Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Only vintage postcards can cheer me up on an evening like this....

After just a few weeks post-Caucasus, I'm starting to feel that travel drought, that feeling of ultimate boredom in a place. Don't get me wrong I do like Reading, but I live to travel. I really do....

I must let you all in on a secret, perhaps a little obsession of mine, I am a collector at heart and one of my newest (within the last year) fascinations is vintage postcards and old holiday photographs. I love the whole allure of an old postcard, what a poignant symbol to mark the sheer romanticism of foreign travel during the last century. It's that same romanticism which still manages to entice me time and time again.

The postcards you see before you are those I picked up on my last trip to the Caucasus found in the Sunday Flea-Market in Tbilisi and the Vernissage Market in Yerevan. It was like Christmas had come again whilst I was sat on the dirty ground sifting through box after box of old photographs, postcards and general memorabilia. I picked them up all at very good prices too - 10p or so per postcard, not bad not bad!

I also need to explain something, ever since I turned about 14, I have been very fascinated with the Former Soviet Union and the counties of the now CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States). Something I still really don't know - how any why this fascination occurred as such? I feel these postcards sum up in some form my original appeal to this area (minus the Istanbul postcard). The postcards visualise this place I still yearn to understand. In terms of my fascination of the USSR, I will never really understand. This is why buying these postcards also feels so special to me, these photographs produced in this time - this era bygone. I would have loved to understand, visit and to have even lived in this time. All of these places (minus Abkhazia) I have now seen with my own eyes. But that 'vision' united on all the postcards....I will never truly see.

Tbilisi City Panorama, Georgia. Date Unknown

Lake Sevan, Armenia. 1980

Building of the Government, Baku, Azerbaijan. Date Unknown

Sukhumi, Abkhazia. Date Unknown

Sukhumi, Abkhazia. Date Unknown

Sukhumi, Abkhazia. Date Unknown

Istanbul, Turkey. Date Unknown

Black Sea, Russia. Date Unknown

Leningrad (St. Petersburg), Russia. 1979

© All images copyright the original photographers

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Voyages on the E6, crammed in various vehicles en route through Turkey, Georgia and Armenia....I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

Akcaabat, Turkey. 4 January 2011

Tbilisi, Georgia. 5th January 2011

Sevan, Armenia. 13 January 2011

Sevan, Armenia. 13 January 2011

Sevan, Armenia. 13 January 2011

© All images copyright Philip Mowbray

Trabzon Otogar, Türkiye......some things never change? Well perhaps just everything?

Along with my 120 films which were returned to me last week I also received some processed E6 films which I also used on the recent trip to the Caucasus. E6 films were used merely as a form of technical experimentation for my exploration of 'Voyages'. In my last blog entry I mentioned that I had taken the 15:30 Istanbul - Trabzon bus service with Metro Turizm twice. I found this quite interesting, even from Ataturk airport in Istanbul to city's Otogar I had taken the metro at roughly the same time, sat in pretty much the same position/seat on the way to the Otogar and once there I coincidentally repeated several movements by searching for a Metro Turizm counter, asking for the service to Trabzon, going to the wrong one, and then rushing to the other side of the Otogar to find the gate! There was a shocking similarity to my movements and timings along this route, we stopped at the same service stations, I even bought the same items at each service station as per previous. It was almost an exact repeat of an event within a completely different frame of time. It was only at Trabzon Otogar which was when something slightly different occurred.

During my first journey in 2009, once I left the bus at Trabzon Otogar I decided to momentarily photograph the view as I left the bus, a bright, cloudless, steaming hot Summer's morning. I attempted to recreate the same photograph but once leaving the bus I was accosted by a bus station attendant asking me which bus I need. (obviously assuming for some reason I wouldn't be staying in a place like Trabzon!) I told him I needed to go to Hopa, Sarpi or Batumi and was soon enough ushered to the other side of the Otogar to connect to this bus and therefore I had lost that moment in capturing the Otogar the second I had finished my long journey through Turkey for the second time. Ultimately I photographed the Otogar from an alternative view, although this view does have some noticeable similarities this moment is different, I used the E6 film and the difference between the colour accentuates this difference, although I didn't think of this technicality at the time, perhaps now this really does emphasize that although some things can be at first sight incredibly similar, these journeys turned out to be very, very different.

Trabzon Otogar, 16 August 2009 9:00am. C41 Colour Negative Film

Trabzon Otogar, 4 January 2011 9:15am. E6 Colour Slide Film

© All images copyright Philip Mowbray

Saturday, 12 February 2011

This isn't just a sunrise....this is a hot and bothered 20 hours on a sweaty bus 5am Turkish Black Sea coast sunrise....

Taken on 4th January 2011, on the 15:30 service from Istanbul to Trabzon on my way to fabulous Georgia. I have used this exact same bus service twice now, once in 2009 and now in 2011. I photographed this scene from the window, some time around 5am near to city of Giresun, I remembered this coast on my previous journey and how awe-inspiring I found it, especially after spending a few weeks previous on the tourist-ridden Mediterranean coast of Turkey. This time I was lucky enough to have a window seat on the bus whilst on the road which hugs the Black Sea coast for hundreds of miles. Now I just don't know....there is just something really special about the black sea....more to come on this idea....

© All images copyright Philip Mowbray

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Preview of something a little closer to 'home'....

© All images copyright Philip Mowbray

Toy town Armenia....

Behold (finally) some of the new pictures from my trip, away from any 'Voyages' series this is going to be the main bulk of my work from my last visit to the Caucasus. From approximately 360 Medium Format (120) frames I would like a series of perhaps 15 - 20 images, now the editing process for this may take me some time! I agree that 360 isn't such a huge amount of images to edit down to 20, but when shooting in 120 I am already incredibly selective on my subject matter, taking time to think about each frame. This method therefore makes it often an incredibly difficult task. I currently have just 4 (out of 20) rolls processed and I'd like to show you as a start two photographs which I find at the moment very interesting (although perhaps not so much in the future...remember only time will tell!). These two photographs are composed from a large museum exhibit in the Museum of National Architecture and Urban Life in Gyumri, in the town of Gyumri, Armenia. I always find the provincial museums in the Caucasus very curious...usually I'm the only person in there whenever I visit, I'm followed by a light-switching attendant in every room and generally each museum has an 'exotic' array of fascinating provincial oddities. One museum I enjoyed in particular was the Mingechevir Regional Museum (Azerbaijan), which is actually the photograph on the header of my blog. The museum was complete with the usual array of archeological finds and so on but perhaps more interestingly the museum houses a collection of very peculiar paintings. One other aspect I enjoyed about this museum was the attendant's table (as seen in the centre of the image) partly covered with their possessions......

But lets get back to Armenia, I decided to photograph this display as a means of perhaps finding a metaphorical way to explore one's foreign presence and short stay within a certain town. The display oozes traditional Armenia, and focuses on both national architecture and population (not the small figure on the lower image)....exactly as the museum intends. These are my thoughts initially, my head is scrambled...perhaps I can get back to you on these in the near future?

© All images copyright Philip Mowbray

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Or back to Georgia....

Picture taken from my first visit to Georgia, now I'm not one for portraits as such, and speaking of single pieces. This is just it, one out-of-character portrait and I love it!

© All images copyright Philip Mowbray

Take me to Nice now please, THANKYOU....

Following my previous entry a few days ago with regard to my thoughts on 'escapism', I also made this image in the abattoirs complex. I love it, simple, vivid and perhaps a distinct characteristic of a place which was in its heyday during the 1970's? No joke. This image was intended to go in series with the other images in which I have titled 'Paysages Tahitiens', however I much prefer this as a single image...you know not everything has to be in series!

© All images copyright Philip Mowbray

Monday, 7 February 2011

What's already gone? Or what's already to come?

Well it's Monday and back to the start of the week, I'm apprehensive... One thing I did forget to mention was that on Saturday I finally received back some of the processed film from my recent trip to the Caucasus. I received two E6 rolls returned process (which I still need to scan) and two 120 rolls of colour negative film which were supposed to be scanned. Although my trusty lab apparently wasn't to trusty this time and forgot to scan my work during processing! I really wanted to give you a sneak preview of the work I will be editing and compiling over the coming months, but unfortunately this 'sneak preview' will have to be postponed. Together with the photographs I made on film, I also took a rather large amount of digital images - and here I present a preview of 'Voyages 3'.

The series and title 'Voyages' is something that has recurred in past series' of work. I felt my first pieces of 'Voyages' made on B&W ISO3200 35mm film were very successful. Later I tried this in 35mm colour film in France and Tunisia, although I felt this to have an underwhelming impact compared to the B&W photographs (Available to view on my website). I feel this is largely due to the high grain on the B&W film, and the somewhat physical evidence of capturing an incredibly precise moment in time (some thousandth of a second) whilst passing. This moment resonates solely to the act of travelling rather than resonating perhaps with a place or even person. There is an allure to the anonymity of place when passing through, for one remembers this place largely due to its anonymity - and often a glimpse of a culture, and a particular place which isn't immediately, nor will perhaps really be understood. For example I photographed lots of urban areas whilst passing on a train in the Centre of Turkey during 2009. For I know I have little knowledge of this region of the world, yet capturing anonymous place within this area, together with the aesthetics of the actual photographs; do I find they display an act of exploratory, romantic travel? To the point of this I often believe I am FAR to wrapped up within the whole 'romanticism' of travel!

So I will leave you with these...although I noted this process of capturing in colour is somewhat underwhelming. I have tried again (3rd time lucky perhaps)...all photographed within anonymous places in the Caucasus region....I don't really know what to think just yet, but again do we just need a little time?

© All images copyright Philip Mowbray

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Let me think about it a little longer....

Whilst I am away in London this weekend, and therefore may not be able to write a blog entry (see I'm really trying to get into the habit of posting everyday) I will leave something to sit here.

These four pieces are some of my most recent work, photographed in January this year, (14th I'm lead to believe) I know what I tried to capture in them, what I tried to say, and what I'm attempting to explore. Yet I feel again looking at this work there are some deeply personal opinions towards the subject matter embedded within the work.

Taken on Northern Avenue in Yerevan, Armenia. These photographs depict the detail on printed sheet material covering the construction sites on Northern Avenue. New, grand buildings are constantly being built in central Yerevan, and what was there before? Well....

© All images copyright Philip Mowbray

Friday, 4 February 2011

I think a bit of escapism is what we need right now....

Gale force winds, cloudy skies and just general misery....what a Friday! Sat here at 11pm on Friday evening in deepest Reading I do wish I was somewhere else at times like these. I enjoy the notion of escapism and over time I have found (almost subconsciously) that a lot of my photographic work focuses on escapism in one form or another. So on an evening like this, I would like to share with you three photographs which haven't been seen too much light recently.

With reference to my relationship with photography and time, I photographed these large-scale posters in July in Nice, France. When I think about them now, they validate what I wanted to explore during the time I photographed them, and in these terms I feel they are somewhat successful - or atleast perhaps my conceptual thinking is successful! They do represent my deeply-rooted need for escapism at the time. Nice was my 'escapist' playground however I didn't want to photograph the 'playground' so much. I wanted to look at a method of representing a need for vacating a 'mental state' rather than a 'vacation' itself. These large-scale posters are in an office block within a large disused abattoirs complex in Nice. A relevant place for much needed escapism from time-to-time perhaps?

Put the two together, lets put it all together, and do we have it...escapism?

© All images copyright Philip Mowbray

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Lest I forget...

Here are some of the photographs from the 'Romania' segment of the disposable camera project. I feel that the photographs taken in each country represent two completely different areas of my practice, yet with my series' of previous works including 'Azerbaycan' (2010) these two separate elements of visual representation are conflated into one.

© All images copyright Philip Mowbray & Rachel Miller