I throw this image onto the table – Man meets Man, from the Nirox Winter Sculpture Festival – like a playing card, to signify risk, a gamble, a certain funkiness of things. Look at the silver boots on the winged feet of the old geezer with his back to us: that could be me, facing an inscrutable future. A quick counting of the cards: Rob landed safely at O.R. Tambo on Monday evening – Queen of Hearts a calm, contented, autumn afternoon this mild Sunday at the Ale House in the Magaliesberg, in the highveld sunlight – Ace of Hearts things coming to […]
I had had my misgivings, as readers of this blog will know, about the weather expected across South Africa on Mothers Day, last Sunday. But, contrary to expectation, the Cape was in glorious form – warm, bright, still, the sea on both sides of Cape Point calm as a pond, the waves turning crisply white as they reached the shore. I took my 85 year-old mom – she could pass easily for 70, and a pretty nimble 70 year-old at that – for a variant on one of our usual drives, this time over the high road above Kalk Bay, […]
I was wandering around, as you know, last Saturday, with my camera around my neck, at the Nirox Winter Sculpture Exhibition in the Magaliesberg. The spirits were warm, though the day was chilly and wet, the people as varied and interesting as the sculptures, and then, at the edge of a field, near the entrance, I saw these thorn trees. I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to capture them, but I had in my head the idea that they were their own form of sculpture – there was something playful, perhaps salutary, or ironic, in the concept – […]
Winter it was – cold, wet, and muddy. But the Nirox Winter Sculpture Exhibition, spread across rolling fields and streams in the folds of the Magaliesberg, was full of relaxed, contented crowds – poking around the sculptures and installations, watching as their children played beneath the trees, filling up on the good eats from some of the Cape’s finest wine estates and restaurants. In warmer weather the scene must sparkle, with the late autumn light glancing off the leaves, the water in the ponds and streams laughing – but this grey day with its flat light had its own charms, […]
I thought I was done with my Havana portfolio, but I’m not – at least not yet. I had planned, this morning, to pull up a final set of images of the Malecon for processing, but decided to go through the complete file, just in case – and came up with these photos instead, which I hope you will agree deserve a life of their own. After this past ten days in South Africa – a midnight reshuffle of the Cabinet, two ratings downgrades to junk status, by Standard & Poors and Fitch, after protests against Zuma all across the […]
Almost on her way, is our Rob, to Johannesburg, South Africa. She leaves Toronto on Tuesday, arriving at O.R. Tambo International by way of Schiphol at ten Wednesday night. Thursday she can rest; Friday we move house! If you look in the rear-view mirror of this Habana taxi, you can see her – seems a fitting image, in all sorts of crazy adventurous ways, for this next phase of our journey.
The Bosque de La Habana tells you something about the city. A patch of shady woodland along the banks of the Rio Almedares, it is crossed at one end by a picturesque stone bridge. Drawn by the bridge, and the shade, and the river below, the open Chevies and Buicks in their bright colours gather, with their cargoes of tourists. But the bridge is crumbling, the grotto is littered, the stream a stinking grey intestine. The drivers pull in, nonetheless, and the assembly of vintage automobiles, and the luxuriant foliage, and the scattered light filtering through the leaves and branches, make it […]
Cuba’s history, of course – by which I mean only its modern history, which we can date back to the first Spanish warships, sailing off the island in the late 1400s – long predates the Revolution. As Richard Gott explains, in his dry but absorbing Cuba, A New History (published in 2004) there has always been trouble: privateers, conquistadores, slavery, wars and coups, poverty and excess, rebellions and the mafia pock-mark the narrative like bullet-holes in a wall. Visiting Havana, in this sense, means descending into an archeological dig. At the surface is the Revolution, with its heroic moment, followed by […]
Once more to Havana…. So far, I’ve tried not to fall into the trap that the English novelist George Eliot described more than a hundred years ago: seeing other people’s misery as ‘picturesque.’ I’ve described, and shown, the Hotel Inglaterra, posted images of the magnificent Grand Theatre and other architectural triumphs, monuments and renovations, and avoided overt comment on – well, on the dark side of Havana. By which I mean, not its flawed grandeur, or its magnificent decay, but its political system. In a word: communism. Because one of the things you can’t help noticing is the drab, dreary, official lexicon of […]
Because it is a popular cliche to see in Havana only what is strange and exotic, ‘a magnificent ruin,’ one task of the visiting photographer – the photographer who is a traveller, not a tourist, a humanitarian, not a voyeur – is to reveal something of that city’s other nature: magnificent restorations, as in the Habana Grand Theatre, Art Deco masterpieces in the form, for example, of the Edificio Bacardi – the Bacardi Building – the intricate, ornate balconies and arches of another era. With this in mind, here are a few images.