Whitstable Carnival, August (2022)

On Saturday, August 6th, it was Whitstable’s carnival, a fascinating expression of quirk and eccentricity, combining all the sea-centric elements you might expect from this long-standing tradition with more off-kilter entries.

This year, alongside the papier-mâché effigies and pirates, we were treated to an Elvis impersonator riding a mobility scooter upholstered with cuddly toys, some Oompa Loompas, a gaggle of flower-powered hippies, and a corgi-headed page-boy… The whole town came out to line the streets to wave the procession on in all its eclectic, ad-hoc glory and there was tangible sense of time travel, of witnessing something that has ‘always been’. That said, the carnival itself has been imperilled of late, seeing waning interest and investment in the event, but this year’s procession marked something of a renewal. I certainly enjoyed the strangeness and feral expressiveness, with nothing but admiration for those more performative souls who were out there making it happen for the rest of us.

I wanted to end by sharing this final image, which captures something of that sensation of time travel, for while this photograph was taken at last Saturday’s carnival, it could also have been taken a great many years earlier; the ghost of carnivals long-since passed is flickering here.

July Seascapes, Whitstable (2022)

These photographs were taken on the day after the UK saw those uncanny, record-breaking temperatures. We went to the beach to escape the strange temperature of our terraced house and swam gratefully in the shallowing sea. A few people wondered what I was doing with my camera pushed into a translucent bag and photographing into the sun, but I was out there, experimenting, gunning for heat haze and the shimmer. Turns out that double-wrapping the lens with gauze makes moonlight out of sunshine.

Grasses After Lamplough #2 (2022)

A second collection of photographs inspired by the watercolour paintings of Augustus Osbourne Lamplough, our most recent Kick-About prompt. In order to emulate the soft tonal range of Lamplough’s landscapes, I photographed this unkempt basin of umbellifers and grasses through gauze to flatten everything out and spread the sunlight liberally. In some of these images you can see the weave of the gauze producing a cross-hatching effect across the surface of the image.

Grasses After Lamplough #1 (2022)

I wasn’t familiar with Augustus Osbourne Lamplough’s work (our latest Kick-About muse) but I find his paintings completely magical, and can hardly believe they’re paintings at all, in so much as all that soft golden light and gauze is produced from paint and brushes onto paper.

In Lamplough’s landscapes, I find the impressionism and light-play I always want from my own photographs, and it was a happy coincidence the Lamplough prompt should arrive in the same week I was experimenting with physical gauzes to produce more diffuse lighting effects of my own.

Suitably inspired, I returned to a local bit of unadopted scrub set just back from the sea front (last seen here under very different circumstances) and indulged once more my love of grasses, in all their billowing contours. First putting my camera into an organza bag, I proceeded to photograph the scrub as the wind pushed it this way and that, and the sun illuminated every quill and strand of it. Meanwhile, the gauze served to flatten everything out and flood the subject with light, producing some Lamplough-like atmospheres from a largely over-looked landscape. There are a few more to follow in coming days.

Albert Street #2 (2022)

A second batch of rooftop shots taken during the UK’s two days of record-breaking heat, when the sun blasted down Albert Street and the heat in every room of our drafty old house was commensurate with that moment when you first step off a plane or train in some distant, foreign country and first experience the furnace of another climate. These images are not as benign as that, however, coming off as more Nigel Kneale than ‘Wish You Were Here.’

Albert Street #1 (2022)

What with the recent record-breaking temperatures in the UK, I wanted to somehow capture the sensory experience of the wall-to-wall heat, without simply taking pictures of sunny scenes. These photographs were taken of the street where I live towards the end of two of those hottest days, with the sun pushing down against the tops of the narrow, terraced houses. I wanted to express that saturation of heat and the spread of it, so I put my camera into an organza bag as an ad-hoc filter by which to capture the glare and dial-up the light-bleeds and diffusion. The resulting images will go some way to remembering our unprecedented ‘heatwave’, with some of them feeling a touch ominous…