I manged to get to see both the new Photographers Gallery and the Taylor Wessing prize on show at the National Portrait gallery.
The new Photographers Gallery is a fabulous space which creates a far more intergrated unit for seeing the photographs It is very tucked away yet just a stones throw from Oxford Street, well worth a visit, as is the Taylor Wessing prize which was the best it has been for a long time. In common were the images from Vanessa Winship,
"One enduring image that had always struck me wherever I travelled was the schoolgirls in their little blue dresses, the same in every town, city or village.These dresses with their lace collars and sweet messages embroidered on the bodices, were the symbol of the Turkish state, but the girls who wore them were simply little girls".
The images are very beautiful and the bonus of visiting Vanessa Winship's website is this blog
I do think it is important to live with the people you want to photograph, it is what makes these images so intimate rather than the voyeuristic nature of images you sometimes get with Diane Arbus and August Sander.
I spent 4 consecutive summer holidays in the village of Avtepe in Northern Cyprus and whilst I became very involved in the landscape, I was never accepted by the villagers.
Yet with the increasing acceptance of Northern Cyprus as a country the villagers and their homes are in danger of disappearing unrecorded. Whilst Cuba and many other countries have their poverty romanticised by countless photographers, Northern Cyprus has never been on the radar. The beach we used to visit now has two large hotel complexes, rather than the two local beach shacks. The steady march of tourism brings wealth and infrastructure ( they now have their first ambulance!) but also takes away the soul of this amazing part of the island.
I would love to try and record it and may try to go with Emin sometime in 2010 to photograph the area where he lives.
The history of Northern Cyprus is long and complex and not without blame on the British who's' game of divide and conquer ruined the country. A superb book to read is Bitter Lemons of Cyprus by Lawrence Durrell written just before it all went wrong.
One of the stories that attracted me to Emin was that of his flight from the war in 1974 as a boy of 6, he has continued to remain attached to his mother house that she built just before she died and it was this house that he recently stayed at. On my recommendation he is planting a garden so that when he retires he will have a large shady paradise to stay in, he has just relined the incredibly deep well, which will now provide all the water he needs to realise his vision.