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Read, Watch and Listen

Two Boys in a Goatcart, Tintype, circa 1880

Goatcarts were popular Victorian entertainment rides for children at the seaside and these two boys typify similar images circa 1880. They do not smile, the cart is still and the sea wall offers a stark and static backdrop for the camera’s slow shutter speed. Images such as this, whilst commonly referred to as tintypes are actually ferrotypes – a direct positive image on enamelled iron.

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International Conscientious Objectors Day is marked around the world each year on May 15th. In July 2011 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that ‘states must respect the right to conscientious objection as part of their obligation to respect the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion', bringing European law in line with international human rights standards 

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”

The Market at 9.00am

By 9am the market is bustling. Mapusa Market is particularly famous for its bananas, with four varieties available year–round. Many of the local restaurants, catering for Goa’s huge tourist industry source their vegetables, fish and meat in the market. Vegetables are essential commodities and prices fluctuate widely for a variety of reasons. The price of onions reached an unheard of 80 rupees per kilo in 2015 causing serious political alarm.

Family Group, Ambrotype

This is a seaside ambrotype – a glass plate positive image. Ambrotypes were from the 1880s largely superseded by the American imported tintype. It was obvious to see why, the tintype whilst in many ways inferior, was cheaper, lighter and obviously far more durable than glass. Clearly pragmatics such as cost, speed and material resilience took precedence. But both ambrotype and tintype offered instant gratification – photographs taken and finished while the Victorian client waited.​

Panel two detail

Photographs of people across the panels generated readings related to family and the impact of war, particularly loss, suffering, love, absence and separation, such as “the fragility of an individual family in a wartime situation”. The photographs led some viewers to reflect on personal experiences and family histories, one viewer responding that the woman and barbed wire reminded them of “someone I knew who was in some kind of internment camp as a child in World War Two”. 

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”

Polio

4pm. Arjun Pankar begs for a living. Of India’s estimated 4 million beggars, those who are incapacitated through polio are not generally stigmatised. Although others are not so fortunate, there is a generous culture of giving alms in India which is promoted in Hindu culture. Arjun Pankar, who has lived in Mapusa all his life suffered from polio in his childhood when it was endemic across India. More recently, an aggressive eradication campaign resulted in the last reported case being in 2011.

Unframed Family Group, Tintype

This unframed tintype is taken at the coast, with the beach and sea wall present. To further indicate place, seaside paraphernalia of buckets, spades and bonnets are either held or laid out. Indicative of somewhat slapdash photographic practice, the fishing net pokes out absurdly from the father’s head. The image is at once formal, but made informal by the (mis)placed net and further ‘softened’ by the boy in the back row beginning to move into a half-smile.​

Panel three detail

Conscientious objectors and their families received white feathers as a symbol of cowardice, so these were included in both triptychs. One viewer particularly interpreted the family photo and feather as “carrying disgrace of white feather, suffering through loss and convictions of others, betrayal of country and church to support them”. Most viewers interpreted the feather as cowardice but there was some aberrant decoding, including “for pigeon carriers at the front line”, “elements of nature”, “symbol of peace and love” and “writing implement”.