Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Images of India / Big Ken

Images of India

Leamington Garret. Something a bit different this week. I am featuring the work of my fast friend Jason Tilley, who is a very gifted and determined photographer.

His story is an interesting one. He was a successful press and advertising photographer until three or four years ago, at which point he decided to sell everything: his house, his car, and most of his other possessions, so he could travel in India for three years taking black-and-white photographs.

He returned about a year ago, his funds exhausted. Jason had taken hundreds of amazing images but the intensity of the experience had changed him.

Pavement dwelling child

He seemed very different from the Jason Tilley I had worked with in the 1980s and found it very hard to adapt to life back in Coventry.

We met up, admittedly with pretty disastrous results. Gradually over the past year, my friend has seemed less down in the dumps. He came over to the Leamington Garret last week and we went out to the Jug & Jester for a couple of beers. As usual, it turned into the full gallon and we talked and talked.

Despite our very different experiences recently, I feel I have much in common with Jason. When I first knew him, he was an 18-year-old Cov Kid with a natural talent for photography who took pictures for my thrice-weekly pop column on the Coventry Evening Telegraph.

We had a grear time visiting and photographing pop stars including James Brown and Prince, but, at that time, he did not suffer from the same restive angst about life that I always have done. Now methinks he does. In spades.

We discussed how lonely life is. Even though there are nearly always people around me, I feel it strongly. I am alone in a crowded world. I was surprised Jason also expressed the loneliness of his existence. He is good at forming relationships. Yet you can be utterly alone whilst in company.

He said relationships do not matter to him any more. He just wants to complete his Indian project. This is his life’s work. I admired him because I could see it was all that really counted. He has put his art first and has to succeed.

His work is stunning. And, yet, it is so hard to get other people to see it. Jason said he has managed to get some well known photographers to endorse the project and a selection of his photographs are also displayed on the the PhotographyBlog. They look superb.

When you see all the suffering his subjects have been through, it is not surprising that taking these images cost Jason a slice of his soul.

Now he wants to go back to India to complete the project. He should and must do this. Jason Tilley is producing something historic.

After the obligatory kebab and chips at the take-away opposite the Jug, Jason and I returned to the Leamington Garret. We sat on the roof outside my bedroom, smoking his roll-ups and talking deeper and darker.

I was alarmed he insisted on sitting on the wall. It is around 100 foot down, a sheer drop. He could not be persuaded otherwise.

We talked of the madness of life in India and it made me think of all the horrible/wonderful things I saw in Ecuador. They are places where there is no safety net.

Well, I commend Jason’s photographs to you. I thank him for the permission to publish them on this site. Obviously, they are his copyright, so if you are interested in promoting them elsewhere, please email him through this site or Photography Blog.

He is a masterful photographer and deserves a huge break.

Apart from this special blog, I cannot resist a little round-up of what else has been happening:

· My flatmate brought home Taxi Driver on DVD. Watching it reminded me of what a great movie it is. Here, in reverse order, are my favourite 10 scenes:

10. Travis (Robert De Niro) driving through the burst fire hydrants in New York City,
9. Another taxi driver in the coffee house bullshitting about his sexual conquests with female fares,
8. Travis teasing the Secret Service man, giving him the wrong address and then the slip,
7. His first sight of Iris (Jodie Foster), the schoolgirl hooker he decides to save from a life on the streets,
6. Travis driving the presidential candidate and telling him the human scum needed to be washed off the streets of New York City,
5. Travis walking into the campaign office and super confidently and successfully asking out the beautiful Betsy (Cybill Shepherd),
4. The very moving reading of the letter from Iris’s grateful parents,
3. Travis inspecting an impressive selective of firearms and buying the lot,
2. Travis taking Betsy on their first proper date to a pornographic movie with a predictable reaction from her,
1.The big finale shoot-out in which Travis blows away the pimps, rescues Iris and emerges an all-American hero. Cool! Taxi Driver is a great film!

· I cycled for five miles through a thrilling lightning storm the other morning. It was incredible. The forks of lightning seemed all around the mountain bike. The water was coming down in rivers. I could not see, it was so heavy. My eyes were full of it. For the first time in my life I was literally soaked to the skin.

Big Ken. (Flashback to Tuesday, 9 May 2006)

Leamington Garret. 6.24pm by ‘The Clock’. I can get a really good reading from it in good weather with my glasses on. Sometimes in the dark, however, I am making a wild stab at it, and, yet, it is so more romantic telling the time this way than by looking at the clock on the computer (which I have taped over).

On the way here, I heard on Radio 4 the Six O’Clock bongs of Big Ben, and, I thought that Our Clock needs a name: Big Bill, Big Wen - or Big Ken, perhaps.

I am going over to Meriden to see my photographer friend Jason.

Oliver's Poetry

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Blogger Olivia said...

I can't understand your backblogs....

I know many people who have returned from India changed.
It seems to do it more than any other country in Asia.

And B&W photos are always so much more ... what ... so much more deep, personal...maybe because what you are seeing are not the pretty or distracting colours, but the lines of the person, and more importantly the face as it is.

Monday, 07 August, 2006  
Blogger Oliver said...

I started taking photographs in black and white in the days when colour photography was still fairly rare and much more expensive than b&w.

I have always preferred it. You can sense the tenor of a person far better in monochrome than colour; you get a better feeling for shape and structure, a greater depth of understanding.

I still take some black and white pictures, although because of the cost, most of my pictures are in colour. All the same, I lean towards low-light photography where many of the same principles of b&w photography apply.

On the backblogs, no one understands them! I created the concept and it has been tough going.

The back story is being told in reverse! So to read a chronological sequence you need to go to the most recent blog and read through to the least recent / oldest blog. That way you will be moving forward in time rather than backward.

It is interesting when the people in the blogs and backblogs coincide, although it is purely coincidental.

Back to the future, Olivia!

P.S. I hope you have got your career disappointment, and are feeling chipper again.

P.P.S. What do you make of the extraordinary business of the Sunday Times outing the Girl With A One Track Mind blogger? Have you read about it?

Tuesday, 08 August, 2006  
Blogger Oliver said...

I meant 'got over your career disappointment', Olivia.

Is it possible to edit these comments once you have published?

Tuesday, 08 August, 2006  
Blogger Olivia said...

No, I haven't heard of that incident.
And no, Blogger does not let you edit comments.

Now, about the backblogs...where did you originally record them, and in such detail, if you have only been blogging online for a few months?

And why do you include them in posts?

By the way, I am now on a 3-month contract in the City!

Saturday, 26 August, 2006  
Blogger Oliver said...

Congratulations on your City contract! What kind of job are you doing, Olivia?

Your helpful comments have inspired me to re-edit the entire backblog (and the whole blog, too).

It will take a few weeks. When I am finished, it should all be easier to read, understand and enjoy.

I started writing the backblogs when I began to build the Oliver's Poetry website.

This took me quite a long time, partly because I am not very good at HTML (self-taught) and partly because I had to write all the poems!

While I was doing it, I was writing the backblogs. I freely admit I got carried away and over-wrote the backblogs, and this is something I am now addressing in my editing of them.

By the way, do you write poetry? You are very welcome to contribute a poem or poems to the Oliver's Poetry website.

Thursday, 31 August, 2006  

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