Human Rights, Human Wrongs at Photographers’ Gallery, London

Rather stupidly, I was late in getting to this exhibition, Human Rights, Human Wrongs, at the Photographers’ Gallery, London. I wouldn’t call it a pleasure but it was certainly worth the visit for other reasons.2015-03-23 12.31.40-1

Human Rights, Human Wrongs is a 2-floor, extensive show of densely-packed images from conflict zones from 1945 to about 2000. ‘Conflict zones’ does not necessarily mean war zones: the struggle for human rights is, as you would guess from the title, strongly represented too.

The first gallery deals with the immediate aftermath of war and armed conflict. We don’t see the fighting and there is no glorification of war (thank goodness). Instead it feels more like a visual accountant assessing the costs, but in terms of human bodies and moral degradation.

The second gallery is about conflict of a different kind – civil conflict and the fight for rights or the domination of beliefs. The choice of images emphasizes just how much physical and moral force needs to be applied, by all sides in the conflict, to support or overcome ingrained attitudes, the status quo and vested interests.

The whole exhibition is a presentation of curated evidence, and like any good show leaves the viewer to draw their own conclusions from this evidence. For me, it shows a fundamental truth that, at an animal level, humans are easier to kill than to live with in peaceful coexistence. Yet the Declaration of Human Rights displayed on the gallery’s walls show that our species is capable of more than killing, that ink is more powerful than blood. I also noticed the = sign used on the forehead of some protesters during the American civil rights movement: we should all use this symbol on our keyboards a little more!

Well done to the Photographers’ Gallery for re-invigorating the documentary photograph.

Human Rights Human Wrongs is at the Photographers’ Gallery, London, UK until 6 April 2015.

Malcolm Raggett, March 2015

Inspired by….Ayr 1979, Raymond Moore


Raymond Moore is not a household name but arguably Britain’s greatest landscape photographer. He created a unique personal response to the coastal landscape of NW England and SE Scotland. Pictures that seem at first so drear and commonplace, contain quiet beauty and humour, revealed by Moore’s intense looking and complex compositions. Deeply influenced by poetry, Moore was a poet of the camera, whereby he composed visual poems from the objects and textures of ordinary places.

I have a limited edition photogravure print of Ayr 1979, which has become a favourite of mine. What strikes first is a dagger of light shooting across the picture from the left, within an angry sky bearing down on the horizon. In the foreground is a stained concrete floor. The shaft of light is the sea, catching sunlight burning through the cloud, the land around in shadow. Then gradually we see that the distant landscape merges imperceptibly with a roughcast wall; we are actually looking inside a room, maybe a deckchair store or shelter. We are looking through a window and the landscape is a reflection: the sunlit sea is behind us. We peer deeper into the room, cold and empty, aching with melancholy. The composition is immaculate, with drainpipe, air vents, roof truss etched onto the evening sky. But the final surprise is Moore himself, in glasses, in profile just visible on the right of the frame. This is an emotional landscape; Moore says he always had to feel something in his photographs. But this is first and foremost about looking, by a photographer who saw disparate elements falling into place.

Roger Estop



Andy Sewell – Something Like a Nest

Review by Malcolm RaggettDSCF0848

It is appropriate for Andy Sewell‘s Something Like a Nest to be pictureNow’s first review as it was photographed in the rural East of England. Having lived, worked and farmed in this area for decades I can testify to the integrity of the images. Although Andy currently hails from London he does not show a townie pastiche or a rural idyl, but rather the quotidian blend of modern and traditional that I recognise immediately and yet he still manages to provide me with fresh views into my home patch.

The book has a shiny transparent plastic dust jacket but thankfully that is where the glossiness ends. The pictures take us though a mythical year-in-the-life of the rural East Anglia with the seasonality of life mixed with those aspects that continue throughout the year. Although each image is well-photographed and carries its own message, it is as a book that they come together, with their chronological narrative, insight and occasional wry humour. I highly recommend this photobook.

One of my favourite images from Something Like a Nest by Andy Sewell
One of my favourite images from Something Like a Nest by Andy Sewell

The book can be ordered from Andy’s Web site

Hardcover with printed acetate dust jacket
54 colour plates
108 pages
28cm x 22.9cm
ISBN 978-0-9568923-1-7