Caught by the Los Angeles River

19 January 2018 // On Water

Jamie Collinson paints a picture of the LA River in all its greenery, grot and glory

In 1939 the LA river became inconvenient. Railyards, warehouses and other industrial buildings were springing up around it fast, and it would have been far easier to build them without the meanders. This was the time of the New Deal, and the vast expansion of American infrastructure. The project fit the bill, and so the Army Corps of Engineers came out and straightened the river into a concrete drainage channel.

It had always acted as one. Los Angeles is surrounded by mountains; the San Gabriels, the Santa Monicas, and further north the High Sierras. This vast latter range is where the winter snowpack forms, and provides most of Southern California’s natural water supply. (This supply being insufficient for a city the size of Los Angeles, the bulk is taken from Colorado, which can be a sore point.) When a good year’s snow melts, there’s a lot of water to run off, and that’s what formed the river. (more…)

Competition Results

18 January 2018 // Competition

Here are the results of our last couple of newsletter competitions:

First up, we had three copies of Scraps of Wool: A Journey Through the Golden Age of Travel Writing, recently released by Unbound, to give away.

We asked: An extract from Jon Swain’s River of Time appears in the book. But what is the name of the river on which it centres?

And the answer is: the Mekong. The winners are (more…)

Scenes of a photographic nature

18 January 2018 // Photography

Royal Engineers, Cutting on the 49th Parallel, on the Right Bank of the Mooyie River Looking West, about 1860. Collection of the V&A. Museum no. 40090

A few things which have caught our eye recently, and may be of interest to the photographically-iclined:

– The V&A’s Into the Woods: Trees in Photography display, on from now until 22 April, which explores the diverse representation of trees in photography – as botanical subjects and poetic symbols, in the context of the natural and human worlds. More info here.

Poetry of Place: Paul Hart’s Landscapes at The Photographers’ Gallery. This exhibition brings together three related series: Truncated (a study of an ageing pine forest plantation in Derbyshire), Farmed (an exploration of reclaimed marshland in the Fens) and Drained (documenting The Wash in East Anglia, that lies barely above sea level). Open until 18 February. More info here. (more…)

You’ll Never Walk Alone

17 January 2018 // Film/TV //Music

Ahead of tonight’s Caught by the River Mersey event, JD Beauvallet remembers the making of You’ll Never Walk Alone – the cult 1992 French television film on the Liverpool music scene:

Ian McCulloch & JD Beauvallet (still taken from ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’)

Back in the early 90’s, I received a rather odd visit to the offices of my magazine Les Inrockuptibles from Evelyne Ragot and Jérôme De Missolz, who had come to discuss a film project of theirs about the Liverpool scene. Their insight into the Merseyside area had not come from extensive travel, but articles penned by me following lengthy and often interminable interviews with the heroes of my youth: The Pale Fountains, The Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes, The Wild Swans and the like.

They had formed a romanticised view of Liverpool and went misty-eyed when they referred to the anecdotes and quotes from the musicians they intended to include in their film. (more…)

Mass Paths

16 January 2018 // Photography

Brian David Stevens chats to fellow photographer Caitriona Dunnett about her ‘Mass Paths’ series

Tea toned cyanotype of path to Bishop’s Cave/ coastal path (2015)

Recently our friends at Inside The Outside ran an incredible set of photographs from Caitriona Dunnett. The series, called ‘Mass Paths’, traced the pathways walked by Catholics to reach illegal Mass during penal times.

The Penal Laws were a series of laws imposed in an attempt to force Irish Roman Catholics and Protestant dissenters to accept the reformed denomination, as defined by the English state-established Anglican Church and practised by members of the Irish state-established Church of Ireland. The Catholic Church was kept alive by operating under great secrecy.

The locations of these sites were passed on by word of mouth. This local knowledge was handed down through generations. The oral tradition in Ireland disappeared gradually around the 1960s alongside land exchange and redevelopment.

I asked Caitriona a couple of questions about the series. (more…)