Review - "Travels Towards the Edge", with Sue O'Connell & Peter Brisley, 16 Nov 2020

A review by Janine Scola - "Travels Towards the Edge" with Sue O’Connell FIPF ARPS EFIAP/d2 DPAGB BPE5* & Peter Brisley ARPS EFIAP DPAGB BPE2*, 16 November 2020
If ever there was a moment in which we could escape the wet and windy weather - this was it! The evening consisted of two halves, the first being led by Sue O’Connell, with Peter Brisley presenting after the break.

Sue first who took us off to Libya and Syria - in the days before the warring factions in these countries took hold and virtually decimated its historic architecture. In Libya, we were whisked off to Leptis Magna – one of the most marvellous Roman archaeological sites. Sue’s images of the remaining pillars and what must have been amazing palaces were wonderful. From here we travelled to Ghadamès – one of the oldest pre-Saharan towns. Stunning images of the many covered alleyways which link this town. The journey continued naturally into the Sahara; this is not simply sand - and much of it, but also phenomenal rock formations created by the sandstorms and erosion within this area. Sue encapsulated these vast structures with her amazing images, along with the nomads who travel through this vast desert.

From here Sue took us to Syria, and again, the many archaeological sites – her stunning images showed another world many centuries ago and sadly, now a historical record, following the ISIS incursion and the damage wrought on such wonders to rubble. Sue’s travels took us to Palmyra – just north of Damascus. Her incredible images of the huge pillars with the Citadel high in the background gave a real feeling of awe, but again another monumental site which has been badly damaged.

Sue then journeyed to Oman – a more peaceful environment and the delights of camel racing – when they got going!

In contrast, we were then flown off to the delights of South East Asia. Photographs of Java and its two volcanoes – Mt Semeru (still active!) and the crater of Mt Ijen were amazing, as was her journey to reach them! The wonderful colourful portrait images of the Festival in Jember – all the faces and costumes very elaborate, all expressing the fun of the gathering.

Onward again, this time to Myanmar or Burma as it was previously known. A more gentle feel to the imagery shown, from the little children in the monastery in their burgundy (boys) and pink (girls) robes. With her fortunate access, Sue was able to show the daily life encountered – and the discipline by which they live. Further travels took her to Inle Lake, and the ‘ballet-like’ way of the fishermen and the scenery of Bagan and its many stupas.

A place not on everyone’s ‘bucket list’ – Mongolia! Sue showed us the ‘Eagle Hunting’ and the magic of the Mongolian horsemen and their eagles – stunning – and now girls are taking part!

The last port of call was India and to Uttarakhand in the far north of this country and the Kumbh Mela festival. Sue’s images showed us all the colour – and flamboyance – that takes place. Wonderful images of the devotees all dressed in their varying shades of saffron and some of the rituals that take place.

And finally, a homage of images of the many faces seen on her travels – each with their own story to tell.

For the second half of this epic journey, we welcomed Peter . He of course travelled with Sue to each of the countries visited. They liked to be referred to as ‘photographers with travel’ rather than ‘travel photographers’ – and certainly their images are testament to that statement. When two travel together, each will have their own ‘take’ on what they see and how they wish to interpret that in their photography.

This was evidenced by Peter’s images, taking advantage of the special access gained during many parts of their spectacular journeys. Peter showed us the action during the camel racing in Oman, putting us into the atmosphere taking place.

In each of the countries visited, Peter portrayed superb portrait shots of the Bedouins of the Sahara, the weather-beaten faces of the Mongolians and the life written on the many faces of the Indian people.

Both Sue and Peter revealed the various ways in which their travel photographs can not only be interpreted in different ways, but how they can be formed into a Panel, even those that sometimes could be seen as unusable, put into a triptych with amazing effect.

A wonderful, entertaining and very interesting evening showing the unique styles of both Sue and Peter, taking us to countries not now available to visit, but certainly leaving us with that itch to travel again soon.

~ Janine Scola