Everyday Life

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: toiletriesamnesty.org) 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.