August 2004

Plenty of exhibits and loads of lovely people.

The biggest cheers of the crowd, went to the public service workers. The Royal Air Force fielded a team for the first time. The NHS and Ambulance Services and the Gay Police Association. Full dress uniforms, don’t they look smart.

More piccys on my PhotoBlog at:

On driving past, I found many walls, simply covered in artwork at “The Arches” Ladybay Bridge, Nottingham. I think this a particularly colourful set, made by many graphic artist. Not vandelism eh? as some think.

I want to draw your attention to the Leprechaun. It is fantastic. Really fine. In time, I may meet the creator, and simply say well done. I’ve just made it my computer desktop.

‘The Arches’ is an enlightened youth project of Nottingham City Youth Service.



text: 07766 475136

More piccy on my Photoblog at:

Fire: Mansfield Town Centre Fire at a plastics factory in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire

5 hours, [and then overnight damping down]

More than 80 firefighters from across the region raced to the scene, with up to 20 appliances deployed from Ashfield, Alfreton, Chesterfield, Shirebrook, Blidworth, Buxton, Nottingham and Mansfield.

It was a big one. 100 residents evacuated to the local community centre because of the risk of the buildings collapse, and the possible effects of the acrid smoke.

I took a number of photos at the scene, then, went up to high ground in a public park, south of Mansfield. and took another set. These from about 1 1/2 miles from town centre.

More piccys on my PhotoBlog at:

August 1642, King Charles I ‘Raised his Standard’ at Nottingham, thus declaring war on the English Parliament. This act marked the beginning of the English Civil War.

Over this weekend, the Sealed Knot mounted various displays and re-enactments, to commemorate this event.

And a spectacle it was to. Canon and musket fire, pikes charging about, screams, and much pulling of faces ……..

More pictures on my Photoblog at:

Day 1

Day 2

And ….. you can see a full set of everything I’d taken over the weekend, on my webserver at:

Indymedia at:

* * * * * *

Sealed Knot

King’s Lifeguard of Foot, The Sealed Knot Society

English Civil War Society – a history re-enactment group

Nottingham Events – Raising the Standard 2004

and, why I’m really interested, check out this lot ……

At the end of the English Civil War, (The 1640s), people began to realise that after their sacrifice in fighting that war, they had replaced one bunch of uncaring bastards with another lot…. well, that’s politics and war for you, nothing new there then!!!

I see paralells with today that are uncanny, even scary, at times. The people pitched against an unrepresentative state and aristocracy. The Church acting rather like the present day multinationals, and a lot of people who just wanted to be left alone, without interference from church or state, on land that they respected and loved. I have included a little background info, to give you an idea of what I mean.

350 years ago now, but a solid example of “DIY culture”, or what.

There has been an increasing interest recently, in the 17th century exploits of the group of radical squatter – communists know as `The Levellers’ and `The Diggers’. Partly, this is the result of the new wave of `DIY’ protest and resistance, which has prompted comparisons between today’s young (and not so young!) demonstators and the diggers. Self-empowerment, direct action. Also, it has come about because of a cultural shift which is leading people to look deep into the roots of English, as opposed to British history.

The Levellers [my site]

The Diggers 350 yr anniversary 1649 – St Georges Hill [my site]

Digger pamphlet by Gerrard Winstanley A declaration of the Poor oppressed People of England 1649

“Sleepwalking into a surveillance society?” – Information Commissioner

Watching out: A need for balance as Whitehall seeks more information,,542-1218045,00.html

Further, check out earlier entry on Monday, August 16, 2004 at:

and at:

when I’d volunteered for the ID card trial.

A working 19th century windmill with museum and science centre. Once owned by George Green, physicist and mathematician.

More about the windmill at:

More piccys on my PhotoBlog at:

Sunny eh? well yes, it was for an hour or two, then the monsoon, here in the UK, returned for another wack. It is still raining ……..

Attended a press conference at Wyburn House Farm, Hucknall.

Still not too many details of the operation, but a statement read by Supt Stuart Wright.

Much of the operation now standing down, even the tea urn and biccys, being taken away.

More piccys on PhotoBlog at:

continued from yesterday at:

Operation Rendition Nottinghamshire Police Statements

The biggest ever search undertaken by Nottinghamshire Police began in the early hours of today (Friday, 13 August).

A total of 450 officers, some of them armed, are searching areas in the north of the county for two murder suspects.

The first is Robert Boyer, 42, who is wanted for questioning in connection with the murder of Keith Frogson. Mr Frogson, 62, died after he was attacked in the street outside his home in Annesley Woodhouse on Monday, 19 July.

Officers are also looking for Terence Rodgers, 55, who is wanted for questioning over the death of his daughter Chanel Taylor. She was found with gunshot wounds to the head at her home in Huthwaite on Friday, 30 July. Today’s operation comes after intelligence identified specific areas to be searched for the suspects.

Superintendent Stuart Wright said: “Our aim is to locate and trace the suspects with the minimum use of force and arrest and detain them for questioning in connection with the two murders.

Some of our officers will be armed and the safety of the public, officers and the suspects is paramount.”

Supt Wright said the operation would require some roads to be closed at various times. There will also be areas cordoned off by police where the public will be prevented from going. He added: “This is the largest ever search operation conducted by Nottinghamshire Police and I would ask the public for their support and appeal for them to be patient with us.”

Operation Rendition – Rodgers arrested

At just after 1730hrs yesterday evening (Monday 16th August 2004), Nottinghamshire Police arrested 55 year old Terence Rodgers, the man wanted for questioning in connection with the murder of Chanel Taylor.During a major search operation in the defined area, he was arrested by armed police officers and has been taken to an undisclosed police station in the county where he will be examined by a police surgeon.

This brings Operation Rendition, which has been running since the early hours of Friday 13th August, to a successful conclusion. Nottinghamshire Police would like to thank members of public and the media for their support, while special thanks go to the police officers and police staff of this force and others, who have worked tirelessly throughout theoperation.

Without their commitment and dedication, this operation and in particular the achievement of its objectives would not have been possible

An area of woodland, north of Nottingham, has been the location of the biggest ‘manhunt’ ever conducted by Nottinghamshire Police.

‘Operation Rendition’ involved the deployment of 650 officers, looking for two suspects, wanted for two different murders. One man was arrested last night, when returning to his ‘hide’. Robert Boyer was arrested in the early hours of yesterday after a surveillance operation in Robin Hood’s Hills, near Annesley Woodhouse. Armed officers lay in wait for him after the largest search operation to take place in Notts uncovered a “well constructed” hideout.

He was ex-army, and had been trained in concealment. It is thought he had been hold-up there for the last month.

Eight police forces including Notts, Derby, Lincs, Leicestershire, Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire and the Met joined up for the operation. A helicopter with heat-seeking kit, specialist dog teams, armed and unarmed officers all took part.

So, today, the police fielded another huge team, and searched a further area of woodland, west of the A611, Nottingham to Hucknall Road. There to search for the other suspect, Terry Rodgers.

I joined the media scrum this afternoon, to listen to statements by Superintendent Stuart Wright.

Access to the area was extremely tightly controlled. I had a police seargent escort me around one area of the field for the police line photos I show you here. Bit boring eh?

Thus, I left all that, and headed off onto some wooded high ground, with a view over operations, further back in the enclosed area. This was a bit more informative, to see what was going on. All this done with a 300mm lens, tripod, and huge blow-ups. A good exercise in surveillance for me!

More piccys on my PhotoBlog at:

It appears, according to latest news, they’ve found the suspect, and he is now ‘helping police with their enquiries’. I’m sure he is …….

OS sheet 121 515513

Richard Thomas is the Information Commissioner. There is a splash in todays Times about his views on government proposals for the introduction of Identity Cards in the UK. Below is the critical article about it all by Thomas, followed by a Times Leader.

I had actually taken part in the Home Office trial, last month. I think it is still taking place. I made an earlier entry on my blog about this at:

I find all this very scarey. Not because of my criminal activities! but I just think that these tools are exessive and lay the foundation stone for a surveillance society and police state. You think I exaggerate? We’ll see.

Watching out: A need for balance as Whitehall seeks more information,,542-1218045,00.html

Richard Thomas has the slightly Orwellian title of Information Commissioner. It is plain from his interview in The Times today, however, that his primary objective is preventing the emergence of a Big Brother society, not promoting one. In candid terms he sets out his fears that Whitehall may acquire too much data about citizens and that this could be a threat to their liberty. He hints at a comparison with Eastern Europe but, sensibly, draws back from an analogy that might smack, as he puts it, of paranoia language. That he could discuss the matter in anything approaching such a vocabulary will, nonetheless, be seized upon by those concerned with civil liberties.

There are three proposed measures which Mr Thomas regards as potentially dubious. These are David Blunkett’s national identity card scheme, a separate population register planned by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the suggestion that a detailed database be compiled of every child from birth to the age of 18. While it is not being suggested that these moves are different strands of a collective plot, the cumulative impact, the Information Commissioner implies, will be the accumulation of a large and intrusive amount of material that, if precedent is any guide, will ultimately be exploited by more departments within Whitehall than is promised at the outset. This is a serious charge from a credible person and ministers should be obliged to respond to it.

The worries highlighted by Mr Thomas are, though, subtly different. There are and will be heated arguments over the principle and the practicality of identity cards. The Information Commissioner does not direct his fire in either of these directions. He instead observes that the rationale for this innovation has never been articulated consistently. He protests that ministers have produced several reasons why they favour this initiative, ranging from terrorism to immigration control to access to benefits and public services. The end result, he says, is an all-singing, all-dancing case for radical reform. But the Home Office would retort that the reason why it has claimed a number of benefits for ID cards is because there is a range of potential advantages.

The issues of the ONS population register and the database in the Children’s Bill are again distinct. The purpose of the ONS project is to create a data bank that will contain a person’s name, addresses, date and place of birth, gender and a unique reference number. The theory is that it will allow people to update their name and address by making one entry rather than having to contact several departments. This is not, on the face of it, an especially sinister move. Indeed, many might be surprised to discover that there is not such a register already.

There is more room for doubt about the child database sought by the Government. This has been promoted as the appropriate response to the failure of agencies to share information properly during the appalling life and death of Victoria Climbie. It is not clear that administrative imperfections, rather than human error of a basic form inside the social services, were really at the root of this tragedy. Ministers will have to provide compelling evidence if the House of Lords, in particular, is not to reject this legislation.

The core point made by the Information Commissioner must be respected. New technology has increased the means by which agencies can keep records on citizens. It is not clear that the Data Protection Act, 1984 is sufficiently rigorous to provide the necessary protection in a wired society. Parliament needs not only to look carefully at the Bills cited by Mr Thomas, but also to reassess the sometimes compelling demands of public policy and individual privacy.

Beware rise of Big Brother state, warns data watchdogBy Richard Ford, Home Correspondent,,1-2-1218615,00.html

BRITAIN’S information watchdog gives warning today that the country risks “sleepwalking into a surveillance society” because of government plans for identity cards and a population register.

Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner, says that there is a growing danger of East German Stasi-style snooping if the State gathers too much information about individual citizens.

He singles out three projects that he believes are of particular concern. They are David Blunkett’s identity card scheme; a separate population register planned by the Office for National Statistics; and proposals for a database of every child from birth to the age of 18.

He says: “My anxiety is that we don’t sleepwalk into a surveillance society where much more information is collected about people, accessible to far more people shared across many more boundaries than British society would feel comfortable with.”

Asked if he thinks there is a risk of this occurring because of the Government’s plans, Mr Thomas tells The Times: “I think there is a danger, yes.” The office of the Information Commissioner is an independent body created by statute and answerable to Parliament.

Mr Thomas, 55, a solicitor, was appointed two years ago after a career in the private, public and voluntary sectors. His job is to promote greater public access to official records while ensuring that the State does not collect more information about citizens than is necessary.

Mr Thomas highlights his concerns by pointing to the former communist regimes in Eastern Europe and Franco’s Spain which both collected huge amounts of information about citizens. “I don’t want to start talking paranoia language, but data protection has a strong continental European flavour.

“Some of my counterparts in Eastern Europe, in Spain, have experienced in the last century what can happen when government gets too powerful and has too much information on citizens. When everyone knows everything about everybody else and the Government has got massive files, whether manual or computerised.”

The Government’s plans for an identity card include a national register which would include details such as a person’s address, as well as any previous addresses he has lived at and when. The register will also include the fingerprints of every citizen.

Police, the security services, the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise will have access to the register. The Home Secretary will also be able to give any Whitehall department access without the need for a new Act of Parliament.

Mr Thomas says that the implication of gathering so much information and allowing such wide access is much more serious than a debate about plastic cards. “I don’t think people have woken up to what lies behind this,” he says.

“It enables the Government of the day to build up quite a comprehensive picture about many of your activities. My job is to make sure no more information is collected than necessary for any particular purpose.” Although he does not oppose the idea of identity cards, insisting that he cannot be “for or against”, he is critical of the Government’s failure to spell out in a draft Bill the cards’ exact purpose. He says: “The Government has changed its line over the last two or three years as to what the card is intended for. You have to have clarity. Is it for the fight against terrorism? Is it to promote immigration control? Is it to provide access to public benefit and services? Various other reasons have been put forward . . . I don’t think that is acceptable.”

Mr Thomas is also concerned about the long-term effects of other databases proposed by Whitehall. The Citizen’s Information Project, which is planned by the Office for National Statistics and is separate from the identity card register, would create a population database for use by public services. It would contain a person’s name, address, sex, date and place of birth, and a unique reference number. It would allow people to update their name and address across all government departments by making one entry rather than, as now, informing each agency individually.

The Children Bill proposes a database of all children from birth until adulthood. It was put forward after the failure of official agencies to share information in the Victoria Climbie child abuse case. School achievements, medical and social services records and parental marital status could be on the database. The health department is also planning a database detailing treatments and social care for all patients.

Mr Thomas says: “I am not a Luddite. There are reasons why we need to promote better information sharing where children are at risk, but whether the right answer is to create a database of every child in the country should be questioned.”

It is not the first time that warnings have been given about the rise of a Big Brother-style society in Britain. Statistics show that the country now has four million closed-circuit television cameras monitoring the population; there are details of 2.5 million convicted or suspected criminals on DNA databases; police have gathered 5.5 million fingerprints; and London Transport’s Oyster card sends out a signal about an individual’s whereabouts every time it is checked at a station.

Mark Oaten, Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said he was concerned about the proliferation of databases: “While the Government can sometimes justify each measure individually, the danger is that we are slipping into a Big Brother society by stealth.”

It rained a lot last week, and, it’s going to rain a lot next week. [english summer]. So, I leapt in the motor, and dashed out to the hills. Put in a few miles for the views and excercise, and as you see some photography. Just love the colours and the low raking evening light. It picks out form of the hills features. You notice so much more, than in mid-day light.

More pictures of the day at:

and the hangliding pix at:

And, check out a previous entry, the last time I passed this way.

Ladybower, Lose Hill & Mam Tor

Map of the district at:,383500&st=4&mapp=newmap.srf&searchp=newsearch.srf&dn=661

OS Map 110 127837

Oh whatever next!!!!

Home Office consultation paper on: “Moderning police powers to meet community needs”.


* Dropping restriction on arrest to “serious offences”,

* Extending use of search warrants,

* Allowing fingerprinting outside of police stations to establish “identity” (no requirement of an offence being suspected),

* Covert DNA and fingerprints,

* No Protests outside homes

* Powers to impose conditions on demonstrations “in the vicinity of Parliament Square” (ie: including Whitehall and No 10)

For more details, see:

One of the most popular weekends in the East Midland’s summer diary – Riverside 2004 is Nottingham’s largest outdoor festival with something for everyone!

Met many entertainers ‘from the road’ and the free festivals, and discovered a few that used to live on busses, now on / in boats.

Photographed a few acts, but my favourite were:

Imbongi featuring Albert Nyathi from Zimbabwe

Live & Direct from Zimbabwe-They’re Back Red-Hot African Hi-Life & Township-Jive! ‘Totally in tune with the WOMAD spirit…..energetic and joyous’THE TIMES

UK/European Tour May 21-Sept 11 2004 NEW Show-NEW Songs-NEW DancesNEW Aug/Sept Shows:Dublin,Shambala,Bristol,Bodmin,Tregaron…see tour-dates

Shaheera Asante’s Interview with Albert here

Listen to Imbongi & Albert Nyathi “Welcome To Zimbabwe” 45 secs

A wonderful fusion of words, song, music and dance from this vibrant and multi-talented 10-piece band, comprising keyboards,guitar,bass,trumpets,vocals,poetry and dance.Expect an un-parralelled and exciting blend of Traditional, Blues, Jazz and Contemporary African Music.

Fronted by Zimbabwe’s premier performance-dub-poet ALBERT NYATHI….IMBONGI – and their unique and powerful blend of Music Dance and Poetry have emerged as one of the most stunning groups to visit these shores. Literally storming Glastonbury Festival, Sidmouth and WOMAD this summer – in addition to many appearances round the country, delighted audiences were left spell-bound by the sheer diversity and energy of Albert and the band.. Winner of the Zimbabwe National Poetry Award – Albert Nyathi is known as the voice of the people.

Controversially outspoken and unafraid to voice thoughts on his Zimbabwe, the country, the people, the politics, poverty and life in the townships.

TOURING UK from MAY 15 -SEPT 15 2004 – Contact Crispin / CTM on 014653 757376 or

I very much enjoyed their set, and told ’em so!

If you wanna, check out the BBC Radio 3 website at:

for more dates this year.

More pictures on my blog at:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 2 [cont]

and on Indymedia at:

A great photographer who, with his 35mm Leica camera, captured the human response to defining moments of history. He was a hero of mine.

Andrew Robinson

Thursday August 5, 2004

The Guardian

Henri Cartier-Bresson, photographed in 2002: he was a founding member of the photo agency Magnum in 1947. Photo: Wolfram Steinberg/AP There are few photographers whose style is instantly recognisable, like that of a great painter or film director; even fewer whose photographs have also been printed in popular magazines and newspapers throughout the world, in many cases over and over again; and only one whose life has, in addition, become legendary – Henri Cartier-Bresson, who has died aged 95. One of my cherished possessions is his book Henri Cartier-Bresson In India (1985), handsomely signed for me by its author. The preface by the film director Satyajit Ray distils Cartier-Bresson’s uniqueness as a photographer better than any other writing. His work, said Ray, was “unique in its fusion of head and heart, in its wit and its poetry … The deep regard for people that is revealed in these Indian photographs, as well as in his photographs of any people anywhere in the world, invests them with a palpable humanism. Add to this the unique skill and vision that raise the ordinary and the ephemeral to a monumental level and you have the hallmark of the greatest photographer of our time.” One is tempted to add: perhaps of all time.

The celebrated series of photographs of Gandhi, his assassination and funeral in 1948, first published in Life, show how right Ray was. There is the Mahatma in conversation seen from the back, half in shadow, with his left arm lifted in bright sunlight, palm outstretched, as if to say “What can I do?”; there is a sombre Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, at night, announcing the death to the waiting crowd; and there is the flower-covered body in the morning surrounded by veiled devotees, the funeral procession – a veritable ocean of eager Indians – with a ragged tree poking up precariously bent under its load of spectators, and Gandhi’s secretary watching the first flames of the funeral pyre, his face in a private anguish.

Cartier-Bresson had been fortunate in his timing. He was introduced to Gandhi on the afternoon of January 30 1948 and showed him the small catalogue of his one-man exhibition the previous year at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Gandhi looked through it slowly, page by page, saying nothing until he came to the photo of a man gazing at an elaborate hearse. He asked: “What is the meaning of this picture?” Cartier-Bresson told him, “That’s Paul Claudel, a Catholic poet very much concerned with the spiritual issues of life and death.” Gandhi thought for a moment, and then said, very distinctly: “Death – death – death.” Cartier-Bresson left at 4.45pm. Fifteen minutes later, the Mahatma was dead.

Stories like this, combined with the catchphrase title of the English translation of Cartier-Bresson’s first book, The Decisive Moment (1952), have tended to give the impression that Cartier-Bresson believed that story-telling, the catching on film of the historic moment, was the essence of good photography. In fact, he meant something very different; and his best work was remarkable for the way it ignored – as opposed to focused on – the usual dramatic props of the photojournalist. When he covered the 1937 coronation of George VI in London, for instance,

Cartier-Bresson photographed the crowd, not the procession. And one of his well known photographs of the communist takeover of China in 1948-49 shows an agitated queue of ordinary Shanghai Chinese “like a human accordion, squeezed in and out by invisible hands,” in his own words. It is, in fact, a gold rush – a run on a Shanghai bank – but we see no bank, no bars of gold, and no mounted police in the photograph. Instead, we concentrate on the faces of the people and the form of the crowd and are offered “the perfect visual metaphor for civil strife” (Dan Hofstadter).

Photography, wrote Cartier-Bresson, “is at one and the same time the recognition of a fact in a fraction of a second and the rigorous arrangement of the forms visually perceived which give the fact impression and significance”. An obsession with form in Cartier-Bresson was profoundly linked to his first love – drawing and painting – to which he would return in later life when he abandoned photojournalism. It also ran in his family. His great-grandfather was an artist, and an uncle was a talented and prize-winning painter; and the family business was in textiles. The Cartier-Bresson logo used to be found in every French sewing basket.

Born six years before the outbreak of the first world war, Cartier-Bresson was brought up as a member of the haute bourgeoisie of Paris, surrounded by considerable wealth and with rather formal parental relations. Though his childhood was happy enough, his school career was undistinguished, and he soon rebelled against the values of his family. Throughout his life he remained a deeply contradictory mixture of thoroughbred gentleman and quick-tempered libertarian. In his early adulthood, he was drawn to communism and surrealism – without joining either movement – and in 1927-28 studied art with the painter and critic André Lhote in Paris, and, in 1929, painting and literature in Cambridge. He became passionately absorbed in Parisian avant-garde culture, most of his friends being writers or painters, rather than photographers.

It was therefore natural that Cartier-Bresson should spend a period in Africa, following the lead of writers like André Gide and Louis Ferdinant Celine. In 1931, he travelled in west Africa, where he took up hunting in earnest and became a very good shot. Charles de Gaulle later told him that a photographer resembled a hunter – he had to aim well, fire fast, and cut out. Cartier-Bresson agreed, and was always known for the quickness of his photography (he loved the word snap); but after returning from Africa he lost his taste for hunting animals. “What I like,” he once said, “is the stalking; I have no use for the meat.” He tended to treat the printing and publication of his photographs in the same way, to the exasperation of magazine editors: it was three years before he got around to seeing prints of many of the photos he took while wandering Asia from 1947 to 1950. He made it a rule never to entangle himself in the technology of printing his own photographs.

He had used a camera in Africa, but it was not until 1932 that he acquired the light 35mm Leica that would become his inseparable companion. He used a 50mm lens, occasionally a 90mm one, that was all: no tripod, flash, reflectors or other aids. And no cropping of the image: this was one of the goals of the famous photo agency, Magnum, founded in 1947 by war photographer Robert Capa, Cartier-Bresson, David Seymour and George Rodger – to assert the right of the photographer to the integrity of his image. This insistence by Cartier-Bresson on using only available light, and on editing “in the camera” (rather than in the darkroom), influenced the then fledgling director Satyajit Ray in the making of his Apu Trilogy. (Moreover, Cartier-Bresson never took to colour film, after a few brave attempts.)

From the beginning, he made the Leica as inconspicuous as possible. The shiny parts he covered in black tape; sometimes he hid the whole camera under a handkerchief. He also tried to make the photographer as invisible as could be. Photographs of Cartier-Bresson do exist, but they are few in number: when he accepted an honorary doctorate from Oxford University in 1975, he held a paper in front of his face to avoid being snapped. Furthermore, he was always reticent about his methods and gave few interviews. Partly this was for professional reasons, but more importantly it was a true reflection of his modesty and reserve, combined with his own inability to explain how he took his classic images.

The first of these were of Mexico, where he was invited to join a surveying expedition as photographer. When the expedition collapsed, a penniless Cartier-Bresson began selling snapshots to local newspapers. By the end of 1934, his photographs had been exhibited in Mexico City, Madrid and New York city. During the 1930s they also appeared in Verve, the influential Paris-based magazine published by the Greek-born Efstratios Tériade, who became Cartier-Bresson’s lifelong aficionado.

But now the photographer abandoned still photography for filmmaking. From 1936 to 1939 he worked as an assistant to Jean Renoir in the production of Une Partie De Campagne (1936) and Renoir’s greatest film, La Règle Du Jeu (1937). The latter was, said Cartier-Bresson half a century later, “a premonition of everything that was to happen in the world”. In the first film, he played a small role as a young Catholic seminarist distracted by the sight of a charming girl’s petticoats, and in the second he selected the chateau at the centre of the film, worked on the scripts and dialogue – which had a wit and élan like Cartier-Bresson’s conversation – and organised the famous hunting scene; he shot the rabbits while the actors pretended to do so. Renoir himself “was like a great river of warmth and simplicity” – qualities wonderfully captured in Cartier-Bresson’s photoportraits of Renoir – “but Jean knew very well that I would never make a feature film. He saw that I had no imagination.” Instead, Cartier-Bresson took up documentary filmmaking, and in 1943, after escaping from a German prisoner-of-war camp, he set up a film unit for the Resistance.

He often reiterated this judgment on himself: no imagination. It seems surprising, given the extraordinary empathy evident in his photographs, particularly his distinguished, finally enigmatic portraits of both the known and the unknown. But its essential truth is clear from his drawing and painting, to which he seriously applied himself from the age of 60 (he stopped taking photos for Magnum in 1966). His subjects as an artist were always representational and drawn from life, chiefly French life – buildings, landscapes, animal skeletons in a museum, portraits of friends and models (clothed and nude, unlike most of his photographs) – they were never taken from his own imagination and fantasy, which as an artist he appears to have distrusted. Deeply aware of the traditions of painting – more so than perhaps any other leading photographer – Cartier-Bresson struggled to draw and paint, as he had never struggled to take photographs. The results were generally competent and occasionally inspired, such as certain portraits, including those of his second wife, Martine Franck (his first marriage to Ratna Mohini, a Javanese dancer, ended in divorce); they also showed a sensuous feeling for colour, absent of course from his photographs. But their main interest must derive from their being the work of a great photographer.

Cartier-Bresson felt, more keenly than most, the tension between the active life, such as the photographer’s, and the meditative life, such as that of the painter. He constantly spoke of his attraction to Buddhism, which in his view taught that “life changes every minute, the world is born and dies every minute.” But the discrepancy between himself and the Buddha belied his claims. According to his amused wife, he belonged to the sect of the Agitated Buddhists. And an old friend once told him: “But think about the statues of Buddha, Henri. Their eyes are almost always closed, while yours are almost always open.”

We must be eternally grateful for what those penetrating blue eyes chose to record over more than half a century. Whatever else he was, Cartier-Bresson was in love with life. His photographs are mysteriously alive, balletic, and his finest portraits have the complex presence of Cézanne or Rembrandt. Among the most delightful is one showing the broad back of the aged Henri Matisse sitting in his studio at Vence (near Nice) painting a portrait of a beautiful woman with a voluptuous bosom. Cartier-Bresson deeply admired the sensuous forms of Matisse (who designed the glorious jacket of The Decisive Moment), and he felt bothered by Matisse’s description of his radiant stained glass at the Dominican chapel in Vence as the culmination of his life’s work. “Monsieur Matisse,” he finally ventured, “you have never shown any serious interest in religion, and you are all the time painting these odalisques, these beautiful girls. Why didn’t you decorate, instead of this Christian church, a Temple of Voluptuous Delight? Wouldn’t that have suited your temperament better?”

Matisse listened carefully, his face grew very serious, and then he said to Cartier-Bresson, “You are right, of course. But the only institution that would ever commission a Temple of Voluptuous Delight is the French Republic, and no French government has ever made me the offer.”

In 2003, the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, showcasing his and other photographers’ work, opened in Paris. He is survived by his wife Martine, herself a well known photographer, and their daughter Mélanie.

Henri Cartier-Bresson, photographer, born August 22 1908; died August 3 2004

Henri Cartier-BressonObituary: Andrew Robinson,,1276140,00.htmlHenri Cartier-Bresson 1908-2004

Eamonn McCabe,,1276164,00.html

Photographer who turned a hobby into an art form

Jon Henley in Paris,,1276403,00.html

The Cartier-Bresson Foundation

Defy-ID is an adhoc network of groups and individuals prepared for active resistance to increasing surveillance and the introduction of identity or ‘entitlement’ cards in the UK.

The Home Secretary, Britain’s biggest serial threat to freedom, David Blunkett is now set to foist identity cards on the UK public under the cloak of dealing with terrorism, illegal immigration and benefit fraud. The Home Office has published its draft ID Card Bill.

and ….

Resisting Identity Cards Gathering, 11/9/04

A gathering to organise resistance to the Government’s plans to introduce identity cards and a national population database is taking place in Manchester in September. With ID cards firmly on the cards, and iris scans and a national population database just around the corner, it’s time to get moving for those of us who believe we need to resist these scary and dangerous developments.

A gathering to organise resistance to the Government’s plans to introduce identity cards and a national population database is taking place in Manchester on September 11th 2004.

With ID cards firmly on the cards, and iris scans and a national population database just around the corner, it’s time to get moving for those of us who believe we need to resist these scary and dangerous developments. It is not only the biggest clampdown on our civil liberties we have seen in many years, but is a step towards an Orwellian future where the state constantly monitors the population.

There are individuals, groups and networks all over the country who oppose Blunkett’s plans for ID cards and national population database, some of whom have already started their campaigning. This planning meeting aims to bring together people opposed to the introduction of ID cards to discuss how we can work together in our resistance to the encroaching big brother state.

We will have an update on the current situation with regards to Blunkett’s plans, including trial areas, current technology, and potential corporations involved. There will also be an update on existing campaigns and groups active in opposition to ID cards. After lunch we will have space to suggest and discuss ideas for resistance, potential actions, and how we can move forward as a network.

The gathering will be free but we will be asking for donations to cover the cost of the room. We will not be providing lunch, to keep costs and organisation to a minimum.

This gathering, organised by Defy-ID is open to everyone interested in or involved in opposition to ID cards.

Please email or phone 07980 291478 for details of the venue (so we can keep track on numbers), or for more information.

I had actually taken part in the Home Office trial, last month. I think it is still taking place. I made an earlier entry on my blog about this at:

It was a free day at Newstead Abbey today. [so I went along ….]

The Abbey is in the ‘Restoration’ Competition, as part of the BBC program, were the public get to vote, on what they want preserving.

Not sure I like the competition though, since it implies loosers, and am not sure what happens to them!

Anyway, here are some piccys I took on the day, on my Photoblog at:

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