An Interview with Martin Parr

“It is estimated that more photographic images have been taken in the past twelve months than in the entire history of photography.” – Hannah Redler, Head of Media Space at the Science Museum.

His new exhibition ‘Only in England’ displays his own early work from the 1970’s, ‘The Non Conformists’ alongside many of Ray-Jones photographs, some never before seen, picked by Parr himself to be displayed. This exhibition gives great insight into what life was really like in an arguably bleak England for many in the 1960’s and 70’s and projects a desire to document what both Ray Jones and Parr saw as disappearing way of life in England. Both photographers are cleverly able to make ordinary and somewhat bleak situations interesting and surprisingly funny in their photographs. Though Ray Jones’ fears about increasing Americanisation in England remains valid today, at least we Brits can proudly say that we still firmly believe that the weather will remain awful for the majority of the year, our humour is still wry, dry and sarcastic but most importantly we still have the faith that tea really will solve everything!

While studying at Manchester Polytechnic, were you independently exploring the work of many different photographers? How did you initially respond to Tony Ray Jones’s work?

Back in those days they didn’t show you much to work from and we were learning purely by default. These were the 1970s; it was a different era and we didn’t really have formal studies, it was more practical based. Tony Ray Jones’ work struck a chord and I immediately liked it and got excited by it. [He mentions Ray Jones’ time in America, his street art and how this was a first for British photography]

Your photographs in the exhibition differ from your recognizably bright, saturated, coloured photographs. Have you considered going back to photographing in black and white?

Once I’d moved to colour I never went back! Back in those days black and white is all we had. If you were a serious photographer you were obliged to photograph in it because colour was the reign of snapshot photography and commercial photography.
Documenting British eccentricities and a disappearing way of life in England is an evident theme of the exhibition. Which of the following English social customs would you be disappointed to lose: thinking and hoping that tea will fix everything; Conversations about weather; sarcasm/wry humour; queuing.

[He laughs] Most of what you’re saying there is less to do with what I photograph and more to do with what I really like. I wouldn’t want to lose any of them!

We are living in a time when anyone is able to label themselves as an amateur photographer, instagram becoming incredibly popular; what sort of photography really grabs your attention now?

I am more excited by new photographers, the ones who are emerging and doing different, interesting and exciting new things.

Martin, honestly, have you ever taken a “selfie”?

Generally, no I don’t.

Article by Zara Jasmine


Rust and Bone: Review

Jacques Audiard’s last feature, A Prophet, is seen by many as one of the best films of the last decade, resulting in a lot of buzz and excitement for his latest film, Rust and Bone, starring the wonderful Marion Cotillard. Arguably two of the best French film-makers of recent years, the film has been greatly revered by critics as a touching love story. However, the film is in many ways Audiard’s worst to date.

It tells the story of two people in tragic circumstances: Ali, a wannabe fighter, struggling to raise his young son in the absence of his mother and with little money made in illegal fighting rings, and Stephanie fighting through the pain of losing both her legs in a tragic killer whale accident. The two meet, fall in love and help each other correct their lives. It is a plot done time and again in America, and isn’t much better than the Hollywood versions. Both leads act well and carry the film for large parts, but the ending seems rushed, and within the first twenty minutes it is not difficult to say where the film will go. Many will still enjoy it, welling up at the feel-good ending, deeming it with greater artistic merits because of the film-makers involved and the fact that it is French. However it is a very safe film after the masterpiece that was A Prophet, and is a great disappointment.

Anyone who has seen Audiard’s previous work will know some of his films tend to be a bit eccentric and more predictable, but this is less enjoyable than those. While A Self Made Hero was predictable in places, it seemed less generic, scenes were not cheesy and it never felt like a drag. During points of Rust and Bone the plot grinds to a halt as you wait for it to finish. It is not a bad film, but it is not the masterpiece many are making to out to be. It feels like a Hollywood film; not a fault in itself, but what is an issue is that it feels like an average Hollywood film, not the latest by one of cinema’s foremost creative talents.

Many will still probably enjoy this, and it is very much an enjoyable film to see one afternoon, but the film is unlikely to stay with you, and may not be worth the energy to buy on DVD.

Article: Thomas McDonald

The Importance of being Earnest: Quad Production 2013 Review

Over the years the Quad production has seen a lot of Shakespeare and Renaissance plays, but these are not the only classics. It is our hope that this year, with The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, we will re-vitalise the Quad and bring summer to Royal Holloway.

After a busy year and a term full of exams what Royal Holloway needs is a bit of fun, and it is for this reason that I chose to bid The Importance of Being Earnest. With muffin fights, cucumber sandwiches and, in the production, a man in drag, we hope to bring back the witty silliness for which British comedy is so renowned. When people asked me what I wanted to do with the play, my answer was to have fun. Indeed my answer for all questions such as ‘What is your director’s concept?’ was simply the word ‘fun’; I was worried I sounded a bit like a broken record. But that is really what I want to do. I want people to be able to sit back, relax and laugh the night away. That is if I have done a good job.

As with all bids, pulling together a team is always the hardest task. There are many people you know would be wonderful for the job but not everyone is willing to commit. I roped in my Producer after a rushed conversation in the library, and after a lot of sweet talking I had got myself a DSM and designer. I could not have been more happy with the team. The Earnest Crew are a great bunch with so much talent they could outshine the cast.

Rehearsals have been an entertaining enterprise so far. With everyone being so busy they have been very higgledy piggledy (word of the month) but boy they have been fun. All the cast work so well together and as soon as you put them on stage it is hard to make them stop. After two weeks we are well on our way, and hopefully by week seven it will be fantastic.

So grab your Pimms, picnic blanket and your cucumber sandwich and come along to The Importance of being Earnest on June the 11th, 12th and 13th. I promise you will have, well….fun.

Article: Helena Jane Kirby

The Great Gatsby: Review

Baz Lurhmann’s take on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, is an explosion of colour, music and sexual tension, bringing to life what I consider to be a story that trails at a snail’s pace.

Behind all the glitz and glamour of Lurhmann’s directorial style, it is his choice of actors that helps to give life to the otherwise lifeless portrayals of Fitzgerald. Leonardo DiCaprio does well in playing the infamous Jay Gatsby, a man both famous and mysterious for his regular mansion parties, whose relationship with Carey Mulligan’s Daisy is made both awkward and increasingly addictive from their first encounter. My admiration of Gatsby’s characterisation increases drastically alongside the rapid fall of Daisy’s likability, a woman who frustratingly glides through life, child-like and immature in her lack of decision making and her want to impact in anyone’s life. DiCaprio’s Gatsby is compelling to watch in his passionate attempts to hold on to the past, whilst Tobey Maguire’s Nick succeeds in continuing to be the quiet onlooker of their lives that I could not stand in the novel.

With films such as Moulin Rouge! and William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet already under his belt, Lurhmann’s use of combining the great tracks of Jay-Z and Lana del Rey, alongside colourised black and white footage that was not his own, is typical of his style but amazing visually, highlighting the division of class, gender and race. Finally, I could feel the buzz of the roaring 20’s, increasing the story’s exhilarating atmosphere. Despite all the criticism surrounding his adaptation, I believe that Lurhmann has done well in recreating the excitement, evidently proving that, in some cases, the film can be better than the book.

Article: Charlotte Cole

A Writer’s Lot: An Interview

Charlotte Cole talks to writer and director, Josh King and Jemima Standen-Jewell, of A Writer’s Lot, an original play written and performed by Royal Holloway Students.

What can you tell me about your lives here as students?
JK – I’m a third year English and Creative Writing student. I’ve done a few things on campus, like Midnight at the Boilerhouse and the Writing Society. It’s all built itself up to this from first year, so it is a massive thing for me to be able to do this.
JS – I’m a second year Drama student and I’ve done quite a few shows on campus helping out backstage, but this is my first time to actually direct a show.

What can you tell me about A Writer’s Lot?
JK – It’s about William, a playwright, who through his fixation with writing plays about death, has to eventually choose between his art and his mind.

How did you come up with that? It sounds pretty intense.
JK – Yeah, I took one to PLAY! 2012 last year, which involved a woman shooting her husband, a light comedy you could say! There is no way of getting a better drama and making something more interesting by killing someone; it’s something that affects everyone in an immediate and quite emotional way.

How do the cast and crew feel about everything?
JS – The crew are amazing, they’ve been the backbone of it, as well as the cast. It was great at the first read through because no one had read it and, after that, everyone was really excited for Josh’s play.

How have you been fundraising?
JS – We’ve had our pub quiz every Tuesday at the Foresters Arms until the end of term as well as applying for grants. We’re going to do a big fundraiser on the green, as well as the preview show which is at the village centre on June 10th.

How long did it take to write A Writer’s Lot?
JK – It’s my final project for my playwriting course, so I have been slowly writing it throughout. When they [intwothewings] posted that they wanted scripts, in a fit of desperation, I just wrote it. I’d written half of it over the past year and I quickly wrote the rest and sent it to them, as a rough first draft.

What can you tell me about ‘intwothewings’?
JS – Everyone on the production team are taking on a new role, which they’ve never done before, and so everybody is sort of being trained by others who have experience. That is why we wanted the ‘wings’ in the name, to represent our focus on the crew and production elements of a play as well as the actor and performance element. It also has the double meaning of ‘taking off’ on our first play. The ‘two’ represents Eleri Owen and I, who is also producing A Writer’s Lot. It’s nice to have our little family made.

In one sentence, why should people come to see A Writer’s Lot?
JS – What’s that line from the play? It’d be perfect for this.
JK – “It’s vivid, it’s visual, it’s a bloody play.”

Heronshaw: One to Watch

With any luck, Heronshaw is a name you’ll be hearing much more in the future. The best way to describe their genre is ‘Alternative Indie Folk Rock’ but that doesn’t quite do their varied music justice. As they say on their website, defining their music is like finding Wally – exciting, addictive and you can’t quite put your finger on it! Most importantly, their drummer, Matt Arnold, is from Royal Holloway!

Heronshaw’s music is a melting pot of different genres that works a treat. The five band members – Tom Seebold (Vocals, Keyboard), James Gibson (Guitar, Banjo), Miles Walker (Guitar, Violin), Connor Guille (Bass, Vocals) and Matt Arnold (Drums & Percussion) – work together to make enchanting music that’s already made an impact, and with their forward planning they look to make even more of an impact soon.

The band met at school in Portsmouth and now they all study at various University of London colleges. About practicing between studying their drummer, Matt Arnold, says “It’s a difficult one really but we make it work. There are a lot of hours spent talking on the group page on Facebook discussing ideas, rehearsal dates, future gigs, but it just works. We usually rehearse either at Royal Holloway or in Matt’s Studio in Hampshire. When we do rehearse, we always try and be on the ball and learn our parts or have an aim.”

Their influences range from Mumford & Sons, Radiohead, Led Zeppelin, Kodaline and acoustic acts such as Ben Howard. These influences are clear in their covers and the music they write themselves, which have garnered lots of attention on the internet. “One thing we love though is playing a gig and from that we get say a few likes on Facebook and a message saying I really enjoyed your set or something similar. It’s awesome because we know that they have gone home, typed in Heronshaw to Facebook and liked the page,” says Arnold.

They recently released their first EP, ‘The Truth, It Hurts’, apparently an “interesting” experience: “It was exciting, nerve racking and tiring all in one. It’s an amazing experience hearing your own work develop in this way.” It’s a tremendous EP which shows their varied musical interests and just how talented they are. Their YouTube page is also fizzing with excitement with their covers and new music gaining lots of coverage and views. Their focus on one take live performance has paid off, with their videos totting up views and fans.

Other than recording, they’ve been busy performing. They launched the EP at Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower, 100m about ground, something the band say might be their biggest achievement yet. They’ve done numerous gigs and are planning more HD videos for YouTube in the coming months. Expect covers of Ben Howard, Kodaline, Bastille and many more very soon. You can also see them this summer, with various dates of gigs planned in the upcoming months in London, Hayling, Swanmore and Portsmouth.

So what’s next for Heronshaw? “In the short term over Summer we’re going to be recording another batch of original tracks (around 6) to add to our collection of songs now totalling around 20,” says drummer Matthew Arnold, “We’re also going to be recording loads of videos for YouTube so you can expect a few uploads over Summer. We’re then going to be learning some more covers for our live set which is always fun as we put our little twist on things. In the long term, we’re going to be writing around 30-40 tracks before we start thinking of an album and before that we will most likely do a second EP in the studio. It’s during this time that we will be approaching management and labels. That will happen within the next 2 years most likely. We’re going to be really busy gigging, but the main focuses for us are videos, originals and covers for gigs and we’re really excited about it.” This year they look to push into new territory with their new repertoire. Their EP is available now on their website and this is really one band to watch. 2013 looks likely to propel them even further.

Article: Nicholas Hyder