Category Archives: Everyday Life

EVERYDAY LIFE: From Winter into Spring

The other morning, I saw an empty Andrex wrapper fly past the window. It moved fast along the top of the trees, did a loop the loop at the end of the road, then turned left and headed into the village.

It’s been the strangest time. You don’t need me to tell you that.

In the midst of peek loo roll stockpiling my friend Charly revealed that her mum grew up using newspaper instead of toilet paper, and when that wasn’t available, they used finished corn cobs.

Distractions are a good thing, so are routines and goals.

It was only couple of weeks ago that I was in Holland with Shutter Hub, launching a massive project (Postcards from Great Britain) at Haarlem’s famous Hotel Lion d’Or.

Days later the Dutch government shut down group gatherings, and then they shut down pretty much everything in the Netherlands. To some extent, we knew what was coming.

It seems frivolous to write to you now. But, what else will I do? Here are a few nice things.

I found two combs. One in Waitrose carpark, and one in Hotel Lion d’Or. #combtheory

I got invited to dinner at the Dutch Ambassador’s residence in London. (It was cancelled, but it was still a nice idea).

Our friends Matt and Natasha got married and it was a very nice day. I came home with a black eye, but that only happened at the end of the night. (I was getting into the car and the wind slammed the door in my face).

I got my motorsport license again and signed up for Lotus Cup UK Speed Championship. The first couple of rounds have been cancelled, but I’m keeping everything crossed. (Of course, I’ll uncross it all when I get in the car. Safety first).

The Postcards from Great Britain exhibition in Haarlem has been extended until the summer in the hope people will be able to enjoy it then. It contains 326 postcard sized images and I stuck each and every one of them up myself. (I also stuck the window vinyl up but removed half of it when it got stuck to my hand).

We’ve been working extra hard to help people through Toiletries Amnesty this month, supplying toiletries, soap and hand sanitiser to over 100 organisations across the UK. If you can help, please get in touch.

Shutter Hub launched two free calls for entries – Working from Home, and Everyday Delight (the Stay at Home Edition), as well as the call for entries to the OPEN 2020 Amsterdam, and, announced 20 membership bursaries to help photographers out a bit. Click those links, get involved!

I got the ferry from Newcastle to IJmuiden and wrote You Snooze… You Two Night Mini Cruise. It’s worth a read.

A photograph I took of the inside of a swan’s leg bone has been featured in a book about the geometry of objects, called Exploring Scale Symmetry by Tom Lowe.

I’ll just leave these photos here.

Even if we don’t know each other, we are friends, and if you need anything, I’ll be here.

EVERYDAY LIFE: Midwinter Stories & Everyday Delight

I woke up after the longest night (literally) and felt the urge to write to you. I like the hummock of Midwinter, as we roll over its peak into longer days; still wintery, still bleak and cold, but hopeful. It’s a nice feeling, but maybe underappreciated.

A couple of years ago I made a hashtag on Instagram, #themidwintermovement, to celebrate this joy. Unfortunately, it got picked up by a well-known instagrammer and blended into a slow-living blur of consumerism disguised as authenticity. Such is life.

Our current Shutter Hub exhibition is called Everyday Delight, and it’s an absolute beauty. I am allowed to say that, I’m sure. 114 images from 70 international photographers, all sharing their little moments of magic in the mundane and inviting viewers to discover the beauty in the everyday. We’ve had lovely feedback (which you can read here) and Jayne took some super shots of the install (which you can see here). The Guardian gave it a lovely feature too (here) and in their Art Weekly round-up they referred to it by saying ‘Everyday life can bring spectacular joy’ which I think might be one of the most hopeful sentences I’ve read in quite some time.

Earlier in the autumn I curated Now, for the Future, a Shutter Hub exhibition for LOOK Photo Biennial in Liverpool. It’s another show I am proud to have initiated.

Our perception of the world is influenced by our environment, our education, our history, and the stories we are told. Photography may be the most accessible and inclusive tool we have for communication. We can use it to share images that reflect on the world we live in, images that hold people together, encourage creative thoughts and provoke positive actions. The more we know and understand, and the more we find in common with others, the more likely we are to succeed.

The thoughts behind Now, for the Future are deeply rooted in the need to understand the environmental crisis that the world is facing, and not only find practical solutions, but also emotional and ethical ones. Can we share something so magnificent and inspiring that it will enlighten people’s perspective on the future?

Now, for the Future asks, can we create a visual language that draws from the past, exists in the moment, and sets a positive course for the future?

International photographers examine the myths and fables of the now – will the stories we tell today survive to be the folklore of the future? And, could Now, for the Future be a visual handbook for our emotional survival?

If you’d like, you can view the full exhibition digitally here: Now, for the Future: The Exhibition.

I gave a talk at Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool, it sold out. We held a Professional Development event at Bermondsey Project Space, it sold out. I gave a talk at London Institute of Photography, it sold out. What will happen next? My head is already too big for hats!

I went to the Netherlands (Again? Again!)

I visited Fujifilm in Tilburg and toured their magnificent factory. I ate apple pie ice cream and stayed in a dodgy hotel with neon lights and a funny smell.

I joined Visit Brabant for a press trip and visited Dutch Design Week. Saw a robot babysitter, a tank full of trout, and ate parsnip fries.

I stroked a fish and got bitten by a bird. I tried to stroke a cat but he was having none of it.

I made Pickled Walnut and Pancetta muffins for Opies. First time in ages that I have worked on a recipe and I am really pleased with the result.

I managed to re-pot a couple of plants, it’s a time-consuming affair, but one that is necessary and improved by a gift of lovely plants pots from Dutch company Elho. My £1.50 rubber plant has grown into a small tree and now rides around in this wheely plant pot giving me great joy and reminding me of my favourite Modern Toss illustration (click here and swipe for joy!)

I was given a beautiful silver pouch and a grey sheepskin rug from my friend Cindi. I’ve never felt a rug so soft. I keep seeing it out of the corner of my eye and thinking it’s Tutti! Cindi’s family run a business down in Somerset making all things sheepskin and nice (Owen Barry, if you’re asking!)

Tutti got given a Nigel Farage catnip toy for Christmas. She screwed her face up and won’t go near it.

I made chai spiced fudge and wrapped presents in newspaper printed with a photo I took of flowers whilst I was nosing round Dutch castles in the summer.

I took parcels of toiletries and kitchenwares to a local young peoples hostel (you can find yours here: took spare glasses to Specsavers (did you know they give them to Vision Aid to help others?) and I dropped off bags and boxes of things to the Mind charity shop.

And now we’re about to have a Midwinter feast with my family.

Sounds idyllic, perfect, even a bit braggy?

Life, for us all, on so many different levels, is far from perfect. But, I’d rather aim for optimism, and share the joy and the inspiration, in the hope that things can be better for everyone, and if you want to join me in that please do. We can go into the next decade with power and kindness. Not a bad new years resolution really! I live in hope.

EVERYDAY LIFE: Sleeping Bags & Neon Socks

I’ve been watching the Jays flying in and out of the Holm Oak tree, beaks clasping green acorns that they’ve plucked from the branches ready to push firmly into the lawn. Apparently, they store them there for winter food, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they’re in cahoots with the back-garden moles.

These past few months have possibly been some of the busiest I’ve experienced. It doesn’t feel like I’ve stopped at all. Until last night. We drove to London to take part in the CEO Sleepout and I was forced to be still and just exist, under the stars. The air was cool, the sky was clear, and I even managed an hours sleep. It was no real hardship at all (and so much better than last year!) but an important conversation starter – with people I met last night, and with you. What can we do about such an extensive and overwhelming issue as homelessness? Well, we can make a start with the small things.

Something we are trying to do with Toiletries Amnesty is put an end to hygiene poverty by encouraging community interaction and social engagement. Do you ever feel you’d like to do something, but don’t know where to start? If you don’t already know about Toiletries Amnesty then please do head to the website and find out more – get involved, because you can. Immediately you can do something to improve the lives of others (and your own). We can all make a positive difference, and collectively that can be something pretty special.

If you’re feeling the urge to retrospectively sponsor me for sleeping in a puddle, well, I won’t say no!

So, in all of the other news that I’ve not shared when I perhaps should have…

We went to Ghent, ate the most excellent meal in Cochon de Luxe and saw a great exhibition at the Design Museum. On the way home we got to hang out on the bridge of the ferry and watch the captain reverse park it at Dover. (Read about it here!)

We went to RollHard and saw a lot of cars with nice shiny bits. (Enjoy mostly photos here!)

I spent the best part of two weeks in Rotterdam delivering the STREET / FORM exhibition as part of Pow! Wow! Rotterdam, Europe’s largest Street Art Festival. It was wonderful. I urge you to read about it here and here.

I stayed a night at the Nova Hotel in Amsterdam, with a little Japanese-style garden outside my window, catching all the calm sounds of the rain falling.

I gave portfolio reviews for Photo020 in Amsterdam and took a walk along the canals in the rain.

I bought some fabulous neon socks, got given a super cool Pow! Wow! Spray can, walked 49.7 miles in 7 days, visited a dairy farm on a pontoon, and held a random stranger’s baby on the train home.

We saw 24 horse and traps go by our front window. We live in the middle of nowhere.

Festival Pil’Ours asked if we’d extend the Shutter Hub Time to Think exhibition until the end of November, and we said yes, because we are sensible like that.

I photographed my friend, printmaker Louise Stebbing, in her studio ahead of her retrospective next year, and I also photographed her cat because, well, just because!

Then I went to Wales to install and launch HOME.

HOME is a very beautiful exhibition, created from the generosity of 80 photographers who donated their work to be sold for homelessness charities – Crisis, Shelter and Toiletries Amnesty. Shutter Hub teamed up with Gallery at Home in Usk and together we made something really special (see the full exhibition in photos, here).

I stayed in the Greyhound Inn (didn’t see any greyhounds, did see a shiatsu called Harry though) and it was lovely. Proper old school. Horse brasses, and peas with everything.

There’s a five-page feature about HOME in Be Kind magazine this month. If you want to read the interview with me and see some beautiful images the full PDFs are here on the Shutter Hub site, but really, you could just pick up a print version and read all the other things too.

HOME prints are for sale here until 05 December 2019 for just £35 each. That, in case you need it spelling out, is a mega bargain.

M E G A  B A R G A I N !

And now what am I doing?

I’m working on Now, for the Future, an exhibition for LOOK Photo Biennial with Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool. I’m also working on (and will be for many months) a touring exhibition project called POSTCARDS FROM GREAT BRITAIN (and you can get involved too!) and, one more exhibition for good measure – Everyday Delight. If you’ve spotted the obvious face in your wallpaper, caught sight of an autumn leaf spinning magically in a spiders web, or noticed a finger nail that looks like Paul Daniels (I’ve done them all) then you’ve had a glimpse of ‘everyday delight’ – the joy in the everyday. Keep looking for it.

Shutter Hub will be hosting a Professional Development day on 30 November in London, and if you’ve any interest in photography you should sign up for a free space, it’s going to be a super day. I’ll be there (is that encouraging?!)

I’ll also be talking at LOOK Photo Biennial on Saturday 02 November (book here), and London Institute of Photography on 06 December (book here).

And hopefully, in between these things I am going to find time to walk more, pot plants, stroke cats and get a haircut.

HOLLAND: Pow! Wow! Rotterdam – 2 Weeks in the City

I like the Netherlands. There’s a surprise for you! I’m always happy to have an excuse to spend time there, and after a brief trip to Rotterdam I was keen to find a reason to go back.

The opportunity to curate an exhibition for Europe’s largest street art festival Pow! Wow! Rotterdam and take the work of 70 international photographers to the heart of the city, filling a disused building wall to wall with newspaper prints – now, that’s a reason!

So, in early September I spent the best part of two weeks in Rotterdam, living out of The James hotel, each night – gazing from the 15th  floor window with my supermarket salad propped on the green stone windowsill, and by day – installing the exhibition, riding the metro up and down and across town, attempting to speak Dutch (so badly, but it brought a lot of joy!) and finally opening STREET / FORM to the public on 09 September.

I loved being in Rotterdam. It’s safe, it’s diverse, it’s interesting, and there’s an Albert Heijn supermarket around pretty much every corner! Praise to Albert Heijn for my daily dinner salads and for enabling me to have my first ever Green Tea Kit Kat. Thank you. Fulfilled.

I also ate a small pink cake and my mouth swelled up. Imagine a giant crying over a French Fancy – that’s me.

In the midst of this excitement I spent a couple of rainy days in Amsterdam, and a peaceful night at Nova Hotel. I’ve stayed here before, and although it’s bang in the middle of all the action, I still find it a bit of a haven. Outside the window of my ground-floor room, glazed walls formed a personal Japanese garden where the rain fell and pattered gently on the greenery. A bit like one of those mindfulness apps, but real, and with curtains.

I gave portfolio reviews at the Photo020  event in Amsterdam, in the most lovely location by the water, with good light, a good dinner and welcoming people (my reviews sold out immediately!) Then I popped home for 48 hours, picked up lights, clothes, Jayne, and headed back on the Eurostar.

The exhibition was a massive success. I was always going to be pleased with it, whatever happened, but having other people reinforce how I felt was just really rewarding. So many people commented on the democratic use of newspaper (it’s a Shutter Hub thing now, right!) and most excitingly, a lot of them told us they felt we were doing something that was a bit pioneering. How often have you seen Street Photography included at a Street Art Festival? I might not have been looking hard enough, but all those other people who said it, they felt we were doing something new and pushing the boundaries further, and I liked their opinions very much! (Full exhibition and PV photos here, if you’re interested).

Pow! Wow! Rotterdam was awesome – for us as contributors it was brilliant,  but for the community, the artists, and the 10,000 visitors to the festival, it was equally as excellent and inspiring.

Shutter Hub’s STREET / FORM was printed by Newspaper Club (our best newspaper printing friends) and the launch event drinks were provided by London’s Dalston’s  – best ginger drink ever drunk – according to many Dutch guests (lekker gember!) We held a pre-preview for a bunch of excited kindergarten kids, gave free portfolio reviews to photographers, collaborated on a Street Photography competition with team Pow! Wow! and I gave an exhibition talk to 30 Dutch instagrammers (who showed their appreciation of my language skill through laughter, thank you).

One evening it was raining really heavily as I left the exhibition. An old chap from across the road came rushing over and lent me an umbrella. So kind. Somehow I managed to destroy it on the way back to the hotel. But then, whilst listening to Killswtich Engage in my hotel room (with my Albert Heijn salad and my 15th floor view) I managed to repair it with a travel sewing kit and some electrical tape. Proud.

Another evening, when I was scurrying back to the metro in the low light, two men approached me in the quiet street. They started speaking to me in Dutch, but I didn’t understand, then one of them pointed at my bag and said, ‘Hey, you’re from Shutter Hub. I really want to see that exhibition!’

I love you Rotterdam!

Other moments of Rotterdam joy included:

Lunch at Op het Dak with Iris and Julia. Up amongst the city’s rooftops, eating food from the roof garden whilst hot sun streamed through the windows and small dogs competed for attention (toy poodle vs chihuahua. It was a draw).

Breakfast at Lilith. Eggs Benedict with vegan bacon. Facon. It was like a soggy Frazzle and I’m okay with that.

A good walk around the Katendracht area – docklands and old warehouses, magnificent buildings, and the Fenix Food Factory where the ‘meat’ Bitterballen turned out to be ‘beet’ and very delicious!

Dinner at Bazar with my friend Dagmar.

The Street Dreams exhibition – how Hip Hop took over fashion, with a brilliant film by Victor D. Ponten, and an enlightenment in how designer names were re-appropriated into street style by people who’d previously been excluded from accessing those brands.

Outside the Kunsthal, Solitaire by Joana Vasconcelos, gold rims and whisky glasses.

A man spoke to me in Dutch, and someone translated it for me – ‘If I’d have known she was here all week I’d have brought her some fish!’ 

I made a visit to the world’s first floating farm. I wasn’t convinced. I’m still processing my thoughts. I like cows.

I stopped in at Weelde and had a drink at De Zure Bom, enjoyed their open space and nice flowers.

I saw a black pigeon with a white boufont hairstyle. Like, proper fluffed up and glorious.

I walked 49.7 miles in 7 days.

And I finally found some neon socks.

Street wandering, shop window peering, photo taking, comb finding (yes, tiny comb #combtheory), ginger tea drinking, apple pie eating, Albert Heijn shopping,  hotel sleeping, exhibition speaking, break dance battle watching – in awe.

Thank you Rotterdam!

On the train home I held a random baby whilst his mum took his brother to the bathroom. It was really nice to be trusted (I look approachable) but he gave me a rash on my hands!

With the greatest thanks to Rotterdam Partners and Rotterdam Make It Happen for making this trip possible, and to Pow! Wow! Rotterdam for letting us hang out at their amazing festival. Thank you Nova Hotel and The James for your hospitality and comfortable beds.  As always, my opinions are my own (and my hotel room supermarket salad diet DVD will be out soon!)

Everyday Life: Mrs Pollock & the Dutch Ambassadors Carpet

Het schildpad eeten het boterham.

The more time I spend in the Netherlands, the more I want to learn the language. I am sorry, my Dutch friends, I am trying!

In June I did a mini tour of  Dutch Castles and Country Houses with Visit Holland and DFDS. It was an utterly lovely experience. I learnt so much about the beautiful buildings, ate wonderful meals, saw the most fabulous gardens full of roses, and a dog called Percy tried to put its football in my handbag. Read about it here, you won’t be disappointed!

I’ll be back in The Netherlands again next month for one of the most exciting exhibitions I have ever been lucky enough to curate – STREET / FORM at POW! WOW! Rotterdam, Europe’s leading street art festival. I’ll be spending a couple of weeks in the city and I am really excited about it.

(You can find the STREET / FORM call for entries here, if you’re interested).

I’m also working on an exhibition called HOME, which is a collaboration between Shutter Hub and Gallery at Home in Usk, Wales. (Call for entries, here). We’re raising money for Crisis, Shelter, and Toiletries Amnesty.

Adam and I took part in the annual village yard sale. No one asked for guns this year, but there was an old man with a pro-Trump hat on.

I repotted Mrs Pollock the pelargonium.

I helped judge graduate photography at the Freerange Awards 2019, and Shutter Hub gave prizes to 6 photographers.

I wrote Foodie Finds #19 and #20 for Surf4, ate parma violet flavoured fudge and drank ginger beer.

A lady told me she thought I was very attractive, tall and slim, and about 28 years old. She was also blind. This is not a joke.

I went to the Dutch Ambassador’s residence in London for breakfast (nice carpets). Then I went to Brixton and power chugged hot tea in Van Gogh’s kitchen.

We endured a super hot heatwave day of hell. 38.7°C. The chickens were really sick, we gave them frozen sweetcorn and iced water.

Shutter Hub took an exhibition to Festival Pil’Ours in France. Time to Think includes the work of 145 female photographers from 15 different countries, and a total of 435 images (It runs until 31 August 2019, technically, but the festival organisers have already said they want to extend it).

Jayne and I flew into La Rochelle, picked up a hire car (a Renault Clio with a stoved in door) and took the two hour drive to St Gilles Croix de Vie, stopping for pastries and a packet of mustard and pickle flavoured crisps on the way.

We arrived at our  little seaside chalet. Welcomed by the sea, and a drunk man who wanted Jayne to touch his hair. It did look soft.

Beach front picnic under pink skies. Lapping waves. Sticky sea air.

In the morning we walked to the town, over bridges and through the brocante, for the exhibition launch event. People came from across the region, and beyond – Italy, UK, Ukraine and 14 hours on a bus from Amsterdam. I gave the opening speech, Jayne took photos, I told everyone to eat fish balls. It was fun. There was iced peach tea and a beautiful cat who had a number written in his right ear.

If you want to see lots more photos of the exhibition (and read some lovely words) you can find them all here.

We walked back as the light faded, through the night market, passed the pink neon glow of the fairground. Candy floss, and a massive grey dog that looked like a bear.

A couple of days of sea air and perfect sunsets, interspersed with meetings, project work, and plenty of cheese. Time to think – definitely. 

At home Tutti Biscotti managed to catch two birds in the space of two days. Not bad for a house cat! Kamikaze sparrows were delivering themselves to her through the open windows.

And look! I found my first comb in over two years. #combtheory