Wednesday, 29 October 2014


Photography by John Cole & Alexander Brattell

PhotoHastings 2014 is proud to present a celebration of the Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition, with the support of the Fairlight Arts Trust.
You are warmly invited to the preview on Friday, October 31, 6.30pm to 9pm at St Mary In The Castle crypt.
The exhibition runs to November 14.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

A Truly Classy Dame

In 1977 I photographed the launch of the I LOVE NY campaign. Of the dozens of NYC celebrities in attendance, was the beautiful, charming and gracious Lauren Bacall. After countless photos of her with virtually every guest, I decided that I wanted a shot of myself with this beautiful woman. So I handed the camera to a friend, who took the shot of me with Lauren, which I now share with you, in honour of the passing of a Truly Classy Dame!

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Wembley to Soweto to Brazil… and Back!

The World Cup is almost over and once again England is home disappointedly early. But for me, the World Cup has been a huge success. I have just returned from running a three-week photography workshop in the favelas of Sao Paulo which I genuinely feel has made a difference to lives of eight young men and women.
In 2010, actor/producer David Westhead and I created “Wembley to Soweto” as a photography-based training course to be run during the South Africa World Cup. It was (and still is) aimed at providing professional photographic training and life-skills to historically disadvantaged young people, helping them to move their own lives forward by creating opportunities and ultimately, for them to make a positive contribution to their own society. The project has by all accounts been a huge success, with the backing of such luminaries as Dame Judi Dench and Alan Rickman, and has since run in Newcastle, Brighton, Cumbria and most recently during the London 2012 Olympics. In fact, the project does not stop when David and I leave – we continue to work online with our students in every project we’ve run, encouraging them to develop their careers by offering advice, support and feedback.

Based on this success David and I, together with our brilliant PR Director Susan Morton, embarked on a marathon fund raising exercise to run the project in Sao Paulo during the 2014 Brazil World Cup. It was a hard slog, but we did it, thanks to so many people who were so generous, especially in the Hastings/Brighton area, donating money, cameras, equipment, expertise and time.

In Sao Paulo, we ran the project out of the Uniao (Union) Community Centre in the heart of favela Jardim Colombo, in the southwest of the city. Our objective was to let the young people in the favelas tell the story of the World Cup from their point of view. I know that the favelas have a terrible reputation for violence, and some indeed may be violent, but the people of Colombo couldn’t have been more welcoming and supportive to our project.

Joao Paulo Lima (nicknamed, Baqueta, in photo above), who we met during our April recce, managed through sheer determination and perseverance to find us seven more students for the course: Gustavo Rei Panda, Monique, Vinicius, Erika, Gleicimara, Mauricio and Gustavo Henrique. Tariana, a Brazilian student from our London Olympics course, joined us as student, translator and mentor to the younger students. Two of our previous students -- Thapelo Motsumi from Soweto and Kasey Newton from London’s East End – joined us for a week to work with the students. With Thapelo, Kasey and Tariana as teachers in Sao Paulo, the project had come full circle, so that those who were taught were now teaching.

The students photographed all three of Brazil’s matches in the favela. Some people watched the matches in cafes, but most residents moved out onto the street for makeshift street parties, watching the matches on huge TV screens. Though hesitant at first, our students soon became adept at capturing the joyously boisterous celebrations of Brazil’s march to the semi-finals of the World Cup. We also ventured into the centre of Sao Paulo to photograph the Praca da Se, the elegant Cathedral square filled tourists, beggars and homeless citizens; the Mercado Municipal, the huge central market filled with colourful produce and the rich fragrance of meat, fish and cheeses; the charming port town of Santos with it’s crumbling colonial elegance amidst gigantic lorries trundling along the seafront, as well as a visit to the hallowed shrine of Santos football stadium and museum; and an evening in the Sao Paulo Fan Park for the England v Uruguay match, documenting the strange tribal behaviour of English football fans. But most of all it was about witnessing eight young men and women from the favelas, some with no photography experience, grow in photographic ability, as well as in their own self-belief and confidence.

From the very beginning in 2010, ‘Wembley to Soweto’ has been blessed with some sort of magic. Good people do good things when we least expect it. By sheer coincidence, my very last night in Sao Paulo was the night of the Queen’s Birthday, which the British Consulate kindly invited myself, Baqueta and Monique to attend. Prince Harry was to be the guest of honour. One day later and these young students would never have had the chance to attend such a prestigious and glitzy event.

Baqueta told me that when me met Prince Harry, the Prince said, “I’m jealous – I wish I could be in your place and have a day doing what you do.” Maybe not the official royal seal of approval, but close to it!

If I had any doubts after months of endless scrounging for money, sorting logistical headaches and long nights processing images, they immediately evaporated when I said goodbye to our students. Gustavo Rei Panda wrote on his Facebook page, “When you are leaving, I am holding the tears back.”
As was I.
Prince Harry, eat your heart out.
Rio Olympics 2016, here we come!

Please have a look at Guardian online, which has been running a series of photos from the course:

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

“Wembley to Soweto” lives again!

A few months ago, the idea of going to Brazil to run another World Cup teaching project as we did in 2010 in Soweto was just a mad dream with little hope of happening.
But it is happening, thanks to David’s prodigious fund raising skills and the generosity of so many people.
We're off to Sao Paulo June 2nd for the 2014 World Cup. As before, we’ll be teaching eight young people the basics of photography, as well as helping them gain confidence and develop social skills that will help them in whatever careers they want in their lives.

'Wembley to Soweto' began as a photography-based training course during the 2010 World Cup aimed at teaching historically disadvantaged youngsters from Soweto, South Africa how to 'feed their families with their cameras'. The aim of the project –  backed by Nelson Mandela's grandson Kweku – is and always has been to provide young people with the opportunity to learn basic photographic skills, but more importantly, gain confidence and experience, build a strong visual arts career and contribute to their communities.
The Soweto project was a huge success, backed by such luminaries as Bill Nighy, Alan Rickman, Hugh Bonneville and Dame Judi Dench, with sixty of the students' images exhibited at the prestigious Oxo Gallery on London's South Bank in 2011.
The project was such a success, that it subsequently embarked on a UK tour, running courses in Newcastle, Brighton, Cumbria and most recently at the London Print Studio to coincide with the 2012 Olympics.

And now the course is set to run in Sao Paulo.
A few weeks ago we returned from a recce in Sao Paulo and during our week in there, we worked with young people from Paraisopolis, Sao Paulo's second largest favela. The enthusiasm and thirst for knowledge that greeted us in one of South America's poorest communities was tangible wherever we ventured. We felt that the communities were welcoming, vibrant and full of life, to say nothing of the endless possibilities for photo opportunities for the young photographers.
One of the most exciting things about the Brazil project is that two of our previous students from Soweto and London’s East End will also come to Sao Paulo to work with the students. With our two former ‘Wembley to Soweto’ students now working as teachers in Sao Paulo, the project has come full circle -- those who were taught, now teach. And those that are taught in Sao Paulo, will teach on the project during the 2016 Rio Olympics.

There's a lovely article in Hastings Online Times written by the lovely Lauris Morgan-Griffiths, which gives some more background about it all.

But the project still needs funding for airfare for our former students, cameras, lenses, batteries and a million and one other things. Every Pound donated will go a huge way towards helping these young people have a special opportunity that they might otherwise never have had.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition

I’ve just finished photographing the Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition.
It’s been an amazing week of photographing 40 young pianists from all over the world performing the works of Chopin, Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, Brahms, Beethoven and Liszt. Along with photographing them competing, I was given access to their rehearsal and tutorial sessions, where I could get up close to watch the work in progress.

The winner was 17-year-old Taek Gi Lee from South Korea. But all the contestants sounded brilliant to me, and it was a great joy and honour to be able to get so close to them when they were playing.
If you want a more comprehensive review of the music played during the week, please have a look
at Antony Mair’s excellent Blog.