 to 16:30. It finishes this coming weekend.

Eleanor and I popped along to have a look, and for me to chat to the organiser, local photographer and activist, Amanda Jobson. I liked it, Amanda said it has attracted a lot of visitors and local interest. There are some great photos on the wall, from a bunch of different photographers, stretching back as far as the late 80s.

It was good to be part of something in Hastings and I hope it leads to me being involved in other Photo Hastings projects.

The Clash, London Calling @ The Museum of London

19 January 2020 – London.

Opening with a twice repeated ratatat burst of snare drum, followed by quick fire down and up strum of overdriven distorted six string and bass guitars, mimicking the sound of that famous weapon; Tommy Gun burst into the ear drums of the 17 year old me. The music, the words, the voice; this was everything that had been missing in music. Working class, political punk rock snarl at its finest.

My memory is poor, but I do remember this song being played two weeks in a row on the Barry Jenkin’s hosted Radio with Pictures TV show in New Zealand. I am pretty sure no other song was treated with such reverence. It is a good song, my favourite song by The Clash; and they wrote a lot of very good songs.

Tommy Gun was the the first track on ‘Give ‘em enough rope’, The Clash’s second LP. It was released in 1978 and was the first LP I bought with my own money, I am guessing I bought it very early in 1979. I am imagining that I had the first album on a cassette, taped off a friends older brother’s record. I didn’t buy that first LP until much later. Cassettes worked just as well for my teenage years (and teenage ears); plus I could play cassettes on my walkman or the small single speaker boombox I had in the early 80s. Music portability was as important then as it is now.

The third album, London Calling, was released in 1979 and the song and video for the title track were on fairly high rotate, at least on the TV and radio channels aimed at me and my tastes. I loved the song, though recently went off it due to over playing. I bought the album at the time, but was pretty disappointed with it not being as ‘punk’ as I wanted, I never really got over that. Eventually going off The Clash.

All my records were stolen in a burglary in 1981, and I didn’t replace London Calling, though I did buy the first two LPs again, then sold them with most of my collection in 1985 when I moved to England for the first time. Replacing them yet again between then and now, and now I can only find ‘Give ‘em enough rope’, and the single.

The Museum of London is holding a small, free exhibition celebrating the 40th anniversary of the release of London Calling. Black Market Clash was another small exhibition in Soho of The Clash memorabilia that El and I visited back in 2013. It had a slightly different focus to this one so it was good to see some different things. The famous bass from the London Calling album cover was at both. As it should be, the finest album cover of all time. Apparently Pennie Smith, the photographer who took this photo in New York did not want them to use it for the cover as it is too out of focus! It is one of the best rock photos ever; capturing the energy, the anger, the frustration of that show.

Every few months our Walthamstow social group do some sort of day time social activity, usually involving an exhibition, a walk and some food and/or drink. Today eleven of us caught the train to Liverpool St and walked to the museum via the Barbican. I love the Barbican, though haven’t been there for a good explore for quite a quite a while. I will have to go back again.

The exhibition was good; busy, with a lot of middle aged men and women walking down memory lane. As I mentioned above it was not big, there were three guitars, some photos, clothing, a couple of screens, some smaller memorabilia, notebooks and lyric sheets.

Even though it is a long way from my favourite The Clash LP I very much enjoyed the exhibits, and it was great checking them out with a group of friends who all had similar, youthful tastes in music.

The exhibition displayed a very good map of Clash London, places they hung out, rehearsed, gigged and recorded. I discovered that the London Calling rehearsal studio from 1978 was in a building I walk past every day I go to work. The now ‘London Dioceses House’ (rather ironic) at 36 Caulston St in Pimlico. 

After a coffee and a long chat we left the museum of London with half of us going to a food hall off Brick Lane for lunch. I haven’t been to Brick Lane for ages, I could not believe how many people were there. It was a really nice day so I guess it was a good day to be out. And it is tourist central these days.

We walked back to Liverpool St via a passage in the back of one of the office blocks that runs alongside the station. Another place to come back to with the camera…


Roa @ Stolen Space Gallery

Thursday 20 September 2018 – London

I am a big fan of the work of Belgian artist Roa. On the street he often paints large black and white murals of rodents, birds and other small life. There are a number of his pieces scattered around London, though I do not think he has painted here in a while.

These are from an old work from, I am guessing 2013, on the back of a housing estate up Bethnall Green Rd. I remember at the time it took us ages to find it. It has been partly painted over since it went up, but I am glad it is mostly undamaged. Some street art respect I guess.

I was thrilled to attend the opening night of a new exhibition at the Stolen Space gallery on Brick Lane. He has exhibited here before so I was looking forward to this show very much, El came along as well and we met my old street art hunting friend Darryl too.

The work was very cool, like the last time, painted onto cupboards, both found and made, with the inside of the doors displaying the inside of the animals. Lovely.

It was a very cool show. If only I had a few thousand to spare!

was also very excited to discover that while he was in London, Roa painted down at the end of the market in Walthamstow, double yay. The mural is fabulous, but in such a narrow alley it was impossible to get it all in.