Darshana Photo Art: Blog http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog en-us (C) Darshana Photo Art images@darshanaphotoart.co.uk (Darshana Photo Art) Sat, 21 Nov 2015 19:55:00 GMT Sat, 21 Nov 2015 19:55:00 GMT http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/img/s/v-5/u672508383-o50688000-50.jpg Darshana Photo Art: Blog http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog 85 120 The Day I Met Vittorio Storaro http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2015/11/storaro I had a fab time at the Camerimage festival in Bydgoscz, Poland this week topped off by meeting Vittorio Storaro last night.

Camerimage is the international festival of the art of cinematography and Vittorio is widely regarded as the world's most accomplished cinematographer. He is a long time hero of mine and his films include The Conformist, Apocalypse Now and The Last Emperor.

Vittorio spent the last five years photographing Mohammad: Messenger of God directed by Majid Majidi- coming to our screens soon.

Mideast Iran Portraying The ProphetMideast Iran Portraying The ProphetIn this picture taken on Jan. 30, 2013, Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi, center, director of “Muhammad, Messenger of God” movie conducts a scene of the movie, in Allahyar village 43 miles (70 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, Iran. In Islam, portraying the Prophet Muhammad has long been taboo for many. In the new 190-minute film, the story focuses on Muhammad’s childhood, never showing his face. The movie instead focuses on others to tell his story. (AP Photo/Nourtaban Film Industry, Mohammad Foghani) What a privelige to listen to Vittorio eloquently discussing his creative process - his sophisticated theories of light and colour and how he seamlessly integrates spiritually and art to produce breathtaking moving images.

Another highlight of the week was Ryszard Lenczewski discussing how his still-image photographic work during the preproduction of My Summer of Love enabled him to evolve such captivating moving-images. What a privelege to spend time with so many talented artists e.g. Chris Menges (The Killing Fields), Slawomir Idziak (The Double Life of Veronique) and Christopher Doyle (In the Mood for Love) - all generously sharing their creativity. And the party tricks weren't bad either.

Sadly I missed my private view at Portrait Salon on Thursday - but luckily Kaori was able to be there.


images@darshanaphotoart.co.uk (Darshana Photo Art) Camerimage Gerry McCulloch Vittorio Storaro http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2015/11/storaro Sat, 21 Nov 2015 19:54:48 GMT
Four Darshana Photo Art Pictures in London Independent Photography Exhibition http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2015/10/lip15

Four Darshana Photo Art pictures by Gerry McCulloch are featured in the London Independent Photography Exhibition at Embassy Tea Gallery, London Bridge. Entry is free and the exhibition runs until 1st November, 10am - 7pm daily.

images@darshanaphotoart.co.uk (Darshana Photo Art) Darshana Photo Art Embassy Tea Gallery Gerry McCulloch London Independent Photography http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2015/10/lip15 Sat, 24 Oct 2015 21:56:56 GMT
Darshana Photo Art picture selected for Portrait Salon http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2015/10/portrait-salon

A Darshana Photo Art picture by Gerry McCulloch has been selected for Portrait Salon, an exhibition to be held at Embassy Tea Gallery in London Bridge in November. This same picture is part of a selection of four pictures by Gerry McCulloch that are currently on show at the London Independent Photography exhibition, also at Embassy Tea Gallery.

PS LogoPS Logo

Portrait Salon runs from 19th to 22nd November and admission is free. The exhibition then travels to Tokyo where it will be showing at the Reminders Photography Stronghold Gallery.

images@darshanaphotoart.co.uk (Darshana Photo Art) Darshana Photo Art Embassy Tea Gallery Gerry McCulloch London Independent Photography Portrait Salon Reminders Photography Stronghold Gallery http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2015/10/portrait-salon Sat, 24 Oct 2015 21:32:44 GMT
Darshana Photo Art picture shortlisted for Taylor-Wessing Prize - again http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2015/10/tw15 Anticpating the IndeterminateAnticpating the Indeterminate

I'm having Deja Vu . . . This Darshana Photo Art picture by Gerry McCulloch made it into the final shortlist for the prestigious Taylor-Wessing Portrait exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, but alas did not make it into the exhibition. Fromf around 2,200 entries, it made it into the final 150, with 60 pictures being selected for the exhibition. Never mind, its part of a selection of four pictures by Gerry McCulloch currently showing in the London Independent Photography exhibition.


Tara Rokpa

Bizarrely the same thing happened to me last year with the above picture.


It feels a bit like Albion Rovers making it into the semi finals of the Scottish Cup two years running and going out in the penalty shoot-out on both occasions.


The Taylor-Wessing Portrait exhibition runs from 12th November until 21st February at the National Portrait Gallery. Entry costs £3.

images@darshanaphotoart.co.uk (Darshana Photo Art) Albion Rovers Darshana Photo Art Gerry McCulloch London Independent Photography National Portrait Gallery Taylor-Wessing http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2015/10/tw15 Sat, 24 Oct 2015 21:13:41 GMT
Filming Burma's Lost Royals http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2015/7/lost-royals I've recently returned from filming the documentary Burma's Lost Royals with Director Alex Bescoby and his team.

During filming, we were privileged to enjoy a fascinating interview with Burma's pre-eminent Historian Thant Myint-U, author of River of Lost Footsteps.

Exactly 130 years ago, Britain occupied Burma and toppled it's thousand year old monarchy, sending the country on a journey into confusion and tyranny from which it's only beginning to emerge. In November 2015, Burma will stage it's first free elections in more than half a century. While many in Britain are looking on in trepidation as Burma takes it's first tentative steps towards the possibility of a democratic new era, only by examining the specifics of Burma's complex history is it possible to make sense of the events that are unfolding today.

We also interviewed influential Burmese Artist Htein Lin. (I previously met up with Htein outside the Tate Modern and in Yangon around a year ago. Htein is a former political prisoner who is currently engaged in making a large scale artwork entitled A Show of Hands. Htein's artwork involves plaster casts of the arms of 1,000 Burmese political prisoners. Read more . . .

We enjoyed many adventures too numerous to mention, such as attending an unforgettable children's Gospel performance in a Yangon church and meeting up with author Rupert Arrowsmith in Yangon's most exclusive yet deserted restaurant. More updates soon . . .

images@darshanaphotoart.co.uk (Darshana Photo Art) A Show of Hands Alex Bescoby Burma Gerry McCulloch Htein Lin River of Lost Footsteps Rupert Arrowsmith Thant Myint-U Yangon http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2015/7/lost-royals Sun, 12 Jul 2015 16:27:47 GMT
Darshana Photo Art picture in Los Angeles Exhibition http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2015/6/los-angeles Hieizansakamoto | Japan This Darshana Photo Art picture by Gerry McCulloch is currently showing at the Los Angeles Centre for Digital Art. The exhibition features a selection of work by 40 international artists curated by Joanna Szupinski-Myers of the California Museum of Photography. Exhibition dates are June 11th to July 3rd.

images@darshanaphotoart.co.uk (Darshana Photo Art) Darshana Photo Art Gerry McCulloch Los Angeles Centre for Digital Art http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2015/6/los-angeles Sat, 20 Jun 2015 21:27:31 GMT
Kagyu Monlam Chenmo http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2015/4/monlam

Fancy a quick adventure in a Tibetan corner of India without the dust ? Please be my guest and checkout this new Darshana Photo Art gallery of pictures from Bodh Gaya and Varanasi including HH 17th Karmapa, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche and more . . .

Please enter the Gallery here

Sample pictures . . .








To see more images, please enter the Gallery here

images@darshanaphotoart.co.uk (Darshana Photo Art) Bodh Gaya Darshana Photo Art HH 17th Karmapa Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche Kagyu Monlam Chenmo Varanasi http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2015/4/monlam Thu, 09 Apr 2015 18:07:02 GMT
Visit to Satyajit Ray Film School in Kolkata http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2014/11/satyijatray In 2006, I launched the Goldsmiths MA in Filmmaking. The programme is currently evolving into the new Goldsmiths Screen School. The purpose of my visit to India is to combine lectures on Visual Storytelling with stimulating awareness of the Screen School and meeting prospective applicants.

On my first evening in Mumbai, its great to catch up with friend and ex-student Richie Taneja at the Taj Palace Coffee House in Colaba.  

Next morning, its time to dive into a week of lectures and meeting agents and prospective students at University Media Departments and Recruitment Fares around India. I especially enjoy giving talks at Indira School of Communication and FAD International Academy in Pune, a short flight from Mumbai.

On Wednesday morning, I need to catch an early morning flight from Pune to Kolkata. However, on checking out of my hotel, I realise that I’ve left my wallet at a Fabindia store the previous evening (divine retribution). 

The delay caused by my lack of necessary plastic at hotel check-out and flight check-in means that by the time I make it through to the departure lounge my name is being paged all around the airport. It turns out that the plane is already fully boarded and is waiting for a final passenger - guess who ?

This leads to a mad dash across the tarmac to my waiting plane, dodging luggage trolleys and the like (so wish I had a picture of this). I’m sorry to admit that I was that late person that everyone stares at for holding up the flight.

The highlight of my trip to Kolkata is a visit to the Satyijat Ray Film School - the most prestigious film school in India. My visit is facilitated by the very wonderful Debashish Ghoshal, Head of Sound Design.

It is my great pleasure to meet Neeraj Sahay, Professor of Cinematography at SRFTI and to spend time with his students on a moonlit lighting setup. They are filming with an Arriflex 435 35mm film camera - very nice too !

My colleague Edd, from Goldsmiths International Office and myself hold exploratory meetings with Director of SRFTI, Professor Sanjaya Pattanayak and the Dean of SRFTI, Professor Nilotpal Majumdar about initiating a collaborative relationship between Satjiyat Ray Film School and the new Goldsmiths Screen School.

In addition, it is encouraging for myself personally to have the opportunity to discuss my Isolates AVPhD project with Satyajit Ray staff. Nalanda is a relatively short distance away, and Debashish is hoping to put me in touch with some Bengali scholars of Pala Dynasty Art.

At the end of the week I find time to pursue my research at the Indian Museum in Kolkata. However much of the permanent collection of Buddhist Art is currently in an exhibition in Tokyo until May. (Luckily, I have a possibility of catching this exhibition at the end of March.)

Lotus of the HeartLotus of the Heart When checking out the publications unit, I chance upon one of my favourite passages from Chandogya Upanishad (slightly modified):


In the city of Darshana

There is a secret dwelling

Called the Lotus of the Heart


Inside that dwelling 

There is a space

And inside that space

Lies the fulfilment of all your desire . . .

This is my first visit to Kolkata and I love the colour and infectious energy of the city. Just driving around the streets in a yellow Ambassador taxi or jumping on a tram is an exuberant experience.

For now though its time to head back to London for the last few weeks of term at Goldsmiths, although I hope to return to Kolkata before long.

Special thank you to Ritwika.

Meanwhile my hotel in Pune have retrieved my wallet from Fabindia. But I’m hundreds of miles away on the other side of India and about to fly back to London. Hmmm . . .

images@darshanaphotoart.co.uk (Darshana Photo Art) Chandogya Upanishad Debashish Ghoshal FAD International Fabindia Goldsmiths Indian Museum Indira College of Communications MA in Filmmaking Nalanda Neeraj Sahay Professor Nilotpal Majumdar Professor Sanjaya Pattanayak SRFTI Satyijat Ray Film School http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2014/11/satyijatray Sun, 23 Nov 2014 05:35:02 GMT
Teaching Visit to Singapore http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2014/11/kampong During this visit I’m staying in the Kampong Glam district of Singapore opposite Arab Street, near Sultan Mosque- a vibrant neighbourhood replete with Middle Eastern style al fresco restaurants and music bars.

The selfie phenomenon appears to be getting a little out of hand in Singapore.

My working week commences with a visit to Photographer Paul Kohl at Nanyang Technological University

As usual, Paul and I have a lively discussion, during which I update him about the progress of my Isolates AVPhD and Identity collaboration with Gisli Snaer, Head of the Puttnam School of Film at Lasalle College of the Arts.

I am especially looking forward to utilising an EyeDirect Interrotron device to create slow motion moving-image portraits that involve engaging the eye contact of participants. 

I intend to screen these images cinema-size as components of future twin exhibitions in London and Singapore. The work involves much planning and I should be ready to commence filming in June - July.

On to the Puttnam School of Film at Lasalle College of the Arts where I’m running film module design sessions for staff . . . 

. . . and teaching Visual Storytelling to undergraduate film students.

As well as teaching sessions and the staff collaboration with Gisli, I’m facilitating a student collaboration between both sets of students on this trip.

The project involves Goldsmiths and Lasalle students collaborating on grading the locked picture cuts of this year’s Goldsmiths graduation films that will be screened at BAFTA in January. My Goldsmiths student cinematographers are excited to be visiting Singapore over the next few weeks. Watch this space for updates . . .

After a hard working week, it was time for my other friend Paul and I to enjoy Saturday night out on the town. We started the evening at a lovely Japanese restaurant in Kandahar Street and moved on to see a great live band at the Blue Jazz cafe in Bali Street . . .

. . . not to mention belly dancing in the streets of Kampong Glam.

Luckily I woke up on Sunday morning just in time to catch my flight to Mumbai. As I depart for India, my first two student cinematographers - Mary from Ireland and Chris from Ecuador - arrive in Singapore to begin their collaboration at Lasalle . . .

images@darshanaphotoart.co.uk (Darshana Photo Art) BAFTA EyeDirect Gisli Snaer Identity Isolates of Valid Perception Lasalle College of the Arts Nanyang Technological University Paul Kohl Puttnam School of Film http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2014/11/kampong Sun, 23 Nov 2014 04:57:58 GMT
Opening of ING Discerning Eye Exhibition at The Mall Galleries http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2014/11/ing14 Four Darshana Photo Art pictures by Gerry McCulloch (including the above) are in the ING Discerning Eye Exhibition at The Mall Galleries opening this Thursday 13th November.


Unfortunately I’m not able to attend as I’m out of the UK for the duration of the exhibition on a working visit to Singapore and India. But hope you can go . . .


The exhibition runs until Sunday 23rd November and all artworks are for sale. Admission is free.

images@darshanaphotoart.co.uk (Darshana Photo Art) Darshana Photo Art Gerry McCulloch ING Discerning Eye Exhibition The Mall Galleries http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2014/11/ing14 Tue, 11 Nov 2014 15:24:49 GMT
Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2014 http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2014/11/tw14 This Darshana Photo Art picture by Gerry McCulloch made it into the final round of judging for the prestigious Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2014 - but alas was not selected for the exhibition.


The Taylor Wessing Prize is one of the most prestigious photographic portrait prizes in the world - coming this close to being selected is almost an achievement in itself.


Out of around 5,000 submissions, this picture entitled Tara Rokpa made it into the last 200, although I have no way of knowing how close it came to the final selection of 60 images. 


The photo is from a visit to Tara Children’s Project in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, North East India earlier this year during filming of the documentary Akong: A Remarkable Life. 


The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Exhibition opens at the National Portrait Gallery on Thursday 13th November and runs until 22nd February. Admission is £3.

images@darshanaphotoart.co.uk (Darshana Photo Art) Darshana Photo Art Gerry McCulloch National Portrait Gallery Tara Children's Project Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2014/11/tw14 Tue, 11 Nov 2014 15:24:35 GMT
Dulwich Picture Gallery Prize http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2014/9/prize ‘Ohuna’ a Darshana Photo Art picture by Gerry McCulloch won an award at the Dulwich Picture Gallery Open Exhibition last night.

570 pictures were submitted for judging,120 were selected for exhibition and 3 prizes were awarded during the private view by Ian Dejardin, Sackler Director of Dulwich Picture Gallery. Other judges included Fine Art professor Rebecca Fortnum, and artists Clive Head and Nicki Hirst.

Ohuna is a picture from a visit to Japan over Christmas and New Year 2013.


It was really nice to meet other exhibiting artists like Hermione Carline (pictured). Coincidentally, Hermione’s artwork is also from a visit to Japan - in her case to Kyoto.

images@darshanaphotoart.co.uk (Darshana Photo Art) Dulwich Picture Gallery Open Exhibition Gerry McCulloch Hermione Carline Ohuna http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2014/9/prize Mon, 29 Sep 2014 22:24:09 GMT
National Open Art Exhibition 2014 http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2014/9/noa14 Last night Kaori and I attended the National Open Art Exhibition private view at Somerset House. While I don’t actually have a picture in this exhibition, I did make it into the final round of judging and you can purchase my artwork for a snip on the exhibition website

It was great to meet other artists like Liz Rajmohani Mundle and Emiko Aida (pictured with Kaori). Emiko won the Ward Thomas Prize for her etching and aquatint triptych Requiem.


When I arrived at Somerset House I had the good fortune of sharing a lift with Antony Gormley (Angel of the North).

As most of you know, Antony is a Goldsmiths alumnus and (like several other Goldsmiths alumni) is a former Turner Prize winner. He gave the opening speech of the evening.

Undoubtedly the osmosis of rubbing shoulders with so many creatives in such a tight space had a stimulating effect on me. After quaffing several glasses of a particularly delightful vintage, I began to fantasise about how ahead of my era I might eventually become - given time of course (hic).

The National Open Art Exhibition runs from 18th September to 25th October at Somerset House in The Strand and is free to enter. Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood is the exhibition patron.

images@darshanaphotoart.co.uk (Darshana Photo Art) Antony Gormley Emiko Aida Liz Rajmohani Mundle National Open Art Exhibition Ronnie Wood Somerset House http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2014/9/noa14 Sat, 27 Sep 2014 11:30:16 GMT
ING Discerning Eye Exhibition at the Mall Gallery http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2014/9/mall Four Darshana Photo Art pictures by Gerry McCulloch have been selected for for the ING Discerning Eye Exhibition at The Mall Gallery. The exhibition runs from Thursday 13th to Sunday 23rd November. Entry is free and and all pictures are for sale. If you happen to be in Central London during those dates, please pop in to the Mall Gallery at the Trafalgar Square end of The Mall adjacent to the ICA.

The Discerning Eye Exhibition is a show of small artworks independently selected by six prominent figures from different areas of the art world: two artists, two collectors and two critics. Work is selected from open submission and from artists invited by the individual selectors. Each selector's section is hung separately giving the impression of six small exhibitions within the whole. The Exhibition provides an unusual opportunity for works by lesser-known artists to be hung alongside contributions from internationally recognised names.

images@darshanaphotoart.co.uk (Darshana Photo Art) . Darshana Photo Art Gerry McCulloch ING Discerning Eye Exhibition The Mall Gallery http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2014/9/mall Thu, 11 Sep 2014 03:13:23 GMT
Dulwich Picture Gallery Open Exhibition 2014 http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2014/8/dulwich Open Exhibition2.inddOpen Exhibition2.indd Two Darshana Photo Art pictures by Gerry McCulloch have been selected for the Dulwich Picture Gallery Open Exhibition 2014 and one of them is being used as the emblem of the exhibition in publicity and marketing material (please see above). The exhibition runs from 30th September to 12th October and all pictures are for sale. If you happen to be in South London on those dates, please pop in to check out the artworks and consider voting for one of Gerry's pictures for the People's Prize ! Dulwich Picture Gallery was the UK's first purpose-built public art gallery that was free to enter for all.

images@darshanaphotoart.co.uk (Darshana Photo Art) Dulwich Picture Gallery", "Darshana Photo Art", "Gerry McCulloch" Exhibition" Open http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2014/8/dulwich Sat, 30 Aug 2014 16:19:20 GMT
Maverick Zen Traces Exhibition http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2014/8/maverick

On 2nd July 2015 students of Zen Master Shinzan Miyamae will be celebrating his eightieth birthday with an exhibition of his calligraphic hanging scrolls at Somerset House in London.


Bokuseki is a Japanese term translated as "ink traces". It refers to the art of calligraphy with sumi ink and brush. Like many great Zen masters, Shinzan Roshi has a strongly independent, maverick streak and the exhibition is accordingly entitled Maverick Zen Traces. 


I recently photographed these Zen scrolls, some of which are hundreds of years old, for Zenways in Camberwell who are organising the exhibition. Full gallery here. More info soon . . .

images@darshanaphotoart.co.uk (Darshana Photo Art) Bokuseki Calligraphy Maverick Zen Traces Shinzan Miyamae Shinzan Roshi Somerset House Zen Zenways http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2014/8/maverick Wed, 06 Aug 2014 20:04:00 GMT
May 2014 Visit to Singapore http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2014/6/singapura After a stimulating visit to Yangon, I took a short flight to Singapore to work at the Puttnam School of Film at Lasalle College of the Arts for a week.

Heading out of the cityscape at the end of the week, it was a pleasant contrast to check out nearby flora and fauna.

images@darshanaphotoart.co.uk (Darshana Photo Art) Lasalle College of the Arts Singapore The Puttnam School of Film http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2014/6/singapura Wed, 11 Jun 2014 12:42:20 GMT
Slate 1 Take 1 http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2014/6/slate-1  

Slate 1 Take 1 from Rachit Sai Barak on Vimeo.

Checkout this short BFI documentary made by Ratchit Sai Barak. Rachit is a Cinematography graduate from last year's Goldsmiths MA in Filmmaking. The subject of his film is three of his fellow Cinematographers on the course - Tatjana Hafenbraedl, Simona Brambila and Chia Han Hsu. Rachit is from India, Tatjana is from Germany, Simona is from Italy and Chia Han is from Taiwan.

Right after their last gradation shoots, 3 cinematography students, reflect upon their 11 months journey in London. The film is an account about these students who share how they have changed in last few months, challenges they have overcome, relationships they have developed and their aspirations for future. In the college studio and on their last student film set, they talk about how their experiences this year that have shaped their knowledge about themselves, the sector and people around them.

Filmed by the cinematographers themselves, the film is a collaborative project to highlight some of the personal and professional challenges faced by young cinematographers who move to London to find work or to study filmmaking. The film was made as part of BFI Doc Next Media Lab 2013.

images@darshanaphotoart.co.uk (Darshana Photo Art) Rachit Sai Barak Tatjana Hafenbraedl", "Simona Brambila", "Chia Han Hsu", BFI, Goldsmiths, "MA in Filmmaking", "Slate 1 Take 1" http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2014/6/slate-1 Wed, 11 Jun 2014 12:29:53 GMT
Visit to Burma http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2014/5/yangon I arrive in Burma under ominous skies. Recalling my predilection for monsoon adventures, black rain clouds gather two weeks early in order to witness my arrival. In the distance, the soaring Shwedagon Pagoda defies the gathering storm and illuminates the gloom with golden rays of optimism. Yangon Picture gallery here.

I’m visiting Yangon as a representative of Media Academic Partners (MAP) at Goldsmiths in response to Aung San Suu Kyi’s invitation for UK Universities to participate in the regeneration of Burmese education and training. In return, we plan to invite Rector U Kyaw Oo (below on my right) and Pro-Rector U Htun Ohn (below on my left) of the National University of Arts and Culture to Goldsmiths via the British Council in Yangon.

My purpose on this initial visit is to assess Media and Arts training needs that Goldsmiths may be able to assist in providing. The subject areas I’m exploring are Art, Media and Culture generally - including Photography, Film, Television, Fine Art, Performing Arts, Journalism and also school-level Education.

My week starts with a visit to artist Htein Lin. I previously met Htein at the Tate Modern in London where he was making plaster casts of the arms of released Burmese political prisoners for his major artwork A Show of Hands. So far, Htein has made 300 plaster casts from a planned total of 1,000. On completion, his powerful art installation will tour international galleries. 

Htein is kindly helping to facilitate my meetings with artists, filmmakers, educators and media professionals in Yangon. While driving to our first appointment he tells me the story of Daw Nita Yin Yin May. Nita May is one of the people that Htein is highlighting in his art. What follows is the story behind Nita's participation in A Show of Hands . . .

In her work as a Press Officer at the British Embassy in Yangon, Nita was involved in distributing freely available information to world media organisations about widespread public protests against military rule in 1988. For her ‘crime’, Nita was sentenced to three years in the notorious Insein Prison. Shortly after her incarceration she discovered that she was pregnant and was forced to give birth to her child in the prison, under conditions of virtually non-existent medical care. 

Burma's former political prisoners demand the release of all current political prisoners in BurmaBurma's former political prisoners demand the release of all current political prisoners in BurmaThough imprisoned they are everywhere amongst us. Burma's former political prisoners from across the world demand the release of all political prisoners currently incarcerated in Burma's notorious prisons. This image is taken from the documentary project "Even Though I'm Free I am Not".

After her son was born, Nita’s father was asked to collect the baby and take him home. Nita had no choice but to serve the rest of her sentence with no contact with her child until her release. Nita and her son now live in London where she works for BBC Burmese Radio. In this photo she is campaigning for the release of her friend Sandar Min who was sentenced to 65 years in prison for her role in peaceful protests.

Some of my meetings . . .

With Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi, Festival Director and Mon Mon Myat, Executive Director of the Human Rights Dignity Film Festival that takes place in Yangon every June. Mon Mon and Min Htin are currently making an in-depth film about the life of Aung San Suu Kyi that will be completed at the end of 2015 - after the democratic election has taken place. Through the festival, they run an intensive documentary filmmaking programme every June, July and August.

Thaiddi and Thu Thu Shein are Filmmakers and Directors of the Wathann (Monsoon) Film Festival that takes place every September. Thaiddhi, Thu Thu and their colleagues run a variety of training programmes, distribute short films and translate much needed film books into Myanmar, largely on a voluntary basis.

Thaiddhi and Thu Thu have strong links with the Yangon Film School and both have completed a scholarship year at Famu International Film School in Prague.  In addition, they distribute their filmmaking books free of charge and donate significant quantities to the University of Culture and the Arts of which Thu Thu is a graduate.

I am very warmly welcomed by the Rector, Pre Rector and Senior Academics at the National University of Arts and Culture and given an insight into the history and mission of the university which was formed in 1993. 

I enjoy a traditional music show and a Myanmar marionette performance that is staged to mark my visit. I then tour the cinema facilities and film studio and enjoy a screening of a student film production. I am pleased to be invited to teach Cinematography for undergraduate Cinema and Drama students on my next visit.

I was of course considered an ideal subject by students in the life drawing class.

The university has 592 students and offers courses in Fine Art Painting, Sculpture, Music, Dramatic Arts, Computer Arts and Cinema. Memorandums of Understanding have been signed with universities in Korea, Thailand and China, but not with any Western universities thus far.

With senior representatives from a spectrum of Arts and Media organisations hosted at the House of Media and Entertainment by famous Burmese Comedian Zarganar.

From left to right: Zaw Thet Htwe, Leader of the Myanmar Journalists Union; Thein Lin, Artist; Zarganar, Comedian; Nan Win, Artistic Director of Myanmar Dance and Musical Theatre; Gerry McCulloch, Goldsmiths Media Academic Partners; Grace Swe Zin Htaik, Secretary of Myanmar Motion Picture Organisation; Su Mon Hywe, Head of Training at Myanmar Media Development Centre and Su’s assistant.

Meeting with Aye Ko, Executive Director and Haymann Oo, Curator of New Zero Art Space. New Zero is a vibrant radical Arts Centre in downtown Yangon that is run by energetic and inspirational volunteers. Other artists present include Yadanar Win, Thyitar and Ko Latt. All are full-time voluntary coordinators of New Zero Art Space.

New Zero is a Non-profit Independent Art Space containing studios that double as a gallery and an impressive library that despite being assembled on a shoestring is more extensive than the library at the Arts University. New Zero host an impressive range of free Art Courses of up to a year in duration.

Haymann is showing me the diverse range of activities coordinated by New Zero Art Space on virtually no budget. For example, they facilitate a broad range of Arts Exchanges with member countries of the ASEAN Contemporary Art Exchange Program. New Zero are keen to establish links with contemporary Artists, Teachers and PhD students on a worldwide basis and can offer free accommodation on-site for visiting contributors.

With Tun Tun Aye, director of the documentary Human Drama. Human Drama is a British Council Burma project co-organised with local charity FXB. The project contracts Pan Intercultural Arts to provide training and guidance to actors for productions in which educational information is communicated in the form of theatre to illiterate rural communities who have no access to radio, television or internet. Human Drama topics include HIV/AIDS, human trafficking, gender equality, family, social and health issues. Tun Tun kindly helped me to understand the considerable complexities of the education and training landscape of Burma.

With the Myanmar Photographic Society, headed by President Pe Myint Oo. The Mayanmar Photography Society was founded in 1950. They run an annual training course that lasts for two and a half months part-time, and are currently open for their 43rd intake. The MPS run a variety of training initiatives and hold their annual exhibition in the Strand Hotel Ballroom every March. They welcome visiting photographers and speakers and have invited me to teach Portrait Lighting on my next visit.

With Kyi Kyi Pyone, Programme Manager; Myat Lay Tint, Programme Coordinator and Susana Galvan, Director of Education at the British Council, Yangon.

Kyi Kyi and Susana offered me a wealth of helpful advice and assistance during my visit.

Finally, here is my portrait by one of the life drawing students at the university.

Yangon Picture gallery here.

images@darshanaphotoart.co.uk (Darshana Photo Art) A Show of Hands Aung San Suu Kyi British Council Burma Goldsmiths House of Media and Entertainment Htein Lin Human Rights Dignity Film Festival Le Famu Media Academic Partners Myanmar Myanmar Photographic Society National University of Arts and Culture New Zero Arts Space Nita May Nita Yin Yin May Richard Shannon Sandar Min Shwedagon Pagoda The Lady of Burma Wathann Film Festival Yangon Yangon Film School Zarganar http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2014/5/yangon Thu, 29 May 2014 03:23:46 GMT
A Show of Hands http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2014/4/hands I recently met up with Burmese artist Htein Lin to photograph ongoing work on his art project A Show of Hands

A Show of Hands is a multimedia public artwork about broken-ness and healing. Under decades of military rule since 1962, Burma became a broken country. The slow process of healing began eighteen months ago with the release of thousands of political prisoners including Aung San Suu Kyi

Htein is in the process of making plaster casts of the forearms of the surviving prisoners who are returning to society to make their individual contributions as politicians, business people, teachers, journalists, activists and parents. 

Htein has already collected hundreds of casts and plans to amass a total of three thousand for A Show of Hands in order to remind the world how many people gave up their freedom in the attempt to create a better future for Burma.

When we met, Htein was making casts of the forearms of former Burmese political prisoners on London’s Southbank - just outside Tate Modern, with St Paul’s in the background across the Thames. 

I will meet Htein again in May when I visit Yangon to represent Media Academic Partners (MAP). My brief is to collaborate with artists like Htein on the setting up of Arts and Media courses throughout Burma.

images@darshanaphotoart.co.uk (Darshana Photo Art) A Show of Hands Aung San Suu Kyi Htein Lin Media Academic Partners http://www.darshanaphotoart.co.uk/blog/2014/4/hands Sun, 20 Apr 2014 18:17:01 GMT