Monthly Archives: February 2013


Answers from the Owd Bacup history quiz:

  1. Number of pubs in Bacup in 1893: 79
  2. The Coconutters have danced in Bacup for the last 150 years.
  3. A cotton weaver earned £0.75 for a 54 hours working week in 1879.
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Bacup Townscape Heritage Initiative

An officer in World War I uniform makes his way to the Bacup Natural History Society Museum. They opened especially for ‘Owd Bacup Week’.

Last week the Bacup Consortium organised ‘Owd Bacup Week’ as part of the Bacup Townscape Heritage Initiative. The council have been successful in getting through the first round of the process to get about £2,000,000 of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, to refurbish buildings in historical towns that have experienced economic decline. The scheme would also run skills training, and activities for people in the local community. During last week the Bacup Consortium surveyed more than 100 local people in order to find out what they liked and disliked about our town centre, what they would like to see changed and how, what their favourite and least favourite buildings are, etc. This information will help to decide how to spend the £2,000,000 if we can put forward a bit that is good enough. There is, of course, stiff competition for these funds, but we have got through the first round and we have a really good chance.

If you want to find out more about Bacup’s Townscape Heritage Initiative bid I suggest you have a look at this informative website: By filling out a survey on this website, or by getting involved in other ways, you can help to decide how the £2,000,000 is spent, if the bid is successful. It can make a real difference to the look of the town centre.

The Consortium also organised a quiz with prizes (vouchers to be spent with the local businesses) and these were some of the questions:

  1. How many pubs were there in Bacup in 1893? a) 17  b) 46 c) 79
  2. The Coconutters have danced in Bacup for the last a) 50 years  b) 75 years c) 150 years.
  3. How much did a cotton weaver earn for a 54 hours working week in 1879? a) £7.50  b) £2.50 c) £0.75

Answers will follow tomorrow. The prizewinners have already been drawn and informed. There were a few who answered all 10 questions correctly!

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Framed CatYesterday I attended a one day course in framing. I am seriously thinking about setting up as a framer and this was a good opportunity to learn a bit about the craftsmanship involved. I have been assembling my own mounts for a while, but never did any bevelled mount cutting or frame construction. I learnt a lot from the guys at Framers Equipment and enjoyed the day. Apart from finding out about creating a mount and a frame I also picked up a lot of useful information about the tools used by framers. It’s a bit like the equipment of a photographer: there is virtually no limit to the amount of money you can spend. It was encouraging to hear that good quality basic tools are available refurbished, with a warranty and support. A mitre cutter, an underpinner and a mount cutter are three of the basic tools and if you look for good second hand bargain you should be able to find them for less that £2,000. Still, not an inconsiderable sum and I will need to do more market research and other costings before deciding whether to go ahead and take the plunge. One of the big question is where to have a shop. My hunch is that Bacup is not the right place for a framers, not yet at least. Premises in Hebden Bridge will be much more expensive, but maybe, after the flood problems, there may be bargains to be had there.

Watch this space!

PS Is anybody interested in a framed colour drawing print of a steam locomotive? This was what I worked on for the course as, unfortunately we could not choose what to frame. The frame and mount are expertly made and put together!

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The Beanery

While I was in Amsterdam recently I took the opportunity to go to the refurbished Stedelijk Museum. My father took me there a few times when we lived quite near, in Amsterdam-Zuid. While walking there I wondered if the exhibit that I remember best and that made the biggest impression on me at that time would still be there. I was thinking of The Beanery by Edward Kienholz. I recall seeing it as a kid of maybe 10 years old. I was in a museum and they had this weird room like a bar, with strange sounds of people talking and they had clock faces instead of real faces and you were allowed to go inside. I liked it a lot, but was also amazed that apparently this was art!

The Beanery

The Beanery by Edward Kienholz

I was very happy to see that this item from the permanent collection had been restored and re-instated in all its glory. It was created in 1965 and based on the interior of one of the places where Edward Kienholz used to hang out: Barney’s Beanery. Visitors are still allowed to go inside to experience the atmosphere. Apart from the visual impression, there is also the sound and the smell! Behind the bar there is a small open tub with a conconction that produces a stale beer smell. Rumour has it that one of the original ingredients was urine produced by the artist. The restorers insist that the present formula includes ammonia instead, together with fried bacon and cigarette ash.

Kienholz died suddenly in 1994 and his funeral was a work of art. He was buried in a Kienholz installation: Robert Hughes wrote, “[H]is corpulent, embalmed body was wedged into the front seat of a brown 1940 Packard coupe. There was a dollar and a deck of cards in his pocket, a bottle of 1931 Chianti beside him and the ashes of his dog Smash in the back. He was set for the afterlife. To the whine of bagpipes, the Packard, steered by his widow Nancy Reddin Kienholz, rolled like a funeral barge into the big hole.” (from Wikipedia)

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Setting a price for my prints is tricky. Lots of things play a part in my decisions. On the one hand, I would like for as many people as possible to be able to afford and enjoy my photography, so that means pricing it as low as possible. On the other hand, I use very high quality equipment and materials, so that means that, unless I choose to lose money with selling prints, they cannot be priced below a certain level. To make my prints I spend money on travel, camera, lenses, other equipment, insurance, computer, laptop, storage, software, printer, ink (to replace all 12 cartridges costs me over £700!), paper, canvas, acid free mounts, mount cutter, postage, etc. The other factor is the time it takes to create the best print possible.

I researched the prices charged by other photographers using similar quality materials and having thought about this for a while I decided I had to increase the prices of my prints. The new prices will be:

  • bank notes20 x 30 cm print   –   £39
  • 30 x 45 cm print   –   £59
  • 40 x 60 cm print   –   £79
  • 20 x 60 cm print   –   £59
  • 30 x 90 cm print   –   £89

For printing on canvas add £15




The good news is that these increases will not be effective immediately. You have the chance to buy prints at the old price until the end of February!

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Visiting An Old Friend

statue in tree

Old Friend

I have been regularly visiting this small sculpture for the the last 20 years. He is still working away at sawing through this branch and has been doing so since 1989. There is no sign explaining what it is or who made it, or when in was installed, just a bit of guerilla art. It was put up there by an Amsterdam surgeon called Floris de Graaf, who is a sculptor in his spare time.


View Ruud’s World in a larger map

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Ansel Adams Exhibition

Yesterday I was in London to visit the Ansel Adams exhibition in the Maritime Museum in Greenwich.

ansel adams exhibition poster

Many of the images were of rivers and waves, which is the link that explained this choice of venue. The exhibition was well hung, but the lighting was not always ideal. I can understand the low level lighting as these were original prints made by Ansel Adams himself. What could have been improved was the angle at which they were lit. Some prints were show with thick mounts and because the light came from above the edge of the mount cast a shadow on the image in a few cases. However, it did not distract too much from the great quality of what was on show.

One of the things that struck me very quickly was how deliberately composed all the images were. It is so different from most images we see nowadays. I suppose there are several factors, apart from his genius as a photographer, that contribute to this characteristic. The way he worked was to strongly pre-visualise each image before making it. He would think a lot about what he wanted to show where in the frame, not many ‘snapshots’ in his portfolio! The equipment he had at his disposal was heavy and took time to set up. Once he had decided how the image should look, Ansel only made one exposure (well, two really, but the second one was totally identical and was only made as a back-up.) In an interview, shown at the exhibition, he said “bracketing is for people who did not know what they are doing.” Not sure I agree with The Master on this one!

The careful and deliberate compositions often results in very tranquil, peaceful landscapes, not much is happening. Even the ones with water, which is in constant movement, as their subject have this almost calming effect. You can lose yourself in contemplating some of the vast vistas he became famous for.

Ansel Adams 'Clearing Winter Storm'

Ansel Adams, ‘Clearing Winter Storm’

One concept that is important to understand when appreciating the work of Ansel Adams is that of equivalence. The term was first used by Stieglitz and describes the connection between the photographer and the image. Adams himself said about it: “When I see something I react to it and state it, and that’s the equivalent of what I felt. So I give it you as a spectator, and you get it or you don’t get it it, but there’s nothing on the back of the print that tells you what you should get.”

It is a great selection of his work and I would certainly recommend a visit. I played the tourist in London a bit and can also recommend going to Greenwich on one of the fast boats that go very frequently from Embankment. While were at it I’ll also suggest The Old Brewery as a good place for lunch and a pint (they have a micro brewery and produce some interesting beers.)


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Stone Wall

Stone Wall

Stone Wall

Some of the photographs that I like, and like to make, are simple images that have rhythm and structure. I share this with at least one of my customers. She is fascinated by stone walls, especially the dry stone walls that we find in abundance in Lancashire and Yorkshire. I completely get that and therefore I posted this one for her.






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The Halo

The Halo

The Halo is an artwork located on a landfill site (or “top ‘o’ slate”) overlooking the town of Haslingden in Rossendale, positioned to be clearly visible from the M66 and A56 approach to Lancashire. It was the fourth and final Panopticon to be constructed in Lancashire and was launched in September 2007. The Halo is an 18m-diameter steel lattice structure supported on a tripod five metres above the ground. The core is open at the top, framing views of the sky. It is lit after dark using low-energy LEDs powered by an adjacent wind turbine and glows a sky-blue colour, giving the effect of hovering above the town. It was designed by John Kennedy of LandLab.


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