Hooray for Cricklewood! (not Hollywood)

Posted on October 7, 2018 by Admin under HISTORY, SHOWBIZ
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The studio site was a former aircraft factory

In 1912 the Handley Page Company moved from Barking in Essex and established an aircraft factory at Cricklewood in north London where aircraft were built and flown from the company’s adjacent air field.

Opening caption for Stoll Pictures Productions

After World War 1 the factory was mothballed until Stoll Picture Productions, run by the theatre impresario Sir Oswald Stoll, took over the disused aircraft factory and converted it to become the largest film studio in Britain.

Stoll Pictures Productions site drawing

Stoll Pictures Productions camera crew with a blimped Mitchell 35mm camera

From the studio plan it would seem to be two studios, a small one and a very long one which was built for an aircraft production line. But with silent film, several films could be made simultaneously in the long studio as sound was not a problem.

Stoll Theatre, Kingsway

The photos in this blog are mostly from a collection my father passed on to me so I am assuming that they are from Stoll Picture Productions and were left somewhere in the Stoll Theatre in Kingsway which my father was manager of in the early 1950s.

Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh at their home in Notley Abbey, Thame

After the last production in 1956, Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh in Shakespeare’s ‘Titus Andronicus, who then held a party for cast and crew at their Notley Abbey home, my father had the unhappy job of closing it down and getting it ready for demolition.

The door from the Stoll Theatre in Palmers Green

But he salvaged a door from the Grand Circle bar and got a chippie, from the Theatre Royal Drury Lane which he then managed, to install it as the front door to our home in Palmers Green, it is still there today.

A scene from a Stoll Pictures Production

The number of silent films that Stoll Pictures made was prodigious and in 1920 Sir Oswald Stoll bought the rights to produce films based on Sherlock Holmes tales from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

A scene from a Stoll Pictures Production, possibly a Sherlock Holmes film

So from 1921 on, Stoll Pictures produced a series of silent black-and-white films based on Sherlock Holmes stories. Forty-five short films and two feature-length films were produced featuring Eille Norwood in the role of Holmes and Hubert Willis as Dr. Watson. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself praised Norwood’s performance in the film role of his creation.

In the 1930s, the studio had been slow to adopt sound after the first talkie in 1928, ‘The Jazz Singer’ starring Al Jolson.

Two Stoll Pictures Productions actors

A scene from a Stoll Pictures Production

It was mainly used by independent producers and short films, but later in the decade it was used by Butcher’s to make ‘Old Mother Riley’ and John Baxter made several films there from the mid ’30s.

A scene from a Stoll Pictures Production

Stoll Pictures Productions actress’s

Sir Oswald Stoll himself, a cold and formal Australian, was an enthusiastic supporter of the British film industry but never a creative producer in the American style which must have held the company back from what it could have achieved with someone more charismatic and dynamic.

Stoll Pictures Productions actors

A scene from a Stoll Pictures Production

In 1938, just prior to World War 2 and after 18 years of picture production, Stoll’s Cricklewood Studios were sold to the aviation company Hawker-Siddeley to manufacture aircraft again.

Site of Stoll Picture Studios in Temple Road, Cricklewood, now a Matalan store

It ended trading in 1948 and the studio building remained intact until the 1960s when it was demolished. Today the site of what had been Britain’s largest film studio is now occupied by a Matalan store.

A scene from a Stoll Pictures Production

My feeling is that the ‘star’ system, so prevalent in Hollywood, was not pursued so much here owing to lack of charismatic people running the film business and Cricklewood was the epitome of this. It could have been much more.

If anyone can identify these actors in the photos I’d be very happy to know who they are!

A scene from a Stoll Pictures Production

“Keep changing, Connect with everything, Continue forever”

Posted on October 1, 2018 by Admin under ART, HISTORY
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The Mitsubishi Japanese Galleries at the British Museum reopened on 27 September. They are situated in what was described as a ‘loft conversion’, albeit a rather upmarket one, and they have been closed for nine months being refurbished. Both the floor and ceiling have been replaced with pine and cherry wood respectively and much attention was paid to the acoustics so as to lessen the resonance effect which works well.

Japanese Gallery at the British Museum

The lighting has also been improved (apparently), although I didn’t think it was that good. Museums are a bit overcautious about light levels and the type of lights used as it is only part of the visible spectrum emitting from a light that can cause damage, and that can be filtered out. I suspect there are proper museum grade lamps that already do this.

Time Waterfall – Panel #8 Blue by Miyajima Tatsuo

Fortunately, the displays themselves are great and ranged from an exhibit by Miyajima Matsuo’s Time Waterfall, a cascade of numbers in LED lights, round through the centuries ending up with a traditional teahouse for the tea ceremony which is a permanent feature.

Bunraku puppets, 20th century

The display of Bunraku puppets I enjoyed, they are operated by three people. it made me wonder if Jim Henson used knowledge of this when he created Kermit and the other characters in ‘The ‘Muppet Show’, which I worked on, and performed in, 40 years ago at ATV Elstree. Just conjecture, but as some Muppets were operated by three people, I would be surprised if he hadn’t. Jim was a clever and dedicated man.

Myself and camera crew operating Muppets on The Muppet Show at ATV Elstree

I was fortunate enough to meet a Living National Treasure, Murose Kazumi born in 1950, who is a master craftsman in lacquer.

Murose Kazumi, a Living National Treasure of Japan

His work on display is a large, round lacquer box showing a central chrysanthemum on the lid, the emblem of the Emperor in Japan. It took three years to make; two years for the core, and one year to make the decoration. He also restores antique artefacts together with his son who also works with his him in their Tokyo workshop.

Massive Flower laquer box by Murose Kazumi

He was interviewed by a young reporter and camerawoman working for a major TV company in Japan, TV Asahi. With my years as a television cameraman and lighting director, I was dismayed that there was no on-camera light to lift the harsh shadows; the pictures could not look good. With the low budgets that TV companies have, nothing much would be done in post-production. Many UK television companies can be similar, slapdash work being acceptable, a main reason I quit the business in 1992.

Murose Kazumi being interviewed by Ashai TV

Anyone interested in Japanese culture and history should go and see this exhibition as it is a very good display of just some of the things within the British Museum collection.

Evening snow on the Hira Ridge by Hiroshige, 1814

Stirrups made in the 1600s

All museums and galleries have a large percentage of their exhibits stashed away somewhere because they don’t have space to show everything. But the choice that is on display echoes Japan through the centuries very well indeed.

Articulated Snake in metal by Myochin Muniyoshi, 1850s

Teahouse at the British Museum

“Keep changing, Connect with everything, Continue forever” is in the Mitsubishi Japanese Galleries at the British Museum.

(c) All images and text – Jeremy Hoare

1 October 2018

TPOTY Judge – Travel Photographer Of The Year

Posted on September 21, 2018 by Admin under RED RUM, TRAVEL
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Words by Karen Coe of TPOTY;

MEET THE TPOTY JUDGES – Part 5. Photographer & TV cameraman Jeremy Hoare has been a judge of Travel Photographer of the Year since the awards began in 2003. He recently hit the national newspapers in the UK with his latest book, which contains previously unseen photographs that he had taken in the 1970s of one of the world’s most legendary racehorses, Red Rum.

Coming from a showbiz family, and after a career as a television cameraman, Jeremy Hoare now shoots mainly stills so the merging of digital stills and HD video means he can combine them. One video, ‘Lost Love’, was screened at film festivals in six countries during 2015.

During his years in television, Jeremy worked with many stars of national and international repute. Recently he has been the main cameraman on video shoots of the classical ballets Sleeping Beauty, Peter Pan, Coppelia and Don Quixote in Kyoto, Japan.

With Japan having been the main focus for his photography for many years, he has a large collection of images so has created an online gallery kyotophotogallery.com

“What I look for in any image is a sense of involvement, I want to see and feel the story in a single frame. Studying paintings by artists such as Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Turner and Cezanne can help release creativity by learning about composition and lighting.”

MEET ALL THE TPOTY JUDGES HERE: https://www.tpoty.com/2018-competition/judging/judges/

Being a Professional Photographer

Posted on September 8, 2018 by Admin under TRAVEL
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Operating a Phillips LDK5 on Family Fortunes at ATV Elstree

I never had formal training in photography although I’ve certainly nothing against it, for many it is a great way to start. Instead I learnt the business of telling a story with a camera from many years being a UK network television cameraman, mostly in studios on entertainment and drama for international audiences.

Pinhole camera image of Cumberland Terrace, London

That, and the willingness to make many experiments with all types of photography (a lot which were dreadful failures) taught me about translating what I visualised in my mind into a tangible image for others to see as my interpretation.

Bank of England and passing bus

I still take pictures that I have no real idea if they will work or not, but I never let the opportunity to take them go past. Life is full of so many missed opportunities but with photography it is unnecessary for just the sake of a few frames which costs nothing, so I have no hesitation taking pictures at the extremes of the technology.

Electioneering at night in Taichung, Taiwan

I’ll take pictures by streetlight which looks grainy at a high ISO but that can be an asset and add atmosphere to the right story.

Welder at China Shipbuilding in Kaohsiung, Taiwan

One thing that usually makes for good pictures is to keep on shooting when amateurs put their cameras away thinking it’s too dark for proper photography, or if not corrected in the camera at the time will probably be awful. Phones can shoot in most light situations but they are limited in the way images can be processed, which might be okay for internet use but usually not prints, ones that I would want to exhibit anyway.

Butcher’s shop in Hong Hong at dusk with mixed lighting, daylight, fluorescent and tungsten

For any photographer light then can be very interesting and shooting in mixed lighting (daylight, tungsten, fluorescent) even more so. Always shoot, even when you seemingly have little hope of success, it might work.

Maiko (apprentice geisha) in Gion, Kyoto, Japan

I have been in Japan many times and invariably take numerous frames in mixed light handheld between 1/15 to 1 second on a 50mm f1.4 as it is the fastest lens I have. If I take several frames then one will be sharp, if that’s the story, but often it isn’t.

Twilight hour with a woman leaving the water in Rarotonga, Cook Islands

The most magical time of day to take photos is just after the sun has gone down and while there is still enough light in the sky to shoot by, the ‘twilight hour’. Actually, an hour is just a name because it doesn’t last that long, especially in the tropics when it seems to get dark within minutes of the sun setting.

Hollywood lighting workshop to recreate the image of Marilyn Monroe in the book with Kerry Christiani 

An excellent way to learn about how to be good with a camera is to study and analyse not only the work of the acknowledged experts of photography but also to look at old master paintings in art galleries or inline for both composition and lighting.

Kerry Christiani in classic Hollywood style recreating a portrait of Marilyn Monroe

If I had to name a speciality it would be taking portraits in the classic 1930s Hollywood style using tungsten lights, never flash.

Part of the fabulous art collection at Kenwood House, Hampstead, London

I have taught photography and TV camera and lighting techniques in several countries besides the UK; Fiji, Brazil, Philippines and Australia.
When teaching television lighting techniques to students, I tell them that Caravaggio and Rembrandt would have been great television lighting directors, they were just a few hundred years ahead of their time. That also applies to still photography; you can learn a lot from old master paintings!

Girl and baby in Hunga, Vava’u, Tonga

So whether you have had formal training or otherwise, just keep shooting and learning, you’ll never stop. A professional always has to come back with results; excuses are not acceptable and will inevitably lead to a short career.

Good luck!

 

The Camden arts Centre

Posted on September 3, 2018 by Admin under ART
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Camden Arts Centre

Back in the early 1980s I did a silkscreen printing course at Camden arts Centre, then I went again as a visitor a few times in from the mid 90s up to several years ago and the place was much the same.
But a visit the other day had me confused because it was totally different as it has been extended at the back to form two lovely new galleries with a revamped café and a bookshop.

Yuko Mohri – Voluta at Camden Arts Centre

In the main gallery with its high vaulted ceiling there was work by Japanese artist Yuko Mohri, ‘Voluta’, whose audio-spatial composition reveals the interconnectedness of man-made and natural processes, apparently.

Yuko Mohri – Voluta at Camden Arts Centre

This is not really my thing, as clever and artistic as it may be, but what really got me was some fish in a little tank where the water was very green and really should have been changed.

Peter Fraser – Mathematics at Camden Arts Centre

In galleries 1 and 2 was an exhibition by Peter Fraser, ‘Mathematics’, a photographer whose work I’ve never seen. But photography I can’t recall seeing there on previous visits so it was quite a revelation to see some on the walls.

Peter Fraser – Mathematics at Camden Arts Centre

Reflecting on the idea that time, space, and everything within it, can be described mathematically; her brings together a series of photographs of seemingly disparate and unrelated objects and encounters – including still lifes, landscapes and portraiture.

Peter Fraser – Mathematics at Camden Arts Centre

Maybe, but many of them were not particularly good photography to me and I’m always baffled by any artist/photographer who can’t be bothered to title their work. However it redeemed itself for me by showing a few really lovely works, and I guess that’s as good as it would get for any artist; I know the feeling well, some you win some you don’t.

Peter Fraser – Mathematics at Camden Arts Centre

As it was a quiet time, a lovely Italian volunteer lady by the name of Sara made it a really nice visit to this gallery as she walked around with me and we just talked about it. I told her about the traditional composition rule of thirds which first she didn’t understand but as soon as I pointed it out on a couple of the pictures and where it was absent on others she then understood completely.

Camden Arts Centre cafe garden

The visit was enhanced by the café, and as it was a glorious day, sitting outside in the interesting sloping garden with a cup of tea, it could have been anywhere but the roar of the traffic was always there.

Camden Arts Centre bookshop

This is somewhere I will visit again now that photography is on show; I shall see what else they put on as photography exhibitions always interest me being one myself. I can learn from anybody, and do, I know I’ll never stop learning.

All in all, some nice spacious galleries and a very good place to view interesting exhibitions and have a tea/coffee in a pleasant garden on the corner of Finchley Road and Arkwright Road.

Camden Arts Centre

Cold Fish and Hot Frocks in Brixton Market

Posted on August 25, 2018 by Admin under TRAVEL
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Fish stall in Brixton Market

Brixton is for me one of those places I’ve only been to a couple of times but through many more back in my teenage years on my way to Brighton riding my James Captain 200 cc motorbike.

Wigs and headgear for all tastes in Brixton Market

At the southern end of the tube’s Victoria Line, the market is just around the corner from the exit and easy to find. As soon as I entered the covered alleyways and streets it comprises of I was taken back to other worlds. The aromas could have been from many South East Asian countries I’ve known but it was much more Afro Caribbean by virtue of the local people.

Women chatting at Brixton Market fruit and veg shop

The market comprises around 80 street traders selling all manner of things and with a huge variety of fish, fruit and vegetables on stalls looking so fresh and inviting, not like the tired looking versions covered in shrink-wrapped plastic in supermarkets we have got so used to.

Japanese okonomiyaki restaurant in Brixton Market

Being a very multi-cultural area, the cafes and bijou restaurants offer a wide range of catering for many tastes.

Charlie Chaplin poster outside The Ritzy Cinema in Coldharbour Lane Brixton

When you tire of the colours, aromas and sights of the market, head over to Bookmongers in Coldharbour Lane next to the Ritzy Cinema which has great posters of film stars adorning the wall, including one of Charlie Chaplin who was born not far from here in East Street in 1889.

Bookmongers secondhand bookshop in Coldharbour Lane, Brixton

Bookmongers is a wonderful second-hand bookshop is where you can spend some time to recover your calm after the sights, sounds and aromas of the market before heading back home.

Colourful frocks in Brixton Market

Brixton Market is a good place to witness the sights and feel the spirit of London today in all its multi-racial ethnic diversity, something that makes it the best city in the world bar none.

The Postal Museum in London

Posted on August 15, 2018 by Admin under HISTORY, TRAVEL
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Posters on a wall at the Postal Museum

Around the age of ten years old, my father got me interested in stamp collecting, something he had done for many years. I loved looking at the tiny bits of paper from all over the world as I stuck them into my album, trying to imagine what the countries were really like. Later on, this curiosity would lead me to travel to many countries to find out if they lived up to my boyhood expectations.

A Penny Black and a Tuppenny Blue in my collection

After collecting for a while I focussed on Great Britain only as we were the first country to use postage stamps thanks to Sir Roland Hill in 1840. The iconic Penny Black was printed on unperforated sheets so had to be cut into individual stamps at Post Offices with scissors. But it lasted less than a year as the red rubber stamp marks on top to signify it had been used were hard to see. So not long after, it was followed by the Penny Red then the Tuppenny Blue as their popularity grew and they used black to mark them which was easier to see. I am fortunate that I have copies of each of these, albeit not of good enough quality to be of any great value.

Sheet of Penny Blacks

The Postal Museum has a nearly complete sheet of Penny Blacks amongst its treasures I found out on my recent visit there. This small and well laid out museum is tucked away near the main Mount Pleasant sorting office in London and well worth a visit, especially if you have kids as there are many interesting things to keep them interested and amused by presenting a history of post in a very visual and interactive way.

Telegram boy’s motorbike

Some old post office Royal Mail vehicles are on display such as the telegram boy’s motorbike which was in its day a quick way of getting messages around. Sadly, during wartime these boys were nicknamed the ‘Angels of Death’ as they brought telegrams informing that sons or husbands were missing or killed in action.

Arnold Machin plaster for the 1967 stamps

In 1965 Arnold Machin, an artist you might not have heard of, was commissioned to create the plaster of The Queen’s head which was been used on stamps from 1967 so everyone knows his work without realising it.

Mail Rail train and display at a stop en route

The highlight of the museum is the underground railway, Mail Rail, which is narrow gauge and was driverless when operated from 1927 until 2003. Now, with visitors squeezed into tiny carriages and the perspex door closed, it rattles along the tunnels, stopping at key points where audio visual displays are shown which are very effective and well done.

Rattling though the tunnel on the Mail Rail

You can rest assured, they now have a driver! But I did wonder that with the traffic congestion on London’s roads today being so heavy, if it might be a good idea if the railway reverted to its original use – but this is most unlikely to happen.
When you have done the museum and the train ride, a gift shop and cafe make a nice place to relax – all in all a good place to visit.

As for my travels because of stamps;

Yasaka Shrine gateway in Gion in Kyoto Japan

Japan – they engaged me enough to visit the country which I fell in love with and has been a main focus of my life for over 30 years, mainly because my partner comes from Kyoto.

Pat Matheson in her dingy, Vava’u, Tonga

Tonga – the magic of this South Pacific country was another place I had to visit and it exceeded all my expectations thanks to the warmth of the people and a great friend I made there, the American writer Pat Matheson in Vava’u.

So stamps did much more for me than just bringing and sending letters, they inspired me to go around the world, something I am very pleased to have done.

The Postal Museum is at 15-20 Phoenix Pl, London WC1X 0DA

‘Missing Believed Wiped’

Posted on August 12, 2018 by Admin under SHOWBIZ
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A great day of showbiz at BFI on the South Bank for the Kaleidoscope 30 Years ‘Missing Believed Wiped’ event where I met many people, some from the past, some not.

– David Hamilton; we hadn’t met for about 60 years when we were both post boys at ATV Kingsway.

– Abagail Williams; the adopted daughter of Bob Monkhouse who was such a nice man to work with on Family Fortunes, Bonkers, Golden Shot, Celebrity Squares etc.

– Gail Renard; Bafta award-winning writer and a scriptwriter of ATV’s Pipkins, a show when we would let a camera assistant to actually operate a camera for the first time.

– John Henshall; the saviour of a videotape of Top of The Pops with David Bowie singing The Jean Genie, which the BBC had wiped to save money.

– Madeleine Smith; a Bond Girl in the 1973 Live and let Die with Roger Moore, such a lovely lady who knows all about London bus routes.

– Nigel Plaskitt; puppeteer of Hartley Hare on Pipkins, he became a Muppeteer and worked on Central Television’s Spitting Image.

Thanks to Chris Perry and Kaleidoscope for a great day!

https://www.tvbrain.info/

 

Lesley Downer – “When East and West Collided”

Posted on August 1, 2018 by Admin under ART, HISTORY
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At UCL – University College London – London’s leading multidisciplinary university, with 11000 staff and 35000 students, author, novelist and journalist Lesley Downer gave a brilliant and spirited talk, “When East and West Collided”, on the 150 Year Anniversary of Meiji Restoration to an attentive audience in spite of the sauna like heat in the room. She told the story as only a writer can of Japan having to accept a complete change of life after being a closed country for 200 years.

There were also some students from Kagoshima High School who several gave short speeches about the delights of Kagoshima for visitors. Having been there myself I know they are right. But what an experience for them, they will be telling their grandchildren about speaking in such an illustrious educational place in the Central London.

Lesley gave a very spirited talk which was well received in the Gustave Tuck Theatre at UCL, as would be expected as her mother was Chinese and her father a professor of Chinese so she grew up in a house full of books on Asia. But she ended up almost by accident in Japan, became fascinated by the country, its culture and its people.

She lived in Japan on and off for some 15 years and has written many books both non-fiction and more recently fiction about Japan, the most recent being ‘The Shogun’s Queen’ which has had wonderful reviews.

The Shogun’s Queen by Lesley Downer

Travel Photo Tips – Light

Posted on July 23, 2018 by Admin under TRAVEL
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Atkinson Church in New Hampshire, USA

Light plays such a crucial role in all photography but with travel most photo buyers want ‘blue sky’ shots although in recent years atmosphere shots have become more acceptable. This often means waiting for either the sun to come out behind cloud or later in the day at sunset for it to slowly sink behind a great foreground. This can seem a bit pointless and a waste of time to non-photographer partners which can lead to friction so take a bit of time to educate them into exactly what you are doing and why.

Girl coming out of water in Aitutaki, Cook Islands

For example, waiting for a sunset to evolve over a time can be stressful if your partner really, really wants to go and have supper while you know the sunset can only get better, even when the sun has gone.

Sunset on a Cape Cod beach, USA

When going on location I always take a small kit to use in hotel rooms at night or when it’s raining. This comprises; flash with sync lead, small softbox, small lightweight stand and a 20 inch Lastolite reflector. That might seem a lot but not for any real photographer. Used with small still life subjects this enables me to shoot studio pictures anywhere and I have used it for portraits as well. It means also that I always have something to shoot. But being real life, things don’t always work out and on a shoot in Japan I ended up parted from this kit which as we were travelling light on a side trip, I’d left in the suitcase in another city hotel we would return to.

Lunchbox (Japanese bento) in Sendai, Japan

We were given some very attractive looking lunchboxes, too good to eat before shooting, so I had to improvise, and fast, Chizuko was hungry! One thing I did have was a metre square of non-reflective black cloth which can be a background to many subjects. The old fashioned business hotel we were in had all the basics so I got the coffee table and put the bedside 60 watt desk light over the top from behind on a chair. Then I used a newspaper taped up against the tripod legs to reflect fill from in front. Setting the White Balance to 3000K (or as close as goes) to correct the tungsten light, the pictures were a fraction warm in tone, easily corrected with minimal post production.

Police motorcyclist in Piccadilly Circus, London

A lot of photography is ‘thinking on your feet’ and with travel it is also ‘on the run’, always have the camera set to the conditions so you can take a picture within a couple of seconds from seeing it. Never be afraid to experiment, it will only be a few frames after all and it might just work. The lunchbox pictures have done well, and the contents tasted nice too!

Three women at Wadi Rum, Jordan

More blogs will follow on this important subject, telling the story with just one frame too, so keep watching.