Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Picture Post 68 - Tagbilaran's Tailor and Barber Shop, a postcard from the Philippines

Tagbilaran is a major town in the Philippines on the Visayan island of Bohol. A town of over 100,000 inhabitants, it is a busy place with a great indoor market, some beautiful ancestral homes and easy access to the historical churches and natural sites on rest of the island. 

During my recent stay in the Philippines I spent a few days in and around Bohol. When walking in Tagbilaran I noticed a sign advertising an unusual business combination - Syvel's Clothier and Barber Shop. I have only come across this combination once before, several years ago when I had a haircut in a dry cleaners' shop in Nandi, Fiji. Syvel's is an open fronted establishment and as I passed there was no-one in the front of the shop. I went in anyway to see if anyone would appear and a man came from behind a curtain to tell me that the barber had gone to eat but would be back soon. 

The curtain separated the salon from what at first looked like a family living room. Three young people, two teenagers and one little girl, were sitting at a table enjoying their lunch. They smiled and said good afternoon as if it was perfectly normal for a stranger to be there. There were also two men on the other side of the room, both of them sitting at sewing machines. They also greeted me before resuming their work. The first man invited me in to wait and we chatted briefly, him teasing me about whether or not I was looking for a wife. I told him I was only looking for a haircut but there was something else I would like. I am fascinated by the tailoring profession. It is an ancient, portable skill, disappearing in the west but still important in many parts of the world. One of the tailors was wearing a Tarsier t-shirt and sitting in front of a red curtain which was decorated with yellow flowers. The colourful backdrop and jolly t-shirt brightened the room which was otherwise devoid of natural light. Of course, I wanted to photograph him. He was happy to oblige. 

At this point the barber returned and showed me to the chair. Friends know that cutting my hair is not a big job but in the 15 minutes it took him to "tidy me up" as he said, he gave me a rundown on English football, Filipino basketball and one or two other sporting matters. I've been to barbers' shops in many parts of the world and almost all of them want to talk about English football. I grew up in Middlesbrough so football has no interest for me. As I was about to leave the first man reappeared and asked me to take his picture together with the barber. So I did and they were happy. 

You might also like Picture Post 66 - Faces of the Philippines.

You can see more pictures from the Philippines here.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Clapham Art Deco and Modernism

Some years ago I worked in Clapham in south London. I recently returned and was so impressed with the changes that I began looking in estate agents windows. Just looking I'm afraid as I can't get near the prices, but there was still plenty to enjoy. There are many good quality cafes and restaurants, a fabulous ice cream shop, an independent book shop and real bakers and butchers (even if I am a vegetarian). More than this, since I worked there Clapham has a new library and although it happened some years ago, the Council has also modernised its leisure centre. All good then. But even better, there are some very elegant art deco buildings that I have enjoyed discovering. Some of my favourites are featured in this post.

Trinity Close
Windsor Court
The Pavement is just around the corner from Clapham Common station and overlooks the Common itself. It is also the location of two art deco buildings that stand next door to each other. Trinity Close was designed by J.J. de Segrais and built in 1936. It is an elegant style moderne apartment building spread over five floors, set back from the road with an "in-out" driveway and small landscaped garden. The facade is constructed of dark bricks with two beautifully curved protrusions and a recessed central section. The main front door is protected by a simple concrete canopy which is in need of some care whilst at the upper level there is a small balcony topped by a sculpture.

Right next door to Trinity Close there is another stylish block of flats - Windsor Court. The ground floor is given over to commercial units (including that ice cream parlour) with a series of flats above. The main features are the two long balconies in the centre of the facade, one bearing the date of construction - 1935. The building name is displayed centrally above third floor and is topped with what was once a "tower" the impact of which is now lost due to the extra floor added in recent years. Neither Trinity Close nor Windsor Court are listed but both have a degree of protection due to their being located in the Clapham Conservation Area. I have been unable to find details of the architect for Windsor Court. Earlier this year a two bedroom flat in Windsor Court was sold for £569,950  which seems remarkably "cheap" both for London generally and for the location.

Maritime House
Maritime House is just a little further on from Windsor Court, in Clapham Old Town. Originally the headquarters of the National Union of Seamen it is a mixture of styles with what has been described as a neo-Georgian design and some nice deco elements. These include the dominating central tower with its large carved dolphins and ship's prow - the work of sculptor PGV Bentham - and nautical themed detailing on the doors and ground floor windows with waves and reliefs of ships. The architect was L.A. Culliford and Partners and the construction was completed in 1939. Until recently the local Job Centre was based here as well as offices and flats. There may be plans to convert the rest of the building to residential purposes.

Clapham Common North Side is home to two more restrained art deco/modernist buildings - Woodlands and Okeover Manor. They were built on the site of an earlier pair of Victorian houses which for various reasons were demolished and the current structures built in 1934-35. They are of relatively austere design but both have interesting features including Crittal windows, a porthole to the side of the main door of Woodlands and a recessed facade with two central balconies in the case of Okeover which  also has a rather attractive "jazz style" iron gate. Again, it has not been possible to identify the architects for these two buildings. 

Okeover attracted significant notoriety in the past. In 1953 it was connected with a murder that took place on the Common whilst in 1969 Assia Wevill, mistress of poet Ted Hughes committed suicide in flat 3 by gassing herself and her four year old daughter. On a lighter note, the Okeover also has a Blue Plaque for music hall artist Marie Kendall who lived there in her later years before passing away in 1964.

Okeover Manor
Westbury Court and Clapham South Station
Clapham South tube station is one stop away from Clapham Common. Opened in 1926 as part of a Northern Line extension it was designed by Charles Holden and was originally to have been called Nightingale Lane Station. Built as a single storey structure together with adjoining shops, it was always intended to build residential accommodation above. This did not  happen until 1937 when Westbury Court was added. This large apartment block dominates its corner location. Its red brick facade is relived by green detailing around the windows and cream bands between floors. There are also some decorative elements in the design of the brickwork on the side facing the Common. Designed by Edmund Cavanagh, Westbury Court is perhaps not the most elegant of Clapham's 1930's apartment buildings but it did offer a restaurant, a staff of eight, a night porter and a gardner to entice residents in the 1930's. Amongst other things the staff were required to remove bins from specially designed hatches and take them to the refuse lift.

There are two extremely impressive buildings within a few minutes of the station. I have recently posted about both of them. The former Balham Odeon cinema on Bedford Hill opened in April 1938 as part of Oscar Deutsch's famous chain of the same name. It experienced mixed fortunes over the years, finally closing in 1982 before being converted to its current use, Majestic wine stores. You can see more pictures of the cinema and read it's full story at my previous post.

Hightrees House in Nightingale Lane was built in 1938. it was designed by RWH Jones who was also responsible for the iconic Saltdean Lido near Brighton. The 110 units had access to a private restaurant, bar and swimming pool as well as to the roof terrace. Hightrees House was also the subject of a famous legal battle over rents, the details of which can be found, together with more about Hightrees, in my previous post.

The former Balham Odeon
Hightrees House
The Oaklands Estate on Poynders Road is a ten minute walk from Clapham South station. It consists of three blocks of five storeys and a total of 185 flats. Built in 1936 by the former London County Council under the supervision of E.P. Wheeler, it is a striking modernist, social housing development. The two upper floors contain larger units and were designed as maisonettes. Following progressive design principles of the 1930's, each flat has wide steel-framed windows to enable maximum natural light. The most striking external features are those magnificent white balconies  that run the full length of the buildings at the lower level whilst the shorter corner runs include "rule of three" decorative indented stripes. Although the estate lacked the fancy porters, bars and restaurants of private flats they did offer shared facilities including a rear courtyard, children's playground, clubhouse, bicycle racks and invalid chair storage. The estate is unlisted, but has protection through being part of a designated local conservation area.

Oaklands Estate
Oaklands Estate
One of the challenges of researching 1930's architecture in London is that in many cases, details of the architect and date of construction have been lost. Some of the buildings mentioned above fall into this category but for all of them we have at least the date of construction. I have been unable to find any historical details for the former HSBC Bank at the corner of Clapham High Street and Stonhouse Street. It is a handsome building with attractive streamline features, a recessed upper level, portholes and contrasting cream panels and red brick on the facade. Any information would be most welcome!

Former HSBC Bank
You might also like Streatham Art Deco capital of South London

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Picture Post 67 - Hightrees House, Classic Art Deco in Clapham

Hightrees House on Nightingale Lane overlooks Clapham Common and is a short step from Clapham South tube station on the Northern Line. Commissioned by the Central London Property Trust Ltd, construction was completed in 1938. The architect responsible was RWH Jones who is best known for designing the iconic Saltdean Lido just outside Brighton as well as a number of hotels.

The building has 110 units, most of them three bedroom flats but there are also some with four bedrooms and a few bedsits, all arranged off central corridors. Many apartment blocks constructed during the 1930's offered a range of ultra-modern conveniences in order to attract residents and Hightrees House was no exception. The basement included a restaurant, bar and swimming pool as well as storage space for the deck chairs set out on the flat roof during good weather. Other modern features included the provision of electric heaters, radios and clocks in the living rooms. The building still has a swimming pool as well as a gym and 24 hour porter service. Sadly the bar and restaurant are no more. The early tenants would also have had easy access to the former Balham Odeon Cinema, another impressive Art Deco building less than ten minutes walk away.

Despite the modern design, the convenient location near to the tube and good local facilities, the outbreak of war just one year after construction was completed meant that it was difficult to attract takers. In response to this, the lessees formed a company, High Trees House Ltd, which negotiated a 50% reduction in rent in 1940. By 1945 the flats had all been taken and the landlords took legal action to both set a new rent and recover monies lost during the War. The landlords were able to raise the rent from 1945 onwards but lost their case for retrospective payments in a landmark judgement given by Lord Denning.

Hightrees House has been very well maintained. The red bricks contrast beautifully with the white concrete curved balconies placed on the facade and ends of the block. The balconies taper as the building rises. There is also a "thermometer" - an impressive glazed stairwell on the front of the building and stylised lighting at the entrance to the grounds. An extra floor has been added in recent years and although it is slightly recessed, it is clearly visible from the street and detracts somewhat from the original design.

Clapham has a number of excellent Art Deco and modernist buildings. Look out for most posts on them - coming soon!

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Josef Berlin - Modernism in Tel-Aviv

Josef Berlin was born in Mogilev in today's Belarus in 1877. He studied at St. Petersburg Academy of Art graduating  in 1911, going on to win several architectural competitions. He designed at least a dozen buildings for various municipalities and banks before making Aliyah (emigration to Israel) in 1921. Once in Israel he obtained work as the Chief Architect in the Public Works Department of the trade union Histadrut. During his three years there, he designed a number of buildings in Tel-Aviv including the Electric Corporation on HaHashmal Street, a textile factory and a number of private houses. These included the Shapira House in Bialik Street which later became a synagogue. In recent years the building has been surrounded by hoardings, awaiting renovation.

Former Ha'aretz print works, 56 Mazeh, built 1932
When Berlin arrived in Tel Aviv the prevalent architectural style was Eclecticism which combined elements of art nouveau with Oriental and Biblical motifs. Although influenced by this style, he did not adopt it in its entirety. He preferred to work with elements of classical architecture whilst using locally available materials including concrete and lime mortar. Leaving the Hisadrut in 1924, he formed a partnership with Richard Pancovsky, a civil engineer from Czechoslovakia. Together they founded the Association of Engineers and Architects operating out of the Twin Building a 7-9 Mazeh Street which was designed by Berlin and included his family home. Today the building houses a bookshop and a cafe.This new venture initially included a school of architecture under Berlin's direction but it closed after one year. Pacovsky had trained in Prague and he may have introduced his new partner to the work of Skupina, an influential Czech avant-garde movement.

Former Moghrabi Cinema, completed 1930
Berlin's iconic Moghrabi cinema was completed in 1930. For this project he pioneered the use of silicate bricks and from then onwards dropped all classical references. Examples of his work with this material can still be seen at 46 Allenby and in his son, Ze'ev's work at the fabulous former home of the poet Ravnitzki at Ahad Ha'am 80. Sadly, the Moghrabi was damaged by a fire in 1986 and was demolished. Many older Tel-Aviv residents still have memories of it. Another of his designs, the Ohel Mo'ed synagogue on Shadal Street, was completed in 1931.  This building which still stands, is best admired from the inside where you can look up into its mesmerising dome. The Ravnitzki house, built in 1929, is currently under restoration and hidden behind hoardings.

Ravnitzki House, 80 Ahad Ha'am, completed 1930.
Dome interior, Ohel Mo'ed Synagogue, Shadal Street, completed 1931.
Ze'ev Berlin was born in 1906 and trained as an architect in Brussels. On his return to Tel-Aviv in 1932 he worked in partnership with his father and then, in 1936, moved to Haifa and established his own practice. During the period of their partnership, they designed several buildings in the city including the recently restored apartment building at 82 Rothschild and my favourite Berlin structure
the former Ha'aretz newspaper print works. This modernist gem tucked away at 56 Mazeh, was built in 1932 to the designs of father and son. Mazeh is primarily a residential street and would have been completely so at the time the print works were constructed. It is surprising that permission was granted for a noisy industrial unit that may well have operated through the night, printing the next day's edition.

Ha'aretz left the building some years ago but the current owners have retained the original facade, maintaining it in excellent condition. It has strong features, with extensive use steel framed glass, rounded balconies and balustrades and a cantilevered roof. However the highlight for me is the glazed corner stairwell that gives views into the zigzag staircase, adding drama to the design. Its squared-off corner contrasts with the curves of the rest of the balconies. It is possible to peep through the door and see a reproduced image of the building back in the 1930's. The only significant difference is that it still bore the name of the newspaper on the facade. 

Some commentators have compared the former print works to the early works of Bauhaus luminary Walter Gropius and those of Erich Mendelsohn who deigned the de la Ware pavilion in Sussex. But I feel that this is Berlin's own style drawing on his experience to create a modernist masterpiece - small but very beautiful. Josef Berlin designed at least 83 public and private buildings in Tel-Aviv, several of which can still be seen. He died in 1952 aged 75, whilst Ze'ev lived on until 1961.

Apartment building, 82 Rothschild, completed in 1932, restored 2013.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Swedish Modernism - Functionalism in Stockholm.

Modernist architecture swept across much of Europe during the 1930's. Whilst many of the new buildings were commissioned by wealthy individuals, a number of cities adopted the style for social housing programmes. Prague, Vienna, Rotterdam and Stuttgart all developed modernist estates for working class families. Each of these developments were based on the main principles of modernism including the use of new materials, access to outside space and a clean, healthy environment. In some cases, local influences also played a part in design and a different name was given to the style, emphasising this. In Sweden, functionality was emphasised and the style tagged Functionalism or "Funks" in Swedish.

Swedish Modernism received its greatest stimulus in 1930 with the staging of the Stockholm Exhibition. Inspired by the 1927 Exhibition at the Weissenhof Estate in Stuttgart, the Stockholm event ran from May to September and showcased the work of contemporary Swedish artists, craftsmen and designers. A number of temporary buildings were constructed for the event under the direction of architects Gunnar Asplund and Sigurd Lewerentz. Asplund had only just abandoned his earlier neo-classical style in favour of a stripped down modernism, the style adopted for the Exhibition.  As well as bringing Swedish design to an international audience, the event resulted in several commissions for modernist buildings. 

A number of social housing units in and around Kungsklippan a street in the Kungsholmen neighbourhood were built just a few years after the Exhibition. There are some spectacular examples of Funkis on Kungsklippan itself as well as a series of high rise apartment buildings in the surrounding streets. The apartments were built from reinforced concrete and although small each one included a fitted kitchen, bathroom and a balcony, implementing the principles of using modern materials and providing a healthy environment.  The first residents moved-in in 1934 and the Kungsklippan Housing Association was formed at the same time. It is now Sweden's second largest social housing organisation. Sven Wallander was the architect responsible for developing most of the area as well as for designing many other buildings in the city. 

Apartment building, Kungsklippen
Balconies, Kungsklippan
John Ericssonsgatan is a short walk from Kungsklippan. Number 6 is home to Stockholm's first collective housing unit. Built in 1935, it was designed by architect Sven Markelius who worked with fellow Social Democrat Party member, Alva Myrdal to draw up not just an architectural plan but also a plan for living. The building included a communal dining room on the ground floor from which meals could be sent directly to individual apartments by means of a "dumb-waiter" lift system whilst residents could also benefit from the services of a 24 hour childcare service.

These services were part of Myrdal's strategy for enabling women to go to work and to become "productive" and avoid becoming "indolent, fat and self-absorbed". These ideas were set out in her book Crisis in Population where she declared housework only fit for those who are "...frail, imbecilic, lazy, unambitious, or generally less get on with life". Myrdal herself chose not to live in a communal environment, preferring a house in the leafy suburb of Broma for her and her family. She was not the only one to have this preference and over time the working class families left the building to be replaced by bourgeois radicals, more likely to share her philosophy. Myrdal's radical views were not restricted to living arrangements. She also advocated compulsory sterilisation for the 10% least productive members of the population and is credited with influencing legislation introduced in 1934 that included forced sterilisation on eugenic principles. These laws were not repealed until 1975. She received a Nobel Peace Prize in 1982.

Markelius also designed the Helsingborg Concert Hall in 1932, was nominated to the board of design consultants for the UN Secretariat building in 1952 and later worked as a city planner. he was awarded a gold medal by the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1962.

Collective house, John Ericssonsgatan
Pahlman Institute, Sveavagen
But back to the house. The building's striking orange facade has a series of four slightly recessed columns that give the impression of waves or folds depending on the angle from which it is viewed. Each flat has a rounded balcony and access to the still working dumb-waiter that delivers food from the very nice Petite France restaurant located in the former communal kitchen on the ground floor.  The simple stews  and soups of the 1930's have been replaced with French patisserie and a menu that attracts the city's young professionals. It's funny how things turn out.

Sveavagen is a long boulevard that runs from Sergels Torg in the centre of the city to Haga Park in the north. Two wonderful examples of functionalism can be found there. Pahlman's training institute at 82-88 was built in 1930 and designed by Mauritz Dahlberg. This huge structure covers almost an entire block, with residential units above ground floor commercial premises. For the most part, the long facade is flat and austere but the at one corner there are five fabulous rectangular balconies and a curved, protruding tower running from the second floor to one above roof level. There are clear Bauhaus influences on this building. Pahlman's was established in 1881 as an institute for the teaching of business accountancy, marketing and writing, taking up residence here when construction was completed. Dahlberg studied at the Stockholm School of Engineering and was responsible for designing several buildings in the city in the 1930's and 40's. 

Detail, Pahlman Institute.
Sveavagen is also home to one of Stockholm's most iconic buildings and an early example of modernism which includes elements of functionalism and one or two Art Deco touches.  The Stockholm Public Library was completed and opened in 1928. Designed by the already mentioned Gunnar Asplund it is constructed in geometric forms with a cube surrounding a cylinder. The exterior siena-painted brick walls are topped with a decorative freeze carrying motifs of different library subjects and text in different languages. Asplund was also responsible for designing the terraces and the area surrounding the library, providing a link with nature. 

The interior is stunning. A small lobby decorated with scenes from Homer's Iliad leads to a narrow staircase that draws visitors intro the spectacular rotunda - the circular book hall. The room holds about 40,000 volumes arranged on three levels. It is a breathtakingly beautiful site (especially to this former Librarian!) and a real palace for learning, literacy and literature. Many original features have been retained, including the furniture made from black linoleum, leather and mahogany and beautiful Art Deco drinking fountains in the two large subject rooms that flank the main hall. The children's library includes a small story room with a fresco painted by Nils Dardel depicting an imaginary scene.

Asplund has been acknowledged as the father of Swedish modernist architecture. He also designed the Skandia theatre, built in 1923 which has a largely classical facade (with the exception of the doors and external lighting) but sports a stunning Art Deco interior (closed at the time of my visit) and the UNESCO World Heritage listed Woodland Cemetery, completed in 1920. The cemetery was a joint project with Sigurd Lewerentz.

Stockholm Public Library
The circular book hall
Detail, subject room drinking fountain 
There are examples of the Funkis buildings all over the city. Their distinctive balconies make them easy to identify despite the range of styles used in this single decorative (yet functional) feature of their facades. These include neat semi-circles, rectangular balconies of various sizes with solid, mesh or corrugated guards. A little indulgence to finish with...

Apartment block in central Stockholm
Apartment block in Olaf Palme Street.
Balconies in Kungsklippan

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Jerusalem - the people in the street

Jerusalem is one of the most stimulating cities in the world.  Important to three major world religions, not only does it have an extremely diverse resident population but it also attracts visitors from all over the world. The city also has hundreds of cafes, busy markets, street musicians and artists and a unique architectural backdrop that make it perfect for people watching and candid photography. This post includes some of favourite images from my recent visit.

Strolling with the strollers, Ben-Yehuda Street
Ben Yehuda Street in the city centre is packed with souvenir shops but still attracts many Jerusalemites who go there to eat, to meet friends or just to pass though this pedestrian thoroughfare on the way to somewhere else. I noticed the two Orthodox Jewish women in the picture above when I was sitting listening to a young woman playing the public piano at the bottom of the street. I like the way the mother on the left and the child on the right are looking at the camera whilst the other two look in the opposite direction.

And speaking of music, musicians can be found almost everywhere in Jerusalem. Abilities vary tremendously but I especially enjoyed the accordion playing of a young Japanese woman who performed a series of chansons near the steaming chairs in Jaffa Street and an Haredi singer and guitar player in Mamilla who gave superb performances of the Eagles' Hotel California and Marianne Faithfuls's As Tears Go By. Good as these two were the star of the show was another singer and guitar player at Shuk (market) Mahaneh Yehuda. Srugim is one of my all time favourite TV series, partly because of the excellent theme song originally recorded by Erez Lev Avi. One evening when walking in the market I thought the song was being played at one of the stalls. Turning on to Jaffa Road I realised that it was being performed live by a young man with a superb voice. A very excited crowd had gathered around him and unusually, waited to hear more songs once he had finished.

Japanese chansonnier on Jaffa Street
Haredi man performing "Hotel California" at Mamilla
This superb vocalist was performing outside Shuk Mahaneh Yehuda
Mahaneh Yehuda is one of my favourite places for candid street photography. It is full of people whose faces tell a story, sometimes sad, even distressing but always interesting. It is also fascinating to notice the differing styles of dress of - not necessarily related to religion or ethnicity but to their personal tastes. The weather was a little chilly and  many people wore scarves as protection against the cold. I liked the scarf worn by the man in the picture below but was also taken by his face where it was still possible to see traces of his younger self despite his age. He is quite stylish in an understated way. The man singing the Srugim song was also decked out in a thick scarf of orange, brown and red, complementing his thick brown jacket. 

My third scarf wearer was an older man I noticed several times. Dressed in what had once been a good quality coat and trousers he was a striking figure, usually upright and purposive despite his begging in the street. He sat a long way apart from the other beggars and I was able to take some candid pictures of him. The depth of the sadness in his face is astonishing and a reminder of how hard the lives of some of the people here have been.

Doing the shopping, Mahaneh Yehuda
Sadness, Mahaneh Yehuda
The market is also a place where unexpected things can happen. One morning a group of young people were making a film which involved a song and dance routine. Spotting one of the elderly herb sellers near the main entrance they asked him to sit in front of them whilst they performed. Not only did he oblige them but he stood up from his chair and did his own version of the dance routine, clapping and singing along with them before sitting down as soon as the song concluded and returning to selling his herbs. A star is born.

A star is born, Shuk Mahaneh Yehuda
Yusuf waiting for customers, Arab shuk in the Old City
Indian tourists visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Ethiopian Orthodox Christian women on the way to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
I first spotted Yusuf a couple of years ago. An elderly man with a bright welcoming smile, he is a tailor working in the Old City's shuk. This time I took an item of clothing to him for a simple repair. We chatted a little whilst he worked and he told me that he had been a tailor working in the city for more than 50 years. We spoke in Hebrew as I have only a few words of Arabic and he does not speak English. I asked him if there was much work these days. He said that there is very little work and that today, people prefer to buy something new rather than repair things. Work has become so scarce that he is considering closing his tiny shop. I was to hear a similar story from other tailors and also from a cobbler I met in Tel Aviv. My picture shows Yusuf waiting patiently for another customer. It is sad that these old skills, passed from one generation to another are now disappearing.

The old city is another great location for seeing people from many different backgrounds in close proximity to each other. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre receives visitors from all over the world. In the space of a few minutes it is not unusual to see groups of Russian, Ukrainian or Ethiopian Orthodox Christians, people from Latin America and Western Europe and possibly groups of Muslim tourists from India or Turkey. More recently there has been an increase in tourists from Asia and on this visit I saw several Chinese tour groups as well as Indonesians and Filipinos. In the late mornings, the courtyard in front of the church becomes full of people who enter through the narrow arch on one side or down a flight of steep relatively narrow steps opposite. It can become difficult to either enter or exit and also to get a clear shot or good pictures. Early morning is generally better whilst the quiet evening hours give the opportunity for low light photography.

During the time I spent in and around the courtyard, several Ethiopian groups visited. I noticed the mother and baby pictured below in the courtyard whilst the group of elegant more mature women were passing through the tourist shops that line the approach to the church. The group of Muslim tourists from India were striking due to the brightly coloured clothing of the women and the uniformly white suites worn by the men.

Cuddling up to mum, Church of the Holy Sepulchre
It takes ten minutes or less to walk from the Church to the Kotel in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. Again people from all over the world and of all faiths come here for many different reasons. I was there twice during my recent stay, once early in the morning and again in the evening after Shabbat had "gone out". My evening visit was especially interesting since people were still dressed in their Shabbat best clothes. The four young men in the gold coloured kaftans were chatting after the conclusion of prayers and I was able to take a series of photos of them as they turned and changed expressions whilst each one spoke. The Kotel is the most sacred site in Judaism but this does not mean it is a quiet place, People talk, pray out loud and there is much movement which can make it hard to capture clear pictures.  I was especially please to capture the morning prayers image with the young man facing in the opposite direction to the others and the seated man poring over the sacred text.

After Shabbat, the Kotel
Morning prayers, the Kotel
Nowhere is very far from anywhere else in the Old City. The Damascus Gate in the Muslim quarter is a very short walk from the Kotel. This is one of the busiest parts of the shuk and the place where local people go to shop for food and household goods rather than the more tourist oriented businesses near the Church and the Jaffa Gate. I visited on Shabbat when the Jewish quarter is quiet and people flock to this part of the old city. The area close to the Gate is packed with small shops selling all kinds of provisions whilst there are also people who set out their goods on the ground, especially women selling various kinds of herbs and vegetables. The woman in the picture below is one such trader whilst the boy carrying the bread was making a delivery from nearby bakery.

Jerusalem, everywhere you look there is something interesting to see...and someone interesting too.

Selling herbs near the Damascus Gate
Bread delivery, Damascus Gate
Elderly man, Damascus Gate

You can see more pictures from Israel here