All rights reserved. No part of the materials including photographs or text may be copied, photocopied, reproduced, translated or reduced to any electronic medium or machine-readable form, in whole or in part, without my specific permission. Distribution for commercial purposes is prohibited. Work compiled and presented during an MA degree in Photography at Nottingham Trent University Copyright ÂŠ Alan Lodge 2015 Nottingham. UK
Alan Lodge Nottingham UK firstname.lastname@example.org http://alanlodge.co.uk
Alan Lodge comes from a free festival and traveller background. Living in old buses, trucks and caravans, he drove around the country on ‘the circuit’ with his family and friends. Since the late 1970’s he has been photographing events and the people around him. Dealing with aspects of ‘alternative’ lifestyles and sub-cultures. Photographing many free and commercial events, 'free party' events ('rave culture'), environment protests, land rights with surrounding social concerns. He aims to present a more positive view of people and communities that are frequently misrepresented. He has a particular insight into this world since unlike so many press photographers arriving for a dramatic news story; he wants to give a more insightful view that only people who have been accepted into a community can really achieve. It has not been so easy since many are suspicious of anyone with a camera and their motives. Conflict with the police in more recent years has become a fact of life. Eviction from land and squats, difficulties with children’s education when being continually moved on, all added to the mix. Also, he is noted for covering political and environmental actions, such protest frequently involving policing operations, especially in relation to surveillance. His work has been produced for publication, galleries, digital and slide projections at events and presented at large scale in public spaces. Moving beyond photography, he has experimented with mixed media involving printed and projected text. A post-graduate of Nottingham Trent University with an MA degree in Photography, Lodge specialises in issues surrounding representation, presenting himself in print and audio-visual format. A member of the National Union of Journalists, he is a documentary photographer, a photo-journalist and ‘storyteller’ always on the lookout to cover the different strands of such related issues.
To begin with, I feel it relevant to tell you something of my background in photography and how I come to be here in the first place. I started taking pictures, at the end of the 70's. I wanted to communicate something of what it was like to be a young rootless "Traveller", Because I was one. Years earlier, I had a truck that I had decked-out as a "Mobile home" and lived on the road, travelling around the festivals and fairs for a couple of years. More and more people began to come to such events and while there, many were set an "example" by the new travellers to change their lifestyles from being settled. Travelling, of course provided a sensible alternative to many people who were homeless in the cities. Because of these increasing numbers, events would spring up in the countryside at short notice with little or no organisation. Welfare agencies began to be formed to help provide services where the local authorities were quite unable or unwilling to. I volunteered to help them and soon realised that I could be more effective with some training. I became an Accident Ambulanceman in London and there I got some experience that I have been applying since. However, I soon discovered that people not only asked us for help for injuries and illness, people could be equally distressed as a result of their treatment by the Law. I was a welfare worker with "Release", an organisation concerned with legal rights and advice. I took photographs initially with the mission of attempting to record the way the authorities reacted to a new group of social misfits as they were seen. Some of these photographs enabled people to be successfully defended in court. They showed circumstances that would have been otherwise unavailable. Thus my initial interest in photography was merely a means of gathering evidence.
I began to record more aspects of life on the road. There is no stereotype of a festival goer or traveller that is truly representative and so the project grew to take this into account. Not very many people were trying to photograph these events at the time, the exceptions appeared to be the tabloid press intent on rubbishing events and the police looking for evidence. Against this background, it was clear that every effort and time should be given to reassure people of my intentions. This was hard to begin with because of many peoples past experiences. But my purpose was understood and I was welcomed and encouraged. I was further able to lower suspicions by showing a "slide show", perhaps next to a stage. Where for the first time, those assembled were able to see the work of one of these "photographer types" who came and went and nobody knew who they were! The show I did became known to the travellers circuit and seemed appreciated. It also of course exposed a bit of a "double standard" held by some that enjoyed seeing pictures of themselves and friends on home ground, but did not like having their photos taken. Some have still said that "I steal their souls" by taking photographs.
“...not only this Common, or Heath should be taken in and Manured by the People, but all the Commons and waste Ground in England, and in the whole World, shall be taken in by the People in righteousness, not owning any Property; but taking the Earth to be a Common Treasury, as it was first made for all.” The Diggers’ Manifesto The True Levellers’ Standard Advanced, 1649
Gatherings in the open air with music are probably as old as anything human beings have ever done. The 'Pop Festival' became a more modern manifestation of peoples desire to gather and celebrate. We are social animals. In the late 1960's, they went to Woodstock and the Monterey Festivals by the million. In the UK, the free 'Stones in the Park' and the Isle of Wight Festival saw huge crowds. Alongside the commercial events, 'Free Festivals' developed. People were fed up with the exploitation, rules, squalor and general rip-off that so many events came to represent. They discovered something. It is a powerful vision. People lived together, a community sharing possessions, listening to great music, making do, living with the environment, consuming their needs and little else. Parallel to all this, the squatting movement was taking off, and groups such as the 'Hyde Park Diggers' were beginning to question land rights. It is from these beginnings that the 1970's saw the establishment of many commercial and free events. The Windsor People's Free Festival became an annual event over the August Bank Holiday. As numbers continued to rise, and with the politics of the situation, (after all, we were in the Queen's back garden), in 1974 Thames Valley police eventually acted. Forcibly breaking up the site with much violence and injury. (They have been hitting us with sticks for over twenty years now!) After finding a sense of community and purpose, some for the first time in their lives, many adopted an alternative lifestyle and travelled between events in the 'season'. They didn't go 'home' in between. You got to choose your neighbours and defeated the alienation that many had felt back in the cities. In 1975, the People's Free Festival was re-established on a disused airfield in Oxfordshire. Over 10,000 people came and for two weeks, re-invented the town. The following year however, the bank holiday event died due to much police pressure and days of very heavy rain! The Stonehenge Free Festival had been held at the Summer Solstice since 1974. However at the 1977 event, numbers suddenly increased and this became the Annual People's Festival. Since then, the numbers involved doubled each successive year. The 1984 festival attracting hundreds of thousands over a six week period.
People looked at the various examples provided by gypsies here and in Europe; to nomadic people across the world. To try life outside the house in many different ways and to pick and select those means that make life comfortable, easy and meaningful. The 'bender', the Indian 'tipi', the Moroccan 'yurt', the Romany 'bow top', the western two-man tent, the truck and the double decker bus. Many developed a sense of common purpose and identity. There was an acceptance that modern life was too fast, expensive and polluting to the environment. We had discovered Anarchy in action, and it worked! People began working out and managing relations within 'our' communities, without reference to Them. The temperature had been rising for some time. Assisted by the representation in the press and their invention of the 'Peace Convoy', a moral panic was created. The papers were full of the shock - horror that we have come to expect. The Sun's - "Gun convoy hippies attack police" (No mention of gun in the article!). The News of the World contributed - "The Wild Bunch Sex-mad junkie outlaws make the Hell's Angels look like little Noddy". These were headlines read my millions of people and made modern day `folk-devils' out of essentially peaceful people. In objection to the American Cruise Missiles to be stationed in this country, a peace camp was established at Greenham Common and later at Molesworth. However, in February 1985, 'Field Marshall' Heseltine, the then Defence Secretary sent in huge numbers of troops to evict the three hundred or so that had occupied the site as the Rainbow Village for some months. Although the authorities found all this distressing, there wasn't law effective in dealing with it. So they invented some. In the past, a police force generally felt that their job was done when pushing people over their boundary. Thus merely passing on the 'problem' as they saw it. In the wake of the Miners Strike, the police had learned how to act as a national force under unitary direction. Something had to be done! Stonehenge appeared central to the situation. Police "Operation Solstice" was initiated. The 'Battle of the Beanfield' resulted and police operations have followed my tribes ever since in their attempts to keep it all down!
"If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear" [yea, right!] "Modern intelligence-led policing is a fully-fledged business model that collects large volumes of data from various sources, and carries out sophisticated network analysis. It creates personal profiles, maps networks, associations and connections, and predicts how individuals and groups will act. This does not aim merely to detect, investigate and prosecute offences, but to prevent unwanted events and activities from occurring in the first place. Disruption and deterrence sit at the heart of 'intelligence-led' policing". Shami Chakrabarti, Liberty
Many of us had felt under surveillance for some time, but since the Beanfield, there was a marked increase in their activities. Records were being made of names, nicknames, vehicle registration and undercover operations carried out. Photographs taken. The year after Castlemorton Common, the police set up Operation Snapshot, an intelligence-gathering exercise on raves and Travellers, designed to establish a database of their subjects’ personal details. This information was used as a backbone for an ongoing intelligence operation begun by the Southern Central Intelligence Unit (SCIU), operated from Devizes in Wiltshire and initially co-ordinated by PC Malcolm Keene. The SCIU held regular meetings with representatives of all the constabularies of Britain. Leaked documents revealed that Operation Snapshot had estimated there to be around 2,000 Travellers vehicles and 8,000 Traveller’s in the UK. In the minutes of a meeting held at Devizes on March 30th 1993, the objectives of the operation included the development of “a system whereby intelligence could be taken into the control room, and the most up-to-date intelligence was to hand”..... “capable of high-speed input and retrieval and dissemination of information.” The meeting was attended by constabulary representatives from Bedfordshire, Avon and Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Dyfed-Powys, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, South Wales, Gwent, Staffordshire, Thames Valley, Warwickshire, Surrey, Suffolk, West Mercia, West Midlands, Ministry of Defence and the National Criminal Intelligence Service (Hampshire and Essex sent apologies). They were all asked and all agreed to provide the Southern Central Intelligence Unit with “any information, no matter how small on New Age Travellers or the Rave scene”. The leaked minutes revealed the database was designed to hold one million items of information. Clearly this is a number far in excess of those that have committed any offences. After a short period the Northern New Age Traveller Co-ordination Unit, designed to cover the north of Britain, was established and operated from Penrith in Cumbria.
Liberty has challenged this police monitoring at the European Court of Human Rights. They said: "Targeting the whole of the travelling community is beyond the European Conventions' limitations. Just because someone is a `new age traveller' doesn't mean that they are involved in crime". However, the Home Secretary of the time, Douglas Hurd, described the convoy in a speech to the House of Commons as: “Hon. Members from the west country will be aware of the immense policing difficulties created by the peace convoy, it is anything but peaceful. Indeed, it resembles nothing more than a band of medieval brigands who have no respect for the law or the rights of others”. Just days later, Margaret Thatcher said that her government was: ” …. Only too delighted to do anything we can to make life difficult for such things as `hippy convoys”. Such tub-thumping continued for years so that at a later Conservative Party Conference, the Prime Minister, John Major reminded the party faithful: "Society needs to condemn a little more and understand a little less. New age travellers? Not in this age! Not in any age!! " Surveillence was yet further ramped up! With overt and covert surveillance skills developed further, the Forward Intelligence Teams FIT became a regular feature of gatherings. Their remit covered a variety of dissent, from alternative and political gatherings, anti-globalisation, anti-militarism and on to more current actions on issues concerned with environmental direct action. They seem to lack the accountability you might expect and some units are now clearly out of any control. Several police officers have been discovered after spending years undercover living as environmental activist to infiltrate peaceful protest groups. Developing long term and sexual relationships as part of their 'legend'. There are now a number of children resulting from the liasons where women are left in distress after their partners had suddenly disappeared from their lives. Many remain bereft, thinking they knew people when it turns out, they didn't!
"Works of art often last forever, or nearly so. But exhibitions themselves, especially gallery exhibitions, are like flowers; they bloom and then they die, then exist only as memories, or pressed in magazines and books." Jerry Saltz (art critic, New York Times).
Atrium, Bonington Gallery, Nottingham Trent University. Making my selection, dredging up from the archives, I wanted to deal with the means of control and oppression and I thought scale could help with this. I thought that the roadblock at Stonehenge during a Summer Solstice was sufficiently obvious to locate my concern. I could have then chosen to illustrate the issue with pictures of straight forward police action. In this instance however, I thought it might be generally known that public order policing has led to a vast increase in surveillance. This being employed for the management of a scene by senior officers, together with the gathering of evidence for use either in courts to aid in prosecutions, or intelligence. I wished to reinforce these notions by being oppressive and scary. I wanted to give the pictures a 'newsy‘ feel and appearance by applying the halftone. I thought to provide some 'anchorage‘ to those times and helped to create a sense of urgency in the news. I think it is still a shock to younger eyes, just how coarse the halftone dots were in newspaper reproduction then. Surface Gallery, Nottingham. As part of my final presentation for the MA degree, I exhibited at the Surface Gallery. Employing the same techniques, I selected some other images that would be better accomodated within that space. In addition to work displayed on ‘free-standing’ boards, I ringed some of the display with barbed wire for effect and floor mounted another large print under perspex that people could walk over to view the rest of the work. "Alan Lodge, tells us that he grew up in a traveller/festival family and it was his experience of police interference in the counter-culture that led to his images of cops with cameras, blown up to underline the media-narrated nature of police activity. These images, though, are from the 1980s and 90s and one wonders what angle Lodge would take with the issues of state surveillance and terrorism which currently fill the headlines.” Mark Patterson, Nottingham Post
Environmental Direct Action
A case for direct actions: â€œThe climate is nearing various tipping points. Changes are beginning to appear and there is a potential for explosive changes, effects that would be irreversible, if we do not rapidly slow fossil-fuel emissions over the next few decades. The greatest danger hanging over our children and grandchildren is initiation of changes that will be irreversible on any time scale that humans can imagine. .... Burning all the fossil fuels will destroy the planet we know, a planet of stable climate on which civilization developed." Dr. James Hansen [climatologist] is Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia Universityâ€™s Earth Institute [formerly of] NASA Godard Institute for Space Studies
Environmental Direct Action
Many of us involved in the gatherings that I’ve been describing have much objection to the status quo … of culture, political structures and consumption. To be concerned about sustainability and to try and live life, caring about the consequences for our future. “Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints” Such concerns for the environment lead many to take 'direct action'. The 'Great Climate Swoop'  was made as part of the protests organised by the Camp for Climate Action. Magnified by concerns articulated by climate scientists such as James Hansen, a prominent NASA climate scientist and head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, when he says: "The climate is nearing various tipping points. Changes are beginning to appear and there is a potential for explosive changes; effects that would be irreversible if we do not rapidly slow fossil-fuel emissions over the next few decades. ... chief executives of large fossil fuel companies should be put on trial for high crimes against humanity and nature; they stand accused of actively spreading doubt about global warming in the same way that tobacco companies blurred the links between smoking and cancer." Being aware of the issues surrounding climate change, many of us locally are concerned at the operations of companies like E.on. There are many others of course, but this is an enormous operator, with plant and offices near Nottingham. Taken together with the operations of UK Coal, and the opening of yet more acres of 'open cast' mining to feed them. [Currently we ship most of our 'needs' from Poland and South Africa], and more building of plant, it is beyond so many of us, how we expect to meet any of the targets of emission reduction within the times governments have agreed. Such targets are inadequate now of course, but with big business and vested interests pressuring, there has already been a significant watering down, or slippage. All of these recent actions coincided with the release of the latest: "Committee on Climate Change report". The CCC is an independent body established under the Climate Change Act to advise the Government on setting carbon budgets and to report to Parliament on the progress made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Chair of the CCC Lord Turner said: “Climate change poses a grave threat to human welfare, the environment and the economy. We need to act now in the UK and as part of a global agreement, to significantly reduce our emissions.
It is not too late to tackle climate change, but it will be unless the world takes action soon and the developed countries need to lead the way with strong commitments and strong delivery against the budgets. The budgets we have proposed are achievable given available and developing technologies, and provided the policies in place are implemented and where necessary reinforced. The reductions required can be achieved at a very low cost to our economy: the cost of not achieving the reductions, at national and global level, will be far greater”. On Saturday 17th October 2009, A couple of thousand climate activists had attempted to shut down Ratcliffe-on-Soar coal power station in Nottinghamshire, taking direct action with repeated breaches of the security fencing. The action comes only weeks before the UN COP15 Climate Conference in Copenhagen, and follows the arrest of 114 activists in Nottingham for allegedly planning to infiltrate the power station in April. People gathered at various points on a Saturday morning, swooping on the power plant in separate groups. Within five minutes they had already broken down one of the perimeter fences and several had entered the plant. The police had confirmed 58 arrests. Spokesperson from the Camp for Climate Action said: “We’ve achieved what we came here to do; to show that coal has no future and there is a growing movement which is prepared to take action on climate change. Activists from around the world will meet in Copenhagen to finalise plans for similar actions during the UN climate talks taking place in December. The Camp for Climate Action has announced that they will be joining other activists in the 'Push for Climate Justice', which aims to take over the talks for a day.” She continued: "In the run up to the UN climate talks in Copenhagen this December, acts of civil disobedience to confront big business and governments that are causing catastrophic climate change are gaining support." Will the last one alive on the planet, kindly turn the lights out! “Civil disobedience on grounds of conscience is an honourable tradition in this country and those who take part in it may in the end be vindicated by history.” Lord Justice Hoffman (commented during the Twyford Down Appeal)
"A festival should possess something which is distinctive and which could not be so well presented elsewhere". Edward Morgan Forster 1948
Beyond the scope of this work, I have taken an interest to cover gatherings that describe and celebrate a variety of cultures. Some aspects are concerned with celebrating their own 'tribes' culture. I have tried to point to similarities and differences that sometimes has led to political action and protest. Afro-Caribbean Carnival, Chinese New Year, St. Patricks Day, St. Georges Day, Sikh Vaisakhi, Asian Mela, Rock and Reggae Festivals, Polish Music Events, Gay Pride, Sports, localised events like the Sneinton Festival, Trade Unions and Mayday, Military and Remembrance. When I first moved to Nottingham 20 odd years ago, there was an annual gathering on the Forest Field called 'Rock and Reggae'. The object was not to celebrate division but for all the cultures of the city to 'show their feathers' to each other. It represented an amazing opportunity to find out about each other and form more cohesive and stronger bonds between us. However, the early nineties was also a time of the passing of more restrictive laws on gathering, festivals and event licencing where onerous conditions became the norm. Thus, you can choose any of the events from the list above and they have split into separate events, with a local authority licence [sometimes with a prohibitive fee to be paid], conditions for which have included the very expensive hire of private security, fencing, access controls, surveillance and police also sending a bill for their patrols. In my opinion, squeezing so much of the life out of what once was. If we could only think otherwise ... I think realising the potential for growth and job creation within this sector of the music industry could be a significant economic export for the UK. The recognition that especially youth oriented music and arts events are a vital part of British culture. In setting about making an edit I was thinking about music, dance and movement, this being performed in both traditional ways and in a more exuberant youthful style. I just wanted for this section though, to describe entertainments from a couple of events, the Afro-Caribbean Carnival and the Chinese New Year celebrations.
The Carnival Organisers say: "Carnival contributes an amazing amount towards the cultural and community cohesion in the city. It provides a host of positive activities for young people to get involved with in the build up to the Carnival. These include creative costume making, working on dance choreography for their stage show, rehearsing musical acts to perform in one of the three music zones and volunteering their time which is good character building. Most importantly, the Carnival contributes significantly towards the economy of Nottingham by bringing people into the city." This is of course, not dissimilar to the objectives of the Chinese New Year celebration events: "In celebration of the Chinese New Year at Lakeside Arts Centre, near the University of Nottingham, a stage is provided to help the local community with the opportunity to learn about the traditions, foods, music and dancing which accompanies Chinese New Year. The local councils have been working with local schools over the months before on a programme of participatory arts activities to get young people involved in the live performances at the events. The Dragon dance, the Lion dance, music, assorted acrobats, Kung Fu display and many school kids getting involved. There was singing from the Nottingham Chinese School Choir. Also, for the grand finale, a fabulous firework display over the lake." I so enjoyed these performances, such colour, fun, and exuberance. ..... wicked! A proper sense of culture and identity. As ever, the dragon dance was performed by members of the Nottingham Chinese Students Association and Nottingham Chinese Community Association.
Royal Shrovetide Football, Ashbourne, Derbyshire
Other than a few self-explanatory directives such as the prohibition of murder and manslaughter, there are alarmingly few laws governing the game.
Royal Shrovetide Football, Ashbourne, Derbyshire
There a number of these events in England. Primitive football more disorganised, more violent, more spontaneous and usually played by an indefinite number of players. Frequently, games took the form of a heated contest between whole villages - through streets and squares, across fields, hedges, fences and streams. Kicking was allowed, as in fact was almost everything else. Sometimes kicking the ball was out of the question due to the size and weight of the sphere being used - in such cases, kicking was instead limited to taking out opponents. The earliest recorded Shrovetide ball game comes during the High Middle Ages (1066–1272) from the cleric William Fitzstephen in his description of London Descriptio Nobilissimi Civitatis Londoniae (c.1174–83). The game he witnessed was played at Carnival, an alternative name for Shrovetide, from the Latin Carnilevaria, a word variant of carne levare meaning to "leave out meat" an act of abstinence for Lent. Ashbourne Royal Shrovetide Football is a game played in the Derbyshire town of Ashbourne every Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday. Unlike a conventional football match this game is played over two eight hour periods, the goals are 3 miles apart and there are alarmingly few laws governing the game. Other than a few self-explanatory directives such as the prohibition of murder and manslaughter. The leather ball which has a cork inner is ‘turned up’ from a stone plinth on Shaw Croft car park in Ashbourne town centre. The ball is thrown into the air and into the ‘hug’, a large group of players who try to move the ball to their goal by pushing against the opposition. Your team depends on which side of the Henmore Brooke you were born on, those born on the South are Down’ards and try to goal the ball at the old Clifton Mill. Those born on the North are Up’ards and try to goal the ball at the old Sturston Mill. Spectators come from all around to watch the annual game, many people follow the ball all day, through the streets of the town, over local fields and in the river. Local shop owners prepare for the game by boarding up the front of their shops and windows to protect them from the hug!
This anthem is sung at a pre-game ceremony. It was written in 1891 for a concert held to raise money to pay off the fines ordered for playing the game in the street: There's a town still plays this glorious game Tho' tis but a little spot. And year by year the contest's fought From the field that's called Shaw Croft. Then friend meets friend in friendly strife The leather for to gain, And they play the game right manfully, In snow, sunshine or rain. Chorus 'Tis a glorious game, deny it who can That tries the pluck of an Englishman. For loyal the Game shall ever be No matter when or where, And treat that Game as ought but the free, Is more than the boldest dare. Though the up's and down's of its chequered life May the ball still ever roll, Until by fair and gallant strife We've reached the treasur'd goal. Chorus 'Tis a glorious game, deny it who can That tries the pluck of an Englishman.
â€œMy mind was not at rest, because nothing was acted; and thoughts ran in me that words and writings were nothing and must die; for action is life of all, and if thou dost not act, thou dost nothing.â€? Garrard Winstanley 1649
The extraordinary lengths taken by the authorities to annihilate the new Traveller population in the UK are a testament to the treatment meted out to cultural minorities outside `acceptable’ norms. The use of legislation, intelligence, targeted harassment, benefit clampdowns and news-manufacture have been employed as a multi-tactical approach stretched across a ten year period. Such strategies are often achieved without public knowledge; with the length of time over which they are employed, diffusing recognition of their mechanism and ultimate intention. What is clear, however, is that rather than seek to democratically accommodate an expanding community culture, Margaret Thatcher’s government and those who replaced her, sought instead to annihilate it. The social consequences are immense. The festival circuit, once an evolving people-led celebration and community co-operation, now lies largely in the hands of profit-motivated commercial promoters. Meanwhile, the travelling community, fractionalised by an annihilation strategy, now displays symptoms reminiscent of the inner cities from which many had fled. However, despite the worst excesses of the cultural clampdown, some travellers remain secreted all over the country. Many are now in smaller groups, inconspicuous and unregistered if not drawing benefit. So, there you have it ….. Since its enactment, many thousands of travellers have left the country in anticipation of the crackdown on their lifestyle to come. Who knows what next!! Some have gone to Europe and beyond being concerned for their families future in Britain. Perhaps I may join them! I believe that the communities described represent genuine endeavours in discovering enduring and sustainable ways of life and conducting experiments in how we and the planet may survive. I wish them well in these uncertain times. Don’t let the bastards grind you down!