blog

Exhibition opening, Newcastle

10:39 21/10/2013 Posted in blog |

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It’s no exaggeration to say that Saturday was the best day of my professional life so far. Thanks to everyone who made the effort to join us, and hope other friends will get a chance to see the show if they are in Newcastle between now and 21 Dec. I am utterly buzzing. Thanks so much to the folks at Side for giving me this wonderful opportunity, for all their support and for making the show look so brilliant. And the biggest thanks of all go to Zaneta and her lovely family for being themselves and allowing a nosy stranger and her camera into their personal lives.

To see the full edit of the work on show at Side Gallery, click here

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On the move again – Al Jazeera magazine feature

17:53 05/10/2013 Posted in blog |

I have a lovely big feature on Roma migration in this month’s Al Jazeera digital magazine, which is available free of charge as an app for the iPad and iPhone from here.  It was great to be given so much space to cover the issues and I think they’ve done a lovely job with the design. The whole magazine is really strong, definitely worth spending some time with.

For those without access to a tablet I’ve uploaded a PDF, which you can download by clicking on the page below.

Baby fest

07:44 03/10/2013 Posted in blog | Tagged

Lida and Yahya, five weeks, with her sister and her baby. Please click on Lida’s name on the menu to the left for more of her story.

Stay where there are songs

12:10 21/09/2013 Posted in blog |

The prints are done, the texts are written and a title has finally been found. The title, Stay where there are songs, is borrowed from a Romani saying. The show opens four weeks today, Oct 19th, in Newcastle. More info here 

Side Gallery show and project update

21:25 10/09/2013 Posted in blog |

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Project baby

19:31 26/08/2013 Posted in blog |

Feeling all warm and fuzzy after meeting 11-hour-old Yahya, the son of Lida (see her gallery via the names on the left hand menu), and her Kurdish husband Hemen. Beautiful boy.

Love of learning

21:30 17/08/2013 Posted in blog | Tagged , ,

It warms the cockles of my jaded, half-dead journalist’s heart every time I visit Ramona and see how much her six-year-old daughter loves to learn and how much work they do together at home. They have come a very long way since we finished our collaborative book about her life almost two years ago http://issuu.com/ciaraleeming/docs/elvira_and_me 

Deadlines and panics: Middlesbrough

17:48 09/08/2013 Posted in blog |

My default position in life and work, I’ve realised, is “I can’t do that” – plus, quite often, some associated panic. I’m not sure where my terminal lack of confidence comes from, no doubt it’s partly nature but I suspect it’s also some parts nurture – some very negative experiences with managers in my early jobs plus some terror associated with being self-employed, which I find hard. I don’t remember being so anxious as a child. On balance I know deep down I’ll get things done competently and on time but I’ve never felt properly confident at the start or even partway through projects, even when I’ve had positive feedback along the way. Perhaps though this is for the best – there are few things more off-putting to me than arrogance, and I’d always prefer to be thought of as humble than above my station. The resulting work should speak for itself.

Even after several years of spending time inside Roma families and collaborating with them – something I often doubted I’d pull off at the start when it took me a long time to win anyone’s trust, I feel unsure about what I’m doing a lot of the time. My work with Ramona felt largely like a fluke for a long time – I was incredibly lucky to find someone as trusting and open, and natural with the camera. Managing to win Arts Council funding and a Homelands commission from Side Gallery early last year felt similarly flukey, and both were followed by months of despair and doubt as I wondered how to translate this opportunity into a concrete body of work. While photographers often talk about self doubt I rarely hear people admitting to the levels of anxiety and sometimes minor depression I often feel about my work, both in trying to negotiate access, feeling good about what I’m doing and the integrity of my motivations and the quality of what comes out.

The Homelands commission was intended to be a short project of just a few months’ duration but once I finally found a family to work with it took me a long time to really find my place – this is more I suspect to do with my own sensitivities than theirs. I’d probably keep going forever if I could because I love their company, yet I’d doubtless never feel like I’d really captured what I wanted to or what I felt. A deadline has now been imposed though – the work is going to be exhibited in Newcastle in October. I don’t feel ready of course, I don’t feel I’ve even scratched the surface, but I guess I’d always feel like this. A deadline is needed to force me to confront those work prints and develop a coherent edit, not definitive because that’s impossible, but coherent and honest at least. If the family will allow me to I will continue to visit them beyond this time and long into the future as I think this is where the work could really become interesting.

Homelands commission update

17:47 12/07/2013 Posted in blog |

i’ve been working on my Homelands commission, for which I’m spending time with a Czech Roma family in the North East of England, for over a year now. I’ve worked in fits and starts – over recent months issues and commitments on both sides have prevented me from visiting as much as I would have liked, but perhaps this will prove to be some useful headspace. Let’s see what the next few months hold…my intention is to have this work where it needs to be by the end of summer but sometimes you can’t force these things. i don’t want to be the kind of photographer/journalist who imposes and works without sensitivity and instinct.