duckrabbit https://www.duckrabbit.info film production and training Fri, 19 May 2017 08:39:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 https://cdn.duckrabbit.info/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/cropped-BLACK-CIRCLE-32x32.png duckrabbit https://www.duckrabbit.info 32 32 73690698 London drizzle warming up. Must mean it’s time for the duckrabbit summer mini-documentary workshop. https://www.duckrabbit.info/2017/05/london-drizzle-warming-must-mean-time-duckrabbit-summer-mini-documentary-workshop/ Tue, 16 May 2017 08:59:49 +0000 https://www.duckrabbit.info/?p=40305 The duckrabbit summer 2017 mini-documentary production workshop is taking place on the 13th and 14th July in central London.  We pour our years of experience making short films for broadcast, charities and the non-profit sector into two inspiring and energising days. We’ll be covering pre-production, equipment, interviewing, lighting, directing skills and much more in two intensive...

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The duckrabbit summer 2017 mini-documentary production workshop is taking place on the 13th and 14th July in central London.  We pour our years of experience making short films for broadcast, charities and the non-profit sector into two inspiring and energising days.

We’ll be covering pre-production, equipment, interviewing, lighting, directing skills and much more in two intensive days.  From handling the brief through to the wrap party we’ll take you through the pleasure and pain of designing and delivering high quality mini-documentary films.

Past participants have come from photography, charity comms, journalism, radio and videography backgrounds, some looking to make a start in the medium, others to enhance and develop your skills further.

For more info please click here.  And you’d like to book a place or ask a question then please do email us on contact(at)duckrabbit.info

Don’t just take our word for it.  Here are some honest, non computer-generated reviews from past duckrabbit trainees.

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A week like no other. https://www.duckrabbit.info/2017/05/week-like-no/ Sun, 14 May 2017 15:05:01 +0000 https://www.duckrabbit.info/?p=40266   I’ve just had a memorable week. My mum died, and we buried her. That’s the short version. The long version? Well, permit me the indulgence to weave a tale that encompasses laughter, tears, xenophobia, illness, memory and brilliant crystalline light. I’ve decided to do this because a few days ago I stood with my arms around...

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I’ve just had a memorable week.

My mum died, and we buried her.

That’s the short version.

The long version?

Well, permit me the indulgence to weave a tale that encompasses laughter, tears, xenophobia, illness, memory and brilliant crystalline light. I’ve decided to do this because a few days ago I stood with my arms around my son as we committed his granny to the soil, and I was sad. And angry. An anger I knew my brother and sister, and many of my relatives shared in equal measure and was given focus, strangely, by the events of my mother’s funeral.

I’ve written several times about my mum and her fight with dementia, from the point she was removed from her small apartment where she lived independently, to another more unsettling observation of ‘loss’ when I realised that her dementia had stolen memories from us all in a way that I’d never imagined possible.

Mum died at the weekend, aged 92, peacefully slipping away with family around her, in her Care Home in Fort William. My brother had arrived from Norway, my sister from Ayrshire. All of us together.

 

However……in the gap between her death and the funeral….as arrangements were made, relatives contacted, wreaths chosen…my son William began feeling unwell. And as I made the final arrangements for the funeral on Thursday, and his 9th birthday party on Wednesday, William went downhill. First wobbliness, then tiredness, finally aches and nausea, closely followed by full-on vomiting. Unfortunately my partner had an important meeting in London and had already left as this drama unfolded.

I started to feel unwell too. And within a matter of hours had joined William in his misery. He lay sprawled on one side of the room heaving into a basin, I was horizontal on the other side aching all over. That night as he went to the toilet before bed I heard a yelp, and dashing in I found William retching into the toilet, and mumbling “Thats eight times today, eight times. Thats the most times I’ve ever been sick in the one day daddy, the most…that’s a record for me…eight times…” and with a sense of some magnificent achievement wobbled off to bed and passed out immediately. We both had hallucinations that night, and woke feeling even worse the next morning.

I spoke to my partner on the phone, and broke the bad news to William. The Birthday Party Most Likely Will Not Happen: some of his classmates who were coming to his party were also off sick, so we’d decided to postpone the event until everybody had recovered. He’s a stoic wee soul, and took it reasonably well, disappointed and tearful but philosophical about the circumstances. The replacement part for the only-two-months-out-of-warranty and now uncontrollable oven popped through the letterbox. Did I say the oven had failed? No? Well the oven had failed and I’d ordered the part to fix it. But as I opened it I realised they’d sent the wrong part. I sighed with frustration. Melanie was going to bake a cake for William’s party on her return on Tuesday evening, so that even if the party was cancelled he would still have the birthday cake.

 

When she came home Melanie tried her best, but the uncontrollable oven lived down to my expectations, and the cake got burned. Ah well I said, things can only get better. A few moments later overcome with a wave of nausea and wobbliness I leaned over the toilet to rest my head on the window cill and the house cordless phone fell out of my shirt pocket and went straight down the toilet. It was terminal, despite blow-drying and various other water-removal tricks it would not work. Bah.

Birthday day dawned. William opened a few of his presents in bed. Now we’re all feeling dodgy, mummy too, having started to feel a little peaky late the previous night. William had ceased vomiting though, but I had deteriorated and had to force myself to get up and write my mum’s eulogy, shaking uncontrollably, and freezing cold despite the tropical day outside. Late in the afternoon I realised I should make the effort to iron our funeral clothes as we were departing on the 60 mile drive to the funeral first thing in the morning. Board out, iron on. First the shirt…iron goes pffftt-fizzz-pffft-POP!  And dies. Terminal. No iron. Creased clothes. Yikes. Luckily I was able to quickly obtain a new one. At least we’d have crease-free clothes if nothing else! It was another night of rollocking hallucinations for me, William slept soundly, well on the road to recovery it seemed.

Thursday was a glorious day for a funeral. The light astonishing, crystal-clear air and warm sunshine. The mountains around town were still snow-patched and glistening. The church in Fort William full of old friends, relatives and more recent ‘acquaintances’ of mum’s, but of them I’ll explain more later. By now I was dizzy, nauseous and losing my voice rapidly. This was shaping up to be a rather challenging afternoon.

 

My eulogy was long, I’d timed it so the minister would know how to structure his service, it was 15 minutes of non-stop story-telling. It was intended to be in turn funny, surprising and sad. The congregation laughed, then sighed, then laughed again even harder, then wept.

You see, my mum was a force of nature. Literally. Her generosity was boundless. As children we’d often awaken to find a family of strangers having breakfast in the living room – tourists who’d arrived late at the hotel mum worked in, only to find no beds available. So mum had taken them home! One morning there were three Germans from Stuttgart, another day an American couple and two children, once or twice Italians, and Spaniards, South Africans, Australians, Israelis….no matter where you came from, nor the colour of your skin mum would give up her bed, sleep on a floor and feed you when you awoke refreshed next day.

 

Mum’s generosity of spirit was accompanied by a hatred of intolerance in any form. A quality best summed up in the story of the Moolvi family, our neighbours. Mr & Mrs Moolvi emigrated from Pakistan and arrived in Fort William, moving into a flat across the back square from our flat, with their five children. People of colour were a novelty in the Highlands back then in the mid 1960’s, and it would be fair to say there was at least a degree of suspicion about them, and sadly in a few instances some mild hostility.

And it was this ‘hostility’ which mum overheard in the laundry house as a few of our more bigoted neighbours made highly pejorative remarks about coloured people in earshot of Mrs Moolvi as she did her washing chores. My mum was outraged and went ballistic. An angry Glaswegian is a terrifying spectacle, mum literally erupted.  She sent the gossips packing, their faces red and their tails between their legs, roundly scolded for their unkindness. And to make her point even more forcefully….despite Mrs Moolvi having no English, and mum no Urdu, mum waved her arms around, TALKED VERY LOUDLY, smiled a lot and managed to invite the whole family of Moolvis over to have Christmas Dinner with us and laid on a sumptuous spread of highland delights! We had a grand time and all of us became firm friends. In fact we were sucked into a sort-of Pakistani mafia that extended to Glasgow and provided us with years of joy and insight. We children learned a lot about tolerance and the dangers of narrow-mindedness from my mum.

 

 

As I looked across the sea of faces in the church when I told this story, amongst many others, I could see tears welling in the eyes of several of a large number of young women and one young man, spread out across several pews in various groups. These were mum’s carers in the Care Home that had been her home for the last 9 years. A large proportion of them are Polish, some are from Latvia and the Czech Republic. All were heartbroken, sharing our grief at the loss of my mum. Their friend.

As my brother remarked quietly to me at the graveside, his voice loaded with irony, and in reference to our conversation of the previous evening about the shameful creeping xenophobia at the heart of British life:  “Who do these Eastern Europeans think they are, coming over here, caring diligently for our families, doing wonderful things for them, then coming to our funerals, crowding round our graves, all tears and sorrow.”

We both knew they had indeed tended my mother diligently. And they have our eternal gratitude for that. They had laughed with her, fed her, bathed her, caressed her when she was distraught and ensured she knew she was not alone in whatever grief-filled place she occasionally tumbled. More than once I’d overheard them gently sing her little Polish songs to ease her into sleep, warm voices just for her.

Later at the graveside they stood with us tearful and sad, while William, now fully recovered and in a joyful counterpoint to our collective stillness and solemnity, scampered around revelling in his ability to run endlessly, but stopping when it was necessary to be part of the interment, reverentially dropping a small dandelion picked from the surrounding grass onto his granny’s coffin. Krystof, one of mum’s carers for many years, accepted my invitation to share my cord, to represent his many colleagues and to stand with us as part of our family, as my brother, sister, cousins together shared the burden of lowering my mum into her grave.

All of us bound to the small woman in the box beneath us by far more than the simple tasseled cords we each clutched as a final mark of respect as we committed her to the soil beside my dad.

A woman who had welcomed people into her generous arms for the whole of her life, now reaping the love she had sown.

 

 

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I wish you’d listened to your heart https://www.duckrabbit.info/2017/05/photography-world-still-need-talk/ Wed, 10 May 2017 15:51:05 +0000 https://www.duckrabbit.info/?p=40239 Noor’s Nina Berman writing on NYT’s Lens blog: Photojournalist Sandra Hoyn talking to Cosmopolitan about her work in Bangladesh featuring children sold and forced to have sex: Photos from the series published in the Washington Post here. Faces of children blacked out by me, but were there in original photographs. Who has awarded pictures from this body...

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Noor’s Nina Berman writing on NYT’s Lens blog:

Photojournalist Sandra Hoyn talking to Cosmopolitan about her work in Bangladesh featuring children sold and forced to have sex:

Photos from the series published in the Washington Post here. Faces of children blacked out by me, but were there in original photographs.

Who has awarded pictures from this body of work:

2017    Sony World Photography Awards, first place category daily life: “The Longings of the Others”

2017    POYi – Pictures of the Year International, 3rd place category portrait: “The Longings of the Others” 

2017    Hellerau Photography Award, finalist: “The Longings of the Others”

2017    Canon New Talent Award: “The Longings of the Others”

2017      IPOTY – International Photographer of the Year, winner category editorial: “The Longings of the Others”

2016    Magnum Photography Awards, winner category photojournalism: “The Longings of the Others” 

2016    IPA – International Photography Awards, first place editorial photo essay: “The Longings of the Others” 

2016    tifa – Tokyo International Foto Awards, first place editorial photo essay: “The Longings of the Others”

2016 Lugano Photo Days, open call winner: “The Longings of the Others”2016

2016 Direct Look photo contest, 2nd place: “The Longings of the Others”

2016    Px3 – Prix de la Photographie Paris, silver category portrait: “The Longings of the Others”2016

2016 mifa – Moscow International Foto Awards, 2nd place category photo essay: “The Longings of the Others”,

2016 ND Awards, first place editorial photo essay:”The Longings of the Others”2016

2016 LensCulture Portrait Awards, finalist: “The Longings of the Others” 

2016    Kolga Tbilisi Photofestival, shortlist: “The Longings of the Others”

Some of the pictures and captions

‘It is awe-inspiring to see how the photographer delves into the story’, the (Sony World Photography) jury said. The people in the photos seem to have forgotten all about the camera.’ DW

“It wouldn’t be real if I didn’t show it”.  Sandra Hoyn

‘Sorry but it would. Very real’ – Robert Godden

Sandra I get why you did this.

But in all honesty I wish you’d listened to your heart.

……………………………………………………………………………………………

Essential reading:

Souvid Datta: Photography, plagiarism and the politics of grants by Suchitra Vijayan

Asim Rafriqui 

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LensCulture and the commodification of rape https://www.duckrabbit.info/2017/04/lensculture-commodification-rape/ https://www.duckrabbit.info/2017/04/lensculture-commodification-rape/#comments Sun, 30 Apr 2017 17:06:14 +0000 https://www.duckrabbit.info/?p=40173 Where to begin? Magnum Photos and LensCulture are running a photo competition. One of those where you give them lots of money and in return if you’re one of  the lucky ones they give you ‘exposure’. Let’s just cut to the chase. There’s no way of dressing this up. In order to promote the competition...

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Where to begin?

Magnum Photos and LensCulture are running a photo competition. One of those where you give them lots of money and in return if you’re one of  the lucky ones they give you ‘exposure’.

Let’s just cut to the chase. There’s no way of dressing this up.

In order to promote the competition LensCulture used a photo of a trafficked child sex slave being raped.

Yes, you read that right.

No, this is not some kind of sick wind up.

I’m not going to post the picture here but in it the photographer is stood over the rapist. We see his naked back and the back of his head.  We can see the girl’s face. She’s looking away from the camera, obviously distressed, but she is fully identifiable. Her name is ‘Beauty’ (you can see it here where the photo has been altered to protect the girl’s identity).

Only the rapist is given the privilege of anonymity.

The text wrapped around the photo urges you my photography friends to not ‘miss out’ on ‘recognition’ by entering the Magnum Photography Awards:

 

The post had been shared widely before it was taken down (only at the photographer’s request who  specifically told LensCulture not to use the photo).

Magnum also featured more of Datta’s project on the header of the competition website.

Can someone explain the mentality at play here? Is it because photographers look at the picture and think:

‘Oh look there’s a child in a cage crying.  Maybe if I enter a picture of a trafficked child being raped or caged up and crying I can also get myself exposure.’

 

Pure and simple this is the commodification of child rape.

Does the photography world get any more fucked up than this?

In the UK, taking and sharing this photo would be a criminal offence. It’s a criminal offence even to name survivors of sexual crimes unless they have expressly given permission, and in this case, a vulnerable child is not able to consent.

It’s my guess that if human rights activist (formerly of Amnesty) Rob Godden hadn’t pointed out how indecent the use of the image was it would still be being shared on Facebook. At the time of writing LensCulture have offered zero response. They were totally disinterested in the many comments on their post pointing out how abusive the image is.

So let me put it straight to  Jim Casper (Editor), Kamran Mohsenin (CEO) and Laura Sackett (Creative Director), what else am I to presume other than that your company has an horrendously warped and racist relationship with the world? One in which you are only able to see photos, photographers and the people in their pics as objects of profit.

Did anyone at LensCulture consider that the children of ‘Beauty’ might need protecting from the trauma of seeing pictures of their Mother forced into sex spread across the internet?

And what is going on in your heads that LensCulture would seek to profit from a picture of a child sex slave being raped?

Seriously.

What?

What is going on in there?

That girl by the way has a story (found on Datta’s website). Read it:

Aged 12, her family arranged her marriage with an abusive 23 year-old man. She went on to have her first child aged 12. The following year, she fled following her mother’s death taking refuge with her elder sister, then 19. Within two months, her brother-in-law attempted to force himself upon her, yet her sister did nothing, instead demanding she leave their house. It was on a train to Dhaka, in search of escape and work, that Beauty and her one year-old son eventually met their trafficker. ‘A vast, wiry-haired…wild-eyed woman’ promised her a menial job with substantial renumeration; minutes later Beauty’s water bottle had been spiked with a sedative. When she awoke she found herself in a half-way house in Nonchapota, on the Bangladesh-India border, awaiting her transfer and sale to the brothels of Sonagachi.

Beauty embraces her two sons – Nayan, 5, and Ridoy, 4. The first was born when she was 12, and the second, a year later after her first few months working in the brothel. The two have been held as bargaining chips by her previous brothel owner when Beauty refused her work as a ‘Chukri’ (forced sex-slave). Now they both stay in a nearby NGO shelter which Beauty visits every few days. “Holding them, tight, close to me is the only thought that gets me through the day… I don’t need saving. I died a long time ago. It’s them who need saving. It’s for them that I do this work. I hope I can at least save them from this world… that I can give them some of the important chances in life that I never had.

This is a horrific case where one abuse, one exploitation has been heaped on another.  Where a real human, with a real story, real children and real feelings is reduced to clickbait for a shitty competition in which you can trade your soul for exposure.

All for $60.

…………………………………………………………………………..

 

If you are concerned about this story I encourage you to politely reach out to LensCulture and ask them to respond.  You can post on their Facebook Page, or Tweet them. I am personally dismayed at the number of photographers who express disgust in private but are afraid to do so publicly. Change will not happen by remaining silent and this commodification of the most vulnerable is not something a healthy community should accept.

To those who argue, from a place of absolute privilege (the photographer went to Harrow) that we need to see photos like this to make people care, who are you mixing with? Because no-one I know needs to see a photo of a child being raped to care. If that’s you. Sincerely. Seek help.

………………………………………………………

Update 1: LensCulture have sort of apologised on their Facebook page (please read and if you feel like it comment). According to them Datta acted ethically. They then cite UNICEF’s guidelines on working with children. Which is kind of crazy because Datta’s work is completely in contravention of them:

Always change the name and obscure the visual identity of any child who is identified as a victim of sexual abuse or exploitation.

Update 2: Datta has issued a statement. It’s pretty shocking. You can read and comment on his Facebook page here. Basically she made him do it.  And anyway he is above the law. I don’t think that argument would stand up in court.

I’ll let Robert Godden have the last word.

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Beyond The Frame https://www.duckrabbit.info/2017/04/beyond-the-frame/ https://www.duckrabbit.info/2017/04/beyond-the-frame/#respond Sun, 23 Apr 2017 09:24:10 +0000 https://www.duckrabbit.info/?p=40065 Photographs are intriguing things. They show you stuff. You can look at a photo and see everything in it. And sometimes when ‘the story in an image’ is not fully visible, you can often look at several related images and gain a more rounded view, understand more about what is being shown. You might think that...

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Photographs are intriguing things. They show you stuff. You can look at a photo and see everything in it. And sometimes when ‘the story in an image’ is not fully visible, you can often look at several related images and gain a more rounded view, understand more about what is being shown.

You might think that anyway.

Unfortunately its not always that easy, as I’ve recently discovered.

 

 

It started simply enough. With a box of b&w negatives, old and dusty, all taken by my dad sometime in the 1950’s. There are many of them, all nestled together in a few envelopes. I had them in a box of old stuff I’d inherited. I scanned a few and was intrigued by one that showed my mum sitting with my older sister, still a baby, and with another young girl beside her. The location was obvious to me, Trislaig, opposite Fort William, my home town, Ben Nevis looming skywards behind.

 

Then I found another negative in the pile, the same young girl, sitting on the gunwale of a boat. Same location, same clothing and probably the same day. A fishing rod just visible in the lower right corner suggests this was a pleasure trip, dad loved fishing and would toss a line out with his home-made lures every chance he got. I recognised the boat, my dad had saved hard to buy it and we crossed the loch in it often, for picnics, to go fishing, or just to be ‘on the water’.  But the young girl was not so obvious. I guessed it might be a cousin, and forgot about it.

 

Then, years later my mum went into care, with dementia. Another box of negatives was liberated from a storage chest as I cleared her home, and put aside for safekeeping in the pile that would be retained, rather than go to charity. These frames were mostly 6×9 format from dad’s old Zeiss Ikon, a camera I still have on the shelf. Gradually I worked my way through them, occasionally scanning a few of the ones that looked promising.

To my great surprise I realised that there were several more images of this young woman, several taken in Fort William, but many others taken in what I think is Ayrshire on family holidays.

 

 

 

This young woman appears to be part of the family, is caring for my sister in several frames, in others an integral part of the group, but after these images, which appear to portray her at a particular age, there are no more images, no record of her growing older. The story just seems to stop.

I took the images to show my mum in her care home, and let her ponder them on the iPad. She stammered somewhat (having now lost some of her speech ability) but her eyes betrayed no sign of recognition. I let her see the series, frame after frame, sliding my fingers on the screen to magnify the girl’s face in the hope of triggering a memory, but mum lost interest and was distracted by a passing member of staff.

 

I asked relatives, they had no idea. My cousin who sort-of resembles this young woman and was initially who I thought it might be, had no idea either. But she added “It was post-war, there were lots of things going on, maybe this is one of those things…” then stopped, and was silent, and after a bit continued “…but you know your mum, she would take in anyone, help people out, maybe that’s the explanation…maybe she was helping look after someone…I dont know much more than you…”.

In one image the young girl wears a blazer with what seems to be a school badge on it, but the resolution is not good enough under enlargement to determine what it says. I did some research and posted a crop of the badge but turned up nothing.

 

 

 

So I have a small set of images marking some moments in the life of our family, and rather than shed more light on ‘the story’, the additional images I’ve come across simply compound the small mystery contained within.

 

 

There was never any mention of the role this child played in the family, no hint at any time, no subsequent record I am aware of. Maybe because it was insignficant and is nothing out-of-the-ordinary. Or it may have been because it was something to forget. But there’s something faintly reassuring in all of this though. The images were made at a time when cameras weren’t that common, and expensive to buy and use, and that my dad felt it important to take these frames indicates the subject matter is important.

The irony in all of this is that the images came into my possession as a consequence of my mum’s dementia, the very act of their ‘release’ a consequence of her fading ability to recall the story of their content. And in a bittersweet counterpoint to their discovery due to mum’s illness, the photographer of these images, my dad, has been neatly excised from the record of my family, ‘erased’ from so many other images by that same illness, as I related here in ‘The Ineluctable Sadness of Loss’. Two people, a child and a photographer, connected by a sequence of scratched and faded pieces of film, but the story of that connection ‘lost’ through the passage of time and dementia.

I’m hopeful that one day the story will emerge, but until then I’ll just celebrate the fact we have them, enjoy the backwards glance they offer and ponder what went on ‘beyond the frame’.

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Are you paying attention? https://www.duckrabbit.info/2017/04/are-you-paying-attention/ https://www.duckrabbit.info/2017/04/are-you-paying-attention/#comments Thu, 20 Apr 2017 10:54:32 +0000 https://www.duckrabbit.info/?p=39591 It’s 2am. I’m sipping peppermint tea from a ‘Doctor Who’ flask. Hunched in my jacket on the platform. It’s -15C, the middle of Siberia in December, and it’s only going to get colder the further we go. The train station is quiet and eerie. The green tint of the floodlights transforms the smoke rising from the ancient...

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It’s 2am.

I’m sipping peppermint tea from a ‘Doctor Who’ flask. Hunched in my jacket on the platform. It’s -15C, the middle of Siberia in December, and it’s only going to get colder the further we go.

The train station is quiet and eerie.

The green tint of the floodlights transforms the smoke rising from the ancient coal burners in the carriages. A jade mist hangs over us. I look up and down the platform. Only a few have taken the opportunity to stretch their legs and escape the stuffiness of the 4-berth cabins. Sucking on cigarettes as well as ‘fresh’ air.

I look up.

The family who reside next door to us are at the window, a Russian lady and her daughters.

I wave and smile. They wave back.

I can just make out the giggle of the youngest through the double glazing.

In the quiet, stood in the snow, my thoughts wander. How did I end up here! I’m just some guy from a small town in the Midlands.

The train attendant, a smiley Russian lady who acts as our carer, is gesturing for us to get back on. I take a last look, a last breath of the icy cold and heave myself back onto the carriage. We pull off into the night. Ahead lies Mongolia, China and adventure.

It’s strange how life pans out! Funny where it takes you.

Or is it?

The answer is yes…            and no.

I came across a quote from Buddha that struck a chord…

“What you think, you become.

What you feel, you attract.

What you imagine, you create.”

Back on the train. I’m reading a book. I note down this passage about life…

“All you need to do is be conscious of your choices and be responsible for your actions.”

Are you paying attention? Are you accountable?

These things may take you places.

 

How did I get here?

 

After hours of ‘nothing’ the short stops bring plenty of action.

 

Our neighbours gave us local fruit…we gave them English chocolate.

 

Plenty of time to ponder

 

Home from home. Much better than the crap on TV.

 

Lines over the Gobi

 

Rising moon and setting sun  – Gobi desert. Mongolia

Photography by Oliver Sharpe and Benjamin Chesterton.

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Word gets around https://www.duckrabbit.info/2017/04/word-gets-around/ https://www.duckrabbit.info/2017/04/word-gets-around/#respond Thu, 13 Apr 2017 14:58:58 +0000 https://www.duckrabbit.info/?p=40044 There’s tension in the air. The Democratic Republic of Congo. April 2011. Masisi. Yasuyoshi Chiba and I are working for MSF. Films and photography. The night we arrive at the staff camp one of the surgeons gets up at the team meeting and asks what the fuck we are doing there when what he really needs...

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There’s tension in the air.

The Democratic Republic of Congo. April 2011. Masisi. Yasuyoshi Chiba and I are working for MSF. Films and photography.

The night we arrive at the staff camp one of the surgeons gets up at the team meeting and asks what the fuck we are doing there when what he really needs is medicinal drugs?

It’s a fair question so I stand and

  1. Thank everyone for their grace in accepting us
  2. Promise to do my best
  3. Pass over the bottle of Jameson whiskey and jar of Nutella I picked up at duty free

Later I lie under a mosquito net listening to the jungle breathe and the occasional sputter of gun fire.

After that the rain making out with the tin roof.

Preparing myself.

I don’t like hospitals. Blood. The stuff I’m made of, I hate to see.

Next day we’re having a tour of the hospital led by Sam, the amazing midwife we’ll be following for the next week. I get as far as the premature baby unit. So tiny. Like miniature wrinkled old men fighting for their lives. Their mothers swaddling them tightly skin to skin. Only their body warmth keeping them alive. As fragile as frost.

I excuse myself and step outside. The sun is bright. My hand reaches for the wall. I steady myself. And sob. It’s nothing for anyone to worry about. I’m not losing it. Just feeling. They are the last tears I’ll shed on this trip. And afterwards, maybe five minutes later, I’ve emptied it out and the tour continues.

Word gets around.

That night the surgeon opens the bottle of whiskey and pours me a glass.

C11-2010

0305-6966

0309-1077

All pictures (c) Yasuyoshi Chiba/duckrabbit/MSF

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The critic in me. An asshole. An apology. https://www.duckrabbit.info/2017/03/critic-ass-hole-apology/ https://www.duckrabbit.info/2017/03/critic-ass-hole-apology/#comments Fri, 31 Mar 2017 11:33:10 +0000 https://www.duckrabbit.info/?p=40018 I’ve just arrived at Format Photography Festival and Pete Brook (aka Prison Photography) is manhandling me. I don’t mind. I’ve known Pete online for many years but this is the first time I’ve met the big bearded dude. Bear hugs are permitted. After crushing me we tour the book fair. He wants to know what...

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I’ve just arrived at Format Photography Festival and Pete Brook (aka Prison Photography) is manhandling me.

I don’t mind. I’ve known Pete online for many years but this is the first time I’ve met the big bearded dude. Bear hugs are permitted.

After crushing me we tour the book fair.

He wants to know what I think about a project.

Immo Refugee which in the words of Colin Pantall  ‘is a documentation of the Jungle Shacks in Calais (which have now been flattened). It’s by Maria Ghetti and Marco Tiberio who are part of DEFROST studio.’

After flicking through the publication I don’t know what to think.

I get the point. Or maybe I don’t.

I’m genuinely frustrated by the lack of recognisable faces when photography talks about refugees and asylum seekers. It’s a negative reaction based on the fact I’m a volunteer English teacher of refugees/asylum seekers in Birmingham. Most of my crew have come via Calais. They have lives in those shacks. They are an open bunch and they’re happy to be photographed. This publication doesn’t close that gap.

As I explain all this to Pete I start to become acutely aware that the guy who painstakingly, with thought and intent and care and concern, put this together, is standing less than two metres  from me. I’m probably talking loud enough that he can hear me. Probably.

But I don’t bother to engage with him. Just place the prospectus back and walk away.

Later I feel sad about this.

In the courtyard of one of Format’s venues Defrost have erected a tent with a for sale sign. I dig this. I even try and break in.  It’s actually a poignant reminder of the journeys some of the refugees I teach have come on. I realise they would appreciate this project.

I was ignorant to judge the work for what it cannot do. For what it never claims to be. Let’s talk about what’s there. And why. With the guy. Benjamin, for fuck’s sake get over yourself, he’s just standing there.

After my post last week about Format festival an old friend writes to me:

Just read your Photo Festival piece. Went there last year to get my work reviewed. Loneliest day of the year – the low-light was when I showed my work at the hour long walk through session at the end of the day and not one person stopped to even look. Fact!!! Anyway when are we meeting up for a curry and a film?

Jeez. We can be ass-holes can’t we. Without even meaning to be. We can hurt people.  I need to remember that.

To Marco and Mario. I’m really sorry. I should have taken the time, but I didn’t and I regret that. You did a great thing. And if you’re ever in Brum and have a couple of hours on a Monday afternoon, please come and share your work with my class. Afterwards the beer and curry are on me.

To everyone else. That boy, that girl. That person with the book open.  We’ve all been them. Don’t be me. A little encouragement. Please.

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Skye’s The Limit https://www.duckrabbit.info/2017/03/skyes-the-limit/ https://www.duckrabbit.info/2017/03/skyes-the-limit/#comments Wed, 29 Mar 2017 15:39:41 +0000 https://www.duckrabbit.info/?p=39858 Need a wee break from all that Brexit nonsense? This might be for you. Untaxing, easy on the eye and no unforeseen problems. I took a few days off last week and went to the Isle of Skye. For those of you uncertain where Skye is, it lies off Scotland’s west coast. It’s big, the second largest island in...

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Need a wee break from all that Brexit nonsense? This might be for you. Untaxing, easy on the eye and no unforeseen problems.

I took a few days off last week and went to the Isle of Skye. For those of you uncertain where Skye is, it lies off Scotland’s west coast. It’s big, the second largest island in Scotland (after Lewis & Harris in the Western Isles) around 80km long and 40km wide, and covers 1,656 KM Sq.

The deeply indented and very rugged coastline, with its numerous sea lochs, is long, stretching 650km, long enough to entertain coastal ramblers for several weeks, months or even years depending on your agility. It’s highest point, Sgurr Alasdair, is a 993m lump of scary jaggy rock, part of the Black Cuillin Mountains which dominate the island.

It would be fair to say Skye is impressive. Although that is, in fact, an understatement.

It attracts sea kayakers, climbers, cyclists, sailors, wildlife enthusiasts, lots of photographers and people who just stand and gape. There are several honeypot areas, which I have often visited, such as Fairy Pools, Elgol, Old Man of Storr and the Quirang but this time I was determined to avoid the crowds, stare at the sea, and see what passed my way. With high pressure building it was forecast to be sunshine all weekend, warm days and bitterly cold nights.

 

Blaven with Skye Marble Quarry in foreground, Torrin, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

As a Lochaber native and well-used to grey skies and rain, my preference for photography, particularly on the west coast, is to have some ‘interesting’ weather: scudding clouds, shafts of light, rainbows and sweeping showers of snow or rain to make stuff glow. But this was going to be sunshine all the way, and I was going to have to put up with that, like it or not, and try to make the best of it!

Anyway, here’s some pictures. I’m not one for all that ‘highland wilderness’ malarkey, it’s not a wilderness, its a managed landscape that at its heart supports people. You can easily make it look ‘wildernessy’ but that just depends on the direction you point the camera and the things you choose to ignore.  It is certainly ‘wild’ but that’s a totally different thing.

 

Workers at Skye Marble Quarry, Torrin, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

The personal challenge I’d set myself was to try to show that ‘wildness’  but wherever possible, to allude to the human presence that is never far away, intimately bound to the landscape. Sometimes that presence is overt, at other times it’s less obvious, simply time-worn scars of past human endeavours which are all but forgotten. And I have to confess I like that often-hidden ‘story of landscape’, it makes you look more closely.

So although these are just pictures, many also contain stories, and if you’ve never been to Skye, maybe this will tip you into making a trip, to read those tales for yourself, and learn a little of the land.

Be warned though, Skye is deceptively big, it’s time-consuming to do it any justice, and it’s addictive. You’ll want more…

 

Blaven from Torrin, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

 

Birches and jet trail, Torrin, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

 

Gravestones, Cill Chriosd, near Torrin, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Lichen highlights text on gravestone, Cill Chriosd, near Torrin, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Old Man of Storr and the Trotternish Ridge behind Portree village, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Street scene, Portree, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

I spoke briefly with James Sheene, who was doing pre-season maintenance & repairs on his boat in Portree.

“I hope you’ve got good sun screen on!” I shouted.

“I’m making the most of this!” came the jovial reply.

“Is this major surgery you’re doing?” I asked

“Nah, just some repairs, to the roof and a few other bits. Need to get some glassfibre on it whilst its warm and dry…”

“Is it a full-time working boat?” I enquired

“I wish, no its just a hobby of sorts. I built it myself, had a few decades of use out of it so far. I have a few creels I drop but just for my own benefit, I’m not selling anything. I love being out on the water, the stuff you see. Sea eagles, seals, birds all sorts. Watched a few killer whales one day taking seals off the top end of Raasay. One came right out of the water with a seal in its mouth. Scary stuff, but they’ll no harm people. Great to see!”

I left him to his labours, and headed on up the coast.

 

James Sheene working on his boat, with Cuillin Mountains in distance, Portree, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

James Sheene working on his boat, which he made from glassfibre over plywood, Portree, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

 

Street scene, Portree, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Bullet holes in sign near Staffin, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

 

View towards Staffin from near Balmeanach, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

 

Warning sign at Kilt Rock, near Staffin, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Waterfall at Kilt Rock, near Staffin, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Muir burn (burning heather moorland) Maligar & Marishader, near Staffin, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Staffin, with Wester Ross mountains behind on mainland, from Balmeanach cemetery, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Eilean Flodigarry and fields at Stenscholl, Staffin Bay, near Staffin, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Driving along the north end of the island I spotted a pyramid, bright yellow and incongruous, and as I got closer I realised it was wood. Across the single track road opposite it was a man cutting up logs, and as I passed I shouted through my open window “Is that your log stack?” and he smiled and shouted “YES!”

I stopped. “Hi I’m John, do you mind if I photograph your pyramid?”

Not at all he said, and introduced himself, Glyn Sanderson.

He explained that he orders a lorry load of whole logs, spends the time cutting and splitting and then sells them bagged to whomever is passing.

“It’s good fun, keeps me outside and fit, and I get to talk to folks! If its a quiet afternoon and nobody is stopping I just amble across the road in front of cars with a barrow of logs and they have to stop, then I get a blether!”

“Aha sort of ambushing people then eh!” I joked.

I complimented him on his stack, which I thought rather impressive, and we swapped stories for the next wee while.

 

Glyn Sanderson and his timber stacked for drying, Kilmaluag, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Glyn Sanderson’s sheep outside the shed, Kilmaluag, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Crofters drive cattle up the road near Totescore, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Tourists jump for joy (and a photo), Duntulm Castle, Duntulm, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Sheep fank beside Duntulm Castle, Duntulm, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Lazy beds mark the landscape near Sheader, below Sron Vourlinn, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Crofter taking feed to the livestock, road below Sron Vourlinn, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Contorted rock on Sron Vourlinn, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

The local bus in evening light, Solitote, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Last rays of sunlight reflect off window glass on Wester Ross coast, viewed from North Skye © John MacPherson

 

 

Last rays of sunlight reflect off window glass on Wester Ross coast, viewed from North Skye © John MacPherson

 

Sunset over Solitote with Duntulm Castle ruins on skyline, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Passing car in twilight near Solitote, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

 

Morning light on ruined WW2 building, hills on Harris appearing from mist through window, Solitote, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Morning light on ruined WW2 building, Solitote, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Exterior of ruined WW2 building, Solitote, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Fishing boat returning to port, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

I spent the night on a hilltop near Duntulm, spectacular views north, east and west. The wind was bitterly cold and the ocean was sighing far below me. The low evening light glancing across the landscape revealed shape and shadow, marking lazy beds, signs of agricultural use over hundreds of years. The sun dipped, sea haze obscuring the distant coast of Wester Ross and Sutherland. But then as the sunlight’s angle changed, one after another tiny points of brilliant golden light sparkled to the east, sun reflecting on the windows of individual houses, a coincidence of window angle and light, marking each village. Like some ‘Lord of The Rings’ procession of signal fires the sparkles spread along the coast fading into distance and then extinguished as the sun vanished.

As it grew darker the wind dropped and the deep resonant thud of a marine diesel engine far out at sea betrayed the presence of a fishing boat, dropping a lazy trawl in the Minch.  All around me left and right new lights blinked – the lighthouse on Rona, another on Red Point, smaller lights on Trodday and others far off on the Western Isles glinting in the growing gloom. Like the ancient marks made by farmers in the landscape, their field boundaries revealed by fading light, the lighthouses mark the boundaries of the sea, their blinking lights painting undulating lines across the furrowed ocean.

I had sat enthralled through several hours of, quite simply, light, just light, shaping landscape, reflecting settlement, protecting seamen.

 

Staffin in dawn light, with mainland hills behind, viewed from near Balmaqueen, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Rona lighthouse winks in dawn light, with Applecross hills behind, viewed from near Balmaqueen, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Trawler working in Inner Sound, viewed from near Balmaqueen, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

I slept sound, warm, and woke early, pre-dawn. The sea was still. Sunrise was a mad splatter of light that spilled over the Wester Ross mountains. One by one small fishing boats became visible on the vast swathe of sea below me. Raucous calls distracted me as nesting ravens fell swooping from the steep sea cliffs below me and soared off to hunt.

I watched them climb and dive, jet black feathers sheening in the low warm light, eyes glinting now and then. They checked me out, then dived off to roll and fly upside down, lower beak uppermost, and dropped out of sight only to reappear behind me crrrrrawwwwing as they warmed.

 

Coastal fence to prevent livestock falling off cliff, Eilean Flodigarry sparkling in dawn light, with Wester Ross hills behind, viewed from near Balmaqueen, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Two gulls, two stacks, and sea fog rolling in towards Eilean Trodday, viewed from near Balmaqueen, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Duntulm Castle ruin in early morning light, viewed from near Balmaqueen, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Ravens wheel over crofts at Shulista, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Raven executing a 360 degree in-flight roll, North Skye © John MacPherson

 

 

Raven executing a 360 degree in-flight roll, North Skye © John MacPherson

 

 

Raven soaring over crofts at Shulista, hills of Harris behind, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Water infrastructure, Kilvaxter, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

 

Electricity infrastructure, Kilvaxter, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

 

 

 

Children playing in grounds of Kilmuir & Stenscholl Church of Scotland, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

 

The Post Box, Kilvaxter, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Bus shelter, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Bus shelter, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Bus shelter, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

 

Crofter’s shed and kennel, Kilvaxter, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

 

 

 

Coastguard facility, Kilvaxter, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Small forest plot, Kilvaxter, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

Uig village is also the ferry terminal for the Western Isles ferry. Sea fog was rolling in, the foghorn further along the coast blaring unseen in the grey. The first tendrils spilled over the hillside above Uig. A family from the Far East were taking photographs at the viewpoint. I joined them for the show and bade them hello.

“Scyusa me sir” said the man in fractured English. “Wha issa tha on hiiiside there?”  and pointed concernedly at the fog.

“It’s sea fog” I replied “…it’s rolling in from the Atlantic, behind the hill where I’ve just come from its very thick and the fog horn is sounding, you can just hear it…”

He looked perplexed. Thought for a moment and then replied rolling my explanation around on his tongue “…seefaaaag? seefaaaag? …was isss seefaaaag? We need concerned, iss safe seefaaag?”

I smiled broadly, reassuringly and offered “…yes you’ll be fine…we’ll all be quite safe…it’s natural…its just fog…mist….from the warmer air passing over the cooler sea.”

His face lit up with joy “AH FOG FOG…I see…only FOG!” he exclaimed and turned to his anxious companions and relayed the information in their native tongue, the word ‘fog’ pronounced in English with great emphasis. At which they all smiled towards me, relaxed and settled to enjoy the show. It was great to see visitors stumbling into natural phenomenon that went beyond their normal experience, and revelling in the sight.

We shared the moment and all laughed and oohhed and aaahed as the land was swallowed.

 

CalMac ferry emerges from the fog, Uig, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Tourists enjoy the spring sunshine, Uig, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Inshore boat heads off into the fog, Uig, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Sheeps wool on fence, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Cuillin Mountains provide a splendid backdrop to Ose, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Turbine & pole, Cuillin Mountains behind, near Drynoch, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Forestry plantation & Cuillin Mountains, Glen Brittle, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Fine stonework on sheep fank & Cuillin Mountains behind, Glen Brittle, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

Loch Brittle, Glen Brittle, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

I finished my wander with a hasty detour into Glen Brittle.

It’s a few years since I’ve been there. It never fails to impress. I dutifully photographed the mountains and then turned my back on them and fought my way into a stand of plantation forestry. Severe gales over the last few years have destroyed huge swathes of woodland along the West Coast, bowling ball winds tumbling skittletrees all around.

The damage was considerable. I sat on a fractured trunk, once vertical now horizontal, until my eyes became accustomed to the gloom. And found a pattern. An X like some giant kiss, and behind it more X’s each one smaller and smaller.

Quite apt I thought, and headed home.

 

Wind kissed pines blown over in forestry plantation, Glen Brittle, Isle of Skye © John MacPherson

 

 

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Islamic Fun……….. https://www.duckrabbit.info/2017/03/islamic-fun/ https://www.duckrabbit.info/2017/03/islamic-fun/#respond Wed, 29 Mar 2017 08:48:03 +0000 https://www.duckrabbit.info/?p=39583 It’s fairly common these days for the word ‘Islamic’ to be followed by that second word ”Fun…’ but continuing with the additional …‘damentalism’ tacked on the end, usually on the front of a newspaper, and going on to tell us why we should all be afraid.  Which is a shame. The notion of a group of...

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It’s fairly common these days for the word ‘Islamic’ to be followed by that second word ”Fun…’ but continuing with the additional …‘damentalism’ tacked on the end, usually on the front of a newspaper, and going on to tell us why we should all be afraid.  Which is a shame. The notion of a group of deeply committed individuals pursuing and promoting Islamic Fun and making headline news instead strikes me as far more important.

It’s also, in my humble opinion, far more honest in describing the daily reality for the overwhelming majority of Muslims.

 

Henna tattoo, Inverness Mosque, Scotland © John MacPherson

 

I took my son William to the Inverness Mosque Open Day on Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago. The Open Day is a regular occurrence held to allow anyone interested in Islam, or who simply wants to find out what goes on in a Mosque, to pay a visit. William was very keen as he’s currently studying world religions with his Primary 4 classmates. But as we entered he quickly spotted the table groaning with food, and the multicoloured array drew him in like a moth to a flame. He was gone! The food was freely available but large colourful signs made clear that any donations received would go towards supporting Syrian refugees.

 

Fundraising for Syrian refugees, Inverness Mosque, Scotland © John MacPherson

 

 

Fundraising for Syrian refugees, Inverness Mosque, Scotland © John MacPherson

 

The fundraiser was the initiative of a group of the Mosque’s young people who had prepared the signs and who were buzzing with excitement at the response from visitors. They were revelling in the experience of seeing their idea become a reality, and anxious to find out later in the afternoon how much money they’d raised!

William loaded a plate and began a geographical exploration of the flavours on offer, the myriad complex tastes reflecting the various nationalities that frequent the Mosque. I glimpsed him from time as he darted to and fro, having found a playmate, a young lad whose family come from Mauritius.

I’d been sidetracked before I got anywhere near the table of food, as I detoured to a table where henna tattoos were being applied, but had then been waylaid by two wee girls who wanted their photo taken, and which I’d knelt down to do. Once they saw themselves on the camera’s LCD they started to giggle and insisted on having a go themselves, and my large DSLR with its very expensive wide-aperture wide-angle lens went off on a little ramble with them for a few minutes.

 

Having fun at Mosque Open Day, Inverness Mosque, Scotland © John MacPherson

 

 

 

Henna tattooing, Mosque Open Day, Inverness Mosque, Scotland © John MacPherson

 

Henna tattoo, Open Day in Inverness Mosque, Scotland © John MacPherson

 

 

Local women visitors having fun at Mosque Open Day, Inverness Mosque, Scotland © John MacPherson

 

William returned and asked if he could look at the very elaborate copy of the Quran that was on display and one of the young people obliged. I sat with one of the Mosque committee whom I’d met on several of my previous visits. I remarked that the Open Day seemed to be busy, and asked how he found being a Muslim in Inverness given the current antagonism towards Islam in general:

“I came from Pakistan 35 years ago, first to England for a spell then moved to Inverness. I had some English but my wife couldn’t speak any, and she found it hard at first. But people were very friendly when we arrived, and they still are, I find Highland people very open and supportive, and they’ve been very positive about our Mosque…”

He pointed to a young man who had slowly come into our field of view and was smiling as he watched the children playing in the prayer area, and quietly explained “…he’s just arrived from Pakistan, has very little English but is slowly learning. It can be hard if you can’t make yourself understood, people forget that language is a bridge, it lets you find out what you have in common with others. And of course for that to happen you also need to be prepared to be open and to talk to people….” …and we’d have carried on the conversation but the wee girls had found me again and insisted I take some more pictures…

 

Having fun with the digital projector at Mosque Open Day, Inverness Mosque, Scotland © John MacPherson

 

 

 

Two friends having fun with the digital projector at Mosque Open Day, Inverness Mosque, Scotland © John MacPherson

 

 

Having fun with the digital projector at Mosque Open Day, Inverness Mosque, Scotland © John MacPherson

 

 

 

Children having fun at Mosque Open Day, Inverness Mosque, Scotland © John MacPherson

 

There was a digital projector in one of the alcoves running on loop showing slides about Islam and I suggested to the girls we take some photos using the coloured projection light. To grab their attention I showed them how to do shadow puppets with my hands and they squealed with delight as my ‘ostrich’ slowly ‘ate’  the fingers of my other hand, but trying to get them to stay still was a nightmare so I simply grabbed frames as they posed for only a moment, then spun, occasionally danced and nearly always giggled.

 

Children having fun at Mosque Open Day, Inverness Mosque, Scotland © John MacPherson

 

 

Children having fun at Mosque Open Day, Inverness Mosque, Scotland © John MacPherson

 

Then they were off again, spinning and rolling around the carpet, exuberant and happy. Small bundles of chaos! But one of the girls regularly and with great deliberation interrupted her acrobatics, stopping abruptly to kneel, her tiny figure completely still amidst the mayhem as she briefly offered a prayer. It was a beautiful reminder that although using this space to have fun, the children recognise it as a place for reverence and observance, and their small devotions  seemed to ‘fit’ there perfectly.

 

 

In the annexe the young women were counting the day’s donations, and quite astonished to learn that they’d managed to raise in excess of £600! They were delighted that the day had been busy, with a constant stream of visitors visiting the Mosque, many for the first time, but that this had also resulted in a significant donation to charity, and would make a real difference to other people’s lives, filled them with immense pride.

 

The new tiling in Inverness Mosque, Scotland © John MacPherson

 

The new tiling, some of it tartan to celebrate the Highland location, in Inverness Mosque, Scotland © John MacPherson

 

It had grown dark outside and it was time for William and I to go, as the event was coming to an end, so we bade everyone farewell, and stepped out of the warmth into the cold Highland night. What struck me about the event was…how very ordinary it was, overwhelmingly friendly, but ordinary. Just a group of people in a small community celebrating their faith, sharing their food and letting their children have fun.

And that need for fun, is a fundamentally important one. William, an 8 year old who can start a dance with his own shadow, who can in a matter of seconds draw a complete stranger into a game of ‘tig’ and whose ability to critically determine the fun potential in any given situation is acutely honed, remarked with the wisdom of a seasoned funster : “Daddy I’m quite tired, that was really good running about in the Mosque. And that boy I met, Rizwan, he showed me a new game on his tablet. I think I ate too much but I had a lot of fun!”

“Rise of Islamic Fun……….. in Inverness’  …well, call me a sentimental old fool if you like, but that’s a headline I think we in the Highlands should be immensely proud of.

 

Counting the donations for the Syrian refugees at Open Day in Inverness Mosque, Scotland © John MacPherson

 

 

Counting the donations for the Syrian refugees at Open Day in Inverness Mosque, Scotland © John MacPherson

 

This is Part 3 of an occasional series focusing on Inverness Mosque, the most northerly Mosque in the UK.

Part 1: Tales From The Mosque

Part 2: The Sheltering Space

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