Friday, 28 October 2011

A Delhi-lightful day!

Went back into Delhi in the morning in search of more fabric, the driver took me on a little tour,
Great city I was surprised by the open spaces and big parks..very British in many ways.
But never too far from traffic and hoards of people by the roadside selling all sorts .
I was taken to this underground Bazaar-market....very dark ...not a place one would want to spend too much time....thankfully I found some beautiful embroidered dresses to cut up.......
I didn't see many tourists down there...suffice to say I was the focus of attention...'Sir...Mr....Wait.....Stop.....look at this...... this good Mr english' ....and so on!....
Went to the huge Monument India Gate, looks the Marble Arch built to commemorate the 90,000 soldiers of the Indian Army who lost their lives while fighting for the Indian Empire, or more correctly the British Raj in World War 1.
Whilst taking pictures a street seller shadowed me wanting me to buy these ...what I describe as helicopter sticks...fired into the air by a catapult rubber band, then spirals down to earth like a sycamore leaf....good fun!..he started by saying 2 for 100 rupees ( £1 10p)...I walked away saying no.....'4 for 100 rupess'....still saying no as I walked away.....'6'.....'8'  eventually I brought 10 for 100 rupees..hours of fun these sticks!....
Back to the Circuit, lots of movement in the paddock, teams have big hospitality units...I noticed when you look closely at all the buildings either side of the paddock..there aren't many straight lines!.
Thursday day so all the journos were wanting the drivers impression of the circuit and India...with their media skills they batted diplomatic answers back.

A great event took place in the paddock around 4pm...along a  high metal fence were hung many paintings by under-privileged school kids and also kids with learning difficulties and mental handicaps.
there must have been 100 of them,  The kids had come from all over India and were asked to paint their surroundings...all kids between 8 and 16.  Blew me away!...such beautiful honest pure paintings...a real insight!..their dreams and desires were born out in these pictures.

All the kids gathering in front of their works....then all the drivers came and in turn signed all of them...great for the kids to meet the drivers and for them to put their signatures on the works but....somehow it didn't seem the right thing to do...signing all over the lovely works...but in December all the paintings will be auctioned off to benefit the kids directly very worthy..I loved one in particular painted by this girl with Cerebral Pusey...amazing expressionistic piece..loved it..I reserved it!
...although it was signed by Jenson may be popular....
After that I was invited to drinks in the Virgin Hospitality it was Bob McKenzie's 60th Birthday..he's a good friend of Virgin. He 's the Telegraph reporter and rally driver...and father to the BBC's Lee McKenzie
In the evening there was a big welcome reception at the Hotel with a Bollywood themed show...lots of great food..not too and plenty of whiskey...kept on filling our glasses!
I sat on a table with Ross Brawn , principle of Mercedes...had a chat with him about Iceland!
He loves to fish there....a great hide-away in the off season...also sat next to the new boss of Allsport
David Campbell..he used to be the O2 boss in Greenwich..lots of stories...although we couldn't agree that his mate Chris Evans had once opened an influential art gallery with a naff name.....wellhung gallery!
A really good evening, he invited me to join him tonight(friday) to the F1 rocks concert.  Metalica...quite useful already having the earplugs for the races!!!
Just back to hotel, another full day at the circuit, very hot 31 degrees and clear skies
But always very dusty, the track gets dirty very quickly, but it was the dust that stopped the second
free was 4 dogs!...stray dogs not a care in the world!..this could potentially
be a big problem during the race..looks out for some stray animals!, Martin Brundel describe that!!
In my capacity as a photographer with a small lens!  I took to the track during the 2 practice sessions...not many places to takes pics!....the snappers and cameramen are not too happy,,,usually there are holes cut into the high fences to takes pictures...many holes.....this track only has 7!
Seems very odd to me..
The paddock was so busy!..saw the CEO of Singapore track  and the German equivalent looks like the stands will be full this weekend..they look will see on TV.
There was a presentation of the trophies on the Track with Mr E and the CEO of the title sponsors AirTel, Mr E came up to and asked how my work was going and then introduced me to The nice...that means a lot to me...good day!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Incredible India!..

Such an apt word to describe India's glory..colours...contrasts!
It's Diwali festival this week, today (Wednesday) is the main evening..lots of fireworks and firecrackers filling the air with smoke and a very distinctive smell..unlike fireworks back home...they must lace there's with spice!

Not sure where to start...well in the fine words of Julie Andrews...although not her own....
At the very beginning....I flew in Monday evening arriving at the Indira Gandhi Airport Delhi ..very modern with new terminals.

The journey to the Hotel took one and half hours, the Hotel and resort Jaypee is owned by the same family and company that built the new as with the circuit the resort has the look of being completed five minutes ago!....
 But what an amazing new complex, lots of private villas, serviced apartments where I am and a big hotel where I am not...drew the short straw this time...but nevertheless..5 star service.. A huge golf course opposite...2 massive real life Elephants outside the main gates!..I have seen many animals since I arrived!   wild cows and monkeys co-habiting with humans... amazing..if the cow wants to cross the road then all the traffic stops...the monkeys seem to spend there time on various rooftops....I say rooftops... most of these roadside buildings...shacks....don't have roofs!

I took a trip to see the Taj yesterday, booked a car from the hotel. The trip to Agra took 4 what a journey!
 I must say I have never seen such poverty and desperate living conditions, we passed so many townships all by the hard to describe the appalling squalid nature of these places.......buildings in total ruin yet inhabited by so many.... directly in front of many a mass of household rubbish ..strewn across pools of effluent, often with a makeshift little plank acting as a bridge to get to the to this sits the vendors selling fruit and veg and other items to celebrate the passing of Diwali...then the  animals can be seen just idly wondering.....
Many of these people have no money..but all have big booming smiles ...curiously the seem content, control in many utter paradox!

They all have curious forms of transport...took some amazing pictures of...families astride a motorbike...5 members...then there were the tut tuts...think that what they call them....these little piaggio 3 wheel mopeds with a shell and seats...I had no idea so many people could squeeze in one!..speaking of squeezing's just accepted that 6-7 people can hang on to the rear of these vehicles on the highway!
Arrived to the beautiful! everything you imagine it to be..and not masses of people either..
A tour guide tagged me..but actually was a good move ..although he did try to get me to buy all sorts of Taj crap!....doesn't matter what monument... building you find yourself can always be sure that crap merchandise is never too far from the place!!
He also led me to the Diana bench! it's known here..well the queue to sit and be photographed was enormous...not sure what the guide said or did..but suddenly he led me to the bench ..the crowds parted!..there I was having my picture taken...funny!...
I learnt today that Mr Ecclestone went to visit the Taj by helicopter...if only I had known that...could have sponged a ride!...we could have both sat on Diana's bench!..I hope he did ....perhaps you will see that in the papers.

Only there 2 hours then the 4 hour journey back...but really worth the visit..suffice to say the Taj will appear in my painting..

This morning (Thursday)  was taken to the circuit, FOM has access to some drivers to chauffeur us back and forth, the track  Buddh International circuit of India is 20 mins from the Hotel, lots of roadside banners and hoardings advertising the roads built to service the circuit too, as we approached one could see the main grandstand getting bigger and bigger! far the biggest stand I've seen...enormous...with a roof thats fashioned like a wave...little like the new silverstone pit complex.
The circuit is designed by Herman Tilke....inevitably!...I must say it's an amazing circuit!
This afternoon I took a walk around the track...always love doing's a real treat,,and knowing that being new drivers have accelerated in anger yet!...half way around the track I was met by the Sutton brothers very famous photographers- Sutton images...really nice guys...not at all the stereotypical snappers I have mentioned in previous blog!....the 3 of us were then met on bicycles by Massa and his race engineer Rob Smedley, we all had a chat one does in the middle the circuit!.Rob was saying that the drivers will love the track...there are many duel racing lines for the drivers to take..this is unusual...makes for an exciting race..
.all the drivers walk, cycle or run the track with their engineers, but because this is the inaugural race they of course spend much more time..great to watch !
Met the promoter and CEO of the circuit Sameer, I had previously met him in Mr E's office in London, so knows all about the project, said he would line up some Bollywood celebs!!

My driver took me to a Fabric shop, he pulled up outside...these guys sitting outside the shop ..saw me get out the car, then immediately rushed inside preparing the shop for the tourist!!...funny to see...but I'm a canny shopper now...haggled them down to a price that suited us really takes so much time...but actually I quite enjoy this....although I made the fatal error in telling them that I was the F1 artist!....bought some lovely pleased!
Back at hotel, there's a big reception tomorrow night...not sure if I'm invited yet...hope so!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Red Bull....Heart and Seoul Winners!!

Sunday –Race day

Red Bull clinching the championship..Great day for red bull…great season!...

Taking pictures of the podium the two faces either side of Vettel, Hamilton and Webber .. tell a sorry tale of woe and frustration, Hamilton just about mustered a smile when he was given his trophy and webber in hurry to leave the podium …not before cheekily spraying the Prime Minister with Champagne!...I ‘ve noticed he likes to do that..cover the suits in  bubbly!.

The race started at 3pm local time so this morning woke up a little later…just as well ..had a late session in the Hotel bar..really enjoyable and relaxed chatting to Mark Webber, Herbie Blash, Charlie Whiting…and Martin Donnaly who had that horrific near fatal accident not long before Senna died…It was great to meet him, he’s a steward at this race… can’t see me picking up the names I keep dropping!

With each race of course one gets to know more people…and they are genuinely interested in what I’m doing…also chatting to the journo’s is always enlightening !...some of these guys have been treading the F1 boards for years and years…most stories are not blogable!!

And they do drink!..John Button was also at the bar..very entertaining.
Another busy race day for me, always enjoyable.  There was a very colourful vibrant opening ceremony before the race, lots of traditional costumes and instruments, They like to do this at Asian races..not so in Europe.
Then there was the drivers parade, so funny ...all the snappers were gathered on the track and myself to take pics of the drivers in front of the main grandstand when some of us noticed this Korean couple in amongst us..bold as brass taking pictures, no passes, just very bright outfits ...hilarious security all around ..didn't notice!
After the grid I had to rush up to the Government suite in the Paddock club where I met the Prime Minister of Korea..the protocol here is amazing ..very efficient
The PM ,Minster of tourism and the Province Governor all wrote a piece for the pleased...nice suite too.  All this happened half way during the race, so no mad rush.
The PM wrote about the race in the future being an iconic symbol of Korea's excellence in bringing Sport and Culture to the Republic.
I must say there has been quite a mixed response to the event , what is not in question is the drivers liking of the track..perhaps everything else takes time to diplomatically put!............
This race I was able to see parts of the de-rigging, my transfer didn't leave until 8, 3 hours after the race. What an operation and mostly working in the dark....fork-lifts all over the paddock lifting the huge containers into position, these guys will work all night, some of the containers are as well treated and looked after as the cars, quite a sight. The team riggers and FOM riggers change into their work gear, although the whole of Red Bull had changed into their victory t-shits with world champions written on the back...Christian Horner was still doing many interviews in the paddock, I managed to take his photo asking him to do the Vettel finger salute!
It's an odd time in the paddock, Lot's of people rushing to get their airport or hotel transfers.
Caught my transfer bus to Seoul at 8....5 hour journey to the Airport Hotel, Hyatt,..travelled up with  quite a few photographers....not sure what the collective noun would be for then....maybe  a 'del-boy' of photographers!...Why are their not any women snappers!..It's all testosterone and tripods!! ....5 hour sleep then Flight to Hong kong....which is where I am now...waiting to board the final 11 hour flight back to London........

Friday, 14 October 2011

Talk about a Korea change!........


Change in the weather!...yesterday glorious hot sunshine....rain all today and much cooler..

but the weekend should be dry they say.

So first and second practice didn't really have any with the extreme wet tyres...good

for photographers with the cars sliding all over, managed to take a picture of Rosberg dislodging his front wing ending up under his front right tyre, I was in a spot so close to the cars...glad I had decent earplugs!

So much to say about today...apparently at the beginning of the week organisers had sprayed green dye on the trackside grass and mud...making it more greener for the TV....but with all the rain today..the dye had washed away with huge green pools of water and green puddles everywhere!

Not many spectators stark contrast to Japan last week, I guess because here we are 3-4 hours from Seoul, and a fledgling race..takes time...

The track looks very impressive, the drivers seem to like the many turns...huge paddock area, with large Team hospitality..the longest walk from one end to the other..even longer for me now I know people and stop to chat's great to feel part of the community now.

Yesterday was a mixed day in the morning I went to the sea port , fish market...amazing sight fish everywhere all packed into wooden boxes and many frisk gutted and laid on netting to dry out in the sun....quite a smell the netting!...

Statistically at some point during my travels I knew I would succumb to a dose of Delhi belly...well ..the Korean equivalent...suffice to say yesterday was that day!...I'm sure it has increased my immunity for when I do go to Delhi in two weeks.

I managed to go back to the circuit for a meeting with the assistant to the race promoter and explained my project...she was so helpful and excited about my requests..she has lined up the Prime Minister, the governor the region, A government minister and the Chairman of the Korean Automobile Association....fantastic,,,they will write their lines on Sunday in the Paddock Club during the race, hopefully a little earlier than last week in Japan.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

wednesday- circuit bound

Sitting on the train waiting to leave Seoul heading to Mokpo, to the circuit hotel...aptly named
Hyundai...What a lovely day I've had in Seoul...didn't think yesterday that would be possible!
Picked a hotel in a less than attractive part of the city, matched by the manners of the hotel staff!
Couldn't find a restaurant near by srvice in the hotel comprised of a list of phone numbers for take away services from various dubious outlets!
Hopped in a taxi and found a very nice Korean restaurant, beef strips still cooking as it arrives on a hot plate...lots of side dishes....thin strands of squid with seaweed....delicious!..wasn't taken with the korean beer though.
This morning I decided to find some galleries that I had seen at various Art fairs in london and Abu Dhabi, 30 minute taxi journey to the district....refreshing to find out that Korea is so mch cheaper than Japan.
What a delight to find  a very long street packed full of galleries....artist studios, great coffee houses too...I guess it's the hoxton equivalent with a dash of Chelsea thown in...A good find!
Not only that but on the other side of this street housed the Royal Palace set in many acres of grounds with lakes and beautiful to see.....and not overun with tourists either...Great decorative pictures for my Korea panel....
As I walked through the park there were many school kids on trips lad came up to me and asked if he could take a picture of pretty good english he said.....'It's for a school project to take a picture of person from  different country' problem I said.....he then shouted with such a high pitch something in which many kids came running towards us ...then more....out of nowhere!....I was the pied piper of Seoul!!
I was suddenly surrounded by a swarm of very noisy loud korean kids all wanting there photo of me...just because I was foreign!...It took a while to exit that park, then went back to the galleries,
some very nice shows, local and international including a big Anthony Caro exhibition.
Managed to find some great fabric too..all very cheap.....bought masses!
A very enjoyable day in Seoul...trains are very cheap too so I'm sitting in first class free wifi on board ...all very civilised....recognise a number of F1 Photographers in carriage....funny breed! acknowlegement from them...

Monday, 10 October 2011

Race day..and beyond!

Sunday- Race Day
 The peoples republc of Suzuka!
The day for me was all about the many, patiently queuing in line.
So colourful and the sheer exuberance and excitment of the fans was something to behold.
They like being photographed too wearing their creatively designed outfits....the best fan zone
by far! much for them to do at the circuit....the entrance to the paddock was 10 deep with fans..amazing.
I had receiced a note from the General Mangaer to meet him during the race at 3-45 to take me
to the backstage podium room, to meet the Mayor of Susuka and the Chairman.
They were presenting the trophies...I waited some time ..not many laps to go..knowing that I had to
get to the Pit lane and wait to photograph the podium....I finally saw them with 5 laps to go..
They wrote their pieces in the small room that you see on TV....infact I had to move the watches and water and the winners cap ...I hope Alex didn't mind..he's the guy you see giving the watches and caps to the drivers..water and towels.
I thought only two would write a piece but there were 5 dignitries in their and they all wrote!..
Minister of Tourism ..president of the Automobile Assiciation..I had half an eye on the TV...
2 laps to go!...
They had written heart-felt thankyou to the world for helping Japan...these pieces are real gems..very moving!
I never rushed so fast to get to the queue of photographers....but they had already been given the nod to get into position...I manged to get past a steward...following Jake Humphrey...just as the Drivers took to the Podium...Good shots of Christian Horner balancing precariously on the pit wall.
As Button walked onto the Podium the crowd went wild!...they love him here..maybe something to do with his girlfriend!
A really good day...And a very enjoyable evening in the hotel restaurant, invited to Join friend from Allsport , with Alex and Bert Myander the Saftey car driver...lovely evening with them.
Also at the table was a charming Japenese girl there on business with Allsport .she very kindly offered to take me around Kyoto the following day, knowing that I was going kind of her to do really is so special having a local showing one around...beautiful ancient temples...One of them// ..the Golden Temple....covered in gold the centre of a giant lake..with water lilies all around and trees changing into Autumn colours....beautiful!!!
Kyoto is a delightful old city and come alive at night with the glowing lanterns, found a great authentic restaurant on the river with Ayako..Japenese tapas!  What is it with the wine prices here.....£40 for a bottle of white..decent bottle around £20 anywhere else..the circuit hotel was like that too...evening capped off with me introducing Ayako to a glass of Guinness.....odd...

I'm in Seoul, just checked into hotel.spending a day and night here..staying at the curiously named Hotel Dodo...I go down to the circuit tomorrow afternoon after being told by many people in the paddock to stay in seoul as long as you the track is very remote...built on reclaimed marshland...4 hours from the city...should be an adventure...
One other oddity I found yesterday...I checked out a big Paper shop in Kyoto...lovely traditional hand-made many...but I see the same in london but far cheaper!...I sort of expected it to be cheaper here where it's produced!..but had to buy something!
Flew into Kimpo airport seoul , had a brief chat with Herbie Blash from FIA...talking about his love for Japan,,I can see why...lovely people , very fiendly.

Saturday, 8 October 2011


What can I say about the crowds here.....mad!...fanatical....and so many!  100.000 are expected this weekend!...900,000 of them all carrying furry toys!!...and these finger puppets of the drivers...
Just walked out of the circuit briefly ....there is a tunnel from the paddock to the fanzone...this is for paddock passes escalator takes you up from the tunnel into the masses of fans around the exit..well just behind me walking down the tunnel was Button's girlfriend and some friends.....she had no idea what was awaiting  her ....mobbed!...they love her hear...all very odd because no security to protect her...the crowd just swept her away!
A great quali too...I managed to find a great spot following some photographers to a grass bank in the middle of 2 bends,,,great shots looking down on the cars..
Sarah from FanVision, (the company that provides little TVs with live feeds and audio) kindly gave me I was listening to Radio Five Live...managed to get back to the paddock just before Mclaren and Hamilton blew the chance of taking pole...Hamilton's face!....well if it was gunpowder...the explosion would be seen on the moon!!...he wasn't a happy bunny....
He didn't stay long in the interview's quite a sight seeing all these different emotions directly after the session with a load of Mics shoved in their faces...
Another lovely day started by meeting the President of the Circuit, He was very happy to write a piece in Japanese, the management have lined up the Mayor of Suzuka and a local minister to write tomorrow during the race...when Vettel will be crowned King again.
Yesterday I was interviewed in the Mclaren Motor home by a Swiss Journalist..she had heard about me and saw the inking of the tyres . She brought a photographer to take my pictures...very funny because Button was behind me with his father John..for once not being photographed.
I've come to realise during the course of the season so far that F1 is all or nothing..all encompassing...
A world outside reality...drivers are perceived as demi-gods..gladiators...fighting to reach the summit of their sport..such heights mortals can't even contemplate!....
Ultimately one is reminded of the real world...the earthquake survivors have been invited...Mr E brought 3000 tickets for them...this is the real world...but for a few days at these race meetings I feel this incredible buzz, that hangs in the amazing feeling...I had no idea sport was capable of creating a different reality!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Suzuka...Japan's home of Motor Sport

Here I am in Japan....a country I was always looking forward to visiting..what a journey nearly 20 hours.
Good things comes to those who wait....and wait ...and wait...finally arrived after a brief stop in Taipei.
Flew into a heavy rain storm....but awoke this morning to a glorious sunny morning and apparently all set for the good weather staying with us.....I'm sure Vettel has a hotline to him upstairs!!....speaking of Vettel.......
As I checked in last night to the Suzuka Circuit Flower Garden Hotel..flanking me.. also checking in were to my right Alonso and to my left Vettel....all 3 us signing the forms...and I was treated the same by the staff...although they did say ..'yes Mr Vettel ....yes Mr Alonso....I was Mr Mark.....
This Hotel is in the circuit compound...I think this hotel is closer to the track then any other.
It;s a hotel with  lodges circling the reception...I'm in lavender house!...with kids toys in my room..also a potty!...and kids posters....lots of Bubble gum colours!..
All quite endearing thing is the loo....heated toilet seat!....with lots of buttons attached the the loo....too afraid to press one!.....
Speaking of Bubble gum colours..I took a taxi into Suzuka town about 5 miles away...big industrial city..I was dropped off outside the huge is confronted with a whole host of posters and signs all designed in a sort of animated fashion with these bright colours ...pinks and yellows...
I walked through the first floor...the food hall...what feast for the eye....all the dishes aren't just written on boards but all laid out on plates pinned to the wall as if ready to serve....but set in some sort of resin to preserve them...quite bizarre
Found some very typical Japanese fabric courtesy of a half Japanese half Italian girl working in a coffee shop......never thought I would be asking for fabric in Japan speaking Italian!
After leaving the mall I took a walk down these very long straight roads..curious place...some real gems hidden down tiny side streets...old restaurants with beautiful ultramarine blue tiles..these tiles were evident all over..perhaps a local factory
I eventually found a cab back ...took a while...went into a small hotel ...called Business Hotel...but the B was missing on the sign...when I went inside it seemed there were many things missing!....
thankfully taxi is a universal word.....but the lady pointed to a phone with a number for the would that work!!...eventually she called for me...
nice lady very helpful..although she gave me an almighty slap on my back....alerting me to the fact that the cab had arrived...perhaps this is the local custom....ABH!
The short walk to the circuit was amazing, through a big amusement park....all for kids ..fantastic..lots of mini race tracks with funny looking Karts..and high rides snakng the park...and  big bears entertaining the families...incredible to see...piped music all around..and talking waste disposal units!!
of course I didn't know what they were saying....probably cursing me for not putting my plastic water bottle into the correct hole!
Fans here are indeed fanatical...they know not only the drivers but other members of the funny at breakfast this morning seeing some fans approaching team personnel for their autographs!
I felt left out!!...
The paddock is very wide and long and on a slight incline..I noticed the grid was too..apparently the circuit is in use pretty much all year round..they love their motor sport here...motor bikes are very popular too.   the FOM offices are all very smart ..its amazing seeing the differences throughout the year...some tracks they are temporary huts!
looking forward to spending more time at the track tomorrow..and seeing the fans zone too..should be colourful!