South London Photographer: Working with Just Shelter

Last week I made another emotional journey with Just Shelter to Northern France. Since then I have read several articles which relate to the plight of people whose lives have been so badly affected by war and/or climate changes that they feel compelled to flee. It is good that journalists are once again focusing on the situation, but the news is far from positive. Newly-elected Italian leaders have responded to the situation by closing its ports, but we are told by The Guardian, “Mayors across the south of Italy have pledged to defy a move by the new Italian government – an alliance of the far right and populists – to prevent a rescue boat with 629 people on board from docking in the Sicilian capital.” (Wintour, Tondo, Kirchgaessner, 2018).

A hundred people drowned in the Mediterranean just last week, according to Global Citizens. The article reporting these deaths goes on to tell us more than 3000 people have died every year for the last four. (McCarthy, 2018)

On Friday volunteers from Just Shelter were asked to help serve food alongside a French charity, Emmaus (set up by a priest called Abbé Pierre in 1949 because he was so horrified by the lack of compassion in society towards people who require help). When we were greeted by the centre director she explained how the organisation aims to demonstrate that is possible for people from all over the world to live and work together peacefully.

The area which Just Shelter had been visiting for several months has been cleared (as discussed previously) and people have been moved to a different site, not far away but very far from ideal. You can read more about the day on Just Shelter’s Facebook page, including a report about how the police stopped Emmaus from driving its van into the camp, so that all the food along with trestle tables and other paraphernalia had to be carried much further.

Here are a series of images from Friday; but before I go I will mention one final article which asks us to consider our own culpability in all of this. Kenan Malik, author of The Quest for a Moral Compass, 2014 writes, “This is the reality of Fortress Europe: politicians and officials so blinded by their obsession with illegal immigration that they have lost the ability to recognise their most basic of obligations to others. The fear of allowing illegal immigrants into Europe seems to weigh heavier than the guilt of allowing fellow human beings (who just happen to be African [or anyone else outside the narrow confines of the West]) to die. So when the far-right identitarian movement harass MSF and other NGO rescue boats or when they attack migrant camps, we ought to remember that they are not the first to do so. They are following European officialdom.” (2018)

Views my own, Images (c)SJField 2018

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Graffiti beside the camp – which, residents and volunteers told us would be dismatled the following Monday. We had told to park beside this wall and were made to carry the food, prolonging distribution and making it harder for volunteers to help families and individuals. 

 

 

South London Photographer: On a road​ trip through Europe

I had never driven to Italy, which I am fortunate enough to be able to visit regularly, but this time I thought I’d try it. And I’m glad to say, it wasn’t as remotely arduous as I thought it might be, although I could have lived without the sinusitis on the return leg. The only problem for me was, despite driving through some absolutely beautiful spots not to mention a couple of incredible sunsets, being the sole driver meant not taking photographs unless we’d stopped. And had I pulled over every time I wanted to snap something we’d never have arrived at our destination.  As we hurtled round a bend of a mountain or emerged from a tunnel at 70 miles an hour, faced with spectacular landscapes, I yelled at the boys, “take a picture, take a picture, it’s beautiful!!”

“Oh, Mum”, said my eldest with rather too much joyful irony, “you’ve got to learn to live in the moment…”

I was very pleased with most of their music choices, however, and from now on I suspect every time I hear Daft Punk I will be reminded of the amazing mountains and tunnels and skies of Switzerland which were absolutely stunning – their Euro-electronic sound was the perfect audio track for our drive. I particularly liked tracks 3, 4, 5 and 10 from Random Access Memories, especially the following spoken words by Giorgio Moroder. Thanks to my lovely boy for playing it me (over and over again!)

‘Once you free your mind about a concept of
Harmony and music being “correct”
You can do whatever you want’

I’m sure that sentiment can be applied to most creative endeavours – and I wonder if we need more of this thinking rather than the conformist tyranny which social media seems to encourage.

Here are a few images from our time away – none of them from our actual road trip, but check out my Instagram page for a selection taken on my phone mainly in various service stations along our route. Do get in touch to find more about family photo shoots and albums or visit www.sarahjanefield.co.uk.

(c)SJFIeld 2018

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And a few street photographs which were taken in Rome below:

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South London Photographer: some landscape photography from Italy & the end of Easter hols

So, travelling alone with three kids is something I’m used to.  People often give me a look of sympathy, and say, “three boys…!!” which I think they believe helps me in some way. It doesn’t – it just makes me feel like there should be something wrong even when there isn’t.  I’m happy to travel with them as they are pretty good travellers most of the time, and Son no. 1 helps out as best he can nowadays.  (Although, I would be lying if I didn’t sometimes dream about heading off on my own now and again.)

Even so, I might have found things a bit easier if I hadn’t arrived at Leonardo Da Vinci Airport to find no lifts or escalators working.  This meant moving very slowly with luggage across the airport and over to the train station with three children who had been up since 3am.  Then because there was no power we were unable to buy tickets directly to our destination, but instead had to go into Rome and change there.  The train from the airport arrives at platform 26 and the train to where we were heading goes from Platform 1.  Which would be fine on my own, I’m sure – a five-minute stroll perhaps. But by then Son no. 2 was so tired that every two or three meters he kept lying down with his pillow-pet on the floor and Son no 3 needed to be carried much of the time.  So it took about 30 minutes or more.  Nevertheless, I resolutely kept smiling and refused point-blank to be beaten by the vagaries of Italian electricity.

And I owe Son no. 1 a huge thank you who made that possible by being just brilliant and made the whole journey more than bearable by staying cheery and helping with the luggage and the younger ones the whole time (he’s being a right pain the arse right now though!)  The other fabulous thing was how many people helped us upstairs, and on and off trains, and I also got chatting to two lovely and fascinating people on the train into Rome, which certainly made up for the discomfort and additional travelling time.

Once we’d arrived at our destination things ran much more smoothly and when we visited a regular spot for lunch in the mountains half way through our holiday we were greeted with the most beautiful scenery as it was covered in gorgeous snow.  I was so excited and it was for me the highlight of our holiday, which perhaps seems a bit odd as my friends who stayed back in the UK all got sun-burned noses while we froze in the Mediterranean!

Here are some landscape images of the snowy mountains in Piano Grande and the hilltop village of Castelluccio, Umbria.  If you’re ever over there, do make the effort to head in that direction.  Although I always feel quite sick on the curvy drive up, it’s so worth it. A stunning magical place up in the clouds!

We ate at a terrific place called Ristorante Il Fienile where my loud brood were made to feel very welcome and the lentil and sausage stew was, as always, absolutely delicious.  You should call beforehand and book as I think they are doing very well indeed since opening a couple of years ago – we were lucky to get in.

The Easter hols, I have to say, were much-needed by all of us and it was a little sad to say goodbye to Italy and my mother who is staying out there for now.  But I’m very much looking forward to the kids going back to school tomorrow as I have a lot of work to catch up on.  Hope everyone else had a good break and is raring and ready for summer.

All photographs were taken in or near Castelluccio, Umbria, Italy. Although the colours up there can be beautiful and they were that afternoon, I chose to convert these to black & white as it seemed to suit the dramatic sky and atmosphere.

All images (c)Sarah-Jane Field 2015

 

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Taken from the top of the village of Castelluccio.
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Also taken from the top of the village
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The plains of Piano Grande are covered in different coloured flowers in June, but when we visited the fields were covered in snow and pools of water
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I kept asking to stop the car as the scenery was so stunning and I took this as we left Piano Grande (which I didn’t really want to do!)
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A last look before we left the plain

 

Some of my own family

I started this blog to promote my work as a photographer with individuals and families but if it hadn’t been for my own family, I may never have started obsessively taking photographs at all  – I think this is a fairly common trend.  I don’t tend to share photos of my children and looking through the recent shots from our holiday I felt this was a shame so I thought I’d occasionally do a little post specifically about my own children and family.

 

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