Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Portraits

Please visit our website at www.bowater.fr to see more of our work. 
Most of our images are available for sale as prints/fine art prints, mostly as limited editions. 
Recently, most of our work has been on landscape subjects or similar and on our Papua New Guinea images.  For a long time we have been neglecting one of our first and most successful subjects  -  portraits.  Not formal portraits but people going about their everyday life or people we just happened to meet.  Apart from any other merit they may have, these pictures remind us of very pleasant and interesting times.  We are working our way slowly through our archive and most of the images that we have chosen to date have been from our various travels in Asia.  Of course the Papua New Guinea images also include a lot of portraits  -  but that's another story.  There are more of these portraits on our website in the 'People' gallery.
Young Balinese girl performing at a village ceremony. Ubud. Bali. 1972
Dancing master and pupil. Den Pasar. Bali. 1972
We were lucky to have been in Bali nearly 40 years ago.  It was not the frenetic place that it is now.  There was only one major hotel and we didn't stay in that but found a village chalet in Ubud.  The most lasting impression of Bali was the gentleness of the people and the high place that artistic expression took in their society.  Everyone danced, sang, played instruments and/or painted.  There was batik of a very high standard, wood carving and metal work, etc., etc. not created for tourists but created for the people themselves whose life seemed to be one long theatrical production.



We've both worked in China fairly frequently but always separately which may be why, despite finding China endlessly fascinating, we have never been able to love the place.  Most of our trips there were between 1985 and 2000.  We were struck by the variety of characters and racial types, especially in more remote places where the ubiquitous Han are the overwhelming majority.  Endlessly fascinating and often open and generous, the people could be very rewarding to meet but the system made life hard for us and undoubtedly a lot harder for them.  


 In the 1970s and '80s mainland Malaysia was a fun place to visit.  Probably more relaxing then than it is now.  The people were almost invariably friendly and approachable in a historical period which was perhaps the happiest time between independence and the present day.  The above portrait of a mother with her child at the window of their wooden house had nothing to do with a wonky camera angle  -  the house was actually like that.  It stood on short stilts at the edge of the sea on the north west coast and was quietly sinking into the water.  It didn't seem that anyone minded very much.
We've settled in France, much closer to our origins than Asia, but a lot of French customs are almost as foreign.  Most villages set aside space for Boules and Petanque players;  the games are obviously addictive.  
Having started our adult lives working in agriculture, we were surprised to see how much of their agricultural heritage the French have preserved.  Not to say that French agriculture is not efficient and up-to-date.  It is both.  But such useful traditions as transhumance are still alive and well.  We met a shepherd and his colleagues bringing their sheep back from summer pastures -  a 3-day hike over open country and quiet roads.  We were there at lunch time, which in France is excellent timing, and we were fed and wined by the shepherds at the side of the road.  The portrait below is of one of those shepherds with his favourite ram.
Amongst the gallery websites that we have looked at there are lots of portraits but few of children.  We're not sure why.  We have taken quite a few.


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