Who me

I was born in 1959, in the early 70’s as shrapnel from parental collapse I arrived at a boarding school in Brighton. To begin with it was utter misery but In hindsight one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I’ve never really left Brighton since and probably never will. In 1982 my eureka moment was to discover a book of photographs by Henri Cartier Bresson which was soon followed by the works of Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Andre Kertesz, Tony Ray Jones and Martin Parr. My first Leica camera was in my hand not long after and thus began a 30 year love affair with these beautiful machines. I taught myself the rudiments of developing and printing and have only ever worked in black and white.

In the early nineties after a series of trips to Eastern Europe the cameras were put on a shelf in favour and necessity of making a living, paying a mortgage, renovating a house, and three children.

Then in 2010 in a moment of “it’s not what you do you regret, it’s what you don’t do” the cameras were dusted off, I built a darkroom in the basement of my house and was hooked again. In those intervening years ‘digital’ had arrived and passed over my head, the world was now saturated with images that were quick ,easy, clean to produce. I found myself now as an anomaly and a vestige, self exiled away for hours in a small room, using time warp techniques regarded with all the reverence/suspicion of a medieval alchemist.

I have not found a definitive killer answer for my persistence with this form of image production, maybe it is nostalgic bloody mindedness but I still get a buzz from the red lit womb like world of the darkroom it is like Alice falling down a rabbit hole and entering another world. Thanks for looking at the photos, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do making them.

XX George Coles

Desert Island Discs

WhoMe

  1. To Build a Home – Cinematic Orchestra. My son Wilf has recently returned to playing the piano, this beautiful melancholic tune is one that wafts through to my study from his next door bedroom. When I was a child I never felt like I had a home I’m glad that he does, I will be sad the day my children leave it.
  2. Little Drop of Poison – Tom Waits. I could have chosen at least 10 offerings from Mr Waits, to my mind he is a genius lyrically and musically. He lives in a exotic world of his own making and his songs invite you in, a contemporary Alice in Wonderland in the U.S.A.
  3. Work, Love Life, Miscellaneous –David Devant and His Spirit Wife. My favourite band ever how they were overlooked and never rose to dizzy heights I will never know. Wonderfully crafted catchy pop songs, funny, thoughtful, brilliantly entertaining and shambolic on stage. I based my ‘All about You’ series on this song.
  4. Subterranean Homesick Blues - Bob Dylan. “Don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows”. Rap 30 years before it existed. You can dance to it if you try hard, give it a listen.
  5. Adagio for Strings – Samuel Barber. Saddest piece of music ever…I often Iisten to this in the darkroom while I’m printing.
  6. Samson – Regina Spektor. Lyrics,voice, piano, and a touch of orchestration. Like the best meals the simpler the ingredients the better, just depends on how you cook them. A female Tom Waits.
  7. The Angels have taken my racehorse away – Richard Thompson. Bonkers all round. An acquired taste. Nuts guitar solo.
  8. Streets of your Town – Go Betweens. My dear missus in a song. From when we first met over 25 years ago.

Book: The Ascent of Man. Re-read it recently, every sentence makes you consider man’s existence on the planet

Luxury: Every episode of The Simpsons.

Film: Battle of Algiers. A Pontecorvo masterpiece. Closely followed by Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire.

*Subject to change depending on mood

News

Summer News

As ever I’m plodding the streets on the hunt for those telling little moments from Brighton’s underbelly which play with the myth of a hip and happy utopia. My next oeuvre will be entitled:

Life of Brighton

You can see some of the images in the project section, or click the link above.

I’m planning to release a book during Easter 2019 to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Python epic ‘Life of Brian’.

January

I’ll be venturing into the world of public speaking at a PechaKucha evening in Brighton 25th January, on the subjects of revolution, rebellion and referendum. If you wish to see me publicly humiliate myself come along!

I’m starting out on another project currently titled the ‘Life of Brighton’ which will be a Pythonesque mix of dystopian seaside post cards and George Orwell’s 1984. Hopefully all to be revealed Brighton Festival 2018.

October

The ‘Ark’ has proved popular beyond my wildest hopes, what has pleased me more than anything is that it touches all ages and seems to have something for everyone. It has made all those cold, sometimes lonely hours in the workshop so worthwhile. The other good news is that my chum Chris Riddell, children’s laureate, author, illustrator, cartoonist, is coming to read ‘The Hunting of the Snark’ on the 22nd for the penultimate day of the show. Cor blimey!

Snark

September

It’s been 10 months in the making but the ‘ark’ is now complete and ready to set sail to the Open Market for it’s first public outing. The publicity side of things is under way as far as the Photo Fringe and local media are concerned, I’ll leave the tweeting and (anti) social media to others as it has the reek of desperation to me, I’m not flogging anything and I’’m a ‘submerging’ photographer rather than an ‘emerging’ one.

Ark

July/August

I have now mostly finished the production of ‘An Ark in the UK’’ except for mounting the prints and lighting the interiors of the cabinets. The exhibition/ installation will open on October 4th (the day given to mark St Francis of Assisi, patron saint of creatures) on my home turf of the Open Market, London Road and will be there at least till the 23rd.

It will be a ‘very fringe’ event in the Brighton Photo Biennial, and also marks 40 years since the release of Anarchy in the UK by the Sex Pistols

December / January News

Progress is being slowly made with the ‘Ark’ both with construction and some new photos. I shall have all 52 doors made by Christmas, then it’s just a question of hanging them and then the very laborious job of staining and polishing.

I’ve been up and down to London a fair bit and treading a few hard miles and not always in the ideal weather conditions but at least it hasn’t been cold... yet. Finding the last remaining creatures is not going to be easy, I’m a bit stuck on I and U, which will probably be Iguanodon and Urban fox. Have a good Christmas all, and lets hope someone comes up with a solution for Syria in 2016 other than turning it to a pile of rubble. Maybe the nice Mr Blair has a few ideas!

September / October News

As ever I’m still plodding the highways and by-ways of England attempting to put onto film those strange and quirky moments that life throws up, it keeps me on the streets rather than off them.The ‘ark’ project continues and has a few new additions, in a month or so I’ll begin to make the display cases that will house the final selection for display during the 2016 Photo biennial. As yet I haven’t come up with a final venue but I do have a couple in mind.

Well done Jeremy Corbyn and his team for awakening the political scene, at last someone to believe in, especially as he refuses to sing the national anthem! So what if he doesn’t win the next at least it’s an antidote to the pseudo Toryism of Blair and his minions.

July News

No news is good news so the popular saying goes so I guess my life must be all roses currently. I’m regularly posting bits and pieces on the blog for anyone that’s interested so if you have a moment or two spare why don’t you “give it a butchers.”

June News

Now all the shenanigans of the general election are over and we have been saddled with the Tories for yet another 5 long years and probably more, I’ll just have to bite my lip and get on with it. At least the foundation of a tongue in cheek People’s Republic of Brighton and Hove is providing a bit of light relief before the impending demolition of the Welfare state under the political distraction of an EU referendum.

As for me I’m still plodding the streets camera in hand whenever possible, currently reading “Do androids dream of electric sheep” (which is very relevant to my Noah’s Ark series), musically I’ve been rediscovering the neglected classical section of my iPod.

May News

Having had a quiet April home alone with the pooch and now the family are back from Australia things are settling back into the routine which should means a free day at the weekends to get out with the cameras.

If I can get at least one image that I’m happy with in a week that’s enough for me, but that doesn’t always happen though.

I’m still wading through an Arts Council funding application but the more I find out about it the more I realise I probably don’t meet their criteria. I may well have to look elsewhere for some cash.

Easter News

I’ve been making steady progress with the animal series and mulling over the which ones to include aboard my ark, the letters N, Q, X, Y, and Z are going to be the problem ones. Suggestions always welcome! Anyway still plenty of time left though. I know exactly now how I’m going to present the final piece and I have been toying with mock ups of display cases and frames down in the workshop.

Currently I’m wading through an Arts Council Funding application which is probably futile as after the election the cupboard will no doubt be bare, whoever wins, At least it focuses my mind as to exactly what I am doing. Belinda and the kids are off to Oz for a month so I’m home alone with the pooch which means I’m not so tied to family duties and watching Barney kick a ball around all weekend.

February

Thankfully the days are starting to lengthen now and as the first few crocuses and daffodils push through it feels as if we are turning the corner into spring. For me that means the sun is higher in the sky, the light becomes more even and the opportunities to get out and about increase. I’m very taken with my Noah’s ark project idea and I’ve come up with a novel way to present it for when the time comes, as that will not be for a while yet all I need to do now is to get out and make the photographs.

Watch this space

As we have a General election coming up next year my next ongoing project will be a look at politics and power and will be based around and within the Circle line. No title yet. I’ll also be carrying on with ‘Beast’ which has been a long term project based around man’s association with our furry, feathered and scaled friends.

The end of the ‘End of the Pier show’

Thank you to everybody who came along to Brighton Pier to see We love to boogie I’ll put the some more of them online to view soon, and a special thanks to those of you who bought a print.

Goodbye to the Wall

Goodbye to the Wall is now finished after a very brief stay in the Jubilee Library, but will be seeing the light day elsewhere, details to follow.

Some of the Berlin photos are on the Guardian witness site in the fall of the Berlin Wall assignement.

My chum Mark has a book coming out of his photographs from that time, so go and buy one via his website:

www.markpower.co.uk