I had, like several of my chums, planned to go through to the Worldcon at Glasgow this weekend, but like most of them finally had to abandon that plan due to the cost factor – £40 for a day ticket. Add in train fares, food and drink (probably a lot of drink – well, I’d need to be sociable to any writers I know who I bumped into) and you’re looking at a fair bit of cash, at least 70 or 80 quid (and that’s assuming I didn’t buy anything from the dealer room) – too much for one day back in Glasgow, much as I really wanted to be there and had looked forward to it for months. Obviously the con has a lot of overheads to meet, but since a lot of folk I know pulled out for similar reasons its perhaps something organisers will have to consider in future or, as one mate commented, they will end up with the same folk going each time and a lot of rank and file fans feeling priced out. I’d loved to have been there for the Hugo ceremony last night and the Orbit party beforehand, but it wasn’t to be – at least Charlie got himself a Hugo; details of winners over on the FPI blog.
Sunday was still enjoyable though as Mel and I had a pleasant walk down to Dean Village (a gorgeous part of Edinburg) in the sunshine to go to the Dean Gallery to see the Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibition (it’s only appearance in the UK). It was extremely busy, but that was to be expected since the Festival is now in gear, although we were a trifle miffed that the Gallery said in the Fringe Guide it was taking part in the opening weekend 2 for 1 ticket offer, but charged us for two tickets. When I asked why they explained you had to go to the Fringe box office in town to get those tickets, then come back out to the Dean Gallery – not clear in the Fringe Guide and a bloody stupid idea since they are far apart, so something of a rip-off on that score, although still worth the fee because it is a marvellous exhibition.
The Berlin Wall going up, the fall of the last Chinese cities to the communists, the funeral of Gandhi, portraits of Matisse, Picasso, Truman Capote, Sarte, folk going to work in 1930s Paris, images taken in the late 90s, cities like New York and London and women in the Kashmir; it was, in effect, the 20th century in microcosm, frozen moments of the century in black and white.
And what images – many of you are probably familiar with his work – he is, after all, one of the most famous (and important) photographers ever and one of the founders of Magnum (I love my Magnum collection books). Cartier-Bresson, who died just last year, had a knack for being able to frame an image perfectly and for finding interesting views of places and people. His landscapes and cityscapes are beautifully aligned to draw in the viewer. His image of three women in the Kashmir is gorgeous and timeless; this picture could be today or fifty years ago while the black and white imagery makes the women looks almost like dusty statues – colour would be totally different.
But it is his people pictures that are his strongest forte: Cartier-Bresson took some amazing pictures of people, sometimes portraits, sometimes groups, sometimes famous people, sometimes just people in a crowd. Some of the ordinary folk he captured are amazing, with the most unusual faces, full of character – I was reminded very much of the sort of extras Sergio Leone often employed in his movies with odd, often grotesque yet fascinating faces which his camera would linger upon in close up. There were also lots of personal family pictures and various bits and pieces from his life, which helped to round the whole exhibition out and give a better idea of the man behind the Leicka lens.
A wander past the giant metal man of late local artist Eduardo Paolozzi and a quick look at the brilliant replica of his studio in the Dean (I always have to stand there and drink in that sight when there – pieces of plaster statues, works in progress, brushes, pictures, jigsaws and all sorts of toys from 50s tin-type, wind-up robots to a plastic Millennium Falcon – anything that took his fancy, sparked his imagination. When my mother complains about the untidiness of my flat I point her in the direction of this studio).
Some drinks in the cafe then a wander over the road to the Gallery of Modern Art to take in the Landform earth sculpture. I’ve mentioned it here before (probably last summer) but last time I was there it was overcast and I wanted to see it and photograph it in the brighter, sunny light. It’s a gorgeous piece that you can lie out on, walk around and, as the kids were proving, slide down the slopes; a great space. Since it was bathed in such lovely light and surrounded by greenery and blue skies I resisted the urge to greyscale this image to fit in with the others!