Géraldine de Haan Photographer: ‘Along the way’

Ruth HartleyArt, Art Process, Family, Imagination, photographyLeave a Comment

Géraldine De Haan, photographer and friend

Geraldine is holding a circular photograph in which a moving figure is swirling.

Geraldine de Haan with one of her photographic works. Photo taken by Michel Maliarevsky for La Republique

I’m lucky to know Géraldine. She is an extraordinary photographer and a stalwart friend. She works tirelessly and quietly at her own photography, but is essential to the Quinzaine de l’Image organised by Peleyre Association and John Eden. She also curates art exhibitions brilliantly.

I know. She helped me with my Corpus exhibition at Peleyre.

ALONG THE WAY or ‘En cours de route’

The photo shows the legs and lower body of a young woman who is swirling a white semi-transparent sheet of fabric around the top on her body so that it appears to be disintegrating

Woman in movement

Geraldine de Haan‘s own exhibition titled ‘En cours de route’ – ‘Along the Way’ opened at Atelier20 in Tarbes last night. It is wonderful. Do go and see it. It is mind-opening work. It is reviewed in La République by Michel Maliarevesky.

Géraldine explains her work in her own words.

“It’s a group of work about the ephemeral  body, the creative process, and the way I appreciate my home here in France. For “En cours de route” I drew from my series created over the past 35 years, which works well in the intimacy of the Atelier 20 gallery space. Living far from my origins has given me the necessary perspective and distance to realise these projects. While my work is largely narrative and autobiographical the emotions it evokes are easily recognizable to others.”

Home is where one starts from

Photo shows a young woman with shut eyes and her head ttilted back slightly. Across her face is the shadow of anothr woman in profile

Geraldine’s sister

“1984, a Sunday afternoon at my parents’ house; I take pictures of my sisters close by. I realize that I have never approached people so closely, at least not so easily and naturally. Working in this familiar context makes me realise right away that it is important for me to have a connection with what I experience in my work.”

Recycling the blues. Cyanotypes

A baby's christening robe is transparent against a lit backgound

Epiphany. Dawn (L’Aube)

“Recycling the blues, the subject and the look of the images, are a play on words. The blue colour of Cyanotypy has an ephemeral quality. Using some 19th century techniques, I discovered the pleasure of preparing my own papers. There is a whole artisanal approach to producing images from negatives that I still like.”

The cyanotype process was invented in 1842 by Sir John Herschel (1792-1871), astronomer, physicist, English chemist. This process is based on the sensitivity of iron salts to light. The cyanotype was later used by architects and engineers for a simple and fast duplication of their plans (architectural blueprints) and technical drawings.


A round tin plate contains the heads of two sheep facing each other.

Exodus. Epiphanies and Revelations

“Born into a Dutch Protestant family, I am familiar with the Bible. On Palm Sunday and Holy Thursday the Jewish people planned their hasty departure from Egypt by preparing to eat lamb (Now celebrated as the Passover.) On Good Friday, the butcher in Plaisance – near where I now live – had lambs’ heads ready to be grilled. It was an evocation of instant history for me. The intimacy of the image, the look of this animal, cancels out the violence of the massacre.

“Following up an unexpected result after an exposure, I made some series on the moving body. I work intuitively, the realisation of a project is done after a period of experimentation in my lab. This creative process is varied; my work is in silver/digital and 19th century photographic techniques.”

Un matin très tôt/ Early one morning

Geraldine is shown taking a photograph of herself in an old glass mirror. The sun is lighting up the back of her head and casting a shadow on the glass

Early one morning

“Early one morning – I saw a huge shadow falling across the the mirror in my room.  It made me laugh so I took my picture, with the shadow and reflections.

A little moment of happiness in my home in the presence of light . . . it brings me strength through the harmony of its rooms, its age is reassuring yet it gives me a future.






Par une soirée tranquille/ on a quiet evening

The photo shows an avenue lined by pollarded trees and rows of neo-classical statues catching the last rays of the winter sun.

On a quiet evening

“Visiting Herrenhausen, near Hanover, in winter, as the twilight fell very quickly over the garden, I had the impression that the statues were beginning to live their own lives.”

The Quinzaine de l’image and  Peleyre Gallery and Association

Geraldine told me how much she has gained from her work with the Quinzaine exhibition since 2011 and how it has encouraged her own work and introduced her to  other artists and photographers. It has been inspiring  for her as it has also for me. The Quinzaine and Peleyre make a very significant contribution to art and photography in this region.

Geraldine’s exhibition: “Along the Way”

We went to the opening tonight. Geraldine’s work is spiritual, without religiosity,  it’s finely crafted, but powerful, it’s subtle and straightforward, it’s reverential and ordinary, it’s serious and light, it’s beautiful, it’s strong. It is something to see because you’ll always remember the images. It’s a lovely space and the photos are well displayed. It gives you an idea of the diversity of Geraldine’s work. You can see her website here.



Tanvir Bush’s novel, CULL is personal, political, & passionate

Ruth HartleyBooks, Politics, Publication, Reading, Storytelling, video, Writing4 Comments

Tanvir Bush’s novel, CULL is launched

Tanvir Bush speaks to the audience from a podium. She is wearing a dark outfit with gold and turquoise embroidery. Her long hair has a turquoise streak

Tanvir Bush

What a launch it was too! There were 100 people in the Town Hall for the event. The Corsham Bookshop laid on the wine and snacks and managed the book sales. The event was filmed and will shortly be on YouTube. There were reading and performances and  guests, Miro Griffiths and Esther Fox, colleagues of Tanvir and disability activists whose virtual appearance was made possible by the use of tele-presence robots. It was a book launch unlike any other I’ve seen.

CULL is published by Unbound thanks to Tanvir’s agent at Curtis Brown, Karolina Sutton.


Grace, Tanvir’s first, now retired, guide dog was there

A small black guide dog made of sugar icing

Grace, the sugar guide dog from the top of the cake

Grace, the sugar icing guide dog with her harness on

One of the novel’s heroes is a guide dog called Chris. Alex, the book’s main protagonist, like Tanvir, the author, is registered blind and Chris, Alex’s guide dog is essential to the plot. Obviously Grace is the model for Chris and she made  a very excited entry onto the stage at the launch to deserved recognition from her blind human, Tanvir Bush.

Why are there unnecessary deaths of disabled people?

An overturned wheelchair rests at the bottom of a flight of stairs surrounded by floral tributes

In CULL attacks on disabled people and suicides of disabled people become common.

A newspaper poster offers a reward for information about benefit cheats specifically showing a wheelchair user

IN CULL local papers offer rewards if the public shop so-called scroungers – note the wheelchair!

6 newspaper front pages claim that the majority of benefit claimants are scroungers or skivers

The front pages of newspapers describing benefit users as scroungers. These are not from CULL but current today.

As Tanvir said her book was completed some time ago but it looks as if her hard-hitting satire about the organised culling of disabled, homeless, old and ill people is becoming more salient every day. It was advertised by the up-ended wheelchair and floral tributes in the Town Hall lobby.  We had a minutes silence for those disabled people who have died or committed suicide and whose names were marked on black flags at the launch.


The good Dr Binding

The Nazi doctor responsible for the extermination of disabled children

Tanvir carried out considerable research for her story. One character, the good Dr Binding, is based on the fact that a few doctors who are seemingly kind and caring may also be capable of murder. Tanvir studied Hitler’s personal physician, Dr Brandt, who experimented on the best ways to kill people with learning disabilities.

The most important thing is to tell a good story

The cake – CULL, the book with Grace, the sugar guide dog

CULL, the book on display in the Corsham Bookshop

The blue-framed window of Corsham Bookshop with a book display

The Corsham Bookshop in Corsham High Street






So the novel is a political satire and personal for Tanvir but at the launch she made it clear that writing a great story is what counts for her. She read excerpts from her book while it was performed by Trisha Lee and Bill Moody of Make-believe Arts and that really enthused the audience who went on to enjoy wine, cake, and buy signed copies of CULL! It was a enjoyable and exhilarating evening which finally ended in the convenient pub next door.

In the newspapers

The Flemish Weaver – the pub next door to the Town Hall

Corsham Town Hall

Tanvir Bush and Ruth Hartley are on either side of Miro Griffiths who is part of the evening in real time on an Ipad attached to a free-moving robot

Tanvir, Miro Griffiths on the tele-presence robot, and Ruth pose for the camera

There is a write up of the launch in the Gazette and Herald which to my surprise has a photo of me with Tanvir! One of my best moments was talking to Tanvir’s mentor, Miro Griffiths MBE. Miro was on his tele-presence robot which meant we also danced and twirled!

I am so very proud of my daughter, Tanvir Bush.




The story of my stories — writing and publishing

Ruth HartleyAfrica, Books, Creativity, identity, Poetry, Politics, Reading, Reviews, Storytelling, The Love and Wisdom Crimes, The Shaping of Water, The Tin Heart Gold Mine, The White and Black Blues, Writing, Writing Process, Zambia10 Comments

The storyteller’s story

Colour photo of Ruth Hartley in 2019

Ruth 2019

Black and White photograph of Ruth Hartley aged 18

Ruth 1961

It is time to tell of my own journey as a writer from the young poet in 1961 to the writer of today. It’s a story of both writing and publishing.

I am in the process of publishing three more books right now. They are a novel, The Love and Wisdom Crimes, a memoir, When I was Bad and a book of poems, The Spiral-Bound Notebooks.

I’ve always told stories — as children do. I drew comic strip stories when I was 9; at 14 friends and I wrote and produced the Murderer’s Magazine at school. We hid it from the teachers and hired it out to the other girls. No photocopies in those days!

The Love and Wisdom Crimes – a long incubation

I started on poetry – it’s easier to hide and takes up less space and it’s more intense.

A thatched verandah by the shore of Lake Kariba

By the waters of Lake Kariba

the open page of a guestbook covered with writing

Notes in a guest book feature in The Shaping of Water.

I had children and did lots of unpaid and poorly paid work and THEN — the kids left home and I left Zambia. As a result, I had the time to sit down and write the story I’d had in my heart for 30 years, The Love and Wisdom Crimes.

I had plenty to inspire my writing, from Kariba Dam to art and wars in Africa. That’s easy, but doing it well and then, what next? 

Writing takes practice and needs to be learned

I went to Sally Cline’s excellent creative writing class in Cambridge. Then I looked for a publisher. It was the age before digital submissions. I sent off 40 heavy, stamped envelopes with a synopsis, my CV and the first 3 chapters of my novel. I had many rejections, but persevered. Fish Publishers did a beta-read. I was told my book was good, but hard to market.

It was The Very Worst Time to find a publisher

Publishers were flooded with books in English. Marketing and branding ruled, even the writer was branded. In spite of that, I carried on. I wrote poetry or plotted and planned books. I had been working and researching 2 other novels since the ’80s and my partner, John, and my daughter, Tanvir, encouraged me. One year I used Nanowrimo as a device on which to structure my writing work. In one month I had written half of my second novel, The Shaping of Water, and within a year I was looking for a publisher.

The Tin Heart Gold Mine by Ruth Hartley. Design by Terry Compton from a photograph of a Tin Heart on the First World War Cemetery at Marondera Zimbabwe taken by Ruth Hartley

Cover design by Terry Compton

The Shaping of Water book cover

The digital publishing revolution happened

A giant experiment was being conducted as publishers, self-publishers, and writers were busy inventing new ways to get their books published and find readers. I reckoned that, realistically, my books would still be a special case and not easy to market.

So I hunted around for a good self-publisher and decided to use Troubador for my next two books, The Shaping of Water and The Tin Heart Gold Mine.

The cost of self-publishing

If you self-publish it will be you who provides all the capital. You pay the publisher, the typesetter, the beta-reader, the proof-reader, the cover designer, the printer and you pay for advertising, reviews, publicity and media hype. You arrange your own website.

There is no short cut and you cannot do without any of these skilled people if you want to be sure that your novel is good enough.

It’s a different world for writers today

Every book has cost £100s before it even got to be printed — it has taken blood, sweat, tears and that most precious commodity — TIME! Readers are always getting an amazing bargain when they buy a book!

Now for the publicity for my new books

They will be published under my own imprint – ATypicalBooks.

At last, there’s The Love and Wisdom Crimes, a coming-of-age adventure story about a young woman who discovers to her cost that, in apartheid South Africa,  it is dangerous to love a revolutionary and a crime for a white girl to love someone black.

I am also publishing the poems written from 1961 onwards that inspired The Love and Wisdom Crimes. They were written in the actual Spiral-Bound Notebooks of that time. This time I am using a new self-publishing enterprise called Spiffing Covers.

Tanvir Bush, writer, her readers and reviewers

Ruth HartleyBooks, Nuanced Thinking, Politics, Publication, Reading, Reviews, The Tin Heart Gold Mine, Writing, Writing Process2 Comments

Tanvir Bush’s novel CULL has been published

CULL in the Corsham Bookshop window

My daughter, Tanvir Bush, is thrilled to have arrived at CULL’s date of publication and then discover this wonderful display of her books in the lovely Corsham Bookshop. These independent bookshops are greatly loved and prized by both writers and readers. The bookshop staff do great work in getting readers and books together – it’s a labour of love. Tanvir has a book launch planned for 22nd February in Corsham with the help of the Corsham Bookshop. It will be a special event and not to be missed. You can buy CULL there – or you can buy it from the publisher, Unbound.



The essential reviews

Display of the novel CULL in the Corsham Bookshop

Bookshops sell books thanks to their well-read and sympathetic staff, but sometimes readers only browse in bookshops. They take the advice of the bookshop staff then, like so many shoppers, whizz off to buy on line from Amazon because it saves money. Its sad – but we all do it.

Amazon does work for writers, however. Writers need the reviews that they get on Amazon to boost those magic selling algorithms. Please, Readers, if you buy CULL, or any other book, at a discount or not, from Amazon, do post a review and help the writer’s sales that way too.


Reviews of Tanvir Bush’s Cull

Here is the first review of the hero and her story from the Rachel Read it Blog Tour:- “Alex is a wonderful character, she is fearless, totally three dimensional and leaves a huge impression on the reader. Despite being given every reason to give up on life she refuses. She has some truly awful experiences across the course of ‘Cull’, some of which made me cry they were brutal. She, along with a bunch of disabled women whom society has deemed useless, are the only ones who can rise up and make a difference and the very opportunity they need is just around the corner at the Grassybanks grand opening…”



More reviews for the novel CULL by Tanvir Bush

Tanvir Bush smiling as she reads from large-print papers about her book

Tanvir Bush

“This is 2019 version of 1984 and we know Orwell’s words became our reality.  Tanvir’s CULL is also on the cusp of becoming true. Believe in Better is a new movement in CULL but not better as we know it. Quite the opposite. Tanvir paints a devastating picture of what will happen as the far right make life impossible for disabled people.

A must read to restoke the fire of protest as this satire is in real danger of being a reality.”

Jenny Sealey: Graeae

 “Bush is a master storyteller – a captivating and engaging read that introduces you to very believable characters –some not in human form – that tells of a potential future disability dystopia,  starkly. As a disabled person it sent shudders down my spine as the resonances are all too familiar, as it doesn’t just hold up a mirror to society in the UK today, but a colossal magnifying glass. My prayer is that it will make more people, especially those in power, sit up and take note.”

Ruth Gould: DaDa Fest

The Tin Heart Gold Mine Review

The cover shows a tin heart nailed to a tree with the book title "The Tin Heart Gold Mine" in gold across it

Cover design by Terry Compton Design

I too, have a new review of my novel, The Tin Heart Gold Mine on Goodreads from David Frye. David is a poet. We connected through stamps as he is a philatelist – of course, that’s another story.

This is what he says:-

“If you like novels that bring intriguing places to life, fill them with complex and nuanced characters, and tell stories that chart the hidden countries of emotions and relationships, then The Tin Heart Gold Mine should provide you with a memorable encounter with Lara and the people with whom she lives”.



Blood, a novel by Maggie Gee

Sadly, I can’t go to the launch of Maggie Gee’s new book. I will be buying it however! It sounds pretty fantastic!.


The Infinite Improbability of Satire – Tanvir Bush, author of CULL & guest blogger

Ruth HartleyImagination, Storytelling, Writing5 Comments

A writer reflects on her love of satire, and of Douglas Adams’s ‘A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’

‘There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.’

‘What? But, that is NOT a satire.’

We are having pre-Christmas dinner drinks and my older sister is glaring at me from the couch. Her glare has been known to melt galvanised rubber. Conversation stutters to a halt as all eyes turn to watch me burn. The glare is because I mentioned a recent commission to write an article about my favourite satire and have decided to pick The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. My sister has an informed view on this. Her view is that I am wrong. Under my sister’s glare, steam starts to rise from my once chilled glass of Prosecco. Her son, who is the political editor for a well-known magazine and is forced to trawl the corridors of power daily to mingle with the Westminster elite, sighs and reminds her about the Vogons.

My sister blinks, pauses. Sits back from her tiger’s crouch. We all relax somewhat and I blow on my now hot drink.

‘Well…’ she concedes. ‘I still say it isn’t satire. It’s parody.’

‘Vogons: They are one of the most unpleasant races in the Galaxy. Not actually evil, but bad-tempered, bureaucratic, officious and callous. They wouldn’t even lift a finger to save their own grandmothers from the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal without orders – signed in triplicate, sent in, sent back, queried, lost, found, subjected to public inquiry, lost again, and finally buried in soft peat for three months and recycled as firelighter.’ Read More and Comment …