A mass rally honouring the late Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, who died on Friday aged 90, has filled Revolution Square in Havana. The gathering began with the national anthem and ended with a tribute from Castro's brother Raul. It was attended by a number of world leaders.
In 1992 I spent just over a month travelling and photographing in Cuba. The work was titled “Tenacious Roots” and documents the social and economic changes that were occurring in Cuba just after the Soviet Union withdrew its support. The biggest impact came from the loss of cheap petroleum from Russia. Gasoline quickly became unobtainable by ordinary citizens in Cuba, and mechanized agriculture and food distribution systems all but collapsed. The island's woes were compounded by the Helms-Burton Act of 1996, which intensified the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, preventing pharmaceuticals, manufactured goods, and food imports from entering the country. During this so-called "special period" (from 1991 to 1995), Cuba teetered on the brink of famine. Tourism was being introduced but only in a “sanitised” form where there were different hotels, restaurants and shops for the Cubans.
Castro orchestrated the Cuban Revolution and was the head of Cuba's government until 2008. Opinion on Fidel Castro, who ruled Cuba as a one-party state for almost half a century, remains divided.
Supporters say he returned Cuba to the people and praise him for some of his social programmes, such as public health and education. But critics call him a dictator, who led a government that did not tolerate opposition and dissent.
On Wednesday Castro's ashes will be taken on a journey to Santiago, which is regarded as the Cuba's 1959 revolution. The ashes will be placed on Sunday in the Ifigenia Cemetery in Santiago, where Cuban independence hero Jose Marti is buried.
I received an honourable mention for my photograph in the “Children of the World” Category of the 11th Black and White Spider Awards.
After school, children played and cooled off in the river. The picture was taken in Rwanda whilst working with the organisation, DelAgua.
Celebrating its 11th year, Black and White Spider Awards is the leading international award honouring black and white photography. This celebrated event shines a spotlight on the best professional and amateur photographers in a prestigious annual competition and globally webcast event, reaching photo fans in 154 countries.
With a collective Judging Panel of the world’s most recognized experts the Spider Awards is the industry’s most authoritative and important photographic event for black and white and mono art.
I also received four other nominations in various other categories.
I was recently assigned by architects CallisonRTKL to photograph the new five-star hotel in the Black Sea Port of Batumi, Georgia.
The two day shoot was to include the Argo cable car and viewing platform. I worked 16 hour days, rising at 4.30am to catch the sunrise and wrapping up at 9pm, just after sun down. The hotel sits between the Black Sea and Park containing a Dolphinarium, zoo and Nurigeli Lake, which is home to lots of noisy frogs. On the first morning of photography before the sun was up I was completely thrown by the sound of dolphins, a strange croaking sound plus some sort of monkey!!!
This 75,000 m2 mixed-use development comprises two towers; a 21 storey hotel tower for Hilton International and a 19 storey tower residential tower. The Hilton Batumi occupies the first tower offering 247 rooms including a health spa with indoor swimming pool and fitness centre. The hotel has seven meeting rooms, a ballroom, a 24-hour business centre and an executive lounge. It also has a corporate space that can cater for events or celebrations for up to 750 guests and a sky bar that boasts magnificent 360 degree views from the 20th floor.
The second tower consists of 114 residential apartments and the remaining part of the development includes retail units, a casino and 260 car parking spaces in the basement which also incorporates back of house facilities.
Innovating engineering techniques have been used for both the design and the construction of the shared two storey basement with high water table and creation of deep piles in a seismic zone. Mace provided the construction management and cost consultancy services with Engenuiti as the structural engineers responsible for the detailed design of the structural steel work and peer review of working drawings and design for the reinforced concrete frame. Ara design was responsible for the interiors with CallisonRTKL as the overall architects.
CallisonRTKL was recently named as one of the top 5 hotel sector design and construction firms by the international magazine “Building Design and Construction”
I was recently commissioned to photograph The Argo entertainment centre and cable car system in Batumi, Georgia for the architects, CallisonRTKL.
The Argo complex is a 2km long aerial tramway linking the heart of Batumi’s waterfront which is situated on Georgia’s Black Sea coast, to the Argo entertainment centre developed on Anuria Mountain. At 250 m (820 ft) above sea level, this sightseeing centre provides visitors with some unmatched views of the city, the Black Sea and the surrounding mountains. The centre comprises of a restaurant, cafe, retail shops, open air halls and roof terraces.
The Lower Station is an impressive angular glass building and is located on Gogebashvili Street on the waterfront. and is connected by cable car to the Upper Station on top of Anuria Mountain. The Argo entertainment centre is designed to give the viewer the impression of being on a ship using symbols from the boat by which mythical Jason and Argonauts sailed to Kolchida. Vela Tower is clad in aluminium panels with rich golden glass windows.
The Argo entertainment centre and cable car have already become one of the most visited tourist attractions of the region.
Batumi—the “Pearl of the Black Sea,” as it is often called—is located in the autonomous republic of Adjara. European architects undertook numerous projects in Batumi at the beginning of the 20th century, and today it remains a hub of architectural innovation.