How to make a photography exhibition

Paul Duke documented the decline of the fishing industry in the Moray Firth, with a series of life-size photos.  He tells the story of how he took those and made them into a whole exhibition.

Paul’s Black and White photos are stunning, and have been put into a book by the same title as the exhibition: “At Sea.”

This is photography as documentary of a community, which will become a record of a traditional industry, as it fades.

At the same time, it is a study in portraiture – for Paul, it was very important that the size of the finished photographs be life-size, as though the people depicted were there, in person.

And finally, it is a collaboration between the photographer, the framer and the maker of the text for appearing beside the photographs.


Quilting and the Community

OK, so this is a video hosted by giant company Google, applauding Youtube – BUT it’s still an amazing turnaround story: economically devastasted couple and village rejuvenated by – quilting classes online:  Missouri Star Quilts.

Long before I saw this video back story, I had seen Jenny Doan of Missouri Star Quilt company in action on video, and was struck by how down to earth, warm and welcoming she was onscreen.  The quiltmaking taught was simple and yet effective. It needed to be.  I haven’t even learnt yet, was just attracted to watching the process and the putting together of various elements into a new form.  (ie much like curating a blog, the way that I do it.)  I had no idea that the business began from such difficulty.


LifeBOOK: “Gee’s Bend: the Architecture of the Quilt”


Some books are fictional, some are what I’m going to call LifeBOOKs – books which help you read life.  Books you remember because they open doors, open eyes, make you see and understand things you didn’t before you opened the covers.  I hope to pull some of these down off my shelves and review them now and then.


Giftings and art revitalising Community

I randomly came across an article today which startled me: “Death and Resurrection of an urban church” – in which a church in Indianapolis ditched its traditional-church charity one-way ‘handout to the poor’ approach to local community, to begin truly listening and valuing people in the neighbourhood and their gifts.


Harges: “I was curious about what was good in people, and that was what I was going to find out”

After employing De’Amon Harges to be a “roving listener” – to hang out with people in the neighbourhood, and see their giftings, the church then made opportunities for those – now providing a meeting place for a metropolitan youth orchestra and eclectic mix of artist, gamers, a dance studio, a pottery shop, and an office for a small architectural firm.  They acquired a commercial kitchen license and now local folk use it for catering startups.

This is such a success that the church now hires 15-20 young folks to be part-time roving listeners.  There are lots of simple meals where people of like interests and gifts meet together – through these, people have found jobs, collaborators, encouragement to train further – and friends.

The article is easy to read, written by Robert King (initially published in Faith & Leadership mag 2015) and over at:


Light relief

Into the veil of tears which is BBC documentary TV, a sparkle of light, laughter, self-sacrifice, helping the poor, genuine cameraderie, joy, benefit to community and unfashionably long robes broke through, last night.  As you may guess from the clues, this involved followers of St Francis.

Last night’s programme “Bronx to Bradford” following the lives of 5 friars in Bradford, was beautifully filmed, well edited, and tells a terrific story not only of the friars butScreen shot 2017-04-14 at 13.07.20.png indomitable older ladies, the life of an ageing community, a warm view of multifaith community in Britain and homeless people given an opportunity to tell their own story – sadly all this treasure was shoved into a late late late time on a Thursday night (10.45 pm), so many
people will have been denied the chance to see it – but worth catching on BBC i-Player  (available for next month) at:

We see the friars happily serving food to the vulnerable (aided by wonderful volunteers), rising pre-dawn to begin the day with prayer, telling their messy life stories, relaxing with some excellent jamming guitars  (one jokes: “Shall I sing No Woman, no cry?” – they both laugh).  As part of their vow of poverty, they sort through tScreen shot 2017-04-14 at 13.23.15.pngheir whole house for things which are superfluous – (St Francis predated minimalism and the Kon Mari method by 800 years) – anything ‘extra’ is set out for the poor to take away – and through it all the thread of that most unfashionable, un21st century emotion: joy.  You could have almost equally billed this programme as social reality or comedy, there is so much down-to-earthness and laughter throughout.

This delight and holy glee is part of their time of prayer in the derelict Chapel they are reconstructing and breathing new life into – two of the brothers who previously had a raucous guitar jam session, put their skills to the praise of the Lord and sing/pray into the space: “Let this be a place of light, of welcome…”

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“My spirit rejoices in Christ my Saviour”

“Lord let the poor find a place of the richness of your love here, Lord.”


This is, in the end, a most inviting documentary.  Thoroughly worth watching, in my opinion.





Space of Silence – architecture


Modern minimalist architecture (John Pawson) meets Bohemian restoration architecture in the establishment of a new Trappist community.

The new build complements the old one – everywhere there is simplicity, a creamy whiteness with a few touches of wood and stone.

(The entire documentary lasts 26 minutes, but you can watch substantially less and get a sense of the materials and specifics of the building.  If you have half an hour free to watch a TV programme anyhow, this is a restful, thoughtful programme).

Then the pageantry of the dedication ceremony. John Pawson has instituted a tiny courtyard for visitors before entering the church – it is open only to the sky.