Created with Love

By Weenson Oo on 23:23

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Richard Elkington set up home in a 16th century building at Francis Yard in Chesham. In the ten years that he has been there, it has become home to works by living artists all over the country. The creative flavour of the Drawing Room further encompasses the performing arts since Richard's home is also a venue for musicians.

On December 6, I was privileged to attend the inaugural evening of a new series of events at the Drawing Room, one which brought together musicians and composers giving them the opportunity to explain their style and ideas in music while performing some of their own compositions. While not knowing what to expect, everyone came away from a thoroughly enjoyable evening with a view to returning again as I'm sure will many, once they've discovered the special magic of The Drawing Room. You see, it's Richard's home which feels very much like a home for many who have come and savoured the warmth and generosity of his hospitality. Not a great surprise really since as the written legend on the wall of The Drawing Room suggests, it was created with love from Richard's heart.





The Drawing Room in Chesham                                                               More images here


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One Hundred Today

By Weenson Oo on 18:38

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Gordon Parks would have been 100 today. Born on November 30 1912 his career in photography documented all walks of life with his work seen in publications such as Vogue and Life Magazine. Once referring to his camera as a ' weapon against poverty and racism ' Gordon Park's work ranged from portrayal of life for the poor in Chicago, to the gangs of Harlem with his talent being sought in capturing the changing flavours of fashion coming out of Paris.




Gordon Parks did not confined his efforts to photography for he wrote books and poetry, directed films for television as well as the cinema with two of the latter namely, The Learning Tree and Shaft  preserved in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. He also composed music and wrote both the music and libretto of Martin, a ballet dedicated to Martin Luther King. Gordon Park's  beginnings were humble. Forced to leave home soon after the death of his mother and at the young age of 15, he made his way through life and in order to survive worked in brothels, then as a singer, a semi-professional basketball player and while traveling, took to waiting at tables to pay his way.

Amongst his photographic treasures is one entitled American Gothic, Washington, D.C. it's name  inspired by an iconic painting bearing the same title. The photograph portrayed a black woman, Ella Watson, who worked on the cleaning crew of a government building, standing stiffly in front of an American flag which hung on the wall behind her, a broom in one hand and a mop in the background. Gordon Parks had been inspired to create the image after experiencing racism  in restaurants and shops.


Despite attitudes during his time, Alexander Liberman the editor of Vogue Magazine hired him to shoot a collection of evening gowns. During this time Parks developed a distinctive style of shooting, that of capturing his models in motion. Returning to document American society following the war, he made a  photographic essay on a young Harlem gang leader in 1948 which won him a staff job as a photographer and writer with Life magazine. While producing photographs on subjects ranging from fashion to sports,  poverty, and racial segregation he became known for his portraits of  Malcolm X, Mohammad Ali and Barbra Streisand.
The poor boy from Fort Scott in Kansas never forgot his roots and it is heartening to learn that a photographic essay dating back to 1961 on a poor Brazilian boy named Flavio da Silva who was dying from bronchial pneumonia and malnutrition brought donations from readers which saved the boy's life and paid for a new home for his family.
Gordon Parks was married three times and succumbed to cancer in 2006. He was survived by his widows and three of his four children. For his work, he received more than twenty honorary doctorates.


Information and Images - Library of Congress and Wikipedia

The Gordon Parks Foundation                                                                                            November 30 2012

The day the leaves fell

By Weenson Oo on 00:25

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Simple leaves in varying shape, colour and size. At the height of their prowess,  collective masses of tissue and connective vessels toiling endlessly in selfless endeavour sustaining life. Then the day comes when spent and the work of a lifetime seemingly complete, they make their graceful descent with the prospect of providing yet sustenance of a different and more final kind.  Gone are the spring and summer of their days and while neither  the vigour of youth nor freshness of life remain yet today the fall to the ground ensures a final tribute is paid by the life that they had once sustained. One final look at beauty, dedication and the wonder of creation amidst an endless strife to find the right words to say thank you.



Goodnight Mum with lots of love from Dad and all of us       November 17 2012       81 years and 354 days






Few things surely lift the soul like this

By Weenson Oo on 14:52

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Readers of my blog will have noted that on occasion I do drift from the business of photography to take in other matters that offer inspiration to put one's fingers to the keyboard.

It has been a while since I last heard a performance of Faure's Requiem and this video of part of the work by King's College Chapel Choir brought back memories of the first recording I ever bought of the requiem which was by the New Philharmonia Orchestra as they were then called. As with the video, the soprano aria Pie Jesu was performed instead by a boy treble. Just as Robert Chilcott sounded both effective and ' touchingly vulnerable ' on the 1967 vinyl recording, so twenty years later, a young singer once again with King's College has delivered a hauntingly beautiful and moving account that will linger long in my memory.

I hope you'll enjoy this as much as I have


Schola Cantorum make music for Children in Sudan

By Weenson Oo on 14:00

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Preparing for an evening of music and readings devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the proceeds of which would be used by Aid to the Church in Need for children in Sudan, singers of the Schola Cantorum of the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School assemble in prayer before their concert last Thursday at the Carmelite Priory in Kensington.


The Schola consisting of boys aged between 11 and 18 performed under the direction of Scott Price, the Director of Music at Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School and provided a programme ranging from plainsong to works dating back to the 16th century by Parsons and Monteverdi, composers of the classical  and romantic period such as Bruckner, Grieg, Pergolesi and Rachmaninov and finally to 20th century offerings by Britten, Faure, Taverner and MacMillan.


The evening of music was complemented with readings by  the school's chaplain, Fr Dominic Allan.


The Schola Cantorum has over the years become one of the outstanding landmarks of great musical experiences in London and definitely worth catching at their future events.




Images made with
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EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS USM                                                                                More pictures here         

Visiting the Houses of Parliament

By Weenson Oo on 19:27

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I had never thought this was something one could do without invitation nor accreditation. That I had both allowed me access into this most historic building last week but as you may know the Palace of Westminster is open to the public. You can watch debates, the Lords select committee at work and tour the Houses of Parliament. There is airport-style security of course though I can report that it is very friendly. More importantly the Houses of Parliament belong to us, little though we may be aware of it and it really is a mighty great privilege to visit such a grand and historic place. Just ask your member of Parliament to arrange it.


Picture - House of Lords, Committee Room 4

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Better to light a candle than curse the darkness

By Weenson Oo on 22:47

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October 18 2012
Palace of Westminster



ACN's ( Aid to the Church in Need ) event for October 2012 began with visit to the Houses of Parliament to address a meeting on the issue of religious freedom. Primary delegates attending on behalf of ACN were Bishop Audo of Syria and Archbishop Kaigama from Nigeria, both of whom addressed peers, MPs and officials from the Houses of Parliament at a meeting in the classic setting of Committee Room No 4  chaired by The Baroness Berridge of the Vale of Catmose 



Following introductions by Baroness Berridge and ACN's John Pontifex, Bishop Audo advised the gathering that  while the violent crisis in Syria brought hardship and uncertainty to all, Christians were additionally threatened by the breakdown of society and the difficulties particularly for them that this has created.



Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama spoke of the challenges of maintaining and practising the faith in Nigeria where attacks on churches and the faithful occur on a weekly basis. Despite such trying circumstances, Archbishop Kaigama said that the solidarity and friendship of the various agencies abroad provided Catholics and all Christians in Nigeria much encouragement and support in the face of their trials and that it was important for us to continue the good work which help Nigerians to adopt a positive outlook and approach which he likened to lighting a candle which he concluded was better than cursing the darkness.



Later both dignitaries met with the invited guests  which included students from the Cardinal Vaughan School in London





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Remembering Remi Ochlik

By Weenson Oo on 19:50

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October 16 2012


But for a direct hit on a makeshift media centre used by international journalists during the shelling of Homs by Syrian forces, Remi Ochlik would have been 29 today.

Born in 1983 in Thionville in the Lorraine region of northeastern France, Remi’s ambitions of taking up archaeology were cast aside when his grandfather gifted him with an Olympus OM-1, one of the iconic cameras from the era of the 35mm film. Graduating from the Icart Photo School he joined the photographic agency Wostok, achieving a career breakthrough covering the riots in Haiti  in 2004. Through a proposal by an editor of Paris Match, Remi Ochlik’s images were projected at the Visa pour l’Image International Photojournalism Festival though not before his pictures had won him the Francois Chalais Award for Young Reporters.

Founding IP3, his own photographic agency in 2005, Remi began to cover many political events not only in his native France but in the Democratic Republic of Congo, again in Haiti and more recently the Arab Spring revolutions of 2011 and 2012. Remi’s image of a Libyan rebel fighter won him the first prize at the 2012 World Press Photo awards.

On February 22 this year, he and fellow journalist Marie Colvin lost their lives when working in Syria. It is widely believed that the building they were in was deliberately targeted. In a career that was so tragically cut short, Remi’s photographs will live on as a powerful reminder of the conflicts that exist in our world today as much of his work may be seen in several publications and on many websites.





Picture - fanpop.com

Time.com

IP3

Dedicated to The Most Precious Blood

By Weenson Oo on 00:00

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Those who regularly take in mass at Westminster Cathedral will have noticed two changes to the ordering of the building this weekend. The first and very visible change is that the shrine of St John Southworth, our local matyr who gave up his life in defence of his faith in 1654 had been moved into the nave, the central part of the Cathedral.  Following his execution, St John Southworth's remains were taken to Douai ( pronounced Doway ) in France by the then Spanish ambassador for burial and later secreted during the French Revolution as a protective measure. Discovered in 1927, they were transported back to England to be laid to rest in the Chapel of St George and the English Matyrs at the Cathedral. 




The shrine of St John Southworth was moved into the nave on June 27 on the occasion of the anniversary of our matyr saint so as to serve as a focus for prayer and as a reminder of the sacrifices made to sustain the faith during the period of the persecution. 


The other change to the Cathedral relates to the exhibition of the twelve consecration sconces. While there are twelve of these they are not as centrally located but are placed instead around the wall of the Cathedral. This is designed to mirror the walls of Jerusalem on the foundations of which were inscribed the names of the twelve apostles. Each sconce is  shaped like a hand with each hand holding a candle. 





The reason for these changes is because this weekend marks the 102nd anniversary of the consecration of the Cathedral. The Solemnity of the Dedication of Westminster Cathedral is of particular significance to all Catholics since this is the day that we are reminded of the purpose of the existence of the Cathedral. It is in addition a day when we give thanks to those who played a part in the history of the Cathedral, those who have indeed contributed to building the spiritual fabric and character of the Cathedral that sees it today as a beacon of Catholics in the country and which establishes it as a spiritual home for many of us as we practice and grow our faith.




Westminster Cathedral in company with some of the great Cathedrals in Europe and around the world enjoys a specific dedication. This dedication is to the Most Precious Blood of Jesus Christ our Redeemer by whose Blood we are saved. It is right then that this dedication is made each year as we recall, reflect and give thanks for this very special gift of love.

Regular readers of my blog will be aware that I write about Westmister Cathedral with some regularity. This is my 32nd year as a convert in which time I have largely attended mass and served at two churches, the first being St James' Spanish Place where I was received into the faith and the other being St Elizabeth's in Richmond. All who believe will know that faith is a personal experience and while I had attended mass at the Cathedral before and whilst  holding it as a very special place to come to, it was not until this past year that I have come to realise that here indeed is my spiritual home. I have never been as at home with my faith as I am today and I believe I owe this to the very special spiritual wonder that exists in and which is  the  Cathedral itself. I really am very humbled at the joy of being here. Thank you for taking time to read my blog and allowing me to share my faith and this special occasion with you.

Richmond Set To Get Noisier

By Weenson Oo on 23:57

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It is by most counts a lovely place to live. The proximity of the river with it's pleasing walks and splendid views, the recreational advantages of being adjacent to the largest of all the Royal parks and the presence of amenities close at hand make Richmond an immense draw for Londoners accounting therefore for the demand and price levels of property in the area. Yet Richmond also lies in the flightpath to Heathrow with residents having  to endure the seemingly near constant sound of approaching aircraft in the day. From tomorrow July 1, the second phase of operational trials which allow for aircraft to arrive earlier in the morning and to use whichever runway that was deemed more suitable during busy periods begin at Heathrow and this trial has been extended by a further six months until March of next year.  With the possibility of a third runway the subject of constant debate in political circles,  it comes as no surprise that much talk at the annual summer party of The Richmond Society was about Heathrow and aeroplanes.




With support for the plight of local residents coming from Zac Goldsmith the sitting member of Parliament for the constituency along with a number of his party colleagues as well as the Liberal Democrats, it is a certainty that debate over the long-standing issue of flights over the borough is set to continue. If Richmond is to get noisier then the residents will be gathering support to ensure that they too will be heard.

For the moment though and through the course of the afternoon, members of the society enjoyed their annual get-together on the lawn and grounds of Trumpeters' House courtesy of  the owners, Baron and Baroness Van Diedem.



Guests of honour at the party this year included Bamber Gascoigne and Mark and Rosemary Edwards. Observers of the recent celebrations of Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee will recall that Mark Edwards was the originator of the Gloriana, the centrepiece of the water pageant on the recent weekend of celebrations.








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ACN - Night of Witness at Westminster Cathedral

By Weenson Oo on 15:45

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In an inter-denominational event organised by Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, Emeritus Anglican Bishop of Rochester lights a vigil candle in the memory of Shahbaz Bhatti, the assassinated Minorities Minister of Pakistan who was gunned down as he travelled to work in 2011. Bhatti a Roman Catholic, had spoken out in support of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who had been sentenced to death under Pakistan's draconian blasphemy laws. Shahbaz who knew that he himself was in mortal danger had recorded a video to be released in the event of his murder saying that as a result of his belief in Christ Jesus who had give his own life for us, he too would be ready to give his own and defend the rights of others. 

The Vigil of Light concluded the Night of Witness event at Westminster Cathedral which was held on Thursday the 17 May to honour the memory of those who lost their lives in practising their faith in various parts of the world. The sacrifice in respect of each of five selected incidents was first announced to the congregation. This was  followed by a scripture reading before each of those occasions was then commemorated with the placing of a picture on an easel, the lighting of a candle and prayers of the rosary. Please check my site  for updates and further images. High resolution images are available upon request.


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You are welcome to use my pictures for personal, religious and educational purposes without charge but if you share or distribute them in any manner, I would be grateful if you would kindly acknowledge the origin of the images. Thank You


Weenson Oo/picture-u.net

Congregating in N1

By Weenson Oo on 10:05

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Last Thursday marked three lots of Pannack within a week and how visually satisfying they were too. One day my friends you will know her as a household name. Those of us who  have been touched by her ' stop dead in your tracks and gaze ' quality of photographic art already know this. Laura's pictures tell a story. You only have to look at her blog to appreciate this and rarely will you find there to be a need to embellish a post with more than one image. One picture says it all just as one picture won her the biggest prize of her young career so far, the World Press Photo Award in 2010 for the category of Portraits Singles. While one picture is enough to tell of a story she chooses to write, a few images taken on the preview night of her latest solo exhibition at the no half measures establishment going by the title of Gallery One and A Half might tell of another story, the coming of a bright star. 



I'm making myself a promise that once posted I will not chance an ounce of this blog. My glass half full approach sees me invariably going back and making edits to my posts. Not today. That which I have written is it. You can't make good on greatness.








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Remembering Gilles

By Weenson Oo on 23:16

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Thirty years ago tragedy struck on a Belgian grand prix circuit east of  Brussels. Approaching the seventh turn during the closing laps of the final qualifying session, Gilles Villeneuve's Ferrari was launched into the air off the rear wheel of a slowing car. With alarming ferocity the car somersaulted along the short straight which was the first part of a section called Terlamenbocht, at the end of it throwing it's driver out across the track onto the catch fencing. At just 32, Gilles Villeneuve's grand prix career was brutally cut short and a shining light was lost to the world of motor racing.

Gilles' first formula 1 race was at Silverstone in 1977 and though at the wheel of an aging Mclaren M23 acquitted himself very well,  running ahead of far better-established stars in the early stages and closing on Mario Andretti, the pacesetter of that season. Less than a year later in the fourth race of his first full season in the sport, he would lead the United States Grand Prix West at Long Beach until half distance when an over hasty move to overtake a car which he was about to lap on a twisty section of the circuit resulted in contact with the wall. By then however Gilles had served notice of his ambitions and many would remember well his astonishing and near impossible levels of car control.


The tales of inhuman feats are many such as emerging with a lead of 12 seconds after practice at a rain-soaked Watkins Glen. That's Twelve Seconds!!! There might have been only six wins in his short career which lasted little more than four years but every one of them was memorable. The last two in 1981 probably most of all since they were achieved in a car that had no part to play at the front of a chasing pack of pursuers. Hanging onto third place which would then become second by the skin of his teeth, Giles wrestled a beast of a car and pressed Alan Jones until the Australian's Williams car broke, resulting in a most unexpected victory and a first for a turbo-powered car around the tight confines of Monaco. Till this day I do not believe this would have been possible were another driver behind the wheel of that Ferrari. Then just a fortnight later he led a train of five cars home at Jarama. No one it has been widely testified could have held it all together let alone at the front.


By far the most impressive characteristic about Gilles for me was his integrity. At the end of the 1978 season, despite having been with Ferrari for a year, the prancing horse team signed a more experienced Jody Sheckter to be the number 1 driver in the team. However as it turned out, the driver who would lead Ferrari's charge over the season would be Gilles so when it came to Monza in September, all Gilles had to do to be world champion was to overtake Sheckter, something well within his near limitless ability. But Gilles having given his word that he would help Sheckter to the world title was not about to renege on his promise. Thus when Didier Pironi overtook Car No 27 at Imola less than three years later when both cars had been given the directive to slow down, Gilles took the move as a duplicitous act of enormous proportions. That was why on the morning of May 8 1982 notwithstanding that once again his was generally the pacesetter of the two red cars, he felt a need to establish his role at the front of the team, a desire that cost him dearly. Former world champion contender Carlos Reutemann met with Gilles before the race at Monza 1979, saying to the Canadian that if he had an opportunity to take the title he should not throw it away. World championships were very hard to come by added Reutemann and there may not be another chance. " Nah " replied Gilles. " I've promised Jody I'll let him win. He's going to help me win in 1980... " Be it at the cost of a world title, for Gilles his word was more important. 

The stuff of champions, Gilles was the hero you would find in boys' own comic books. He had a sense of honour and a set of values from a bygone age. Enzo Ferrari once said he loved Gilles like a son. and called him " Il Piccolo Canadese ", the tiny Canadian, a term of affection he reserved for Gilles. Ferrari was a man who had seen them all and had contracted even for a short time, arguably the greatest of them all. 


Salut Gilles.



Picture Credits - victorvarela.com, timblair.net, actualfoto, unknown sources
Video Link - youtubeuser GDH1981
and Peter Windsor

Farewell Maurice Sendak

By Weenson Oo on 15:41

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Maurice Sendak was according to the New York Times, the most important children's book illustrator of the 20th century. I wouldn't argue with that, having purchased a now-lost copy of Mahler's Symphony No3 on RCA Records by James Levine and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. It was as much the sleeve as a desire to know the work that encouraged me to buy that particular recording from a now equally long-gone music shop on the northern reaches of Regent's Park Road, one of the few music stores which in my days on a student 's budget was offering brand new recordings at a discount. 

The magic of Mahler 3, now my favourite of all classical works was captured perfectly by the work of Sendak. Mahler would wake early each morning to work in his little studio, a composing hut as it was, built on a lakeside and surrounded by a flower-strewn meadow. Unsurprising then that such delights of nature would be encapsulated into music which opens with a movement intriguingly and delightfully entitled ' Pan Awakes, Summer Marches In '. From there Mahler revealed to us in music about what  the flowers told him and then the animals and then by man before the angels have their say and finally to be crowned by universal love. It was credit to RCA therefore that they recognised from Maurice Sendak's  own repertoire, the perfect technical and artistic rendition that would capture all of Mahler's musical vision as Sendak's work would tell us what came to Mahler in the night.