Shooting the past

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Who: Bruce Litson, ex-Dorset Echo photographer.

What: Memorial photo exhibition.

When: Until March 22, 2013.

Where: Mulberry Gallery, Weymouth Library.

How: Journalists look after their own. I remember many of these faces from the Dorset Echo newsroom (and from various wakes and piss-ups).

Briefly, tonight, I’m reunited with a host of photographers, darkroom assistants, fellow reporters, advertising executives and editors. Some I only know by reputation. Some I don’t know at all.

I didn’t know Bruce, but was chuffed to be invited to this exhibition of his work by my old deputy news editor, who penned a moving tribute to the work of his former friend and colleague in the Echo magazine.

(This may or may not be in connection to a client I now work with, Palmers Brewery, donating cases of wine for the launch night!)

What a fabulous smorgasbord of arresting black and white images. Their lovingly hand-calligraphed titles bear the unmistakeable whiff of headlines past – Cars Dumped At Portland Bill, SAR Cliff Rescue, Travellers At Shaftesbury, Tank Man At Bovington.

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There are seductive portraits of places I’ve seen, but never been – Whitcombe Racing Stables, Chickerell graveyard, Dorchester Prison, the Ridgeway railway tunnel, close to where I grew up in Upwey.

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Other images are natural as breathing for anyone who’s ever lived in Weymouth –
a seagull taking off, deckchairs and dog walking on the golden sands, rowing boats on Chesil Beach (although maybe not in the snow).

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Mike Woods, editor of the paper when Bruce was there, summed things up well: “He knew the people, the places and the pubs. The result is a wonderful kaleidoscope of life in Weymouth and Dorset in the Eighties and Nineties.”

I’m no art critic, but it seems to me there’s an unmistakeable atmosphere slinking off these photos. Composition is quirky, the subjects compelling.

Anyone with an interest in local news should go along and take a look. Photos are on sale in aid of Weldmar Hospicecare Trust.

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