Monday, June 05, 2006

Surfing holiday

The internet is a funny thing. You start by checking out something and before you know where you are you have travelled the world and through time and other dimensions.

Take today. I went to check out Y BYD to see if my friend, Ned Thomas, had yet actually published the first daily newspaper in Welsh. There is a crying need for such a paper and he has been trying to raise funds for the last few years. He has now passed his £300,000 target for subscriptions and is trying to raise further corporate funding and publish the damn thing. No sign of Y BYD yet on the streets.

While I was at it I decided to check out the current issue of PLANET and was confronted by a serious photo of Osama bin Laden. Now, Ned founded PLANET in the mid-seventies with the aim of bringing Welsh-speaking Wales to the attention of non-Welsh-speakers. As far as the latter were concerned Welsh Wales (as it is often referred to) had a whiff of the reservation about it, and they were generally insensitive to the community and linguistic problems faced by the minority Welsh-speaking population. Non-Welsh-speakers were also, obviously, unfamiliar with the rich and evolving literature in Welsh.

PLANET was in English and had an international, as well as a Welsh flavour about it. It is a tribute to Ned's foresight that it is still going today.

Anyway, to get on, the first item was an interview with a world-famous Welsh-born photographer, Philip Jones Griffiths, who had a history as a war photographer dating back to Vietnam. He used his photographic skills to underline the human (or more strictly inhuman) aspects of warfare and much of his material is alarmingly relevant in the context of the current US occupation of Iraq. He had also, clearly, photographed Bin Laden, hence the cover. I googled him and came up with this earlier interview which gives a flavour of the man.

My own interest in photography led me to push on and I came across his work which is available through the Magnum photo agency and which is displayed in their catalogue.

That led me, in turn, to check out the Magnum exhibition of photos of Ireland (from the 1950s to date) which is currently on show at the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham, Dublin.

Some photos in this by Cartier Bresson took me to that photographer's book on Paris where I had taken a number of shots myself in 1988 .

So what started out as a simple "check-it-out" became a voyage of discovery from which I emerged hours later tireder but wiser.

Hope you enjoyed the trip and will dip back into some of the links and branch out from there.

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