Showing posts with label photography. Show all posts
Showing posts with label photography. Show all posts

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Fragments of the Mind: Travel in Ghana



Image taken by myself for Barima Photography with a Sony Alpha A7ii with an Olympus Zuiko 50mm legacy lens

   Four years mark the time between my visits to Accra, capital city of Ghana, which, as a British-born and based Ghanaian, gave me much to engage with and celebrate today. The speed with which life in Accra has continued to adapt Westernisms gathered pace over the second tenure of the previous governing administration, thumbing its nose at the infamous, attendant "Dumsor" period: four years of electrical load shedding that plunged the country into continual blackouts and challenged the normally irrepressible megawatt smiles of its people. Thankfully, Dumsor's effects were much less felt when I visited Accra at the end of 2016. Indeed, the city bore the hallmarks of the Christmas seasons I remember from my lifelong family visits - glamour to make the West End of London resemble a Tuesday night in Stoke; moreish banquets of jollof rice, grilled meats and peppery stews; parties commencing at midnight and genuinely all-ages dancefloors at 2am in clubs, streets or at home

   Still, I found constant reminders of Accra's new face, with most billboards (Ghana's primary mode of advertising) bearing rendered announcements of town house and apartment developments stretching all around the metropolis. The previously completed offerings impress to this day - the multifunctional Vilaggio development, situated minutes from Kotoka Airport, affords the best view of Accra for miles, which I took in from its alluring Sky Bar. This aspect, along with its live music programme made me something of a regular during my stay  - despite the appetite for Afrobeat that informs many travellers, Accra's live musical lifeblood remains jazz, which Sky Bar, +233 and Table Bay Bar deliver to local acclaim. However, though heartened to see my family's homeland galvanised (literal prayers to improve road quality and safety over the years have begun to be answered, for one), I couldn't help but sense an incoming loss of Tropical Modernism, the European-led architecture that met Ghana's heat and dust with airy and rational spatial solutions, in favour of anonymous neo-classical or exuberantly adventurous glass-and-steel designs that veered from overly busy to curiously unformed and, on occasion, aesthetically bland

   With the end of the working week came the expected opportunities for getaways and I chose to spend time with my pampering relatives in Kumasi, Ghana's second city and home of the resplendent King of the Ashanti people, Otumfuo Osei-Tutu II, every inch a traditional tribal institution in a modern world. Whilst the general mood was reflective due to the recent passing of the King's mother, Nana Afia Kobi Serwaa Ampem II, the Queen Mother, Kumasi's homely, elegant atmosphere offered a calming antidote to Accra's mixture of business pace and unending traffic. So too did a later trip to Aburi, a mountainous region overlooking Accra, affording me another breathtaking view of a city that positively shines as the dusk sets in

Also captured for Barima Photography with a Sony Alpha A7ii with an SMC Takumar 28mm legacy lens

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Cathal Smyth - A Comfortable Man, Live, October 2014



   To Wilton's Music Hall in East London last night, on the invitation of my old friend, artist Andrew Hancock, where I produced a set of photographs of the man we still call Chas Smash of Madness, resplendent amongst a sonorous orchestra, a songbird in black and the work of 50 contemporary artists directly inspired by Smyth himself. Nice work, if you can get it

   What bodes well for this album launch, which has two further nights at Wilton's to go, and indeed, the album itself is that the roguishly avuncular Smyth (who made your author, at least, feel as if in the company of the favourite uncle who casually turns the air blue and quickly moves along before the matriarch tweaks his ear) somehow managed to start out strongly and end on an even better finish. I suspect the builder's tea that he periodically topped up from with the appetite of Popeye


   Madness is one of this country's most resonant (and entertaining, lest we forget) bands. So, for anyone who may be in attendance tonight or tomorrow, or plans to be, I can assure you that rarely do you get a safer pair of hands to guide you through his new and warmly folkish material. Anticipate big choruses, assiduous charm, precision timing, band crushes and one big, open heart

   For you'll need every ounce of that goodwill whenever you try to get served at the Mahogany Bar




Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The Dutchman by LeRoi Jones; The Crate Gallery, 2014


Kedar Williams-Stirling as "Clay," September 2014

   Jotham Annan is a RADA-honed actor and director of stage and screen, whose credits include the BBC's Holby City and Casualty, and versions of As You Like It and The Browning Version (everyone's favourite Rattigan?). To disclaim, he is also my cousin. I'm proud

   Over the past month, I have provided photography and costume styling for a new production by Jotham of 1964's The Dutchman, an interracial two hander written by Jones, later Amiri Baraka, whom I have discovered late in life. An African-American playwright, activist, writer and critic with a penchant for trenchant monologues and non-sequiturs of the disquieting kind, judging from this particular work, he was a natural attractor of the controversy that dogs the outspoken; doubtless, I will find pronouncements and quotes of his to embrace and discard with time

   Tonight ushers in the opening night at Notting Hill's The Crate Gallery, helmed by my old friend Matthew Gerrish. The Crate is not known for its voluminousness and thus each performance of this short run (tonight to Friday, this Sunday and next Wednesday and Thursday) will accommodate less than 30 people only. Nevertheless, compromised though I may be, it is worth purchasing tickets for next week's performances, which were added after the promising selling out of this week's

   In these days of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, to name but two, a text like The Dutchman is not only entertainment, but something of a yardstick for America's entangled multiracial structure, exactly 50 years prior, with which to compare to today. And it is exactly this challenge to muse on where America has been going in light of these atrocities that makes it worth producing today

BON




Monday, 22 September 2014

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

#Menswear



Butler of Style Forum and Winston Chesterfield at an I am Dandy drinks reception hosted by tailor Steven Hitchcock, September 2013

Monday, 15 September 2014

Pinterest on (Mode) Parade



   I am now assembling a small collection of boards on design, architecture, photography and style right here:


   The collection of images on my Pinterest boards is presently rather modest, but I anticipate that it will grow in tandem with my developing understanding of it. I've already begun utilising it for my photography efforts, at the very least, and it is a curious way of determining what one finds attractive, even in the face of what seem to be the labile tastes of the rest of the planet. Which reminds me that of the smorgasbord on offer, the pins of most utility appear to be cookery recipes

   Happy image hunting

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

My Sony NEX-5N and Me (An Introduction)



   I don't often lack for adventures. And since I have been documenting some of them with my beloved Sony NEX-5N for some time, the memories, no matter how twee, shameful or comedic, don't easily leave me either. So given that I've a high threshold for public personal embarrassment, I've no qualms about occasionally sharing some of them here

   Given my antique status, the majority of my lenses for this respected, latter-day interchangeable lens system are vintage; a decision that has resulted in some proudly protean and beguiling results. The glass that took the image above was a Canon FD 50mm, on the occasion of a Chinese installation at my recent alma mater, Chelsea College of Arts

   I'll conclude on this note for now - photography is gaining me access to an increasing number of lively weddings. But that's a topic I'll cover in detail another time

BON

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

The Mode Parade eBay Clear-out Again




On offer this week: Junya Watanabe MAN/Comme des Garcons, Burberry Prorsum, a Sony NEX E-Mount camera lens and a few vintage Hermes ties. Link below

Monday, 23 September 2013

The Khalil Musa Portrait Shoot




As mentioned in my event coverage, Khalil Musa was the photographer-in-residence for I am Dandy: The Return of the Elegant Gentleman's coming out party at Gieves & Hawkes last week

Khalil is the sort of portrait shooter that goes for sharpness and flash in the studio; in concert with his direction, his results show the confident sides of his subjects - whether they are or aren't, I suspect - whilst rendering their differing personalities and appearances in bold, bright strokes. Put simply, his work is worthy of several advertising campaigns, which I mean in the best way possible

To whit, if The Balvenie are looking for a new ambassador, I would like to think that this shot sets out my candidacy. But who knows? They might not care for my shirt

Thursday, 1 March 2012

The Alex Wilson Portrait Shoot, Part Five - Albert & Chesterfield




   Mode Parade is an entity that has always been founded on the talents of others. Nowhere is it more apparent than in my portrait sessions, those collaborative confluences of shutterbug eye and manufactured lens, of architecturally pleasing location and crafted clothing, and of shooter and subject. Truly, it is much like work

   For those who may have wondered where Alex and I could possibly go after last year's series, our latest shoot last Sunday included a heavy dose of Winston Chesterfield, whom some here will know from his prolific, insightful writing at Men's Flair and his ensemble-chronicle Le Vrai Winston. W has also remained a steadfast friend to me for a few years now, and I have long considered him an inspiration for getting The Parade off the digital ground three years ago this month. So in a way, this surfeit of narcissism that my semi-regular readers have devoured since then is ever so slightly his fault

   Nevertheless, it does yield fun like this; a day spent at the Royal Albert Hall and the Albert Memorial of Kensington Gardens in an early English spring (a preview of temperatures to come sometime in April, I suppose), with Alex utilising his vintage Hasselblad and scanning these results from film specifically used for stongly lit scenes. I'm certain that W will post his own solo shots, so I will proceed with mine. Another duo picture has already done a decent trade via Mode Parade's Tumblr; I'm naturally grateful to those who have enjoyed and reblogged it

   And, of course, Alex and I will return


All photographs are the copyright of Alex Wilson: http://awilsonphotographic.com/

Monday, 10 October 2011

John Gayner: Lost & Found


Some of you may have noted that I am more focused on bringing my Tumblr up to speed than on the column at present. This shall pass in time. But in the spirit of that reblogging mentality, I am promoting yet another artistic endeavour by one of my friends, which takes the form of a West London-set photographic exhibition this week at my old haunt, The Crate Gallery. The arts season is truly upon us again; I spent Saturday in some delightful company at Art London and will also attend Frieze later this week

It's a good time to take in the sights

Friday, 9 September 2011

The Alex Wilson Portrait Shoot, Part Four - Victoria & Albert Revisit


   Part Four involved a return to this city's venerated and adored Victoria and Albert Museum; long-term semi regular readers might recall that this was also the site of last year's Jamie Archer Portrait Shoots. But the V&A is a big form and spaces were found to avoid overlapping with that other lensman and friend's fine work:


 It was humid enough that I donned my tie indoors before proceeding to pose; I accomplished this without the use of a mirror and Alex was too polite - read: British - to warn me that my Deborah & Clare shirt collar was askew


   Some of you may be amused to know that a curious gaggle of young black girls asked me if I was in costume. And of course, I responded in the affirmative


   Will there be more of this collaboration in the autumn and winter seasons? Time will tell, Paraders; it always does


All photographs are the copyright of Alex Wilson: http://awilsonphotographic.com/

Monday, 29 August 2011

The Samuel Fosso Post


I borrow an identity.
In order to succeed I immerse myself in the necessary physical and mental state. It’s a way of freeing me from myself.
A solitary path.
I am a solitary man.

 
Samuel Fosso (born 1962 in Cameroon) as Angela Davis and Martin Luther King in his 'African Spirits' series

   Once, at the London retro-speakeasy flavoured club night Prohibition, my friend and occasional collaborator Winston Chesterfield put it to me that "there is a challenge levelled at dandies that many of them are simply playing ‘dressing up’ – the implication being that with a fashion history book open, anyone can match such a style." I've always thought this implication wide of the mark; as proved by some - but only some - of the patrons at that very night - a book or a photograph does not confer consummate mastery, never mind an instant one. Without a creative eye, mimicry is worth less than nothing. And that premise underlines my appreciation of this article's rather visually intelligent subject

   My interest in Samuel Fosso's portrait shoots began in the early days of Style Time/Mode Parade, although there were other little distractions like articles about pocket squares, flamboyant showmen and satirical pop songs written for television dramas to keep me from parsing this knowledge into content hitherto tonight. It is the particular charm and statement-making potency of his work that has lodged it in my mind, to say nothing of the labile self-presentations of the photographer himself, moving from African and Black American living/dead emblems such as Haïlé Sélassié and Malcolm X to post-colonial African hipster and neat, almost dandyish, naval recruit, bolstered by simple backgrounds whose mise-en-scene illustrates much about the lifestyles Fosso swathed himself in for his work

 Selections from 'Fosso Fashion'

   Like the genuine dandy, Fosso is a work of self-actualisation, weaving visual pleasure and social commentary from carefully constructed artifice. His portraiture is openly artful, his aesthetic sense alternately playful and ascetic (even he could not avoid the pristine allure of a white studio expanse). Most considerately, his theatrical feeling for posture yields photographic self portraiture that makes no bones about its narcissism and is all the more vibrant for it. I claim no expertise, but most professional self-shot photographs I see, these days, may as well have been taken in a photo booth or specifically for a MySpace account, for all the emphasis they place on setting and demeanour. Under such parameters, those portraits might become more interesting

Selections from 'Autoportraits des années 70'

   Fosso's myriad signifiers are elucidated in a Frieze magazine review that I filched from the eyepatch-sporting, Japanophile performing artist Momus, and may I say that it was a great help in producing this entry. It's quite a portrait of the artist where gravitas is concerned, but then it is about Samuel Fosso - a man whose narcissism is worth a thousand words:



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