Portraits, posters and the past

Street art and bill posting, deliver art to the streets romantically keeping artists hidden, inspiring ideas and encourage comment and debate. During Revela-T the streets of Vilassar de Dalt came alive, not only with people and photographers, but also photographic art.

Around the Biblioteca Can Manyer, a former factory restored to become a public library, portraits of former textiles workers who once labored in the local textile manufacturing industry graced the walls, in a tribute breaking the silence that follows economic restructuring and globalisation. All that is left, as the artist’s (Joglar & Kaesler) stated, is the thread poignantly woven into society from these long abandoned factories, of the interpersonal relationships created through work that builds communities in time and space,  and “generates experiences, haste, feelings, challenges, fears, friendships, joys…  modeling our personality.” The silent factories remain like “ships stranded in the streets of Vilassar” and conceal within the memories of hidden exertions, of toil, a once busy place, where now the portraits of those workers restored to the exterior walls of the old building uncover the anonymity of days past.

Elsewhere, in a decaying old shop come gallery, Els Rajolers,  the artist Juanan Requena had installed a lifetime of images, of memories, of an unconscious coming and going that is revealed by the tides of feeling and emotions, perhaps as vacation snaps uncover all that is left, the bare bones of a story or endeavour left in time, 10, 20, or even 50 years ago.

Nearby, on the exterior of a church along the Carrer Angel, bill posters were attached using starch and water asking the question “but who or what are we dealing with?” Perhaps when guerilla artists are revealed and we think we know who we are dealing with, it becomes easier to dismiss identities no longer hidden,  but subtexts and causes still remain at play.

What is it that is really being dealt with when portraits confront us on the street of former workers, by humorous or political posters on a church, or by abandoned factories or shops installed with exhibitions? Perhaps it is the voice and record of the past and those that work humbly in the shadows, never to hold the limelight except in our remembrances or struggle to maintain a future that can resonate in solidarity with their achievements of social justice and the communities they imagined, modeled and built for us, and where we live today.

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Retratos del Textil – Biblioteca Can Manyer
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Portrait of the artist Juanan Requena
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Silent ship – Fábrica de Cal Garbat
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Bill posters
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Serious faces (or, live long and prosper) – Revela-T team
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Hidden within

All photographs taken on colour infrared film using a Chamonix 4×5 view camera, a pinhole mounted in a Compur shutter, and a 6×7 roll film holder.

Cambridge, where the magic really happens…

It felt like the sun had barely risen, but I’d had breakfast, hopped on the Tube, got my rail tickets, bought a latte, visited a deserted Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station, and was soon on the 7:15am express to Cambridge, where the magic really does happen…

Cambridge is not just a university, or another English city nestled in green countryside, but a place of history, romance, learning and legend. Every step, every place, every sight,  has a story or name that inspires one’s imagination: whether it is link to the War of the Roses, or espying the initials of Henry VIII & Anne Boleyn together in King’s College Chapel that had escaped erasure; the clock that eats minutes, and worm holes leading to alternate realities in space time; gravestones in church yards of poets, fellows and members of secret societies; hints of spy rings and the presence of bohemian idealism; advancements in science and medicine leading to Nobel prizes; and, the quiet of study and contemplation.

Unexpectedly visiting London, after Barcelona, I touched base with internet photography friends in England suggesting that we meet up for a day of shooting, perhaps at Brick Lane. My friend Judith, was quite keen (adamant even) that I should visit Cambridge, and also soon had Juliette from Stansted and Alison from Leeds on their way as well.

Arriving at Cambridge, and after exchanging greetings, we headed off for a walking tour around the town and some of the colleges, with Judith as guide. Highlights included visiting King’s College Chapel, and St John’s College.

After lunch we visited the Ascension Parish Burial Ground where many well known former Cambridge fellows are buried. Judith had promised to show me the gravestone of one of my favourite modern philosophers and Cambridge Apostle, Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Leaving the churchyard we headed out to Grantchester, with its meadows and Orchard popularised by the Neo-Pagan group of Rupert Brooke, Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, Bertrand Russell, E.M. Forster and Wittgenstein. As it was a fine Saturday afternoon, with exams finishing, many students were enjoying picnics, swimming or punting on the River Cam, or the Granta as it is also known.

Of course nothing says being in England more than an ale at a pub, followed by dinner, which is perhaps how all meet ups should conclude, or be celebrated. A little of the magic was captured with my Olympus OM-2 and Zuiko 50mm f1.4 lens, on some expired Kodak 200 film.

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Across fields of time
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Distant towers
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Clare Bridge
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Clare College
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Punts
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Gate of Humility – Gonville and Caius College
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Chimneys along Trinity Street
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The Great Gate – St John’s College
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Door
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Within
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Where the magic happens
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Cloisters
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New Court – St John’s College
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Traffic at the Bridge of Sighs
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Vote Labour
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Tombstone of the Apostle Ludwig Wittgenstein
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Swan and cygnets
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Grantchester meadows
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Ducks
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Punting
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At rest