Photography studio, gallery and training complex

They Eat Witches, Don’t They?

We strive to find exceptional speakers for our CLUB/f2 meetings at Fotofilia and I think we once again struck gold this month when Grenville Charles travelled down from Sheffield to speak to THE CLUB (and a few f2 members too).

Grenville’s talk, teasingly entitled “They eat witches, don’t they?” was a fascinating combination of beautiful photographs (taken variously on Leicas, 5″x4″ and Canon DSLR) and equally enthralling tales of the tribes and people of West Papua that he lived among on his various trips to the region.

The slideshow was divided into sections – one for each of the very different tribes: the Dani, the Mek, the Asmat, and the Korowai and Kombai.

By the end, one’s head was briming with images and tales of penis gourds, tree-climbing dogs, stone axes, bat-wing earrings, self-inflicted amputation, boar’s tusk nose jewellery, snakes, and – gulp – sago grubs.

All of this was delivered in a very understated, matter-of-fact way. Why is it that the photographers I speak to who have seen the most amazing things are the least likely to jump up and shout about it? 

And these scenes are amazing. A diverse, remote people speaking in hundreds of distinct languages, united only by their threatened way of life and common enemy – the Indonesian government’s intention to wipe them out and replace them with non-Papuans (if that’s the right noun).

Grenville brought along some of his self-published books but I have also seen his large and beautifully printed black and white prints which better display the subtle tones of this often dark, jungle world.

Thank you Grenville for a great evening.

If you’d like to know more or see more work, please visit Grenville’s website and blog – http://www.grenvillecharles.co.uk/gallery-list  and http://grenvillecharles.blogspot.com/

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