Category Archives: Photography

Japan tsunami – in memoriam


It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since the cataclysmic earthquake and tsunami struck Japan on March 11th 2011 claiming the lives of 18,500 people.

Here are some incredible before and after shots capturing the devastation and the rebuilding that’s gone on in the past decade.

At the time, all I could do was write a poem as I, like billions around the globe, bore witness to the calamitous event unfolding before us.

I felt impotent. I tried to sell prints of my poem for $1 online to raise funds, to no avail.

I wished I was something useful like a doctor or a nurse, or a rescue worker that could do something practical to help.

Then I thought of all the creative people I had encountered during my long career as an art director in the advertising industry and I asked them for help. The response was phenomenal. I got donations of works of art from all over the world to be put into an auction to raise money for the Red Cross who were working on the ground over there.

Less than a month later, we held the Japan Art Auction at Jonathan Oakes photography studio in Manchester, hosted by The Smiths drummer Mike Joyce. It was an incredible success and, thanks to a great many people, we raised quite a few grand.

A lot has changed in 10 years. As you can see by the photos in The Guardian link above.

Things have changed for me too. I am now a Nursing Assistant at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport.

And, whilst my poem did not raise a single dollar, it did inspire Austrian composer Albors Pascal Askari to write this hauntingly beautiful piece of music. All the proceeds from which also went to the Japan relief effort.

And, unbeknownst to me, my poem was on the English curriculum at several schools in London for a couple of years.

Who says poetry can’t make a difference?

4 Comments

Filed under Advertising, Art, Children, Classical music, community, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Education, Haiku, health, History, Ideas, Illustration, Innovation, Inspiration, Literature, love, Medicine, mental health, Music, Nature, nhs, Patrick Chapman, Philosophy, Photography, Poetry, Politics, Science, Sculpture, Short stories, Uncategorized, Writing

Winter is Coming


Actually, it’s already here.

Apologies to Game of Thrones fans as this post’s title is literal rather than a metaphorical reference to House Stark.

I just wanted to share a few photos I took in Etherow Park near where I live in the north west of England during a bit of a snow flurry.

So, I took the opportunity to shamelessly piggy-back off of one of the most successful TV shows in history. (Not that I’ve ever watched the show, mind.) There can’t be many of us left.

Etherow Park is in Compstall, which is near Marple Bridge, which is near Stockport, which is near Manchester, which is nowhere near North Westeros.

11 Comments

Filed under Art, community, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Education, Inspiration, mental health, Nature, Photography, Uncategorized

And another thing…


My last post was meant to be my last post of 2020.

But I saw something that I wanted to share with you.

I took someone to St. James’ hospital in Leeds the other day. Specifically, the Bexley Wing. Which is actually more like a hospital within a hospital rather than a ‘wing’.

What struck me initially is that they have an art gallery space in the atrium. Obviously, I took the opportunity to peruse the stunning work on display.

What was a little bit awkward was the fact that someone deemed it a good idea to place chairs all along the gallery wall. So, I often found myself standing directly in front of a healthcare worker, (who was taking a well earned break), gawping over their head.

I decided to take a few photos for posterity. And soon realised that the juxtaposition of the art on display and the resting workers/visitors oblivious to it, was art in itself. (Well, it was in my head, anyway.)

I think the fact that the majority of people are on their smart phones adds a certain amount of 21st century irony to the pictures. With the art behind them screaming “Look at me!”

Some people may know how passionate I am about the arts and their ability to help in the healing process. Whether that be mental, physical or general wellbeing.

Anyway, the atrium gallery is amazing. The work is amazing. The staff are amazing. And the NHS is amazing. So, all-in-all, well done, and thank you to everyone at St James’ Hospital, Bexley wing. (You are amazing.)

11 Comments

Filed under Art, community, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Education, health, Ideas, Illustration, Innovation, Inspiration, Medicine, mental health, nhs, Photography, Science, Uncategorized

15 seconds


I came across this story of a girl the same age my daughter is now. She was born on the 15th August 1928 in Poland. And died at the tender age of 14 on 12th March 1943. When I say ‘died’, she was murdered in Auschwitz by the Nazis. Because she lived in an area of Poland earmarked for resettlement.

I was so taken by her image and her story – her absolute innocence, that I felt compelled to write a poem about her. To honour her tragically short life in some way. I know it doesn’t make a blind bit of difference if I write a few pathetic lines of poetry 77 years later. But it matters to me. It could’ve been my daughter, but for circumstance. Or yours. It still could be, the way the world is going.

Czeslawa Kwoka.

15 seconds.

For Czeslawa Kwoka.

There’s this girl.

Her nose and cheeks are pink,

like she’s just come in from the cold.

She’s looking up at the camera

with fear in her blue-grey eyes.

Her fair hair is roughly shorn,

and she wears an over-sized

blue and white striped tunic,

held together with safety pins.

She doesn’t understand what they are saying,

she doesn’t speak the language.

So the Kapo beats her about the head with a stick.

Her lips are thin and cut

like they’re trying to still a tremble.

There’s a badge sewn over her heart

with the serial number 26947 printed on it.

She has a name though. It’s Czeslawa.

She is 14 years old.

The same age as my daughter.

But she looks much younger.

Like a terrified little girl.

She hasn’t done anything wrong.

Except, be Polish.

And Catholic.

And ill.

Probably typhus or T.B.

The cause is irrelevant.

She’s too ill to work.

So she’s surplus to requirements.

The doctor will see you now.

He’s going to inject a final solution

of phenol directly into her heart.

It will kill her in 15 seconds.

Or not.

It’s not an exact science.

If he misses the ventricle it could take up to an hour.

Once administered, she will be thrown

onto the pile of bodies in the room next door.

Where her body will turn a shade of livid pink

for the next 60 minutes.

Because that is too long to wait,

to see whether the procedure was a success.

They are only allowed two minutes

and 22 seconds

per murder.

So she lies on the pile of dead people,

gulping for oxygen.

Knowing that she too, is soon to be one of them.

Photographer: Wilhelm Brasse

Colourist: Mirek Szponar.

13 Comments

Filed under Art, Children, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Education, health, History, Medicine, Photography, Poetry, Politics, Science, Uncategorized

Parr Excellence.


Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

Martin Parr would probably groan in pun-staking agony at that headline.

Oh well, you’re here now.

Martin Parr is one of Britain’s greatest photographers. Actually, make that ‘the World’s’.

He manages to capture the zeitgeist of working-class life in all its gaudy technicolour, wherever he goes. Whether that be Barnsley or Brazil.

He’s known for his satirical and ironic documentary-style images that look at our insatiable rapaciousness for consumerism. That, and people eating chips.

Martin Parr

I’m not here to write his biography, just show you some of his brilliant work. If you’d like to know a bit more about him, his life, his work, his foundation and his legacy, click here. But if you just want to see more photos of people eating chips, scroll down.

Ireland.
USA. Kentucky Derby. 2015.
ITALY. Capri. Marina Piccola. 2014.
Sexy Beast, anyone?
Uruguay.
Barry Island. 1996.
WALES. Glamorgan. Tower Colliery. 1993.
Wales. Tenby. 2018.

If you want to have a look at some of his most recent projects, have a look here. You won’t be disappointed.

GB. England. Kent. Margate. 1986.
GB. England. Bristol. Pride. 2019.

3 Comments

Filed under Art, Books, Children, Comedy, community, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Dance, Digital, Education, Film, Food, health, History, Ideas, Innovation, Inspiration, love, mental health, Music, Photography, Politics, Uncategorized

Bonjour 2020!


I thought I’d begin 2020 as I ended 2019 – writing in French!

Why? I have no idea.

Plus, it’s a tad late for New Year salutations.

I’ve wanted to write a post about Saul Leiter for many a moon.

Why? I have no idea.

Wait, I do. Because I love his work, that’s why. And I thought it only right and proper I shared the love.

I am intrigued by his voyeuristic style. Apart from Leiter being a pioneer of early colour photography, he managed to capture slices of the Big Apple’s social and cultural life in 1940s and 50s America. I think the compositions are very cinematic and each character could inspire a short story.

He said his early influences were the Impressionists Degas, Bonnard and Vuillard. But I’d venture to chuck Toulouse-Lautrec into the pot as well.

And he wasn’t just a dab hand at photography. He was pretty good at dabbing with a paint brush too. (Quite a few of his paintings are over-painted photographs.)

I’m not going to blather on giving you his life story, you can do that here. I just want to show you some pretty pictures. So, here you go…

75bb7415c7ed50312059dab58c0e551b

9a55cd463525ecdf9a2bc093776b9211

e06b95397c980a4e305c5b8fc1d5b008

8a9b8166e187bf1975d18cb9f8fc1379

f817eb1da76d76ff5a31f85820372b49

paris_1959

351295

Screen_Shot_2019_06_18_at_2_50_56_PM_master

0a7761a1d007ada31d6ac9081c130dfa

225c987bc8f952680d9807216a78b7d2

a7812984c8028cc25d3363412dad6614

31e84d40c2931d0beeb4f049f10fb19a

1b72f6c86e115250975e2838850238d1

saul-leiter3

in-my-room-saul-leiter4

in-my-room-saul-leiter5

1_joanna

DSC01260editcrop

 

 

4 Comments

Filed under Advertising, Art, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, History, Illustration, Innovation, Inspiration, Photography, Uncategorized

Adieu 2019.


Well, it’s been an eventful year, to say the least.

I’ve been doing a lot more visual arts this year, so I thought I’d do a month-by-month, blow-by-blow, pictorial representation of my year. (Lucky you.)

Actually, the reason behind it is to see if/how the images/moods have changed over the course of the year. And how that might correlate to my mental health.

As some of you know, I volunteer for an arts charity called Arc, (Arts for Recovery in the Community), which works with people with mental health issues. I am an ardent advocate of the arts as a medium to treat mental health, and wellbeing in general.

Many years ago, I visted the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and you could see the gradual decline in his mental health through his work.

Whilst I’m no Van Gogh, I am trying to see if there are any similar patterns to my own work.

Let’s have a look, shall we?

And before I forget; Have a Happy New Year and an absolutely spectacular 2020.

JANUARY

Oh dear… that’s not a good start.

IMG_3709

FEBRUARY

That’s a bit more positive. Birthday trip to Haworth, West Yorkshire, (home of the Brontes’), with my daughters.

1

MARCH

Pros: Part of an Arc exhibition. Cons: Became homeless.

me1

APRIL

Ee, it’s grim up north. Charcoal sketch of an L.S. Lowry.

280e494e1fba1e263087ba3c2a2a025d

MAY

“Are you sure you’re all right?”

Rehomed.

a452c463251cab353a653edf7c5d40ba

JUNE

Think I can see a pattern emerging.

cf4c350d6acd9de9ee610b3f2584b525

JULY

Rehab.

ME2

AUGUST

I guess a lot of things are obvious in hindsight.

3894104425313117579.JPG

0f0342121384651b0e812b5c54c2cb3a

me3

ME4

SEPTEMBER

The road to recovery.

IMG_20190920_170609_083

Screenshot_20191231_113747(1)

OCTOBER

Signs of improvement.

me6

IMG_20191026_143918-01

NOVEMBER

Apart from my volunteer work at Arc, I started facilitating a Creative Writing Workshop at The Wellspring homeless charity in Stockport.

IMG_20191127_134045

burst

There are always reminders.

me8

IMG_20191201_142549-01

DECEMBER

A change of outlook.

IMG_20191227_144451-01

IMG_20191227_144748-01

IMG_20191227_150053-02

IMG_20191229_112340

IMG_20191229_112352

me11

As you can see, it’s been a tumultuous year.

I feel very fortunate to be able to experience the last day of it. That would not have been possible were it not for the actions of my dear friend, Siobhan Costigan, over in Australia. Her, and my friends, family, NHS, Stepping Hill Hospital, Pathfinder, AA, The Wellspring and Arc have all played their part in saving my life and helping me to recover. And I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

As of 31/12/2019, I am 140 days abstinent. I feel completely blessed that I have been able to experience 140 days on Earth with my daughters, family and friends that I might not have been able to. I am truly a lucky man.

I wish you all a magnificent 2020; may the forthcoming decade bring you everything that you hope and dream for.

 

Addendum.

If you, or a loved one, are going through a difficult time, there are organisations out there who can help. Reaching out isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength that you have managed to hold on this far. And remember, if things get so bad, go to your nearest A&E dept., they will take care of you just like any other patient.

The Samaritans call 116 123

NHS call 111 or 999

Alcoholics Anonymous call 0800 917 7650

17 Comments

Filed under Art, Children, community, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Education, health, Ideas, Illustration, Innovation, Inspiration, Literature, love, Medicine, mental health, Nature, nhs, Philosophy, Photography, Poetry, Uncategorized, Writing

Army Men Around the House.


I love these little set ups by Gareth McGorman, called Army Men Around the House.

Yes, I’ve seen figurines used this way before. I’m thinking of farmhands chopping up florets of broccoli, that sort of thing.

But, I just find these quite amusing. Perhaps it’s something to do with the fact that I used to play with toy soldiers as a child. (Much to the consternation of our cat.)

Gareth hails from Toronto, Canada and I first came across him on Instagram. I can’t find a website for him, but I’ll post a couple of links to his work under the shots.

Enjoy.

231691a7a9404628ed6d534f12bead6b

42996833_1080741722100946_5574283400296005632_o

44183992_1088138334694618_2085115281138515968_o

51228095_1157193184455799_3387095086041923584_n

51973094_1167015513473566_8011540211060178944_o

53769965_1187939988047785_2932162091236196352_o

54268132_1186779861497131_8078175280037888000_o

57511587_1209998392508611_5136590769288642560_o

58461819_1217561238418993_3151323947249696768_o

522698815c627b03a33a467ce7fead9e

ARMY183_1024x1024

Links:

https://www.instagram.com/armymenaroundthehouse/

https://www.facebook.com/armymenaroundthehouse/

Gareth McGorman

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Art, Children, Comedy, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Ideas, Inspiration, Photography, Uncategorized

I [heart] America


There’s been a lot of hullabaloo this past couple of years because of the Cheeto-in-Chief of the good ol’ U S of A.

What with cosying up to dictators and alienating allies he certainly cuts a divisive figure. Unfortunately, this has had a backlash against America in general and its people.

So, to redress the balance, I wanted to write a positive post about some of the things I love about America. After all, one Mango-Mussolini shouldn’t taint the whole country.

In no particular order…

MUSIC

From Elvis Presley to Tom Waits to the Talking Heads. Who could argue that America has produced some of the greatest artists and genres the world has ever seen. Who are your favourites?

f9a83804312097dafc53cd110c6b62f0

076a0af223e3fde0e482daec21dea667

1a0fc3339ab6db5f9d83e0267b671008

Next up, MOVIES.

When we think of American movies we tend to think of Hollywood blockbusters. But there are so many unbelievable directors and actors. Here are some of my favourites, who are yours?

fb21736cabe240c1c6b9d685d983a163

17db73b4f983822ecd0f9758f1c4d964

ae862ac132d0ce987e056660137a8981

bb63a539ab118fd52d4b211c822b14f8

As I have a penchant for the Arts, I’m going to pick out a few photographers who have inspired me over the years.

PHOTOGRAPHY

3c619aa72059ba15902bb456dc72baaf

Marilyn Monroe by Eve Arnold

9ba447cbaf5df32d320cfa29699d6523

Gloria Swanson by Edward Steichen

5dc1809ac7044b8a90e7ddeb8728e645

Vivian Maier

5f1e7162127537afe47a7c51bf9d3005

Ansel Adams

d053f4cd7c1a5293215d43a8884991ac

Cindy Sherman

e6e4755b1fc7a8f7faf1da91c499951a

Saul Leiter

Understandably, most people couldn’t give a rat’s ass about advertising. But I do, because I worked in it for 30 years. When Doyle, Dane, Bernbach set up shop in the 1960s they revolutionised advertising. They focussed on simple product truths. Their ethos/philosophy permeated continents and generations. Still does. I had the privilege of working for DDB Dublin.

ADVERTISING

a2733323f3f384509870afab449b8921

Leading on from advertising we have GRAPHIC DESIGN, and this iconic classic by Milton Glaser for the New York tourist board. which has been ‘parodied’ a trillion times. (Yes, including me.)

27811149cca24f2d149b20c588c5badf

Milton Glaser

Next up, ARTISTS. Again, a multitude to pick from. Here are a couple of my faves.

0379e7b1a95d88c7bbb0da8c664deba5

Jean Michel Basquiat

d47c01293531e5af7b91d44108fb66e4

Edward Hopper

dadf136856fb64e89675d5bcf8229955

Mary Cassatt

Moving on to something non art related – LANDSCAPE. America has such a diverse landscape, from snow-capped mountains to sun-scorched deserts.

9eaf07f8f1db1e1d76f53837977a173f

7d92ccf15716d331da89c3548f51fec5

f880402b54f68b307bb65416309f926b

I’ve always loved CLASSIC CARS, Mercedes, Jaguar, Citroen, Volvo. But I also love American cars for their sheer ostentatiousness.

1ab901c84421a142db90543876c659c1

133e3a8275e87cdc2c11e2092e226d29

e1bd9c7715e010b1c915ac7909bcf69e

af53ad0aa2b6896cb7a961728b973056

I couldn’t write a post about America without including a few WRITERS. Too many to choose from. Here are a few of my heroes who have inspired me over the years. Recommendations anyone?

2c060977e52817a14375ac71022f2cdd

08af8c6f1f93bea8437c738195bf72b9

13e59b8450492f2d1c74ed81c56e5f93

e93691ccd832278595bd4aacebc6da45

e333432d8e0a949514d0eed6741034e2

What else do I love about America? I really like their ARCHITECTURE. Whether it be a monumental skyscaper or the traditional colonial white-picket-fence style complete with veranda.

9af05b45bdb2e5c5f608fc450610f280

91fcf12bc2ee4d8072105cb4372bdc84

481b849c00bb3f8207ecc17d6c9d352d

You won’t get very far in the States without some top-notch tucker. What is more quintessentially American than the humble DINER?

3d7b546033c31e9e26346a44bc84eaf9

Who says Americans don’t get irony? They make some fantastic COMEDY and have some wonderful comedians. Obviously, you’re not as funny as us Brits. But you’re getting the hang of it. (Benny Hill.)

3ab39169c1acce200dc6a153dd86f2d2

f5468eaacb6027084fc423ac399a138d

17e04d86a88ef62c42b23b4fe55f1744

450f210834c849819b668f4b5f489395

There you have it. Have I forgotten anything, anyone? What would you have included?

Obviously, there is one other thing I would like to give credit to. And that is the American people. (Well, only those that didn’t vote Trump.) You’re an innovative and inspiring bunch. Not only that, you saved our asses in two world wars! So, cheers for that.

My, (our), world would be a lot poorer without you.

 

10 Comments

Filed under Advertising, Animation, Architecture, Art, Books, Cartoons, Children, Comedy, community, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Design, Digital, Economy, Education, Film, Food, History, Ideas, Illustration, Innovation, Inspiration, Inventions, Literature, love, Music, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Politics, Science, Screenplays, Short stories, Uncategorized, Writing

Art for heart’s sake.


I’ve been doing a lot more painting since I began volunteering at Arc.

Since going to workshops, I’ve managed to loosen up a bit. Let go of the hyper-realistic view that we often place on ourselves, yet are happy to discount when looking at other artists’ work.

Anyhoo, I’ve been going through a bit of Basquiat phase. I watched a documentary about him a couple of weeks back. I loved the vivid colours and his strikingly bold, graphic style.

I’ve also been experimenting with collage and mono printing. Feel free to have a goosey. If anything tickles your fancy, drop me a line.

Screenshot-2017-10-23 David Milligan-Croft ( milligancroft) • Instagram photos and videos (2)

Screenshot-2017-10-23 David Milligan-Croft ( milligancroft) • Instagram photos and videos (3)

Screenshot-2017-10-23 David Milligan-Croft ( milligancroft) • Instagram photos and videos (4)

Screenshot-2017-10-23 David Milligan-Croft ( milligancroft) • Instagram photos and videos

Screenshot-2017-10-23 David Milligan-Croft ( milligancroft) • Instagram photos and videos (5)Screenshot-2017-10-23 David Milligan-Croft ( milligancroft) • Instagram photos and videos (6)

9 Comments

Filed under Art, Classical music, community, Contemporary Arts, Creativity, Ideas, Innovation, Inspiration, mental health, Music, Photography, Uncategorized, Writing