Tag: michael eldridge

21
Nov

Why Photography and Awareness?

Animated gif of a rock pool at Hartland Quay

Rocks at Hartland Quay, Devon 2015

WORDS . . . TRICKY BLIGHTERS, because they are rooted in dualism. That’s why some like to make photographic images. No duplicitous words there.

Take the idea of ‘The Decisive Moment’. It was popularized by Henri Cartier-Bresson as a way of describing a split second when an apparent outer event coincides with an equally fictitious inner psychology. But don’t you sometimes need more than a split second to fully become aware of your, repetitive, free flowing, original nature?

It’s all appearance and fiction because it’s not two becoming one but, rather, multidimensional awareness overlapping and interconnecting. For many, however, their fate is to experience nightmares in which their worlds, and they, are experienced as separated.

Consciousness plays such roles usually without revealing your real identity, but sometimes, as part of the show, you may find yourself knowing what you really are.

Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len, for example. He admits to curing an entire ward of the criminally insane without visiting with any one of them. Instead he read their files and worked upon himself using ho ‘oponopono a traditional Hawaiian healing practice. This powerful technique demands that we take responsibility for whatever appears within our experience in the knowledge that it really dwells within us, clouding the clear plane of awareness.

Language separates because sentences are split syntactically into subjects and objects. The thing to remember, however, is that despite this apparent dualism, every sentence carries a complete meaning. It is this not simply the specific meaning of a sentence that is conveyed, but also the implication that communication reaches out.

Photography, too, has always been a medium of communication. But in the wonder of conscious-awareness, who or what is specifically communicating with whom?

Michael Eldridge, my friend and teacher, writes: ‘And so,’Photography and Awareness’, although the other way around would make more sense because with a developed and acute awareness, photography just follows like a happy and obedient puppy.’ I like this metaphor.

Cartier-Bresson put what Michael alludes to in this exchange:

‘Why did you press the button at that precise moment?’ asked the painter, (66 year old Paul Bonnard).

Cartier-Bresson turned towards one of the unfinished canvases leaning against the wall, and pointed in detail: ‘Why did you put a little touch of yellow here?’

Michael goes on: ‘. . . I would prefer the word ‘Absorption’ to ‘Awareness’ but it would sound silly as a title, so we’ll let it stand.

‘You see, when we are in a state of absorption, the awarer (sic) is not there as a separate entity and there is no duality.’

Here I take issue, although it’s probably just words being deceiving. This state of ‘absorption’ to which Michael refers, is misleading. Nothing, and on-one, gets absorbed into anything else, because they are both properties of the great illusion. No matter how much you may hypothesize on the nature of living the only thing that ever resists dissection is the fact that you experience and that you are aware of doing so. From where you, apparently, are everything you experience occurs upon a screen of awareness with which you originally, and correctly, identified .

Nathan Gill wrote in 2000: ‘If all there is is Consciousness, if there is only Consciousness, then why or for what are you still seeking? If there is only Consciousness then right now you must be that and everything else that appears in and as awareness must also be that, including your sense of separate self if that is how you appear now. Any personal sense of I or ‘doership’ or ego must be Consciousness. What else could it be?’

Michael continues:
‘And we all experience this state when deeply into a book or film, or fishing or playing chess whatever. And of course children spend most of their waking hours in this wondrous state until adults begin to interfere. And the deepest state of absorption is when we are in the act of creating, whether a painting, a poem, a garden etc. In short, simply doing the things we love, if we haven’t forgotten what these are.’

I love this idea but feel impelled to clarify something. Awareness implies a grasping of life’s immediacy. There is a possibility, for most largely misconceived, of taking responsibility. Absorption, on the other hand, suggests something less concrete. Something dreamlike perhaps?, to be possessed, not quite all there, spaced out.

It’s not forgetting what creative things we used to enjoy that causes our problems, but rather having forgotten what we are.

Jean Bolen, a Jungian Analyst, once explained to me that when this happens archetypes may consume us. We then become insensitive to those with whom we live or work. A variety of symptoms may break out, as a result, ranging from a chaotic lifestyle with its missed appointments and inability to stay with planned agreements, to plain old fashioned narcissism and insensitivity.

American psychiatrist Milton H. Erickson was once consulted by a painter who suffered with a creativity block. Erickson gave the man a post-hypnotic suggestion that the next time he attempted to paint he would go into a deep trance and complete the painting with no memory of the event.

In due course the man set up a canvas, and before starting took a bite from a cheese sandwich he had prepared for his refreshment. When he took the second bite he found that the bread was dry, which puzzled him. Upon looking up he was amazed to find that his room was quite dark and before him was a fully painted canvas. A whole day had passed.

Many of us would like to enjoy such ability when completing tax returns, or cleaning the lavatory basin, but we must ask ourselves what role awareness plays in this story.

The question also relates to how art is regarded.

Dutch-born painter Willem de Kooning first began to show symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in the 1980s. He began working far faster than ever before, producing more than 300 paintings before he died. These lacked the density and layered complexity that had put de Kooning at the forefront of Abstract Expressionism. Where before he took eighteen months, or so, to complete a work, often painting and repainting layer upon layer on the canvas, his work was now ‘complete’ when ‘assistants’ were ‘satisfied’ by it.

This is one of the dangers of focusing upon ‘absorption’ as a destination. Within the dreamlike matrix projecting what we call ‘reality’ awareness tends to conjure up what incomplete aspect of the idealized image it has of itself that it focuses upon.

Sometimes, words matter after all.

Cartier-Bresson said many wise things. Here are three of them: ‘You just have to live and life will give you pictures. . . . We must avoid however, snapping away, shooting quickly and without thought, overloading ourselves with unnecessary images that clutter our memory and diminish the clarity of the whole. . . . While we’re working, we must be conscious of what we’re doing.’

27
Feb

Michael Eldridge: Creativity in Le Marche.

Stephen Bray and Michael Eldridge in Italy>/br>image Liliana Pivato

Stephen Bray and Michael Eldridge in Italy – image Liliana Pivato

Few understand photography better than Michael Eldridge. He was Director of Post Graduate Studies in Photography at The Arts University, Bournemouth for more years than most would care to admit. Today his heart is in the beautiful Sibilini Mountains in the Le Marche Region of Italy, where we plan projects together.

Michael believes we all have creativity locked within us. The problem for many employed in the arts and media is that the river of genius which once was strong, under pressure, becomes polluted or stagnant.

This is why time and time again people in the commercial world find themselves lacking in imagination and lost for inspiration. Too much attention to material concerns and, frequently broken, promises inevitably disconnects the flowing river from the source. Michael teaches Creativity Workshops that help people restore their connection, and there are few better places to do so than in Italy, where he lives.

It’s years since he painted scenery for the Earl of Snowdon, and worked for Sue Mann’s agency following her departure from British Vogue, where she was Art Director, but his eye is as fresh as ever.
 

09
Jun

Children’s Photography Workshops.

I’ve been running some children’s photography workshops in conjunction with TEMA, which is The Turkish Foundation For Combating Soil Erosion, and is dedicated to preserving the Country’s woodland.

Classes from local schools attend. First they visit the gallery and look at the large images that Michael and I made near his home in Italy, and mine here in Turkey.

Then we talk about them.

The children are quick to pick up that the pictures are different from the ones their parents take because the pictures in their family albums are mainly of people.

They like the images in the gallery which they think of as ‘nature photographs’.

Later we conduct some simple perception experiments by focussing on our forefinger and noting that the background has become fuzzy. Some children even report that the background seems to move further away, which is an accurate description of their perception because our eyes focus in a different way to cameras.

The real task starts when the children make a simple viewfinder with their hands and fingers and begin to find subjects they may wish to photograph.

Toward the end of the workshop I help them to select a subject and we take a picture of it with my camera.

The photograph is then printed on a sheet of high quality digital photographic paper using archival quality inks. It has a wide border so all the class can sign their print.

Here are some examples of the images made during the workshops.

3_schools

Here are three of the images we made at the ‘Trees and Sky’ Children’s Workshops.

04
May

Free Postcards, At The Trees And Sky Exhibition, Marmaris.

Trees and Sky starts with an Exhibition in Marmaris, Turkey commencing on 28th May, and continuing until June 10th. There is to be a blazing hot party for the private showing on 28th, when Michael Eldridge, the former Director of Postgraduate Studies in Photography at Bournemouth College of Art will be available to answer questions about his work.

Early visitors to the show, from 29th May, will be given a limited edition folio of postcards, while stocks last. These feature works from both Eldridge and Stephen Bray.

They are perfect for thanking the hostess following a dinner party, or for writing a note of condolence, or affection to a loved one. But they are real post cards and we want you to use them, rather than leave them to gather dust in a drawer.

 

02
May

The Trees and Sky Exhibition

Trees and Sky is not simply an exhibition but marks the start of an on-going project aimed to help people reconnect with the elemental aspects of life, which for many are obscured by the pressures of everyday life.

poster2

The exhibition images are a number of large prints featuring the Sibillini Mountains of Le Marche, Italy, and the rugged hills that are to be found on the Lorima Peninsular, Turkey.

Michael Eldridge and I met 35 years ago in a college in England where Michael taught photography, but they lost touch after the class ended.

I went on to pursue a dual career as both columnist and photographer for a number of publications, as a side-string to his main career as a psychotherapist. Since coming to live in Turkey in 2000 I taught a generation of Turkish professionals Family Therapy and continue to play a role in the field.

Michael left his post as Director of Post Graduate Studies in Photography at the prestigious Bournemouth College of Art in order to work with Sue Mann (ex Art Director of Vogue) in her company ‘Synektics’ a London based media company, U.K. During this period he worked with many famous photographers including Lord Snowdon, the former husband of Princess Margaret. He met the American landscape photographer Ansel Adams, whilst teaching in California as a Fulbright Scholar.

Some of my images appeared in ‘Cahoots’, a regional magazine about alternative lifestyles published in the North of England, and also in ‘The County Forum’, a Dorset based publication. I also worked in the U.K with the advertising photographer Shaun Cullen, and portraitist Nigel Port. His work is finding its way into a number of private collections.

Michael and I have been taking photographs since we were boys and together have put over 100 man years into the study and application of the medium. They share a remarkable kindred-like relationship that enables them to take up their ability to work and banter even after prolonged absences of contact.

Remarkably Michael, at an age when most people would be firmly retired, has just launched a second career for himself as a Creativity Coach, which enables him to continue to teach young people ways to enhance their lives and careers.

Over the years they have taken part in over 20 Exhibitions in Europe and North America but hitherto have never shown their work together.

We took the opportunity to launch ‘Trees and Sky’ in Marmaris when Özgur Uğan, of Netsel Marina, Marmaris, suggested that Netsel Gallery would be a perfect venue. Michael was keen to bring his work to Turkey, having visited the country in his youth.

Trees and Sky is opening to private view on 28th May at Netsel Gallery, Marmaris and will be open to the public from 29th May until 10th June.2010.

01
May

The Remarkable Story of ‘Trees and Sky’

Who would have thought that a friendship might endure for thirty-five years without those chums meeting, or hearing, of each other at all?

And how strange that each, in our own unique ways have trodden a similar paths.

Michael Eldridge is an accomplished artist, both on canvas, for like many good photographers he paints, and also as a highly attuned lens-man. Now living in the mystical Sibillini Mountains of Le Marche, Italy, he was an art teacher in Dorset, U.K. when I first encountered him.

I have been making images for half a lifetime using the skills first imparted to me by Michael long ago.

Although people rarely appear in their images both Michael and I share an enthusiasm for others. He is a driving force within the ‘Tiger Eagles Coaching Group’, and teaches Creativity Workshops, both in Italy and other countries.

I spent years teaching generations of psychotherapists, including doctors and psychologists, both in the U.K. and Turkey, and continue to provide support and supervision for many health care professionals.

There are three elements to each image Michael and I produced for our exhibition. There is the sky, which changes but like any personality yet remains the same essential entity. Then there are the trees, growing daily and, like all living things, subject to finite lives that witness both virtue and hardship.

The third element is you, the viewer. We invite you to make what you will of the images in this exhibition.

Stephen Jeremy Maxwell Bray and Michael John Eldridge

StephenBray and Michael Eldridge

18
Apr

Veteran Female Turkish Photographer Applauds ‘Trees And Sky’.

When Tuncay Çöteloğlu heard that Michael Eldridge and I were launching their International photography exhibition, ‘Trees and Sky’, in Turkey she was astounded!

“It is my subject,” she exclaimed, “I was thinking of hosting an exhibition called ‘Trees and Clouds’.

Tuncay Çöteloğlu is one of Turkey’s treasures. Born the daughter of an Ottoman officer and personal friend of Mustafa Kemal, she has always been close to the arts.

She studied painting, and the piano, before these were fashionable in Turkey, but her passion, since a young girl, is photography.

“There were no films when I started”, she explained, “My first images were made on glass plates”.

“Later I used film cameras. I always carry a camera with me even today I have one in my handbag.”

Tuncay indeed did have the small compact camera, which she purchased some twenty years ago. She shot a few frames just to prove that she hasn’t lost her touch.

She covers events as a news freelancer, and sometimes takes on commercial assignments. She is also an experienced curator having hosted over twenty exhibitions prior to moving to Selimiye, (Nr. Marmaris), sixteen years ago.

“I started working professionally during the 1960s”, she explained, “I had my own studio and processing lab back then.”

Tuncay Çöteloğlu is a past president of Istanbul Photography and Cinema Amateurs Club (IFSAK), which was founded in 1959. She was the sole female member back then and her name, which can be applied either to boys, or girls, (more frequently boys), sometimes caused confusion.

“How could this tiny woman with a smiling face be the president of anything, people asked?”

“At first we met in the reading rooms of mosques, there were twelve of us. Later, when I acquired my lab, we met there because I had room. But when the numbers grew then we had to find larger venues.”

“I chose photography because I like to pioneer new things”, Tuncay told Bray who had met with her to ask her advice about a test print he had made in preparation for for ‘Trees and Sky’.

“I have also been a hotel manager, the manager of a concrete manufacturing works, a sea captain, as well as a parent of course.”

“My first love is life, and my second photography.”

When she saw the test print, which measures 90 cms. across, Tuncay said, “It is beautiful. I like to photograph the sky and the trees in this way. Sometimes people don’t understand what I see when I point my camera at the clouds. But I see shapes like animals heads, and sometimes the skyline resembles the profile of Ataturk.”

“Look there’s the head of a wild-boar in your picture, right here!”