Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Exhibition Closing

                                                                  morning sun and fog  Bratislava 2011

Our group show along with Miro Miklas and the archive photographs of Anton Podstrasky will be closing on 13th December. It was part of the European Month of Photography in Vienna, and I am very proud to have been invited to exhibit at the Brotfabrik Gallery in Vienna. The exhibition is still open from from Wednesday to Saturday 14.00 to 18.00.
                                                                                                  Fire Bratislava 2005

                                                                                                          Bratislava 2005

Friday, December 5, 2014

Like this

                                                                               Frozen Danube Bratislava 2009

It always has and always will be like this. That’s why I love it so much. We run, we play, we fear, we hide, we laugh, we love and we die. What a marvelous life. Of course many beautifully unexpected events give this simple statement more color, vibration and meaning.

What is life and what is love? Does it matter as much as the living itself? We feel both life, and love as one continuous growing experience. And growth has its thorns. To simplify and simplify some more. Look at nature and listen, don’t retrace footsteps, make new ones, one’s worth following. That is what we can do.

We might fail time and again but it’s always the trying that counts. From one hand to the other we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. That is the beautiful mystery of life.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

A freshly washed car

                                                                                             Cortina Bratislava 2010

I remember my first job, I was 14, washing cars on the forecourt for my dad on Saturday mornings. A bucket of hot soapy water and a sponge, working from top to tires, then rinse and make sure there were no smears or streaks on the windows. My Saturday job earned me enough for buying records and going to gigs, I was independent.

 I got an additional job delivering milk, 5am start before school, riding a rattling flatbed van filled with milk bottles. We would drive down the country lanes and jump off with a crate of bottles to deposit on this doorstep and that, the number of houses on each street dictated how many bottles I had to carry, then dash to catch the van and drive on. Farms had dogs, sometimes chained, often not, so that added to the excitement as we usually had to outsmart them or try to outrun them. Working in all kinds of weather, because no milk on the doorstep meant a bad start to the day. I would get dropped off in time to get changed and walk thirty minutes through the fields and up the hill to school.

 The sight of this old red Cortina glistening in the sun with the puddles slowly drying in the concrete around it gave me a flashback to my younger self, standing on the forecourt daydreaming of the future, what would I do and who would I become.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Driving with Dad

The last photograph I took from my dads car of the fields near my home 2010

Whenever I came home from wherever I’d been Dad would pick me up from the train station. Three of four times a year, home from university or the handful of times when I was working in London or Edinburgh, he would be there waiting by the car. Due to his job the car often changed, but my Dad always seemed the same; handsome, mustachioed, smoking a cigarette, a brief often amused smile at my appearance, a customary greeting of usually no more than a few words then into the car, a turn of the key then off we moved in the direction of home.  

Dad didn’t listen to the radio and was no fan of small talk, probably due to the fact that as a car salesman his days were filled with the stuff. After ten minutes chipping away at a conversation I usually gave up and watched the scenery pass by the window. In the fifteen years that we made these journeys together that scenery seemed to hardly change, day or night it held no promise of a future, it was always that place I’d left behind. I clearly remember the car, motion, the smell of the interior, leather, polish, cigarettes and the pungent orange air freshener combining with Dads aftershave; some Christmas gift dutifully splashed on each morning

No matter the question he managed to dispatch it with an answer of no more than a few words. The silence was like a screen between us and the hum of the engine our only audible companion.  As we neared home the scenery gave way to open fields, the fields of my youth. Then the long straight road that passed my old school, sitting on the darkening hilltop offering a brief glimpse of the past. Slowing into a turn, tires on a gravel road, headlights illuminating a small row of houses, my mum silhouetted in the big bay window. Home again.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Instagram memories of Pollenca

                                                   Hiding out in the sun  Pollenca Mallorca 2014


                                                                                       Liberty  Trnava 2010

I’d been working on a project for about a year when a friend said he would take me to see something funny. On the way he told me how in the 1990’s Slovakia was overrun with mafia, and one boss obsessed with New York decided to display his status so he commissioned a statue, which was made and installed in pride of place atop his headquarters. Days after its unveiling he was dead, shot by a rival gang.  We pulled into the parking lot, I saw the statue and we both just started laughing.

Friday, November 28, 2014


                                                                             Otto Machac, Bratislava 2014

Curiosity can be paper thin and without true feelings and passion it is easily blown away, then the few scribbles we made on it will surely be forgotten.

 When we met, Otto had just returned from France, having been there to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings. For many years Otto had been a paratrooper and was honored to have made his most recent jump from a Hercules transporter plane over the skies of Normandy during that very celebration.  Otto was born after the war in 1949, though his uncle had been in the O.S.S.during wartime and was one of the many Slovaks that played an influential part in the D Day landings, Otto grew up during socialism where the freedom his uncle had fought for had been replaced by communist rule. So when the tanks came in 1968 he left Slovakia for West Germany and didn’t return until after the revolution 30 years later.

Before he left Otto had been a graphic designer making screen printed posters for the national theatre. He showed me some of his posters and paintings, that thanks to his neighbors efforts were kept safe from the authorities when he emigrated. On his return to Slovakia his involvement in Radio Free Europe put him under scrutiny from the state intelligence service, something he brushes off though his study filled with memorabilia mostly from that time, illuminates a feeling of pride and is testament to his generosity and spirit.

Sitting in his kitchen with a coffee, he lights up a cigarette and talks of how in their late teens he and his friends would go ‘tramping’ to the forest with backpacks, playing and singing their versions of popular American songs on guitars round a campfire, drinking and dreaming of a different life. Though many friends from his generation  have passed away or are still scattered around the world, a handful still manage to meet regularly in the forest and sit round a fire singing the songs of their youth.

 He talks about the book he has spent 5 years researching and writing, about his uncles life, although there are countless volumes on D Day and WW2, his is a more personal, contemplative yet hopefully educational project. He recently gave a university talk and was overwhelmed at the large number of students in attendance, like many of his generation Otto seeks to preserve and make available his experience of socialism, the lead up to the Russian invasion and the post revolution fall out.

Before I leave he tells me he will take me tramping and I can meet his friends, we can sit around the fire and sing songs together. I feel richer and lighter of heart for the time spent and I hope my curiosity and its subsequent scribbles won't be forgotten 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

the finishing off a roll story part one

                                                                       To Kamzik Bratsislava Winter 2014

Sometimes, trying to get it right with one exposure can be a challenge, especially when its a portrait of someone you know well, but in an odd situation. So feeling that I had 2 possible potraits from 9 frames I had to try make something with shot 10, the last on the roll. More than 2 weeks had gone by with me wanting to see if either of my two possibles was a definite. Then on Monday there was a slight break in the fog that seemed to have been around for the whole weekend, so I chanced a walk up to Kamzik hoping I might get lucky. On the way through the forest I came to a clearing and 50 yards to my right I saw the cross. Just as I stopped to take in the scene weak sunlight flickered through the carpet of leaves and the cross seemed to light up. I quickly managed to put the camera together and  fix it to the tripod and take that last frame. A few seconds later, the light went out for the rest of the day.

Voila Viola

                                                                  Koliba Autumn 2014

Monday, November 24, 2014

My favorite walk down to the city

                                                                                        from Koliba autumn 2014

I have been living on the hill in Koliba for a few years. Though it is only 6 minutes by public transport to the city centre, here you feel as though you are many miles away. This small settlement has expanded disproportionately over the last 20 years and is now home to an ever increasing menagerie of moneyed families with diversely designed homes and the main road is a non stop stream of trucks and speeding cars. I prefer to walk to the city, through the forest and down a little dirt path over the train tracks. It presents a peaceful alternative and a good view of the contrast between what was and what is. Time to breath and ample time to adjust.

Ondrejsky Cememtary

                                                                                                             autumn 2014

Ondrejsk√Ĺ Cintorin (Andrews Cemetery) is a historic cemetery a short walk from Bratislava city centre. Founded in 1784 it originally belonged to the parish of St. Martin. Burials there ceased in the 1950’s and it was declared a national cultural monument in 1988.
During the socialist era the cemetery gradually fell into a state of deterioration and records from 1966 certify that it had 15,000 tombstones.  Reconstruction took place from1976 to 1980 with the aim to transform the site into a cemetery park but unfortunately this process had a negative impact as many of the gravestones, graves and crypts were removed or destroyed. The perimeter wall was also partially demolished and replaced with a socialist style concrete facade. Many of the original ornamental trees and plants that provided shade and a buffer against traffic noise were also removed, though in the years since, the existing vegetation has fleshed out and once again created an environment for solitude and contemplation.
A  Greek style temple representing the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, designed by Ignac Feigler ml was built in 1861 and individual graves, crypts and tombstones bear witness to the Neo-Renaissance style, neo-Gothic style and more modern classicist style. It is the final resting place of many noble families, burghers, representatives of city nobility, secular and spiritual leaders, city residents, military commanders and various artists and celebrities.
To me the cemetery is a place of calm, where I can sit and think. I go there to read during summer in the cool shade of ancient trees, surrounded by the names of long forgotten loved ones, I often read the gravestones and wonder what kind of life no matter how short and how different these people led, and how great a testament to the importance of a life lived is this peaceful monument. Once a year during All Saints day the cemetery is aglow in the romantic light of thousands of candles, graves garnished with Chrysanthemums as  family generations shuffle around in the cold paying respects to those who have departed.