THE VIEW FROM THE SHARD: RENZO PIANO’S GLISTENING CIVIC MASTERPIECE BY MONALISA CHUKWUMA

THE VIEW FROM THE SHARD: RENZO PIANO’S GLISTENING CIVIC MASTERPIECE BY MONALISA CHUKWUMA

London is a city of inspiration and imagination. … The Shard was about the “intensification” of the city. I wanted to create a public space where people could visit the building to experience London in a different way and to feel that they have discovered the spirit of the building. … The higher up you go, so the functions change, and you need less floor space, until you get to the very top, and there, I just wanted the building to kind of mingle in the air. It’s important that it breathes up there – that it breathes in the clouds. RENZO PIANO, Pritzer Prize-winning Architect and The Shard Architect The Shard is Renzo Piano’s glistening masterpiece at London Bridge. The View from the Shard is breathtaking, spectacular and addictive. At 310 metres, the Shard is the tallest building in Western Europe and the second tallest building in Europe – Moscow Mercury City is the tallest at 338 metres. My first photographs of the Shard were taken at the nearby Great tower Street on my way to meet my photography student, Elizabeth, who chose the Shard for her third photography lesson with me. From the moment you enter the ground floor of the Shard, you know that you are in for a sensational experience. There are no time restrictions, so you can stay as long as you like. Our lesson was for three hours, so we had plenty of time to explore. External Portrait of the Shard: Photographed from Great Tower Street, London The corridor to the first of the super fast lifts is illuminated with televisual galleries featuring...
PHOTOGRAPHING THE PHOTOGRAPHER BY MONALISA CHUKWUMA

PHOTOGRAPHING THE PHOTOGRAPHER BY MONALISA CHUKWUMA

Great photographs are not taken, they’re given. FRED R. CONRAD Last week, I had a one to one with Bruce Smith, the talented and inspirational fashion photographer, whose 30 year career has given us some breathtaking images. Our day began with us photographing each other. The great thing for me about photographing another photographer is that there is understanding and immediate trust, which means that in seconds I am able to concentrate on photographing the connection, the feeling and the interior story, which are what I love about portraiture. I love it when there is an immediate connection between me and the sitter. It relaxes me and allows me to concentrate on the emotion. Photographing Bruce was a real delight. As his student, there was a moment of nerves at the beginning of the shoot. But looking through my shutter, he had a vulnerability that hit me between the eyes and gave me access to the real man.  From that moment, he was no longer Bruce Smith. He was a real man with great presence, who just happens to be a talented photographer, who just happens to be sitting for me, who just happens to be responding to my directions and who just happens to look amazing. So I let go of the nerves, and I allowed my eyes and my shutter to start telling my story. His expressions spoke volumes. His body language was warm. There was so much to translate and my eyes and my heart were in constant negotiation with my head about what I want to share with the viewer.  Bruce is very strong and determined...
JOHN STEZAKER, FALL XII AND FALL XIII, 1992: REVIEW BY MONALISA CHUKWUMA

JOHN STEZAKER, FALL XII AND FALL XIII, 1992: REVIEW BY MONALISA CHUKWUMA

The moment you recognise a face, it disrupts the picture. JOHN STEZAKER  Sensual, luminous and intimate are not words that I’d often use to describe the Fine Art Nudes of many contemporary male artists. So, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself using these words easily today to describe the impressive and innovative pair of nudes by last year’s winner of the Deutsche Börse prize, British conceptual artist and master of collage, John Stezaker, which are currently on display in an intimate room at the Contemporary Art Society, 59 Central Street, London, EC1V 3AF. The pair of images titled Fall XII and Fall XIII; both 1992, were bought for York Art Gallery through the Contemporary Art Society Acquisition Scheme, 2012, with support from the Art Fund and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. The images are displayed alongside a small selection of works from York’s collection, including two oil paintings by William Etty and a photographic emulsion on plywood by Helen Chadwick. John Stezaker’s images reflects a unique artistic purpose. John uses parts of two different pictures to create a collage that tells a unique story. These pair of images reflects his signature style and are inspired by Arthur Thomspson’s book, ‘Anatomy for Art Students.’ With fine Art nudes, my view is that less is always very much more. The nude as subject matter, is best translated or represented as nature intended, with minimal frippery. The great thing about John’s Fall XII and XIII is that there intimate scale and minimal production values allow the images to speak for themselves, immediately grabbing and holding there viewer’s attention. Irrespective of there modest dimensions,...
FALLING IN LOVE WITH MALLARDS AT GOLFE DE SAINTES MARIES, MONTPELLIER BY MONALISA

FALLING IN LOVE WITH MALLARDS AT GOLFE DE SAINTES MARIES, MONTPELLIER BY MONALISA

Golfe de  Saintes Maries in Montpellier is the home of thousands of pink flamingos and countless of other waterbirds. I was at Golfe de  Saintes Maries to photograph flamingos but subsequently fell in love and ended up photographing Mallards [Anas platyrhynchos], mainly the male mallard.  Please see below some of my photographs of the male mallard with his distinctive bottle-green head and the dull brown female. You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you’re finished, you’ll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird . . . So let’s look at the bird and see what it’s doing – that’s what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something. RICHARD P. FEYMAN    Be like the bird in flight  . . .  pausing a while on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, yet sings knowing yet, that she has wings. VICTOR MARIE HUGO Evening Flight   What I saw was just one eye; In the dawn as I was going:                                                                                                                                     A bird can carry all the sky; In that little button glowing. Never in my life I went; So deep into the firmament.  HAROLD MONRO      ...
FRANCE’S SEMI-WILD CAMARGUE HORSES BY MONALISA

FRANCE’S SEMI-WILD CAMARGUE HORSES BY MONALISA

I was born loving two things – beauty and strength. The horse is an animal that is beautiful, strong and powerful; and inspires me to have more freedom, grace and courage in my life.  A large semi-wild horse herd lives in La Cacharel, Montpellier. The following images are from my 4-day photography holiday in La Cacharel. Many moments of this experience were both exciting and inspiring, with a new challenge or surprise at every turn. My best surprise was falling in love with Mallards – very beautiful birds in Golfe de  Saintes Maries on my first day in Montpellier. [I will share some of my photographs of Mallards in a later blog.] However, my biggest challenge was photographing a Stallion and a Gelding in vicious wind on my third day. The wind was blowing so hard and spraying sand into every where; my eyes, my ears, mouth, etc. I had to stand with my legs spread out to brace myself from its power.  But no matter what challenge each moment brought, I was determined to embrace it and to enjoy the wonderful experience of photographing and spending time with new friends, the beautiful horses and their equally beautiful ‘Les Gardians’ – the gardians of the Camargue, whose paramount consideration was the well-being of the horses. At challenging moments, I kept reminding myself of a quote by Anne Bronte – But he who dares not grasp the thorn. Should never crave the rose.  Whatever the weather, the horses showed no sign of discomfort, for they are comfortable in that beautiful and brutal landscape in which they live. A landscape that was...
FRANCE’S CAMARGUE HORSES BY MONALISA

FRANCE’S CAMARGUE HORSES BY MONALISA

I have many passions. Photography – Guilty, Film and theatre – Guilty, Cognac – Very Guilty. However, my overriding passion is riding and horses and more increasingly – the horse. I am happy to say that I have returned to riding in the past few months. I’ve just returned from a 4 day photography holiday in Montpelier – France, photographing the semi-wild Camargue horses.  It was an amazing and challenging few days, with many moments of pure magic. Please see below a couple of photographs I took at La Cacharel. I will be publishing a selection of images I took at La Cacharel and Saintes Maries in a few days. In the meantime, I would like to thank TIM MANNAKEE for organising this wonderful photography holiday and for showing me how to go trigger happy with my camera. A million thanks also to GILLY MANNAKEE, for making sure I was up each morning to meet sunset, for the wonderful picnic and for all the French translations. Tim and Gilly – you will remain dear to me for the greater future.            ...
ARTIST IN TRAINING: MY FASHION NUDE PHOTOGRAPHY MASTER CLASS WITH BRUCE SMITH BY MONALISA

ARTIST IN TRAINING: MY FASHION NUDE PHOTOGRAPHY MASTER CLASS WITH BRUCE SMITH BY MONALISA

We all know what makes a good holiday – excellent food, beautiful accommodation in a great location shared with beautiful people. My 5-day masterclass with Bruce Smith at the Cote D’Azur, Nice had all these ingredients, but it wasn’t a holiday. I arrived at Nice airport at 8.30 p.m. in very good spirits helped by the bottle of Cognac I’d been drinking on my BMI flight, compliments of a very generous steward. I  was very pleased to see Bruce, who was picking me and another photographer up at the airport. And in a few moments, we were headed to out Villa, where over dinner, I met the other photographers on the training.  After plenty of food and wine, I headed up to my room, where I fell asleep reading a copy of ‘Loving Garbo’ by HUGO VICKERS. Please see below a selection of photographs I took during this amazing week followed by my diary of the week. All the photographs are of KATHERINE M. “The camera can represent flesh so superbly that, if I dared, I would never photograph a figure without asking that figure to take its clothes off”. GEORGE BENARD SHAW      “Because God created it, the human body can remain nude and uncovered and preserve its splendour and its beauty”. POPE JOHH PAUL II       “Art can never exist without naked beauty displayed”. WILLIAM BLAKE         “But for me, being naked out of doors and in the water is one of the best ways I have ever found to restore my sense of blissful innocence. It takes me back to that place of my almost...
A FASHION NUDE MASTERCLASS IN COTE D’AZUR WITH THE LEADING FASHION PHOTOGRAPHER – BRUCE SMITH

A FASHION NUDE MASTERCLASS IN COTE D’AZUR WITH THE LEADING FASHION PHOTOGRAPHER – BRUCE SMITH

I’ve just returned from a 6 day, 24/7 Fashion Nude Masterclass by one of the most talented Fashion photographers today – Bruce Smith, in Cote d’Azur, Nice. It was an amazing week. Please see below a photograph I took of the Divine KATHERINE M who was our model for this week. I will be publishing a selection of images I took in the 6 days and my diary of this outstanding experience in a few days.       In the meantime, I would love to thank BRUCE SMITH for sharing his world class knowledge on photography with us and for making this week unforgettable. I would also like to thank KATHERINE M – our model , OLGA ELITEE – our stylist and the other 4 photographers, who shared this wonderful experience with me.  Again this has strengthened my belief that collaboration is a valid practice for the successful creation of any body of art. Our work this week with the support of each other was outstanding. We were a very good team. Love, M...
A FINE ART WEDDING SHOOT AT ‘THE MALL’, LONDON BY MONALISA

A FINE ART WEDDING SHOOT AT ‘THE MALL’, LONDON BY MONALISA

The marriage of the exquisite ‘Swanlake’ dress by Amanda Wyatt, the sumptuous setting of Karen Brost Whyte’s house, so rich in charm and classical elegance and the stunning and adorable models was so breathtaking, magical and so pick-your-jaw-up-off-the-floor beautiful that I felt utterly enchanted, and found myself composing a Hollywood love story in my head during this shoot. There were moments during the shoot that I could hear the crescendo of Craig Armstrong’s score to Romeo and Juliet’s Balcony scene in my head. It was MAGICAL! The following pictures capture some of the wonderful moments from this magical day. “… No sooner met but they looked; no sooner looked but they loved; no sooner loved but they sighed; no sooner sighed but they asked one another the reason; no sooner knew the reason but they sought the remedy; and in these degrees have they made a pair of stairs to marriage” AS YOU LIKE IT – WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE   “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine …” SONG OF SOLOMON     A stunning wedding dress by AMANDA WYATT         I am totally in love with this romantic wedding dress by Amanda Wyatt. It’s called ‘Swanlake’. The only way to describe this stunning dress is to call it what it truly is – an exquisite work of art. This strapless, ivory tulle dress is made with over 1,600 hand-sewn tulle pieces to create its dramatic skirt. How much passion and work has gone into this unique piece!   “I will have poetry in my life. And adventure. And love. Love above all. No … not...

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