During the Rock Legends exhibition we had many wonderful conversions with people reminiscing about the heady days of the 60’s musical revolution, and we’re pleased to say that those conversations will continue as the collection will remain at the Old School over the course of the year, with 3-4 images on permanent display and the others available on request.
Taken when the bands and artists toured Yorkshire in the early 1960’s Paul’s photographs are rare collectables, with only 49 prints taken from the negative for Beatles photographs and only 100 taken for the other artists. Thus they present a unique opportunity to own a piece of musical history.
On Saturday 9th June, as part of the Rock Legends exhibition, BAFTA award winner Paul Berriff will be coming to Muker to talk about his life and career as a photographer and filmmaker, a career spanning 50 years from the 1960s to the present day.
Paul’s talk will take you on a memorable journey from his early influences as a 1950’s paper boy delivering Picture Post and Life Magazine – two magazines that told the news and current affairs through powerful full page black and white photographs – via his time as a young press photographer for the Yorkshire Evening Post chasing police cars and fire engines around the streets of Leeds, and onto his days as a BBC and independent film maker.
During this time Paul met and photographed many young bands and artists who would become household names including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix and Sandie Shaw. He covered The Troubles in Northern Ireland, worked on the James Bond Live and Let Die film set and filmed with Prince Charles for a year. He is the only director/ producer to have been given permission to follow the lives of NASA shuttle astronauts and their families as they prepared for launch.
Being a film maker can be a hazardous affair and Paul has experienced his fair share of danger, surviving four near-death experiences …
… leaping from a sinking ship in the North Sea; being blown from the top of an exploding volcano in Nicaragua; walking away from a major helicopter crash in the Scottish Cairngorms;
… and miraculously surviving (along with his film camera) the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11, the only British survivor of that day.
Paul’s talk will be accompanied by photographs and film footage of the events he’s captured, including that day on 9/11.
On the outside wall of the Old School Muker are two plaques commemorating school alumni, Richard and Cherry Kearton. Born in Thwaite, one mile up the Dale, the two brothers attended the school in the late 19th Century before going on to pioneer wildlife photography and cinematography, influencing amongst others Sir David Attenborough.
Given the stunning wildlife photography and film making we enjoy today; impossible without modern, hi-tech equipment, it’s worth reflecting on the limitations of the camera gear available to the Keartons, and how incredibly intrepid and inventive they were to capture their shots, including the use of the famous hollow ox as a portable hide.
We’re currently in conversation with the Museum of Science and Media, who hold in their collection some of the Kearton’s equipment and books, and the V&A whose collection (hopefully) includes some of their original prints, with the aim of holding an exhibition of the Kearton’s work in 2019. Last week I headed down to Bradford to visit to Museum of Science and Media, who were kind enough to provide access to their large and small object stores, both treasure troves of equipment where two of Cherry Kearton’s film cameras are stored.
We’re now waiting for the V&A to get back in touch before we’re able to take the exhibition to the next stage, so watch this space!!
In the meantime there’s a couple more of the Kearton’s images to enjoy below, and more can be found on the Guardian’s website here: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/gallery/2016/jul/14/the-keartons-inventing-nature-photography-in-pictures
For the Yorkshire’s Coast & Sea exhibition I’ve had three of my favourite Yorkshire Coast photographs printed on HD aluminium and framed: Saltwick Bay, Saltburn Pier and Broken Ladder, Spurn Point, each in a limited edition series of 20.
Saltwick Bay (featured image above) was taken ten minutes after a mini cliff collapse from which we narrowly escaped (with a mild pebble-dashing) after misjudging the tide. A couple watching from further up the beach told us they’d thought we’d had it, and as they chatted with Polly I wandered off and took the shot.
Saltburn Pier has a special place in the gallery. After a wonderful jumble of coincidences and connections it was the first picture we sold (to Kathy) on our first day of opening, perhaps a sign that fate might smile down upon us in our new venture.
Spurn Point is a place lodged in my earliest memories, my mother being a keen birdwatcher. At its tip is the pier for the Spurn lifeboat station and next to the pier a derelict wooden structure. In Broken Ladder, taken some years ago, a section of ladder hangs precariously, caught in a delicate balancing act, struggling to cross the void. How long it managed to defy the elements I don’t know, but it’s long since disappeared, lost to the wind and waves.
Paul Berriff’s photographs of the Yorkshire Coast (featured image above Force 10) remind us of the power and unforgiving, biting, nature of the North Sea when its mood take a turn for the worse, and of the courage of those who choose to make their living from it.
Shot on film, in black & white, the natural grain adds to the atmosphere and drama of the images, capturing the scene in a way only film can, and though most photographers have long since switched to the convenience of digital, Paul continues to use the medium of film to great effect.
Paul’s powerful images provide a very different perspective and counterpoint to much of the other work in the exhibition; without its gritty realism the collection would have felt incomplete.
According to the National Park figures there are 1044 field barns, locally called Cow’uses, in Swaledale alone and over 6000 in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, most built between 1750 and the end of the 19th century.
The 10 below (shots taken over the last few weeks and days) are situated around Muker, Thwaite and Keld, in upper Swaledale and most are common sights as we drive up and down the Dale we call home. It will take a good few years and a few inches of boot leather to collect the whole set, but if you like a nice Cow’us you know where to come!
Richard & Janet Burdon are already well known to customers of the Old School for their monochrome images of the iconic Swaledale tups and ewes found on the fells surrounding our gallery, often caught in the midst of a snowstorm. What our visitors don’t know is that they’re equally at home discovering and capturing, serene, minimalist, compositions of Yorkshire’s coastline, not far from their home in Pickering, such as The Promenade (featured image).
From Saturday31st March to Sunday 13th May, the Old School Muker brings Yorkshire’sstunning East Coast to landlocked Upper Swaledale, featuring a wonderful array of Yorkshire artists and photographers.
The exhibition will be the first to be held in our new Hartlake Gallery and to celebrate its opening, our first exhibition, and our newly landscaped walled garden, there will be an open evening on Saturday 7th April from 5:30pm – 8pm, with wine, music and a chance to meet some of the artists.
Over the coming weeks we’ll be profiling each of the artists involved and providing a sea drenched taste of their work. Stay tuned!
Yesterday’s wintery conditions in Muker provided an ideal opportunity to take a couple of hours out from the renovation of the Old School and shoot some minimal monochrome images, before using these as a basis to create something a little dreamier using movement blur in Analog Efex Pro. It might not be everyone’s taste but it was a joy to be a little more creative.
My photoblog will soon transition into the website for the Old School Muker – some of you might already spotted it’s recently become a test bed. All the old blog posts will remain for while. And I’ll continue to blog about cameras and photographs, as well as the comings and goings at the Old School, but the focus will become the Old School Gallery & Craftshop.
Thanks for visiting the site over the past few years, and I hope you’ll continue to do so.
I’ve only had literally 20 minutes shooting with the Sigma SD Quattro H (paired with a Sigma 18-35mm DC) but couldn’t resist pushing out these shots. I was blown away when I first processed images from a Sigma Merrill … and I pretty much have the same feeling processing these. Can’t wait to get out and really put the camera through its paces.
A recently re-discovered print of Muker, measuring 6 feet by 3 feet, found in Reeth Memorial Hall, and dating to circa 1950, one year before electricity came to the village and four years before the creation of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Considering its age it’s in remarkable condition. Who took remains a mystery but whoever it was, had a fine eye, a fine camera and a fine set of muscles to carry it!
And hopefully the restored version below, now on sale to generate funds for Muker Village Hall, does the original photographer justice.
A wonderful thing about working in the Old School Gallery is the many conversations we have with the folks who visit; whether it’s the American lady who suddenly recited three Robert Frost poems, or the ex RAF Nimrod pilot who told me tales of flying over the North Atlantic, or the Chinese film maker recently returned from Tibet. We learn so much in these conversations and hopefully give a little back on the subject of art, crafts and photography.
A recurring conversation concerns Sigma’s “secret” cameras with their magic Foveon sensors. The trigger is the overheard debate between customers, discussing whether an image is a photograph or painting. It quickly moves on to the vibrant colours and immense detail, even in the far distance … and that brings us to the technical bit about Bayer sensors and Foveon sensors, micro-contrast, photons and wavelengths.
If the technical bit doesn’t kill the customer off they invariably buy the print! … And one camera club member liked the print so much he returned to say he’d bought the camera!
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the top selling photographs in the gallery are taken by the Sigma DP0 Quattro. It offers something different from Bayer sensored cameras that the buying public seem to be instinctively drawn to, unbiased and unburdened by any technical knowledge or heavyweight marketing budgets. And as a photographer it provides me with a distinctive, unique, tool with which to capture the stunning scenery that surrounds our tiny village in upper Swaledale.
My short journey to reach the Cart Ford above the Foss, where you cross the Rushing River, began by The Small Cultivated Field. I passed through The Clearing, then on up the Dale, gaining height as I climbed through Grazing Land. If I’d been visiting my friend Waendel at his Woodland Clearing I’d have taken the pass before The Clearing, careful not to stumble and fall into the potholes full of cooling butter, and down past Sigemund’s Rock, or perhaps climbed up the hill to see if Sjon was at his Look Out Hill, then down past the Row of Shepherds Cottages. But today it was to the Cart Ford I was headed, to take photographs of the Foss and just beyond The Spring I found the very spot.
(Translations below 🙂 )
Old Norse & Old English Translations, with thanks to http://www.daelnet.co.uk/placenames/index.cfm
The Muker wild flower meadows are beginning to come into their own in early June, which for me means a desperate search for interesting angles and compositions. The image below is my favourite hand held “sketch” so far and I’ll head out early tomorrow with a tripod and (hopefully) interesting light.
The meadows are an inspiration for artists and photographers alike, with the vibrant colours of Buttercups, Clover and Crane’s-bill, scattered all around, broken by the staight lines of dry stone walls and field barns.
The Sigma DP0 Quattro is fast becoming my camera of choice for the meadows; its wide lens capturing immense foreground and its colour rendition and tonal rage showing the wild flows at their best, whether in colour or monochrome.
A couple of weeks or so ago, in our Old School cafe, I was having a discussion with a man about the Peter Brook paintings that adorn the cafe walls; the importance of the title; the understated, dry, Northern humour; the feel of place and time. He brought up the title of one particular painting that he’d purchased some years back. The title was The Woods are Lovely, Dark & Deep, and he told me that the line was used as a trigger phrase in an espionage movie, Telefon.
A week or so later I (again) was talking to a couple, (again) in the Old School cafe, and (again) the topic turned to Peter Brook and the titles of his paintings. The woman was from the U.S. and when the discussion reached The Woods are Lovely, Dark and Deep, and I was about to employ my newly found knowledge, she volunteered that the title was a line from the Robert Frost poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. Then, without warning, and to mine and her companions surprise, she recited parts of three Robert Frost poems, at one stage, during Birches, removing the band that held her pony tail and throwing her hair forward – “Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair, Before them over their heads to dry in the sun” – and at that moment I resolved to buy a book of Robert Frost poems.
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
On Tuesday I was (once again) in conversation with a couple (once again) in the Old School cafe. (Once gain) they were taken by Peter’s paintings and (once again) the conversation led to The Woods are Lovely, Dark and Deep, and so I found the poem for them to read. At that point a man in the gallery joined the conversation, Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening was his favourite poem, but he’d not seen Peter Brook’s work before and when we found the print he was immediately taken, and thinking it a quirk of fate not to be passed up, bought the picture.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
That afternoon I was (once more) conversing with a couple in the Old School cafe (once again) discussing Peter’s paintings, which (once again) provided an opportunity for me to show off my newly found expertise, both in Peter’s work and in the poetry of Robert Frost, but I was immediately undone. Unbeknown to me, the couple were Peter’s daughter, Katherine, and her husband.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
As we chatted a lady came over to be served, she was buying a Peter Brook greeting card, and as I took her money at the till I mentioned Katherine. She told me that she and her husband were on their way to visit her Uncle, who taught with Peter whilst he was teaching art, and told me of their recent trip to New England and to Robert Frost’s farm, and their love of Robert Frost poetry. I introduced them to Katherine.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Yesterday a man visited the gallery, as we talked he told me that he’d purchased a Peter Brook when he’d visited some years before. Guess which picture he’d bought?
In our small gallery in remote Upper Swaledale, it seems to me that the world now comes to us, and every conversation leads to a connection and a deeper understanding.
Yesterday’s beautiful day in Swaledale held the promise of a great evening’s photography, but as it approached closing time, and my chance to get out, the sky became overcast and the light flat. Nevertheless there was still chance to explore the countryside and search for interesting compositions so I pulled my boots on and headed out.
And then, after a quick pint at the Farmer’s Arms, the sky had cleared and overcast turned into gorgeous sunset.