2018: The Year of Relearning How to Focus

Driven by a giddy need to make up for lost time, my first full year post-cancer treatment was full tilt with travel, art galleries, books, family and friends. I also finally learned how to use my iPhone camera – you touch the screen to focus, doh!  Fizzing with this epiphany, I even signed up for a iPhone photography course, way back in February, but what with my madcap work pace haven’t had time to start it yet.  I also remain confused by Instagram – it seems you can’t use the app on a computer, only your phone, and I like curating albums, which Facebook, for all its multitude of sins, is pretty good at. Still, I did migrate from the insanely perplexing iPhotos (I spent an hour at a festival with an award-winning filmaker trying to clear storage space without deleting all my photos, and she gave up too), to the far more sensible Google Photos; and had fun playing around with cropping, filters, and light fixing.  Exercising more was one of my main aims this year, and my new interest in photography motivated me to walk more in the UK. Photography also helped me communicate everything I learned on my travels to Iraq, Palestine and Northern Israel.  While these were politically enlightening journeys, wielding a camera with more confidence helped me to keep an eye on the small glories as well as the big picture. Though in the case of nature, that might be the same thing . . .

I am still very much an amateur photographer, but my confidence in the art form got a boost from exhibiting a short series of my travel photos ‘UN/Forgotten’, in the group show Dystopia at SEAS (Socially Engaged Art Salon) in Brighton, speaking about their subjects – refugee camps in Lebanon, and Saddam Hussein’s shadow over Babylon – and launching Stained Light: Volume Four of the Gaia Chronicles at the opening event. I was thrilled and moved to celebrate the conclusion of the series – which is, at heart, a tribute to the power of solidarity – at this collective event; given also that the title is a succinct definition of photography, it couldn’t have been a more fitting venue. Thank you to everyone who came, and has since helped welcome the book with online reviews and star ratings – it’s a marvellous feeling to know I have made people happy by finishing the series – and, for myself, to be open now to new creative adventures.

Writing-wise, 2019 will see the publication of my third poetry collection, Adamantine, forthcoming from Red Hen Press (Pasadena) in June. I’ll be giving readings in North America, and will keep trying to up my happy snapper skills – definitely I will take the online photography course . . . Maybe even get a iPhone upgrade . . . Until then, should you be interested in surreal contemporary art, wildflowers, bugs, stained glass, London, Liverpool, Bomber Command and the Middle East, the lo rez images below will give you a taster of my themes, and this link will take you through to all the highlights of my wanderings in 2018.

But forgive my new-found hobbyist’s hullabaloo – enjoy your New Year’s Eve, and may 2019 prove a pivotal year for all of us – away from the chaos, division and acrimony that has engulfed Western politics, toward co-operation in defense of equality, human diversity, and this precious planet we all share.

Photos:

  1. ‘Wild Lamp’, Yorkshire.
  2. ‘”Chrysalis” by Lee Bul’ (Hayward Gallery)
  3. ‘Ramallah’, Palestine.
  4. ‘And the Halls of the Dead President’s Palace Smell of Piss’ – Babylon, Iraq.
  5. ‘Plucked’ – Brighton.
  6. ‘Kiting on Otterspool Prom’ – Liverpool.
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