Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Fabulous Photographer, Penny Tweedie

Cojie & Owen at sunset Broome Australia

Penny Tweedie, who has died aged 70, was a pioneering photographer who covered war and conflicts around the world, from Bangladesh and Vietnam to Uganda and East Timor. She was also an award-winning chronicler of Australian Aboriginal culture, and her book Spirit of Arnhem Land (1998) is recognised as a classic.

Penny Tweedie's book
"Spirit of Arnhem Land" 
John with pet joey near Galirri

Her Kentish farming family – she was born in Hawkhurst – were shocked when their Benenden-educated daughter announced that she was going to Guildford art school to study photography. On graduating, Penny joined the hip Queen magazine, which had asked her college to send them their best student. Picture editors soon recognised her outstanding talent. On one occasion the Telegraph magazine discovered that she had taken almost every photo in that week's edition and bylined one story with the pseudonym "Wendy Patien" to save embarrassment. Offered a post as a staff photographer on the Daily Express, she was eventually refused the job on the grounds that some people found it impossible to imagine sending a female photographer to cover a train crash.

Her photos for Shelter of the slums of Glasgow in the 1960s became a memorable series of press and poster advertisements for the housing charity. She always subsidised the work she did for charities and non-government organisations – including Oxfam, Help the Aged, Save the Children and Christian Aid – with work for advertising agencies and catalogues.

Living in one room Glasgow

Save the Children
Child blindness in Calcutta

While working in India in 1971, Penny was commissioned by the Sunday Times to cover the Bangladesh war. Although mistakenly arrested as a spy and imprisoned in squalid conditions by the Indian army, she got out in time to secure a shocking set of photos of Bangladeshi intellectuals rounded up and murdered in the brickfields by the retreating Pakistanis in a last-ditch effort to wreck the new country.

While covering that war, she was summoned to a victory celebration outside Dhaka. Penny realised that some very frightened prisoners, accused of collaboration, were about to be bayoneted to death for the benefit of the foreign press. She and a small group of other photographers refused to participate. Others stayed, arguing that they had a duty to record the event, and won prizes for their work.

The following year, Penny and colleagues were thrown out of Uganda by Idi Amin during the mass expulsion of Asians. She had a narrow escape on the Golan Heights in the Yom Kippur war in 1973. An Israeli sergeant scooped her up under one arm and sprinted for the shelter of a tank, cameras jangling, as incoming shells just missed.

Penny's long involvement with Australia and its Aboriginal people began in 1975 when she flew to Alice Springs to photograph the filming of the BBC's Explorers: The Story of Burke and Wills. "It turned out to be an experience that changed the direction of my life," she wrote later. It resulted in a major National Geographic story and her books, This, My Country (1985) and Spirit of Arnhem Land, led to exhibitions and the 1999 Walkley award for photojournalism. Always conscientious, she returned to Arnhem Land with the book proofs to ensure that all were happy with their portrayal.

"Yolngu Boy" movie 
Aboriginal 'Crocodile Man'

Now a single mother to her son, Ben, who travelled with her on many assignments, Penny kept a house in Sydney and for years commuted between the UK and Australia, where the relaxed attitude suited her perfectly. Her work continued and whether it was on the effects of strip-mining in Ghana, Beirut "between the bombs", the aftermath of the tsunami in the Indian ocean or East Timor's struggle for independence, she was often on the road. She saw much of man's inhumanity to man and empathised greatly with the subjects of her photos.

East Timor demonstrator

Her portraits were striking and her portfolio included Twiggy, Diana, Princess of Wales, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Germaine Greer and Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Latterly, she was a devoted carer to her ailing mother and lived among the Kent fields of her childhood. Recent work for the National Trust and a spectacular series of photos of Kent and Sussex for a book celebrating 30 years of the Hospice in the Weald – as so often, unpaid – showed that she had lost none of her skill.

Sunday magazine 
Princess Diana on Ayer's Rock - Uluru

Paris Match 
Twiggy, being turned into shop mannequin

Penny considered herself a working photographer to the bitter end. She coped resolutely with professional slights but it seems despair at the world's lack of use for her craft finally induced her to take her own life. Behind the exterior of the intrepid international photographer – cameras over her shoulder, bandana round her neck, wry smile on her face – was a sensitive and compassionate soul, loved and admired by a wide circle of friends across the world.

Written by  Mike Wells and Duncan Campbell from the Guardian Thursday 20th January 2011

I was shocked and saddened when I heard the news of Penny's passing.  Last September I was fortunate enough to meet Penny, she radiated warmth and intelligence.  Although our meeting was all too brief, it was clear that Penny was a fascinating woman who had led an extraordinary life, even though she was one to play her huge achievements down.  I was so looking forward to meeting her again.  My heart goes out to her family and close friends.  The world would be a better place if there were more Penny's in it.

Penelope Anne Tweedie, photojournalist, born 30 April 1940; died 14 January 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Party Update

This was the picture I used for the invitations

I mentioned in an earlier post that we are having a party, some of you wanted to know more about it, so I thought I would give you an update.  We have been wanting to have a party for ages, we have been living here for nearly eight years and have been invited to lot's of fabulous parties thrown by others, time to give something back.  Ideally we wanted to have a party in the Summer, I have always fancied throwing a Midsummer night party,  I envision a balmy evening, Chinese lanterns and twinkling night lights in jars bobbing elegantly from tree branches, guests swishing about in their Summer finery, glasses of rose in hand, plenty of Mediterranean style food, and good conversation and laughter until the next mornings sunrise.

Due to various reasons this has not happened, then we were going to have a New Years Eve party but some friends threw one, so we went there instead, Burns night which is tonight was mooted, but it's on a Tuesday, no good for the workers! Plus, where would we find Haggis?  Not really a French thing and you can't have Burns night without Haggis.  So finally we decided to have a 'Beat the January Blues Party' which is being held on Friday night, from 8pm, the invitations have been sent and mostly, responded to, around thirty people will be descending on us.

The preparations are underway...

Cleaning, I have been cleaning the house like a mad thing, MG rather unfairly stated that the house only get's a good clean when we are expecting guests! Bloody cheek!  So untrue.  Nothing has been left untouched, I even cleaned out the fridges and the freezers.

Lighting, MG is the self appointed technical director, he loves lighting. Strange things have been going on outside, the entrance courtyard will be adorned with coloured spotlights, illuminating trees and shrubs.  On the inside, there will be muted lighting and hundreds of candles and night lights, carefully positioned to avoid fire!

Music, we have thousands of tracks on the i phone, which can be hooked up to the amp and speakers, however I wanted to do a party play list, some good friends recently told us about Spotify and now I am totally hooked, you download it to your computer, and basically it will find any musical track you can think of and you can create as many play lists as you want, free of charge!  We had some holes in our music collection that I wanted to fill and the other evening I created a six hour party playlist, I had so much fun listening to tracks I have not heard for ages, I ended up having my own private party, dancing about, drinking wine. The other great thing about it is guests can choose anything they want, they just tap the track or artist onto the laptop and, hey presto!  The technical director has ordered a special lead so it can be played via our amp.  I have chosen some very upbeat stuff, starting demurely at first, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, all the way through just about every decade and genre finally ending up with early house music from the nineties, this will be for the party hardcore who will still be dancing in the early hours.  We have four spare bedrooms at our disposal, one has already been claimed!  They will all be made up, as I have a feeling they may be needed, this party could go on all weekend!

Food & drink, MG (who is an excellent chef) wants to make two different curry's and a tagine so this will be the main course, for the starters I will do a couple of huge salads; tomato, shallot and feta cheese and also wild rice with artichoke hearts and palmiers,  there will be loads of bread an extensive cheeseboard and for pudding; bread and butter pudding and a huge fruit salad, I think someone mentioned they were bringing home made eclaires, yum!  There will be of course lots of wine of all colours, plenty of spirits and mixers and beer we are thinking of offering everyone vin chaud as they walk through the door but this has not been decided on yet.

Abstemious, yes me, I am the hostess after all, normally at parties I get a bit overexcited and guzzle red wine like home-made lemonade on a hot day, the results have been known to be rather embarrassing not to mention the dreadful hangover the next day, so I will be just drinking a very large tonic water with a splash of vodka for flavour and won't be hitting the wine at least until, all the food stuff is out of the way!

 Outfit, I saw this mini dress in white and black over at lovely Penny Dreadful Vintage it was on sale from Asos reduced from £75.00 to £30.00, I ordered it in black, it's arrived, I have tried it on, it's perfect, I will be wearing it adorned with many strings of pearls.

I think that's about it, I better get back to it, I have lists of things to do.  I wish it could be logistically possible for you guys to come, consider yourselves invited!


Sunday, January 23, 2011


Mmm, yes I know, French Sampler has turned a lighter shade of grey, this is what happens when on a whim, you start faffing about with design settings.  I am not sure if I like it yet, It may go back to how it was, I will suck it and see...


Friday, January 21, 2011

Rianna At The Last Doll Standing

Rianna's Avatar

I would like to introduce you to the lovely Rianna at The Last Doll Standing, (if you are not already aware of her). I simply adore her blog, Rianna unearths the most amazing thing's and she is a darn good writer.  Her stunning blog is a wonderful voyage of discovery.  

 About Rianna:

Fashion and Art writer. Freelance Makeup Artist. Dancer/Performer and Dance Teacher. Jewellery maker. Would-be film maker. Bad guitarist. Refuge of eccentrics. Seeker. Prayer. Lover of a cacophonous collection of people, places and things. Viva la resistance.

Here are some of the wonderful images I have found over at Rianna's...

This post about Rianna's mission to Bacolod, in the Philippines, is particularly moving.

All these images are via Rianna's blog, to find out more about them and put them into context, go pay her a visit, you will be glad you did.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

French Pouts

"Just as Mick Jagger, for me, was the creature of the sixties, Bardot was the creature of the fifties. She prepared the way for the sixties, and made the sixties alluring rather than just ugly.  Her lips, made Mick Jagger's lips possible".

Diana Vreeland

 Full, pouting lips did not come into their own until the fifties, when Bardot exploded onto the scene, creating new boundaries in perceptions of beauty.  Prior to that, lips had usually been red and followed the lines of a cupids bow shape.  Sensuality comes naturally to the French, and, full pouting lips are a major feature in a lot of French faces, including, I state rather enviously a lot of my French friends.  I think it has a lot to do with the French language, the lips are used a lot in speech!  Most French women are also very adept in the application of lip products.

  Collagen injections to make lips fuller seem to have become very popular, sometimes with disastrous results, not naming names, especially since the arrival of Angelina Jolie (her lips are so full, naturally, they have a cleavage) and her predecessor Kim Basinger.

Below are some fabulous examples of the French pout...

Brigitte Bardot

 Beatrice Dalle

Emmanuelle Beart

Arielle Dombasle

Vanessa Paradis

Leslie Caron