Smartphones

veterinaryItinerant brick kiln workers use WhatsApp to stay in touch.

Donkey owner-drivers working in the brick kilns of Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh are paid every Friday, but receive a lump sum payment at the end of the brick-making season. This allows them to buy Indian-made smartphones costing about 5,000 Rupees each.

Most donkey owners are itinerant and may be away from their home villages for many months at a time. The phones allow them to stay in touch, both with family members, and friends working in other kilns. They’re also a status symbol for the young. Using WhatsApp is cheap and may be a spur to literacy for a largely unschooled workforce.
Mobile phones, India, ©Crispin Hughes
Mobile phones, India, ©Crispin HughesMadhupur Village near Agra, Uttar Pradesh. Virat (13) who likes to be known as ‘Brad’ with his smartphone. He good-naturedly photographs every move the UK photographer makes.

Mobile phones, India, ©Crispin Hughes
M.A Ambabur Kiln, Ahmedabad. 
Donkey owners Ranjit, Dayaji and Chaman with their smartphones. Dayaji: ‘I use it for songs and music and to stay in touch using WhatsApp’

Mobile phones, India, ©Crispin HughesNN Kiln, Mehsana District, Gujarat. Donkey owner Vishnu uses his smartphone to get veterinary advice.

Mobile phones, India, ©Crispin HughesMadhupur Village near Agra, Uttar Pradesh. Chotu (18) with his prized possessions.

Through Positive Eyes Haiti

Wilder-6Last December I returned from helping to run the Haiti chapter of this international arts and advocacy project, in which HIV+ve participants photograph their lives. I teach photography and co-edit the work with the participants, alongside Gideon Mendel. This is the eighth city the project has worked in to challenge the stigma of HIV.

Here’s a preview of some of the work which will be appearing on the project website: http://throughpositiveeyes.org/ Continue reading

Animal traction

In the UK animal traction and haulage are things of the past – relegated to the heritage industry. In India draft animals play a key role in the modern economy. Aside from their use in agriculture, donkeys and mules are essential to the construction industry. The livelihoods of many thousands of marginalised families are reliant on the welfare and efficient functioning of their teams of donkeys and mules. These photo stories take a look at this industry.

Guargaon, a city outside Delhi, India, is undergoing a boom in construction fuelled by the new Metro link and Delhi’s need for young professionals.

Brick Story

Donkeys work in Indian brick kilns. © Crispin HughesIndia is experiencing a building boom to cope with its rapid urbanisation. Thousands of concrete-frame high rise blocks, with brick infill, can be seen rising up around Delhi and Mumbai. Almost every one of the millions of bricks involved has been transported by donkey or mule at the brick kilns where they are made. So how does it work? Continue reading

Arjun, brick kiln boy

Arjun, brick kiln boy, Gujarat, India. © Crispin Hughes
This is Arjun, he is a 12 year old boy working as a donkey driver in the MA Ambabpur brick kiln near Ahmedabad in Gujarat, India. This story will tell you about how he spends his day. Continue reading

Donkey Cam

Donkey cam. Donkeys at work in brick kiln. Gujarat, India. © Crispin Hughes

Donkeys have a blind spot immediately in front of them, but can see right round to their hind legs – though not behind their head.

Simply mounting a wide angle camera on a donkey’s head won’t tell us how a donkey really ‘sees’ the world. But it can tell us something about its working life. Its movements, its height, the rhythm of its work, how it directs its attention and perhaps how it relates to people and other donkeys.

This donkey shot 2,700 photographs over a 45 minute period as it went about its repetitive work at a brick kiln in Gujarat, India. This selection of its work will tell you as much about what I think makes an interesting photograph as it does about donkey consciousness. But that would apply if I had shot them myself. Continue reading

Bedrooms

Khesikala village 1 km from Faridabad KSN brick kiln near Delhi, India. 
Brick kiln carter Rohtas (24) with his two year old stallion horse at his stable in the village. It is unusual to see horses working in brick kilns.
 © Crispin HughesThis is a male horse with his owner Rohtas. They work in a brick kiln. They both live in a house with plastered and painted walls and electric light. Continue reading

Modern India is built on the backs of donkeys

Gurgaon, a city outside Delhi, India, is undergoing a boom in construction fuelled by the new Metro link and Delhi’s need for young professionals. Almost every brick in the country has been carried by donkeys during its manufacture. In Gurgaon they also work in lieu of cranes.Modern India is built on the backs of donkeys. Guargaon, a city outside Delhi, India, is undergoing a boom in construction fuelled by the new Metro link and Delhi’s need for young professionals. Continue reading

Two Funerals

_MG_4142 _MG_3304 The changing culture of the East End seen through the prism of the traditional cockney funeral. Commissioned by The Economist, I photographed two contrasting funerals – a Ghanaian mother and an old school Kray era gangster. Both conducted by traditional funeral directors T Cribb, who are successfully morphing and cross-pollinating their funerals to suit the immigrant populations of the East End. To find out more read the Economist’s feature ‘Buried Like Kings’Continue reading

Through Positive Eyes in Bangkok

I’ve just returned from helping to run the Thai chapter of this international arts and advocacy project, in which HIV+ve participants photograph their lives. This is the seventh city the project has worked in to challenge the stigma of HIV.

Here’s a preview of some of the work which will be appearing on the project website: http://throughpositiveeyes.org/

Jo
‘Remorseless’ is the word that comes to mind looking through Jo’s 2500 images. His documentary self-portraits are unflinching but full of humour and style.

Through Positive Eyes Bangkok

Jo. Through Positive Eyes, Bangkok Jo. Through Positive Eyes, Bangkok Jo. Through Positive Eyes, Bangkok Jo. Through Positive Eyes, Bangkok Jo. Through Positive Eyes, Bangkok

Continue reading

Within and Without the State

South Sudan is the world’s youngest country, founded in 2011 in the wake of decades of war. I visited with Oxfam to photograph their programme ‘Within and Without the State’, that supports people in holding their rulers to account without confrontation.
NGOs use a lot of buzzwords to describe relationships between people and their governments. But how do you point a camera at buzzwords?

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Governance

  Continue reading

A complicated story about donkeys and people

Many NGOs develop problematic ‘mission creep’ as they attempt to burrow down and address the causes – rather than just the symptoms – of the problems they were set up to tackle.

A case study from the work supported by the Donkey Sanctuary in Romania lays bare the dilemma; sticking to a clear mission can be equally troubling.

Donkey Sanctuary, Romania. Liviu lived in this hole in the ground

Liviu used to live under some planks in this hole in the ground in a village near Cernavoda, Romania. Continue reading

A simple story about donkeys and people

With thanks to Mwende, Beth, Lydia, Jadida & The Donkey Sanctuary

Aid policy and interventions can raise very complex issues but in drought ridden Mwingi in NE Kenya the role of donkeys is really very simple. Without donkeys, people and their livestock cannot survive.

Donkeys form the vital final link in the distribution of water, food, firewood, fertiliser, grain and market goods.

Mwende holding the skull of Mutawr

This is Mwende holding the skull of Mutawr one of the nine cattle and ten goats she lost in the drought of 2009.

 

_MG_7561This cow is Kanini, Mutawr’s sister.

 

_MG_7351Kanini is alive because this donkey has been bringing her water. Continue reading

Through Positive Eyes in Mumbai

I’ve just returned from helping to run the India chapter of this international project in which HIV+ve participants photograph their lives.

Look out for the full stories on the project website: http://throughpositiveeyes.org/

Anthony

One of 14 HIV+ve participants, Anthony rendered his life story in a series of paper cut-out shadow photographs. Working until four in the morning over many nights and using just paper and a torch he has taken photography right back to its origins by fixing a shadow cast upon a sheet of paper. His images have the directness of photograms and produce a compellingly parred down narrative of survival.

 

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Dolly

Visiting her one room home I was particularly taken by the screen around her shrine. She told me it was there to avoid offending passing Muslim neighbours in the busy alley outside. This sparked a whole discussion about how she navigates her multiple identities as a man, a woman and as a Hindu and a Muslim while remaining within society and her community.

She acts these out for us in a documentary performance which is intimate and confident but without histrionics or vanity.

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Continue reading

Unquiet Thames

‘Allied to the bottom of the river rather than the surface, by reason of the slime and ooze with which it was covered, and its sodden state, this boat and the two figures in it obviously were doing something that they often did, and were seeking what they often sought.
But, it happened now, that a slant of light from the setting sun glanced into the bottom of the boat, and, touching a rotten stain there which bore some resemblance to the outline of a muffled human form, coloured it as though with diluted blood.’
Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend

Stew Lane from Unquiet Thames show


In 2006 this exhibition of 2.5 metre wide panoramic images was exhibited at the Museum of London in Docklands with a soundtrack by Susi Arnott. While making the work I was thinking as much about Dickens, Melville and Poe as about climate change but as rising sea levels have become a more urgent concern the images have gathered a renewed interest. Panos Pictures are currently running the work as one of their stories:
http://www.panos.co.uk/stories/2-13-1494-1988/Crispin-Hughes/Unquiet-Thames/

 

Through Positive Eyes – HIV in Washington DC

Ericka HIV

I’ve just returned from helping to run the latest round of this international project in which HIV+ve participants photograph their lives.

Around the world—in half a dozen countries, on five continents—HIV-positive people open their lives and share their stories. Through their own photographs, in their own voices, they teach the importance of compassion and the power of living a positive life. I run the photo-workshops on this project which is directed by photographer Gideon Mendel and Professor David Gere with a team from UCLA.

Silver Photogram Workshop

Visitors could make images using what they had in their pockets, or had brought along especially, but the team brought objects along too.

Susi Arnott

Susi Arnott

Photograms have an interesting history as well as chemistry. Read our information sheet here: Photograms History Chemistry Art

 

Donkeys in Ethiopia

‘A woman without a donkey – is a donkey’  Ethiopian saying

There are 6.2 million working donkeys in Ethiopia. When they are fit and healthy they carry water to villages and goods to market. In both rural and urban areas they form the backbone of the local transport and haulage system and provide an income for the poorest families. If they become sick or injured then the work of carrying water and heavy loads to market will usually fall to women. The welfare of donkeys can be a matter of life and death.

Soguba donkey clinic, Ethiopia

Donkeys and ‘resilience’

‘Resilience’ is the latest buzzword in social, environmental and international development circles. Donkeys are known for their physical resilience in the face of drought and abuse by humans but they can also help women’s resilience in poor communities.

Tumme Konton, her husband Sisay and their children live in a tiny settlement called Adankonsole, near the small market town of Soguba, not far from the Kenyan border in Ethiopia.

Although she has no running water, sanitation or electricity, she would not think of herself as poor – in fact she has some status in her community. She has a good stock of animals, including a donkey, which enables her to provide for her family. The Donkey Sanctuary are using this simple story to illustrate the importance of their work in Ethiopia to the lives of people as well as animals.

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 Tumme and her family get up shortly before dawn, at about 5.30am, to milk their small herd of cattle and camels.

_MG_1140_MG_1130The family need water; next job is to fetch this with the help of the family’s donkey, Bukke.

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Back home, the water containers are taken off and milk containers loaded onto his back. Bukke must now carry the camel and cow’s milk to the trading point on the highway at Soguba, three kilometres away.
The family and their donkeys walk the three kilometres to Soguba. Bukke knows the way and doesn’t need to be led. He breaks into a trot for the last part of the journey.

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Once at Soguba, Tumme and the other local women producers decant their milk into yet other containers for a trader to transport them by bus. Each container has been permanently marked to show who has supplied the milk; a way of accounting, without demanding literacy.

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Each day the trader transports hundreds of litres of milk to Kenya on the roof of the bus. The following day he pays the women producers, returns their empty, marked containers and collects the next load of milk.

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_MG_1568Bukke’s working day is over. 
The family take him home and rest him.

Having a healthy donkey makes it possible for Tumme, and the other women, to make an income and take part directly in an international market for their produce.
Tumme jokes that Bukke’s importance in the family is somewhere between that of her husband and her children.

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