Pigeons going viral, very bright kids and Siadwell…….February 2014


It’s my birthday and as a little treat my Darwin’s Pigeons pop-up in The Guardian and then in The Daily Mail online………..and THEN it goes mental and they are EVERYWHERE.

Sites like lostininternet and KickassThings picked it up and suddenly the article is all over the internet. Quite nice really!

I do a lot of work for various Universities, including the School of Oriental and African Studies and I’m used to taking photographs of students, but the kids at SOAS are SUPER bright. Only just into their twenties and already they have achieved an awful lot.

One young chap from Romania had already spent a year volunteering in Denmark and half a year in Egypt learning arabic and arabic instruments. One young lady was studying Korean and Chinese and had spent a year in China. Whilst there she had appeared as a contestant on Chinese X factor, singing in Mandarin, as well as presenting programmes on Beijing television.

Very bright kids and a pleasure to be around.

And then there was Siadwell!

You may remember Siadwell from the mid-eighties programmes Naked Video and Absolutely. Siadwell would sit on the end of his bed, in his green parka, sniffing and telling us about the woes of his day, reciting a poem or talking about his biro collection.

Well Siadwell (aka John Sparkes) is making a comeback and I was on hand to stand him in a puddle and take some gloriously daft photographs of him.

Still making me chuckle now.

Darwin's Pigeons, The Guardian

Darwin’s Pigeon’s in The Guardian

Students:RB:13 (187)

Students:RB:13 (121)

Aishah Piprawala:Choose MDX:RB:14 (27)

Semhar Haile:RB:14 (30)

Selja Annikki Ryoppy:RB:14 (9)


Siadwell_Absolutely_RB_14 (55)


Siadwell_Absolutely_RB_14 (60) copy


Siadwell_Absolutely_RB_14 (199) copy

Siadwell in a puddle

Memory, Loss and 100 year old’s…….January 2014


So this is the year that I am going to make real progress in my personal projects.

I am doing pretty well, but need some help in finding more subjects……..I need you.


This is a project I started a couple of years ago based around the theme of memory and loss.

I had been working with the NHS on an End of Life project, which entailed talking to people who were near the end of their life and asking them the best way to make things as easy as possible for them. This included what they would like to happen to their bodies after they had passed away.

This got me thinking about where I might like my ashes scattered, but also how and why and where people scatter the ashes of loved ones.

I put out an ‘advert’ asking for some ‘stories’ telling me the reason why people had scattered the ashes of their loved ones in a specific place and the responses that I got back were heart-warming, emotional, funny and poignant.

I have been taking photographs of the locations, which are accompanied by the stories sent in, but I need more.

Have you scattered the ashes of a loved one in a particular place for a particular reason?

Do you know of someone whose ashes were scattered in a particular place for a particular reason?

Please do tell or spread the word.


Working for the RNIB at the end of last year I photographed two wonderful ladies who were 104 & 105 respectively. I know we are an ageing population, but I didn’t know quite how many 100+ year olds were living in England and I naively thought I would photograph all the 100 year olds in the UK.

Turns out there are……..over 12’000 in England and Wales.

So, maybe I won’t photograph all of them, but I have set myself a 100, 100 year olds. (I know there are other people out there photographing 100 year old’s…..but I want to do it as well!)

Do you have a Grandma or Grandpa, mum or dad, who wouldn’t mind being photographed and interviewed?

Please do tell or spread the word.

Here I Am_The Mendips

Here I Am_The Mendips

Here I Am_Holkam Beach

Here I Am_Holkam beach

Here I Am_Brighton Nudist Beach

Here I Am_Brighton Nudist beach


Gwen – 104 years old

DSC_4957 copy

Marie – 102 years old

Pigs and Parties…….December 2013


Oh Dear into February and I’m already late.

Note to self….Must keep blog up to date, must keep blog up to date!

Well….Goats, Sheep, Chickens………forget about all of them, it’s now all about the pig!

Those good people at Modern Farmer have got me photographing the wonderful pig, in all it’s variety of sizes and shapes. Clare and Robin, at Oakland Pigs, open their farm gate to me and we spend a lovely day photographing their prize pigs.

It was a real treat to visit their farm and see how well looked after their animals are. We photographed British Saddleback’s, Tamworth’s, Gloucestershire Old Spots and lots of little piglets. The very noisy Tamworth was my favourite, not least because it’s ears don’t fall over it’s face.

Can’t show you any just yet as the magazine hasn’t gone to print, but below is my assistant for the day (school holidays) holding a baby British Saddleback.

After the success of the Shifting Perspectives exhibition in Osaka last year, the Japanese Down Syndrome Association have asked for a larger exhibition to travel out to Tokyo……and they have invited me out there as well…….which is nice! I have spent a lot of time organising the exhibition, designing posters etc, but am ahead of the game and can now just get excited about going!

They are publicising the exhibition really well and have shot and produced a ’365′ using Japanese children, which is quite wonderful and also a little film, with a bit of me and some ‘interesting’ music.

YOUYOU Mentoring host a small Christmas party at The Premises Studios in the East End. The more than wonderful Laura Pradelska, from Game of Thrones, comes along to lend her support and to read a Christmassy poem, beautifully! Our young Poetry Mentees are there as well and also read a Christmassy poem. (Stuff about that here.)

And then, long-time friend of YOUYOU, Dan Gillespie-Sells from The Feeling , gets up to perform a solo acoustic set, which is just AMAZING and gets us all in the mood for a VERY MERRY XMAS!

Daniel & Pig

Daniel and a Saddleback piglet.

Dan Gillespie Sells.Premises Studios

Dan Gillespie-Sells, acoustic set at the Premises Studios. (Photo: Susannah Altimes)

Shifting Perspectives in Japan

Japanese Down Syndrome Association poster for the Shifting Perspectives exhibition in Tokyo.

I Don’t Care…….November 2013



Our good friend Carolina Giammetta wrote and directed a short film ‘about’ Down’s syndrome and the choices people make, called ‘I Don’t Care’, which she shot at our house earlier in the year.  The film isn’t about us, but more about how she has come to see Down’s syndrome through her relationship with us and other people she knows who have children with Down’s syndrome. In fact, her main inspiration was the Shifting Perspectives exhibition.

Our daughter Billie-Jo was one of the actors and it is a VERY moving, beautifully shot and directed film, with wonderful acting.

There was a cast and crew screening at the Warner Bros. offices in Soho, where we got to see it on a big screen and it really is beautiful!

She is taking it to all the festivals, so it can’t be seen online at the moment, but here is a link to a snippet of behind the scenes.

I Don’t Care snippet of behind the scenes!

My pigeons are making a come back, with quite a lot of interest, in articles and print sales, so I have decided to have a look at ‘crowd-funding’ to get the book published.

I have it all ready to go, but will wait until the New Year, before ‘going for it’!!

Watch this space.

Here they are hanging at This is Dare, an ad agency in Soho.

The kids are swimming and then swimming a bit more. We are gala’s and more gala’s and then another gala…..sweltering on the side of the pool, for a race that lasts a couple of minutes……. but you know we wouldn’t miss it for the world.

IDC POSTER V 2 medium

Pigeons at thisisdare

Sheep, sheep and more sheep……and Vivienne Westwood…….October 2013


Modern Farmer magazine have got me taking photographs of sheep and I am enjoying running around the country seeing these quite lovely creatures. They gave me the front cover again, which was nice!

In between doing work for the wonderful RNIB (Royal National Institute for the Blind) and a visit to Cheltenham for the University of Gloucester, there was a visit to Buckingham Palace to see Prince Philip (who was delightful!) and a trip to Keats House where Dame Vivienne Westwood graced us with her presence. (She was not quite so delightful!)

I know I go on about the RNIB, but they are brilliant. This was a quick trip to a school they run in Coventry, where children of various special needs are looked after and educated with great care and attention.

A lovely week was spent in Cheltenham for the University of Gloucester, taking photographs for their new prospectus. Always great fun and a really nice vibe there.

A friend of mine has just taken over as Chief Exec. of The Lord’s Taverners. He has been involved with them for a long time and is a mad cricket fan, so it his perfect job. The Taverners do a great job raising money for the underprivileged and I know that he will take them onto bigger and better projects. Every so often he has called me along to take a few snaps for him and this time it was a trip to Buck Palace for a ‘do’ hosted by Prince Phillip. I’m not a great royalist, but there was something quite nice about wandering through the gates at the front, into the inner courtyard and then into The Palace proper. It is ‘rather splendid’ inside and not a spot of dust to be seen! Prince Phillip was on good form too, considering he wasn’t long out of hospital.

And then there was Dame Vivienne Westwood…..hmmmmm.

I am a trustee of a very small non-for-profit scheme called YouYou mentoring. This year we had the opportunity to partner with the fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood and her ‘Climate Revolution’ project, by giving five young poets the chance to develop their poetry and create a collection of poems to inspire others to consider their own relationship to the environment.

Climate Revolution is an inspiring project that Dame Vivienne founded and is doing great work in keeping this issue in the public domain.

As part of the poets development they had their photographs taken with Dame Vivienne at Holborn Studios, (see August post) and recorded their poems at a solar powered studio and had their poems published, by Dame Vivienne, in a little poetry book .

The poets also gained guidance from a leading literary editor of a top magazine and were voice coached. All this was to climax in a special event at Keats House in Hampstead, where they would read out their poems, alongside YOUYOU’s supporter, BAFTA  Rising Star Award-winning actress Juno Temple (premiered here on iD magazine) and to an invited VIP audience, including the poets mums and dads.

Dame Vivienne was invited along to say a few words about the ‘Climate Revolution’ project, a few words about YouYou Mentoring and then to have a nice evening….or so we thought.

So, after the young poets, who are aged 17-21, had finished reading their poems in front of the audience, Vivienne gets up to host a Q &A discussion with them.

Her first words were: “Well, people keep talking about talent, but I don’t see any here…..”

… she then told one of the 18 year old’s, that she didn’t think her poem was any good and she didn’t understand a word of it!

Vivienne’s staff and her guests were sniggering and chuckling, obviously thinking this was hilarious. Eventually a few people in the audience, including myself, decided to stand up for the poets, and she started to be a bit more pleasant.

Although there seemed to be an attempt to humiliate them publicly, each of the poets were dignified and were able to talk about the poems and the story behind them with great passion.

(Remember that Dame Vivienne’s company was a partner in the project, she took part in the official photo shoot and media, had very kindly printed the poems in a little booklet, with its ‘Climate Revolution’ branding on the cover and on the night she had her photograph taken with the young poets for the press. )

I don’t know, maybe Ms Westwood, thought this was good fun, maybe she thought this was the right thing to do, maybe that is a normal Saturday night out, maybe trying to make people feel small is something that occurs regularly in her world…?

What I do know, is that YouYou Mentoring has very strong values and strives to develop and encourage young people to get on to the first rung of their chosen career. With high youth unemployment it is schemes like YOUYOU that are helping to make a real difference and we always offer POSITIVE encouragement.

The journey of the poets development and other creative mentee’s involved in the project was documented by YOUYOU Mentoring. You can view the promo films, stills and read the poets poems here on the designated Facebook page.


As I say…..And then there was Dame Vivienne Westwood…..hmmmmm.

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Mayoral Proclamations, 100 year old’s and lots of sheep…….September 2013


Earlier on in the year David Guion from the Dublin Arts Council  called up to talk about another Shifting Perspectives exhibition. We thought the way ahead might be to team up local photographers, with a member of the local Down syndrome community, and for each to each produce a body of work.

So, DAC working with DSACO (Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio) organised for Columbus photographer Shellee Fisher to work with Jennifer Cunningham Fox, Keo Khim to partner with Kyle McKay and Cameron Sharp to create artwork with Shane Roussi and Jeremy Engberg.

He also suggested that I might like to visit Dublin, Ohio again and that…. perhaps…. I could bring my daughter Billie-Jo along. Guess what..I said yes!

I took some portraits of Billie-Jo, and on a day trip to Dungeness, Billie-Jo produced some great shots, which you can see below. We spent a week in Dublin, being spoilt rotten…. again! David and his team are so generous and such great company that it is always easy to visit them and hard to leave. They really have taken Shifting Perspectives to heart, and to see them taking it out into their community, is a wonderful thing for me to see. There were parties for Bill, VIP receptions and the Columbus Buddy Walk, where the gallery staff were ‘Team Billie-Jo’.

The Columbus buddy walk attracts 5’000 people and raises around $300’000 in one day. I facilitated another workshop for a group of young adults who have Down syndrome, but this time they all took photographs of each other and did a great job of it too. We visited Mayor Lecklighter again, at Dublin City Council. He honoured us with another proclamation and as they film each council meeting you can see Billie-Jo (and me) thanking the mayor, at about 5mins 40secs in, HERE.

Last year, the day after flying back I drove down to Cheltenham for a week of Post-Grad brochure shooting, at the University of Gloucestershire. This time it was the week before. They are such good fun down there, we get some great shots and the days rush past. Looking forward to going back again in November.

The day after flying back, the kids are at Hever Castle for their first triathlon. In fact seven cousins take part and really enjoy it. Even the freezing cold open water of the lake doesn’t put them off.  Very proud of our little nine and ten year old.

Whilst in Columbus cafe I spot a Modern Farmer on the magazine rack, with my goat on the front cover. Well………forget the goats, it’s all about the sheep!! Am driving all over the country shooting sheep, but you will have to wait and see.

Oh, and do you know any 100 year old’s? I was shooting for the RNIB at one of their care homes and took some portraits of a 105 year old. I am now taking portraits of people over 100 and am looking for one hundred, 100 year old’s…..so if you have a grandma or aunt who have hit the century…….do tell!

Billie-Jo and friend at schoolBill and friend at school.

Billie-Jo at school

Bill at school

Billie-Jo at karate.

Bill at karate

Bill's Ohio Artwork artworkBill’s photographs for the Ohio exhibition.

DAC Workshop groupDAC Workshop group

University of Gloucestershire

University of Gloucestershire

University of Gloucestershire

University of Gloucestershire

University of Gloucestershire

University of Gloucestershire

University of Gloucestershire

University of Gloucestershire

University of Gloucestershire

University of Gloucestershire

University of Gloucestershire

University of Gloucestershire

Climate Revolution, Vivienne Westwood and YouYou Mentoring…….August 2013


Summer’s still here and is quite brilliant.

Lots of swimming in Lido’s and general running around with the kids.

YOUYOU Mentoring have started a new project with a group of young poets.

We have teamed up with Vivienne Westwood and the Climate Revolution. Five young poets head off to Holborn Studios where they have a poetry masterclass and meet up with Ms Westwood.

Now they go away to work on their poems and it all culminates in a poetry reading event at Keats House in Hampstead at the end of October.

Below is a shot of Vivienne and the young poets, taken by YOUYOU mentee Chloe Thacker assisted and aided by YOUYOU Mentor, and my good friend Adam Lawrence.

On the YOUYOU front, I have Just re-visited this lovely video portrait of Fergus Henderson, shot by Joseph Turpin. Only a minute long, but really very special.

Watch it HERE.     

Climate Revolution Poets

Poppy Turner, Danien Charles, Phil Coales, Pheobe Thomas, Laura O’Driscoll with Dame Vivienne Westwood. Photo by Chloe Thacker.


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