Friday, 19 August 2011

Exploring Ethiopia in Eastwood

Historically, Ethiopia has had a  particular significance for many.

The reasons for this can vary. Certainly, the defeat of Italian invaders by the forces of the Emperor Menelik II at the Battle of Adowa in 1896 was treated as a matter of almost symbolic significance by many Jamaicans and African Americans, as was the country`s independence throughout the colonial period.

When Ethiopia was for a short time occupied, by Mussolini`s forces during World War Two, solidarity groups sprang up in various parts of the world. While the efforts of largely black organisations such as the Ethiopian World Federation are documented, it`s also true that Ethiopia`s exiled Emperor Haile Selassie toured many parts of the world to drum up support, including at least one visit to a factory in Nottingham.

During the 1980`s Ethiopia became unfortunately associated in the public mind with images of starvation and suffering.

I don`t know whether photographer Alan C Clayden FRPS gave much thought to the sensitivities around images of Ethiopia, but I would say he`s done a fine job.

Ethiopia`s historical heritage is well represented  in this display by images of rock-hewn churches and ruined castles, but images of hardship are also to be found here, as for that matter are outstanding representations of natural beauty, whether large scale (landscapes and sunsets) or more detailed (the tangled roots of an ancient banyan tree).

I`m not someone who can comment on photographic technique, but it seems to me that Mr C has assembled an exhibition that combines scenes of beauty with rather grittier material. For sure, it`s Ethiopia seen through the eyes of a westerner but I cannot see that he has any agenda other than to stress the variety of Ethiopian life.

The exhibition is currently at the Rainbow Gallery at Durban House Heritage Centre (admission £3)  and I believe it does have a couple more weeks to run.

Warmly recommended.

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