Weimar is an elegant historic town, one of the most visited in Germany with its long cultural history and its political importance. The city has been home to the composers Lizt, and Bach, the writers, Goethe and Schiller and the artists and architects, Kandinsky, Klee, Feininger and Gropius at the Bauhaus, the most important German design school of the interwar period.
Standing high on a nearby hill is the memorial tower of Buchenwald concentration camp, it can be seen easily from almost every part of town serving as a reminder of its dark history.
Strolling around the town soon after dusk we came upon the start of an extraordinary evening, a musical event involving the whole town, it began in Theaterplatz, with people stood still, looking forward and holding various music players. There were to be concerts, community bell-ringing, everyone in the town contributing to the musical night. Alan Bern – Sound Installation
Unfortunately not speaking German, we had no idea of the events in store and instead of being part of it, we spent the evening elsewhere.
I have been taking photographs on the streets at night with a small group of people. I happened to capture this group of running figures and heard some shouting. On waking the next day I found this part-story already formed in my head. I don’t know yet if there will be more to come but let me know if you find it intriguing (or daft!).
It was a wet, cold night in February the kind of night where puddles lie full of wild reflections flickering with vivid colours. Brompton Square was a good address in a respectable area of London but if you look hard enough you’ll find something dark behind the curtains.
I waited at the Cromwell Road end of the Square the damp creeping into my shoes. I was sure that something was going to kick-off. I knew the where and the likely when but not the what.
I had a clear view down the brightly lit terrace of stuccoed Regency houses. Rows of wrought iron railings and shiny black doors where the lions-head knockers kept their polished eyes on the street. A London cab was parked down the far end the headlights throwing everything in their path into silhouette. Two men in dark overcoats and a woman with flesh-coloured tights were strolling towards me, just as they passed under the street light, I snapped a discreet shot or two of their faces from low down by my waist hoping they wouldn’t notice. A group of dark-coated figures standing far down the street were huddled too tight to count.
The first group walked passed me disappearing into the rush hour throng on the Cromwell Road. She gave me a bit of a sideways glance sending chills down my back, did she recognise me? Soon a car pulled up opposite No57. A middle-aged man got out, walked over to the house and with a fumbling at the lock with his key he pushed open the door. I caught him in my view finder and clicked twice, once at the fumble and then again as he slipped into the bright hallway the door closing behind him. This was the right place then, he was wearing a hat. I was expecting that.
Ten minutes later I moved out of the shadows and crossed the street to the corner, hovering for a last look, maybe this was a mistake after all. It was right then as I turned to go that it began. A figure of man with a fur-collared coat was briefly lit by the shaft of bright light as he came out into the street from the corner house. Shouts and dull thuds of punches or baseball bats on flesh came from the far end. The taxi revved and sped down the street in my direction. The huddled group had burst apart, figures were leaping the railings into the central gardens. Three more were running fast as hell towards me coats flapping in crow-like panic. It was now or never. I got just one shot but you couldn’t see their faces. I didn’t stop for a second shot, I needed to keep out of sight. I turned quickly out of Brompton Square and up towards Harrods melting into the crowd. They’d be after me for sure if they’d seen me.
The next morning I read the newspaper version of what had gone on down there in genteel Knightsbridge and there were my photos. I had sent my three good shots to my contact and he’d passed them on. My job had been to prove that certain people had been in that place on that night. The man in the hat from No57, the woman in the flesh-coloured tights and the running group. I didn’t ask why, the less I knew the better. It would be a long time before the whole story came out but by then I was a long way from there.
It was bitterly cold and raining last night but our group braved the elements till our fingers froze to our tripods.
Rain spots on the lens made some soft refraction patterns and I like the way the guy’s phone is lighting up his face.
What looks a little like a twig on the Houses of Parliament Tower is actually the trailing light of an airplane flying West towards Heathrow Airport during the 8 sec exposure.
The Supreme Court, designed by James S Gibson is built in Portland Stone, pale in colour, making a good backdrop for the silhouetted plane tree with its circular seed balls. The interior lighting seems unusually tinged with green and in the first floor window to the left of the entrance there is an eerie figure in a red jacket.
The blue lighting on the London Eye and the trees nearby make a great opportunity to make trailing light photos, this was taken at f10, 13secs, ISO200 and moving the camera slowly downwards on the tripod during the exposure.
Sleeping on a blow-up bed in the study for a couple of nights I awoke in the dark to this cheerful scene. The blue and green of the answering machine and the broadband router glowing away in contrast to the softer, warmer light of the sodium street-lamp, casting soft shadows of delicate foliage outside the window and wooden slatted blinds on the inside. In a sleepy fumble and with blurry vision, guessing at camera settings, I tried to hold the camera steady for the long exposures but I think I like the inevitable soft-focus result.
Somehow I seem to have found myself moving almost full circle in my use of scale. I began with intricate delicate jewellery in silver and moved abruptly in a dramatic change of scale to a few bulky fabrications in painted MDF, then mild steel sculpture as big as I could make it. I yearned to go bigger, larger than life but for that you need money, strength, a whole workshop full of specialist equipment, space and hopefully a commission. After a liberating but all too brief dalliance with pleated paper and an even briefer sojourn with copper sheet, I adopted a more restrained approach, all white sculpture on a domestic scale in a medium quite new to me until now, cast plaster. Gradually and almost without realising what was afoot, the scale has slid back down, close to jewellery sized pieces.
Throughout this whole exploration of materials and processes, runs my habitual theme of repetition, it seems to be the one constant, indeed it is undeniably quite my favourite. And of course my second favourite, the aspect that sits so well with repetition – cast shadows.
Light falling across a corrugated surface always intrigues me – inspired by my father Richard Wakelin’s sculptures from 20 years ago, I made this smaller copy of his Stepped Cube.
A few years ago, I made this pleated paper installation in the deconsecrated chapel, whilst attending a Drawing course at Yorkshire Sculpture Park with David Nash, amongst others. A length of drawing paper 5m x 1.5m repeatedly folded and set in front of one of the long windows, behaved like a bucket of light and has inspired me to make more pleated paper sculptures since.