Books, All The Books!

2014 05 08 index book front cover

I’ve been busy with the books, all the books! I was very lucky to have one of my photographs from my ‘Comb Series’ published by Cafe Royal Books in this super cool book,  Index. 

“All submissions have been removed from their original context, breaking the messages or ideas for which they were created. Using Index as a container, exhibition space and story telling device, the pages that follow have been edited to create pairs or combinations of images that can be read as new narratives. The book is an experimental exchange of out-of-context, repurposed text and image.”

Index was curated and edited by Craig Atkinson, launched at the Hanover Project, University of Central Lancashire and supported by CADG, the Contemporary Arts Development Group.

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I was disappointed to miss the F&D Cartier exhibition at St Albans Museum recently, but felt much better when I was sent this beautiful book by Ffotogallery. no prescription orlistat on line pharmacy Wait and See examines the relationship between photography and time. Not only is the book full of images of fantastic vintage packaging, but also the most delicate images of exposed photographic paper (some over 100 years old), creating a timely but timeless collection. It’s beautiful. I wrote about it here. 

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Another book that I have written about lately (here) is Polaroids from the Middle Kingdom by Lukas Birk. Time also plays a strong lead in this series of work, using outdated polaroid film to photograph modern scenes and give them a sense of the past. The lovely publishers who I work with allowed me to donate this review copy to the library at St Brendan’s Sixth Form College when I visited them last week. I’m going to be gifting all sorts of lovely photography books to Universities and Colleges as I go on my photo-talky travels.

Polaroids from the Middle Kingdom Blad-1

It was Susie’s birthday so she bought me this book. THIS INCREDIBLE BOOK! Walter Potter’s Curious World of Taxidermy. Wowzers! You are just going to have to pop over to their website and have a look at this wonderful trailer they’ve created for the book as I don’t have the words to describe it!





As it was Susie’s birthday, and she’d started the gift giving, I gave her this bizarre card, some photos of dolls and skull and crossbones, and some eggs.

2014 03 05 charity shop face card for susie

We are good friends.

Midsummer Weekend – Peonies & Pizza


Normally to celebrate the summer solstice we have a bit of a party at our place. We sit outside, light a bonfire, have nice food and drink, listen to our awesome friends play guitar and sing, and sometimes Adam treats us to a bit of Sweet Child of Mine by Guns N’Roses on the sitar! Not this year. Not yet. We couldn’t hold a party without Susie, the inventor of the ‘Sugar Wolf’ (possibly the most potent cocktail in the world!) and she was busy, so instead we just hung around listlessly. Not really, we did lots of other stuff, but don’t tell Susie!

We went to the garden centre and did some DIY. Oh, Susie will be envious!

I picked the last Peonies from the garden and brought them into the house with some lavender. I ate eggs for breakfast and gave myself a headache. Too many sweet chocolatey eggs – I was out of control!


Winnie lounged like a weighty great thing. She was really zonked out after a visit from Matt, Natasha, Charley, and Milo & Lotz. Charley is only 3 and a half but he was super cute and lovely with her, stroking her tail really gently and showing great interest and care. I think that compassion is one of the greatest things you can teach a child. It is important to teach cats tolerance too!


When Winnie wasn’t sleeping on the sofa she was sleeping on her chair. Snory old dear.

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The guys at Pizza Express heard that we had a bit of a poopy time at their restaurant in Abingdon so they invited us to their Kings Lynn restaurant for free pizza – how could we refuse?


And here is that free pizza… help yourselves!

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We sat at the back of the restaurant near the big windows. It was busy in there but I didn’t once hear anyone say the F word, so they’re points up on Abingdon already! I had the Pollo ad Astra – chicken, peppadew peppers, cajun spices, garlic oil, and red onions in the mix, and Adam had the Sloppy Giuseppe which is just spicy beefiness with green peppers and onions. I rather like Pizza Express, for a chain restaurant I think they actually do alright. I don’t think I am biased, although I did once have a lovely long chat about sculpture with the founder, Peter Boizot!

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I’m not sure that I will ever eat Tiramisu again after this mighty Marsala and Mascapone mountain! I don’t like coffee, so I’ve never been a fan of this pudding, but last year Adam and I sat down with Ciocia Mary and I ate it for the first time. And I liked it!

I realise now that it was probably the experience that I liked. I was happy listening to Ciocia Mary talk, we’d had a good day and everything felt special. I can remember the light from the window falling beautifully on her mantelpiece and thinking, ‘That would make a great photo!’ but I didn’t take it, I didn’t want to interrupt the moment and I thought there’d be another time. There wasn’t another time, Ciocia died and everything changed. I am so glad I didn’t interrupt her to take a silly photograph, but instead I saved a lovely memory. 

Bristol – Talking Photography & Eating Pizza

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On Thursday morning the baby James alarm clock woke the household up and I stumbled around trying to look like I was used to being awake at 6.30am. My main reason for going to Bristol was to visit St Brendan’s Sixth Form (where Ruth is a teacher) and talk to their photography students, so that’s what I did!

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I noticed there were fairy lights in Ruth’s class, and a small fake tree in the staff room. Later I walked into PK’s class to find everyone listening to 80‘s Christmas classics. Although it was 26 degrees in the sun and almost midsummer, there was definitely a Christmas theme going on at St Brendan’s. I gave them a book for their library, a gift from Shutter Hub, and hung out in the staff room, where interestingly, every lunchtime, one, or sometimes two, of the team play guitar for the others.

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I gave three talks throughout the day, shared lots of information about all the great photography things we do at Shutter Hub, cracked some bad jokes and answered some questions – my favourite being – ‘Is Ruth Bennett a famous photographer?’

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2014 06 19 bristol stable restaurant ruth bennett 01

After college Ruth and I went to view a possible exhibition venue, spotted some awesome graffiti (top image) and dropped in at The Stable for a pizza lunch. The Stable are known for their pizza, pies and cider. Apparently they have over 80 ciders in stock. I don’t like cider.

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Ruth had The Portishead Piggy, without mushrooms. I found it hard to choose, but I way swayed by The West Country Porker, not just for the tasty topping, but for the name, really.

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Ruth’s husband Paul joined us for a swift half before rushing off to collect their boys from nursery. Then we had pudding. Ruth had chocolate brownie with clotted cream, whilst I had this huge hunk of baked cheesecake with caramelised apple and ginger, topped with pecan praline. Greedy Karen!

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2014 06 19 bristol stable restaurant ruth bennett 14

I made friends with a couple of pigeons and a seagull with nice eyes. The barman and I discussed the seagulls attractive features and he suggested I read Jonathan Livingstone Seagull. Nice.

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2014 06 19 bristol stable restaurant ruth bennett 10

And then, before I knew it, it was time to get back on the road and head home. Toot toot! I’ll be back Bristol… be ready!

Bristol – Afternoon Tea with the Queen of Cats!

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Last week I hired a car and spent a couple of days in Bristol. It was sunny and lovely, and I got to eat this scone!

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I managed to tame the hire beast and got to Bristol an hour early, so I popped into Ikea. I didn’t get anything.

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I met up with an old friend from the 90’s. It was hard to believe we’d not seen each other for 15 years. I picked Becky up at Temple Meads station and recognised her immediately. She stood there, cute little smile and twinkly eyes, hair like candyfloss (or a chic take on the Bagpuss colourway), clutching a cat-shaped handbag. She has not changed one bit.

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2014 06 18 bristol avon gorge hotel clifton afternoon tea becky andrews 02

We drove up to Clifton and had afternoon tea on the terrace at the Avon Gorge Hotel, overlooking the Clifton suspension bridge.

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Have you ever had a spinach sandwich? I’d never had a spinach sandwich. Becky cut it in half so we’d have to share it. I wasn’t expecting that.

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The view was great, but all I could do was look at Becky. How can she not have aged in all that time? It felt like I’d only seen her last week, (not last century!) and by looking at her lovely little face, I think we’ve actually just been in some kind of time warp. Becky’s theory is that in the 15 years we’ve been apart she has totally honed her makeup skills!

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2014 06 18 bristol avon gorge hotel clifton afternoon tea becky andrews 07

After a few marvellous hours chatting, laughing and reminiscing, it was time to go. Becky’s lovely husband James came and picked her up, we posed for silly photos, and then off they went!

2014 06 18 bristol becky and karen

I hopped back into the car and drove on to Stoke Gifford to see another old friend, Ruthie Toothie! I actually drove passed Ruth’s house because I was wrestling with the sat-nav, but then I spotted her, stood, hand on her hip, chatting to a neighbour. I’ve not seen Ruth for ages either – seven years, apparently! I met her two lovely boys, Henry, who is three, and James who is almost one. Henry was very pleased to be able to show me his jar of caterpillars and his ‘Bouncealine’. That’s what calls his trampoline. A cross between bouncy castle and trampoline – I think he may be on to something there! I even managed to get a (kind of) cuddle from Splodge Bitey the cat who’s feral tendencies appear to have been squeezed out of him by an energetic toddler!

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Ruth lives on one of those brand new developments where they have a ‘village’ centre full of big shops and different chain restaurants to choose from, so we went to Frankie and Benny’s for dinner and lots of chatting.

We were talking about how, at college, everyone thought Ruth looked like Uma Thurman, and how she’s also been compared to Kate Winslett and Gillian Anderson (and how I’ve never been compared to anyone beautiful), when the waiter came over to take our order, and well, I’m sure he called me sir!

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Baby James gave up his bedroom for me, so there are no hotel reviews from this trip – although I can tell you that the room was clean, I enjoyed the view, the facilities were good and there were fluffy towels!