Updated: Mar 8
I am a photographer and inveterate traveller to places off the beaten track. My home is in Chiswick, a leafy, well-kept district with a village feel in the west of London. Chiswick (pronounced chizzik) grew up as a Thames-side fishing village, sited somewhere very near present-day Chiswick Wharf. Its name is usually reckoned to have meant ‘farm or trading settlement where cheese is made’ but it is possible instead that the eponymous characteristic here was not cheese but chesil – an old word for shingle (as in Dorset’s Chesil Beach). This spot could therefore have been a ‘shingly trading place’ rather than a cheesy one.
COVID-19 has put a temporary halt to my excursions abroad, so for the time being I have decided instead to focus on my local area and on memories of past trips overseas.
One of my favourite photographs (see below) was taken on 30 September 1987 with a cheap camera in the Bharkor Square in Lhasa, Tibet. Two small boys are facing me. One is saluting with a grubby hand and has a serious look on his face. Behind him, the other boy is grinning and making an obscene gesture with one finger. The sky is blue, with the intensity found only at high altitude.
On the day after I took this photograph, there was a major riot in the Bharkor Square. Several thousand Tibetans demonstrated in front of a police station that faced onto the square. The police station was set on fire. In the chaos that ensued, eight of the demonstrators were shot and killed. Twenty seven more were wounded. Two young boys were among the dead. They had been shot by uniformed men in the police station. I do not know if these boys survived the riot or not.
Most of my photographs of the riot were stolen on the day after the riot, but that, as they say, is another story...