Ilkley litfest: Tim Smith photographs Gujarat

This evening in an eerily deserted Ilkley I went to see Bradford-based photographer Tim Smith talk about his Gujarat project. I learnt a lot about the history and geography of that part of India, for instance I had no idea it was about the size of the UK (both in area and in population) or that more than half of British people with Indian backgrounds have their origins there. Interestingly there are specific localities connected, so that Gujaratis from Batley are predominantly connected to one part of Gujarat which is a different area from those who live in Bradford, different again from those in Leicester or Wembley.

Tim began his career in Bradford in the mid-eighties working with the Bradford Heritage Recording Unit (oral history and documentary photographs), and it was from the large numbers of migrants he photographed in Bradford’s mills that he eventually worked so much on documenting migration to Britain. As he said this evening, the textile work was the ‘pull factor’ that encouraged people to come to the UK, but he wanted to see the story from the other end. Hence he spent 2 months in Gujarat in 2014.

His style is photographing ‘ordinary people doing everyday things’ whether that’s in Bradford, Leicester, London or Surat. There was a nice symmetry to some of the pictures he showed: Indian restaurants in Bradford and English-style restaurants or food stalls in India; the interior of a church in Mumbai that could have been anywhere in England, and the interior of a mosque near Bradford that could have been India. One of my favourite pictures was a woman in a shalwar kameez playing cricket on a beach, which happened to be in India but could just as easily have been Blackpool.

Unfortunately an hour proved to be too short a time to fit everything in and sadly Tim had to rush through the last half-dozen photos, but it was an interesting evening with some wonderful photos and I’m sorry I missed the exhibition that arose from this trip (though there is of course a book).

The excitement of being noticed

Cheering as it is when your friends and family tell you how great you are (assuming they do), there’s nothing quite like praise from a total stranger to give you a warm glow. My friend D pointed out an online comment about a magazine he’d been in, which singles his story out – it seems to have perked up a dull day for him. I’m not writing as much again this week, finally getting round to putting more pictures on deviantART (if we’re being picky with the upper case), and so far as well as the loyal support from OneMonkey and LeMat, perfect strangers (some of them amazing photographers) have been liking my photos. Excuse me if I spend a bit more time over there.


I post an entry saying I should write more and pontificate less, then I’m reading random blog entries (obviously following my own advice here) and someone else has just posted an entry saying we should all be more inclined to sit back and let the muse find us instead of beavering away at wordcounts and getting into a routine. While I applaud this wholeheartedly, it’s not helping me stick to my resolve to do more writing. Undoubtedly, instead of closing the browser and attacking the serial novel (currently on chapter 42, my audience of one is on chapter 36 so I really need to speed up) I will now justify my lethargy and go stick some more photos on my new Deviant Art page. Ho hum.