Read, Watch and Listen

Image Gallery

The Image Gallery is designed to showcase the range of digital images generated either as by-products or as outputs of research projects in the arts and humanities.

Longing for Sacred Homelands

Hajj is a religious duty but Muslim culture also sustains a longing for Islam’s sacred homelands which are at once absent and present in everyday life. In these paintings, a London-based fine artist personalises the formal views of Makkah and Madinah which typically grace British-Muslim front rooms. At the centre of Makkah’s Great Mosque is the Ka’ba, the House of God and the direction of daily prayers. The green dome of the Madinah Mosque marks the beloved Prophet’s burial place.

© Kamel Baksh, 2015. Creative Commons licence - “CC-BY-NC-ND”

The UK Hajj Industry

Until the 2000's Hajj-going in the UK was typically organised independently in small, informal groups. However, as part of increased regulation in response to pilgrim numbers, the Saudi authorities made it compulsory to travel with approved travel agents. There are now around 79 such agents in the UK. Of these, El-Sawy Travel, was perhaps the first to organise a formal Hajj ‘package’ during the early 1980s. The Egyptian-born owner is pictured outside his premises near Regent's Park Mosque, North-West London.

© Seán McLoughlin, 2014. Creative Commons licence - “CC-BY”

Making Preparations

In an online survey of nearly 200 British-Muslims conducted 2011-12, Islamic books were rated as the most important source of information about Hajj. This guide to performing the pilgrimage is especially novel and has proven to be a bestseller. Published in Birmingham by Al-Hidayaah (‘guidance’), an Islamic business which combines a bookstore with a travel agency, Hajj & Umrah made easy can conveniently be worn around the neck. A copy is photographed here at the Salafi Bookstore in Bradford.

© Seán McLoughlin, 2015. Creative Commons licence - “CC-BY”

Welfare, Training and Governance

Following a 1997 tent fire in Saudi Arabia which killed over 300 Hajjis, the UK's first pilgrim welfare organisation was founded in Birmingham. The Association of British Hujjaj (ABH) lobbies government to support UK citizens visiting Makkah. It also educates intending pilgrims about health and safety. At a 2014 event in Birmingham, speeches were delivered in English and Urdu by medics, Islamic scholars and civic dignitaries. Trading Standards in the city has been especially proactive in tackling ‘Hajj fraud’.

© Seán McLoughlin, 2014. Creative Commons licence - “CC-BY”

The British Hajj Delegation

Under New Labour a British Hajj Delegation was established in 2000. Unique among Western nations, it made Foreign and Commonwealth Office support available on the ground in Makkah. However, in 2010, funding for volunteer medics ceased. This photograph shows the now privately-funded British-Muslim doctors in 2012. With government stressing the need for self-help in the Hajj travel sector, it also highlights the key contribution since the mid-2000s of a ‘second generation’ welfare organisation, the Bolton-based, Council of British Hajjis.

© Rashid Mogradia, 2012. Creative Commons licence - “CC-BY”

Ihram and Ritual Separation

At one of several miqats (boundary points) surrounding Makkah, pilgrims make ablutions, don their ihram (ritual attire), and state the intention to perform Hajj. They enter a state of consecration which includes various prohibitions. Travelling from the West today, the miqat is often reached en route to Jeddah International Airport. Here, however, British-Muslim pilgrims gather at the miqat nearest Madinah, Dhu’l Hulayfa. The women's light, cotton ihrams are optional, whereas men must wear two unstitched pieces of white cloth.

© Qaisra Khan, 2010. Creative Commons licence - “CC-BY”

Guests in the House God

Feelings of sacred time and space are confirmed for many when they see the House of God for the first time. The Ka’ba was built first by Prophet Adam and then rebuilt by Prophet Ibrahim. Pilgrims must circumambulate the cube-shaped building anticlockwise seven times (tawaf). This image captures the oceanic experience that British-Muslims report, a sense of oneness (tawhid) with God. However, given the sheer weight of pilgrim numbers, the ritual is physically punishing. Sacred and mundane are navigated step-by-step.

© Peter Sanders, mid-1990s. Creative Commons licence - “CC-BY-NC-ND”

In the Footsteps of Hajar

Pilgrims also re-enact the inspiring story of Hajar, Ibrahim's wife and Isma’il's mother. Hurrying (sa‘i) seven times between two hillocks, they embody her search for water having settled in the desert with her son. Drinking from the well of Zamzam, pilgrims recall the miraculous spring God revealed to save the pair. Nevertheless, some British-Muslims highlight the discrepancies between the sa‘i of sacred history and its modern manifestation. The ritual is now performed on marble floors inside the ever-expanding Great Mosque.

© Qaisra Khan, 2010. Creative Commons licence - “CC-BY”

Community, Equality and Difference

Having performed the Makkan rites, pilgrims leave their hotels and travel several kilometres into the valley of Mina. Here they camp overnight in a vast tented city. British-Muslims describe increased opportunities for interactions, both within their own groups and with pilgrims from across the world. They relate sublime and everyday moments when social divisions are dissolved and the idea of a united Muslim ummah (community) emerges. Yet, at other times, differences of class, gender, ethnicity and denomination also remain apparent.

© Simon Martin, 2009. Creative Commons licence – “CC-BY”

Seeking Forgiveness: The Day of 'Arafat

The zenith of the Hajj occurs on the plain of ‘Arafat beyond Mina. Here Adam met again with Eve after the Fall, and many pilgrims turn inwards to repent on Jabal al-Rahma (Mount of Mercy) where Muhammad gave his farewell sermon. As shown here, pilgrims stand in congregation (wuquf), fervently supplicating from noon until sunset. In their shroud-like ihrams, British-Muslims say that this also rehearses the Day of Judgement. Hajj is indeed a journey from sinfulness to purification.

© Simon Martin, 2009. Creative Commons licence – “CC-BY”

Being Tested: The Stoning of the Pillars

Having collected pebbles at Muzdalifa overnight, pilgrims stone three jamarat (pillars) back at Mina. This cathartic ritual commemorates Ibrahim's physical actions in rejecting Satan's attempts to test him. In the 1970s a jamarat bridge was constructed to convey pilgrims to the pillars, a site notorious for stampedes. In 2004 the pillars were replaced by huge walls. However, as this photograph shows, following 300 deaths in 2006, an entirely new bridge and multi-storey system was introduced. British-Muslims report feeling much safer.

© Simon Martin Photography, 2009. Creative Commons licence – “CC-BY”

From Sacrifice to Charity: Eid al-Adha

Together with the shaving/cutting of pilgrims' hair, it is the qurbani or animal sacrifice that seals Hajj. Most restrictions associated with ihram now come to an end. ‘Eid al-Adha (Festival of the Sacrifice) is celebrated simultaneously in Makkah and across the Muslim world. It commemorates Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son, Isma‘il, in obedience to God. Today charities encourage British-Muslims to donate their qurbani offering to the poor world-wide. Here, an Islamic Relief shop in Bradford, promotes its campaign.

© Seán McLoughlin, 2015. Creative Commons licence - “CC-BY”

Souvenirs and Shared Blessings

Travelling material objects share the baraka (blessings) of the Holy Places. Perhaps the most significant of these is water from the well of Zamzam, which stands near the Ka’ba. Airlines currently allow each pilgrim to return home with up to 10 litres often in large, mass-produced plastic bottles like the one here at a mosque in Bury. Visitors may be invited to stand facing Makkah and drink the Zamzam from special cups, while listening to stories about its curative properties.

© Seán McLoughlin, 2015. Creative Commons licence - “CC-BY”

Being a Hajji: Changing Public Significance

Returning pilgrims bear the new, honorific titles of ‘Hajji’ (men) and ‘Hajja’ (women). Traditionally expected to be more pious and enlightened, they have often been given a special respect in Muslim communities. This shop-front in East London illustrates how such values still find expression in the urban landscape. However, Hajj-going has become rather commonplace in Britain and the public significance of performing the pilgrimage is declining. Nevertheless, a pilgrim's lifestyle can still be a matter of scrutiny in close-knit communities.

© Seán McLoughlin, 2014. Creative Commons licence - “CC-BY”

Spiritual Efficacy and the Desire to Return

For Hajjis like Bilal, photographed here at home in Leeds wearing clothes and scent from the Holy Places, and standing in front of a picture of the Great Mosque, Hajj is profoundly spiritually uplifting and potentially life-changing. Some pilgrims do manage to take their experiences forward with them as they settle back into everyday routines. But this is not easy to sustain. Thus British-Muslims today tend to be unanimous in their desire to return to Makkah and Madinah one day.

© Seán McLoughlin, 2011. Creative Commons licence - “CC-BY”

Translating the 'Zibaldone'

One of the most famous works in Italian Literature has finally been translated into English thanks to AHRC funding.

What's in a surname?

A major research project is on course to create the largest, most detailed and most accurate database of the UK's family surnames.

The Musicians' Journal, No. 26 (October 1927)

In 1927 the Musicians’ Union was active on several fronts to support members’ interests. It resisted reductions in pay following the General Strike and fought against harsh conditions of service when, for example, some cinema owners insisted their orchestras play seven days a week. However, to achieve its aims, the Union needed sufficient income to employ officials and organise members; but those very members resisted moves to raise the subscription.

The Musicians’ Journal, No. 29 (July 1928)

The competition that civilian musicians faced from military bands in public parks and seaside resorts increased in the summer months. A year later, in the summer of 1929, however, this would seem a less menacing challenge than the rush by many exhibitors to install pre-recorded sound in their cinemas.

The Musicians’ Journal, No. 30 (October 1928)

In cinemas, the Panatrope was a two-turntable gramophone with amplified output which allowed operators to play a pre-recorded soundtrack for silent films. Like the more satisfactory systems that reproduced sound recorded on film (represented here by the American salesman, frame right), it threatened the livelihoods of musicians who accompanied films in cinemas. A related article attacked the technology being introduced in Britain and claimed that "the public cannot live on 'canned' music all the time any more than on canned pork."

The Musicians Journal, New Series 1 (April 1929)

This front-cover image entitled, “The Key To The Situation” directed musicians to an article advising them to join the Musical Performers Protection Association. However, the company was to fail in its objectives of collecting fees from recorded music. Nor did it reverse the takeover by sound films. Although too few talkies were produced in 1929-30 to fill cinemas’ programmes completely, the studios persuaded owners to meet the cost of conversion by focusing on the prospect of increased takings and cutting out musicians’ wages.

The Musicians’ Journal, New Series 2 (July 1929)

“Keep Blowing Boys.” This cover image introduced an article designed to raise players’ morale. The piece argued that the failings of talkies were so obtrusive that the fad could not last. For example, it alleged, someone other than the actor has to do the talking. For that reason the actor works with his or her back to camera to conceal the fact that the voice and the movement of the performer’s lips do not synchronise.

The Musicians’ Journal, New Series 3 (October 1929)

Reflecting the accelerating pace of converting cinemas for sound, this cartoon’s prediction for 1930 relied on a counterattack that instrumentalists thought incontrovertible. In October 1929, few filmgoers would have disagreed that the quality of mechanical sound reproduction was far inferior to live music. But the riposte sidestepped two key facts: sound systems were improving fast and, more significantly, that autumn British audiences, no matter the music’s quality, were flocking to the latest sensation, the talkies.

Musicians’ Union Monthly Report, New Series 3 (March 1930)

The vision of orchestras returning to cinemas arose when the Union recognised filmgoers’ continuing appetite (despite improvements in sound reproduction) for hearing live music as part of the programme. Kine-Variety revived Victorian music hall and vaudeville formulas, programming live orchestras and performers alongside talkie feature films. Unhappily, few Musicians’ Union writers recognised that in the Depression era this was exclusively a big-city phenomenon. Only in picture palaces were well-to-do audiences and holidaymakers paying the high prices for these top-class shows. 

The Musicians Journal, New Series 10 (July 1931)

This cartoon includes the caption: “Trades Union Congress Resolution, 1923. This Congress emphatically condemns the practice of allowing Army, Navy and Air Force bands to enter into collective and individual competition with civilian musicians, on the ground that it is unfair and subsidised competition, and intensifies the unemployment problem. The Congress further calls on all Labour representatives in Parliament and on Local Authorities to exert all their power to put a stop to this injustice.” Eight years later, with 4,000 musicians unemployed, the Union claimed that the injustice continued.

Landforms

Digital Photograph 2013 

©Rose Ferraby

The land is a rich mixture of the geological and cultural. The sculptural topography is ingrained with the lines and layers of human action. From this, we can begin to unravel some of the many narratives that play through landscape, both now and in the past. 

 

Prehistoric Encounter

Screenprint 2008

©Rose Ferraby

Screenprinting has allowed me to explore the layered nature of archaeological landscapes on paper. Archaeology is about peeling layers back in order to make sense of them. Screenprinting is about placing them back, choosing how much tone and emphasis to give each feature. In this piece, I was interested in how aerial photographs of prehistoric landscapes are interpreted, abstracting the landscape and removing a sense of scale. 

 

Field Forms

Screenprint 2009

©Rose Ferraby

The landscape is always in formation. As we go into the future, there is an awareness of what has gone before. In this way, we can trace human actions into the past. This screenprint of fields was built up slowly. Each field is a separate layer, echoing the gradual changes of the land as one feature is set in relation to those around it. 

Remote Sensing

Wax crayon and watercolour 2009

©Rose Ferraby

There are many ways of seeing into the earth. Remote sensing is increasingly used in archaeology as a non-intrusive method of mapping large areas of landscape. This allows us to reveal the relationships of archaeological features over large scales and time periods. This drawing is based on a survey undertaken with the British School at Rome near Tivoli, Italy. The regimented lines of a Roman villa are surrounded by the smooth quiet of undisturbed land.

 

Excavation

Digital Photograph 2010

©Rose Ferraby

Peeling off the turf and exploring the layers that lie beneath allows a unique view into the earth and our relationship with it. The process allows a close and tacit understanding. The archaeologist’s hand learns the feel of loams and grits, fills and cuts. These long remembered details and textures build a material memory of the archaeological.

 

Green Stone Axe

Wax crayon and watercolour 2010

©Rose Ferraby

Archaeological contexts can reveal rich material that we must learn to understand. Drawing is a way of becoming acquainted with the forms and details. It is a way of thinking through the material and tracing it to memory. This is a study of a Neolithic axe, whose stone is sourced from a Neolithic quarry in the Langdales, Cumbria. The work formed part of a book ‘Stonework’ (Edmonds and Ferraby 2013) with Professor Mark Edmonds of York University.

 

Purbeck Underground

Digital Photograph 2013

©Rose Ferraby

My interest in stone has led me to explore deeper into the land. Quarries offer an extraordinary view into the earth: a rich ground for cultural geologies. This is one of the underground ‘quarrs’ where quarrymen extracted particular beds of limestone before modern machinery made large scale open cast quarries viable. The long exposure photography was a way of slowly absorbing this unique space.

 

Portland Mine

Digital Photograph 2013

©Rose Ferraby

Beneath the fields of Portland, Dorset, a new mine is hollowing the earth. Portland stone has been used for building for over a thousand years. It is found throughout the City of London and in some of our most famous buildings. Jordan’s Mine (Albion Stone Ltd) is itself an inverted architecture. Beneath the ground, its angular and regimented corridors are a photographer’s dream. 

 

Cliff Quarry

Charcoal, graphite and conte crayon 2013

©Rose Ferraby

The cliff quarries of Purbeck are much better known than its secret undergrounds. Winspit was once an active quarry removing beds including Pond Freestone, Blue Bit and Spangle. Some of this stone was used to build Ramsgate harbour whilst other went into buildings in the City of London. The quarry is now the haunt of climbers and walkers. Graffiti etches the walls over the fading marks of picks. Drawing the space allowed me to absorb it, and to learn the beds of stone.

 

'Still' by Denise Riley

Riley wrote the poem in the wake of her son’s death but never published it. It plays on the many meanings of the word ‘Still’: 'still' as ‘quiet’, as 'continually', as 'constant', as 'even though', etcetera. Even though the poem deals with death, Riley assured us that the shape of the funerary urn was created quite accidentally by centring the words on the page.

(c) Auriol Herford, no title, translation of Sam's image, 11-18 March 2015:

“Taking the lead from Sam and his interest in the connections between the natural and digital world, I reflected on the idea of my instinct and relation to technology. Last week I had a Caesarean birth followed by a week of rigorous monitoring. Every night over the last year I have also plugged a catheter bag onto my eldest son. I translated the medical objects and fragments from the experience into an image that used printmaking, drawing and collage.” http://kitestudios.org/ 

(c) Sam Treadaway, 'Techno-Techno-Techno-Techno', translation of 'Still', 4-11 March 2015:

"Still immediately reminded me of a book I’d recently read discussing connections (and tensions) between the natural and digital worlds. These ideas provided the basis of my understanding, deciphering and transformation of the poem. The ‘translation’ process was initiated by converting ‘Still’ into computer binary code. Adapting the outcome I endeavoured to capture the essence of ‘Still’ in a single image. I am neutral and non-attached as to the success of this process and wish my fellow artists an interesting and rewarding match." www.samtreadaway.com

(c) Bryan Eccleshall, 'Master Square', translation of Katarina's image, 25 March – 1st April 2015:

“Translators ordinarily shift things into their own language. Hence I have made a drawing of a photograph using a technique developed over the last couple of years, but with a slight difference. I took the photograph I was sent and edited it to make sixteen square images that, when assembled would resemble the image I was given, but this time as a drawing. The thing I made is a drawing, but for the purpose of this exercise, I assembled individual scans of the drawings into a jpeg in PhotoShop.” https://bryaneccleshall.wordpress.com/

(c) Sarah Sparkes, 'Gap between the nothing', translation of Bryan's image, 1-8 April 2015:

"Although I have stayed close, in compositional respects to Bryan's work, there is a gap through which something other has slipped in. I looked intensely at Bryan’s image, wanting mine to enable me to conjure the ghost of his. I assembled my visual signs – techniques, symbols and material processes that are my own native creative language - and started making actual objects and photographing them, then created a digital collage from these. On my computer, Bryan’s image had a blue cast, which is reflected in my translation.” www.sarahsparkes.com

(c) Sharon Kivland, no title, translation of Sarah's image, 8-15 April 2015:

Sharon's full translation of Sarah's work is a short animation, which traces the journey into the mirror and back. “I live in two languages, haunted by a third. There is constant movement as a word thought in one language passes into a spoken word in another. This happens in the life between one image (another’s) and another (mine).  An  image, precisely thought,  is – and passes through – a mirror. This is quite a literal translation of the image that preceded it (the gap or void, the blue cast that is taken from the image before, the decorative detail that might be supposed to be feminine). It is impossible to keep completely still, even when caught or fixed.” www.sharonkivland.com

(c) Juneau Projects, no title, translation of Sharon's image, 15-22 April 2015:

"We took an element from Sharon's image (the black rectangle) and made this into a physical object. We then photographed the object in a location echoing/paralleling Sharon's image (a canal as moving mirror in reference to Sharon's video), contemporary artists' studios (the warehouse). Finally we took inspiration from the quality of Sharon's image itself (a printed reproduction) and digitally printed an object onto the photographed object to produce a crude figure (artist or model).” www.juneauprojects.co.uk

(c) Heather Connelly, no title, translation of Juneau Projects' image, 22-29 April 2015

“I responded instinctively to the image, being particularly drawn to its formal composition and context – where the sculpture had been photographed and the objects that surrounded it. I sought out similar locations, photographing various elements, using a mirror to interrupt, reflect and deflect what I saw. I then manipulated and collaged some of the images together – layering and modifying them in ​

(c) Briony Campbell, no title, translation of Heather's image, 29 April – 6 May 2015:

"I wanted to represent Heather's vision of water, sky and leaves. Taking the clouds directly I fused them with a tree. I interpreted her plant pots as the domestic element; at once giving the plants the love they need to grow but also asserting ownership of natural things. So in my translation the pots became a human holding tight to the tree. Where Heather repeated the plant pot motif, I took the lights on the horizon of my original seascape and floated them into the sky as stars. The image is a collage of three of my own photos (involving long exposures) and one element of Heather's image.” www.brionycampbell.com

(c) Anna Cady, no title, translation of Matt's image, 13-20 May 2015:

“A funeral urn? Cremating, containing or representing the body? Black. Luminous. A sinister fairy tale. Hand made and performative. Air and fire inside the body as vessel. Air as breath. Internal and external. Containing and representing air simultaneously? Transforming ‘air’ into a solid ‘thing’. I perceive the central part of the vessel in Matt’s photograph as being made of glass. The colour, beauty and fragility of the projected, reflected colours in my film-still is as if it is to be seen as, or made of, glass. Just before it melts.” www.annacady.com

(c) Domingo Martínez, no title, translation of Anna's image, 20-27 May 2015:

“I perceive Anna’s image as a metaphor of wish and desire, but also of nostalgia and melancholy. The hand waiting for someone or for something to hold, or maybe just to be held. It reminded me of a photograph I bought in a flea market, which showed an arm from the same angle and a hand holding a child’s hand. I took that piece of the picture and drew it separately to express my own feelings. Then I reproduced the atmosphere in Anna’s picture, which I found very close to the nostalgic feeling I wanted to show, a feeling linked to a memory.” www.domingomartinez.es 

Family Group, Tintype, circa 1880

This is a typical 2¾x3½” framed tintype where the specificity of the seaside is hardly signified. The sea wall is used as backdrop, which was a common device in early seaside photography. The wall provided a natural light diffuser, thus preventing over exposure in harsh sunlight. The intergenerational group of sitters are dressed formally and relationships signified by the subtle touch of the central man’s hand on the shoulder of the seated female.