By Chenelle Fernando
With the scenic view of the historic Galle fortress on one side, and the oceanic breeze from the glistening blue waters of the South on the other,
His dedication to the art has made him endure some of the most harrowing experiences that would only make one shudder. From the capturing of images and documentation of stories of the Vietnam War and the Lebanese war, to being imprisoned by the Idi Amin regime all the way through to contracting cerebral malaria in West Africa, Sir McCullin is no stranger to urban conflict.
Hence, why it comes with no surprise that he’s the proud recipient of an array of accolades, including the Premier Awards from the World Press Photo Foundation and Cornell Cape Award for Lifetime Achievement.
He is interestingly the second photographer to have become a Knight of the Realm in 2017.
Emphasis of the evening was nevertheless placed on his recent exertion: The Landscape. This could be taken as a step back from the distortions and the gunshots for it exhibits a stunning compilation of idyllic images that carry a dramatic feel and reveal an intimacy with conflict and destruction.
“When I see something, I kick into my second gear – the emotional side of me. I see things in an emotional way. I’d think, my God that road – men would have gone down that road and they wouldn’t have back…So when I’m doing these journeys, they’re journeys into my soul really. It’s not just lugging cameras around and standing in fields. I’m journeying into my soul and into my mind,” stated Sir McCullin, whilst sharing his life’s work.
As the session progressed, it was remarkable to learn how he stays true to his own black and white aesthetic, without having to delve astray, for he only captures images over the winter, that too with the aid of film.
The black and white imagery is essentially an attestation to this notion.
His audience comprised passionate onlookers who quite eagerly engaged with him during his session, and here’s what some of them had to say.
“He’s one of the world’s most remarkable photographers. He is well-known for his conflict photography, and one of the reasons I wanted to come tonight was because I did not know much about his landscape work, and it’s interesting that he uses that to somehow heal himself against all the post-traumatic stress and what he had to endure and witness.
We didn’t need any photographs; just the way he spoke was enough to illuminate what he was trying to say” Andree King
“It was a wonderful talk and such a piece of history with the emotions that he puts into his photography, and communicating positive things to the world through his work is fantastic”Jeff
“I thought this conversation was very interesting because it explored a lot of things. How photojournalism as a larger discipline plays a role in understanding the truth in everyday realities. Also, the aesthetics when it comes to landscape photography, its purpose and how it brings out beauty. It was also a conversation that incited a lot of the applied art of photography and how it can play a role in helping the readers to look at the world from different perspectives” Azara Jaleel
Photos Lalith Perera