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Essays Photography

Book review: How I Make Photographs by Joel MEYEROWITZ

Book review: How I Make Photographs by Joel MEYEROWITZ
by Allan LEONARD
18 October 2020

Joel Meyerowitz is a renowned street photographer, long before the term became a familiar recognised genre (or subgenre of documentary photography). Once working as an art director, after an encounter with photographer Robert Frank, he quit his job and set out with a Pentax camera. Meyerowitz is known for his recording of street life in his native New York City, covering a span of several decades.

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@MrUlster

Book review: Great Thinkers (The School of Life)

Great Thinkers is a compilation of 60 short essays — about 1,500 to 3,000 words each — published by The School of Life, which dedicates itself to “developing emotional intelligence through the help of culture”. It describes the book as a volume of some of the most important ideas of Eastern and Western culture, drawn from the works of philosophers, political theorists, sociologists, artists, and novelists “whom we believe have the most to offer us today”.

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@NorthernSlant

Book review: Anna Lo: The Place I Call Home

Book review: Anna Lo: The Place I Call Home
by Allan LEONARD
15 August 2019

Anna Lo writes with a crisp and concise manner, demonstrating her fine skills in English that she makes reference to in her memoir. The Place I Call Home is a chronological story, from her childhood to current retirement. It gives a valuable, firsthand insight of the experiences of an immigrant to Northern Ireland.

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@NorthernSlant Essays Photography

Book review: The Colour of Time (Dan JONES & Marina AMARAL)

Book review: The Colour of Time (Dan JONES & Marina AMARAL)
by Allan LEONARD
26 May 2019

Released in hardcover in August 2018 and now available in paperback, The Colour of Time, by historian Dan Jones and artist Marina Amaral, is a collection of 200 colourised photographs taken between 1850 and 1960. With accompanying extended captions, this is a visually rewarding overview of personalities and major moments in world history, from the Crimean War to the space age.

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@NorthernSlant

Book review: Don’t Mention the War (Vicky COSSTICK)

Book review: Don’t Mention the War (Vicky COSSTICK)
by Allan LEONARD
5 March 2019

Don’t Mention the War is an e-book by Vicky Cosstick, published by ChangeAware in association with Northern Slant, that aims to explore aspects of legacy of the Troubles in Northern Ireland in a set of five chapters covering the peace process, women’s perspectives, trauma, the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, and the role of media during and post-conflict. Her research and writing took place between spring 2017 and autumn 2018, with regular references to the suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the confidence-and-supply arrangement between the DUP and Conservatives in the current British Government.

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@NorthernSlant Essays Photography

Book review: Bobby Sands by Yan MORVAN

Book review: Bobby Sands by Yan MORVAN
by Allan LEONARD
11 October 2018

Sorj Chalandon ends his foreword with a question from Bobby Sands’ memorial card: “Will tomorrow be remembered?” He is with Bobby Sands, a photobook by Yan Morvan.

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@MrUlster Private

Book review: A Job to Love (The School of Life)

Book review: A Job to Love (The School of Life)
by Allan LEONARD
28 April 2018

I acquired A Job to Love by The School of Life (founder and chairman, Alain DE BOTTON) when I had pretty much decided to enter the job market of the freelancer. So perhaps this read was for self-affirmation.

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@MrUlster

Book review – The Enlightenment: A Very Short Introduction (John ROBERTSON)

Review: The Enlightenment: A Very Short Introduction (John ROBERTSON)
by Allan LEONARD for Mr Ulster
1 May 2017

The Enlightenment is one of Oxford University Press’s “Very Short Introductions” series; there are over 400 volumes. Written by experts, they “are for anyone wanting a stimulating and accessible way into a new subject”.

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@MrUlster

Book review – The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work (Alain de BOTTON)

I have read most of de Botton’s books, and The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work took me the longest to finish, partly because I am a slow reader, but I blame more on the editing. The chapters are his brief immersions in ten jobs, across the professions.

While absorbing his philosophical reflections was at times illuminating, often his presentations was one of the mundaneness of it all.

Yes, work can be mundane. But for many (if not most), it provides an important sense of worth.

de Botton didn’t ask workers what they enjoy about their work, if they derived any pleasure, even if only social.

Because most work brings people together — colleagues we call them — and for some the proverbial water cooler gossip or post-day pint makes the toil bearable.

Indeed, I would have liked to learn de Botton’s thoughts on the increasing remoteness of work — hot desking, meetings in coffee shops, virtual meetings via Skype calls.

Here, the first two chapters — on cargo shipping and logistics — speak to the physical dimension of our consumption.

But they also provide scope to ponder about how we make those purchases, frequently from our beds tapping an iPad rather than a journey to a town centre.

de Botton serendipitously finds himself in a graveyard of jumbo planes, and he uses the metaphor fittingly to conclude the chapter and the book.

Perhaps this was his intention all along — to make the reader endure the tedium, to learn that our jobs are just ‘matchstick protests’ in the wave of life.

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Essays Photography Private

Book review – Failed It!

Failed It! by Erik Kessels is an easy read of his encouragement of embracing failure as a means of revealing a better discovery. He intersperses his quips with visual inspirations, from both the intentional (by seasoned artists) and the unintentional (by reconsidering the work of some amateurs).

The strength of this short book is demonstrating how play — and a sense of humour — can create something unique, breaking away from the mundane.

I appreciated his sharing of the work of Heike Bollig, André Thijssen, Kent Rogowski, Ruth van Beek, and Joachim Schmid.

But how far does one live with such an approach?

For example, Kessels writes, “Children learn by trying and failing … But children also live in a dream world of play, where mistakes have no consequences, nor are they burdened by the terror of self-consciousness.”

“So why shouldn’t adults do the same?” he asks.

Perhaps because as adults, some mistakes do have consequences. And I would argue that overcoming the terror of our environmental conditioning (finish school, get that job, marry that person, have a family) requires more than acting like a child.

Being a failed parent or spouse may enrich your own life, but there’s a difference between the discarding of literal scraps of paper versus human relationships.

So I’ll take Failed It! for what it is — don’t seek perfection when exploring your own creativity.

But the learning process for emotional intelligence is a harder read.

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Essays Photography

Book review – Une Visit chez Magritte (Duane MICHALS)

René Magritte was the first artist that I identified with — particularly his sense of humour yet thought provoking presentations of surrealism.

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Audio Essays Photography

Surrendering one’s identity to the internet – Home Instruction Manual

What happens when you ask an online chat room how to make a home?

In an interview-style format with about 50 people attending, Belfast Exposed Curator Ciara Hickey asked artist Jan McCullough to share her journey.