Morgadio Da Calcada Provesende

30 June 15

Posted at 1:45

Just spent a long weekend in the Douro in a small village called Provesende. If you don't have a ticket for Glastonbury it is a great idea to leave the country for a few days whilst it is on.

So we stayed at  Morgadio Da Calcada    situtaed on a vineyard in Provesende above the Douro valley. The area is famous for Port wine produced from grapes grown on mountain vineyards in the paradise that is the Douro.

Douro Valley

Douro Valley Pinhao

Our host, Manuel Villas-Boas, (yes AVB is his cousin) made our stay infinitely more interesting than it may have been. Manuel seems to know everyone in the whole Douro and beyond and is proud that mention of his name or a flash of his card will open doors or at least secure a good deal. Manuel took us for a surprise before a late breakfast on our first morning.

The Bakery

The Bakery Provesende

The surprise was a visit to the village bakery to collect the morning's bread straight from the oven. There was something of a wait as the baker had overslept due to a heavy night with family visitors. It appeared to phase nobody, just meant breakfast was later than planned. The baker collects wood foor the fire each day, bakes around 200 identical loaves most days and extra for festivals and weekends. The bakery is really basic, the bread is gorgeous. Can't believe EU regulations (or our interpretation of them) would allow a bakery like this to fucntion in the UK. Shame.

The following day the baker overslept again much to his wife's amusement.

Mateus Palace

Mateus Palace

Between Vila Real and Provesende is Mateus. There is a palace at Mateus and the more observant will recognise the palace being the very same as in on the label of the iconic Mateus Rose wine. The surprising thing is that Mateus Rose is produced in Porto not Mateus, it has no connection with Mateus or the family who own the palace, the image of the palace is just licensed for use on the bottles.

The Cat Won

I was fortunate enough to witness the 'jack the lad' dog of Provesende, Lost, getting his come uppance when he came across a feral cat that happened to be caring for a couple of kittens. The cat initially chased Lost away, the dog soon realising he had something of a size advantage snapped back grow;ling and advancing towards the cat. The cat then did somethjing I've only ever seen in Tom and Jerry cartoons, it bristled its fur from tail to neck and then stood rooted to the spot staring agressively at Lost. After what seemed like an age the stand off ended with Lost turning and whimpering away. Amazing!




Environmental Photographer of the Year 2015

23 June 15

Posted at 12:19

Yesterday I visited the first day of the exhibition of The Environmental Photographer of the Year 2015 at the Royal Geographic Society in Knightsbridge.  Environmental Photographer of the Year 2015 The exhibition include images from amateur and professional photographers from across the world. The aim is to raise awareness of environmental and social issues and raise awareness of their causes.The photography is quite impressive and it is clear that there is a welcome spectrum of experience and ability. I say welcome as I beleive giving amateurs/beginners to have their work dsiplayed alongside more experienced and professional photographers is both motivational and refreshing.

The exhibition is not perhaps a cohesive as it could be. The display flits between locations and types of environmental issues. As in the main there is just a single or few iamges of any particular problem the only theme the viewer picks up is on of rampant consumerism and apalling waste management on a global scale. I am sure many of the images come from larger bodies of work but that was not clear from the exhibition. Because there are so many different issues and locations portrayed the viewer may easily become blaise to the real issues. That is true particularly when so many of the images are perhaps soft on the mind, they are colourful pleasing images to observe and even with the accompanying texts they sanitise horrendus situations. 

I considered that Burtynsky uses fine art photography to get the real messages across why does this not seem to work in this exhibition. Well, first I guess,  as I said this is a display of single images of a miriad of issues with the environment as the only common theme. But beyond that is presentation, Burtynsky's work is large format and presented large. Of course one could not expect this competition for all levels of photographer using all levels of equipment to replicate Burtynsky's impact however it is presentation that lets this exhibition down in terms of its potential impact. The photographs are all the same size and presented uniformly, window mounted and framed. Worse still is the failure to use non reflective glass. Fighting with the reflections dimishes the impact of the images. One of the first entries in the visitors book highlights this shortcoming. A variety of image sizes, some at least if not all unframed and if framed non reflective material fronting the image would have improved the viewers experience and the messages no end.

Aside from those gripes I recommend a visit, it is free and the standard of photography is high. I do fear that this partocular exhibition will do little in terms of a call to action for addressing the world's environmental problems whereas to do think photography, still and video, has a major part to play in both education and provoking change.

The exhibition rusns at the Royal Geographical Society 1 Kensington Gore London SW7 2AR 10 till 5 daily until 10th July 2015 and the at the Grizedale Forrest Visitor Centre Forrestry Commission England Cumbria 18 July until 6 September 2105



British Journal of Photography Article

14 June 15

Posted at 8:48

Well blogging has taken a back seat for some time now. Why? Well I have been completing my final year at University of Westminster. I am pleased to say I have achieved a BA Honours Photography degree with First Class Honours. My major project is a documentary photo book on a community in North West Arkansas. The project is currently being exhibited in the Free Range Graduate show at the Truman Brewery Brick Lane London.


Above a photograph showing someone looking at my book and with some prints of images from the book displayed on the left.

Today an article about my work was published in the British Journal of Photography online, it's been the 'cream on the cake' of this week for me. Take a look at it  here

You can see more about the project and progress here   Gravett The Heart of Hometown America