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2707The everyday oddness of life in the S. Atlantic islands

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  • Bob Conrich
    Dec 29 5:33 AM
      Observer Book review: "Empire" by Jon Tonks

      "British documentary photographer Jon Tonks spent five years and travelled around 50,000 miles to
      make Empire, a book about four small far-flung territories that remain under British rule as the
      great imperialist project fades further into history. His travels took him to Tristan da Cunha,
      Ascension Island, St Helena and, inevitably, the Falkland Islands...

      "Empire is a book about what remains, the often absurd traces of an older kind of Britishness that
      linger in these in-between, out-of-the-way territories, but it also evokes the everyday oddness of
      life there.

      "Tristan da Cunha can only be reached by boat and has one major settlement, the grandly named
      Edinburgh of the Seven Seas, where its 264 residents live in the shadow of a volcano that last
      erupted in 1961. In one intriguing shot, two marooned lifeboats sit halfway up the mountain, having
      been deposited there by a storm. It seems a fragile place in more ways than one.

      "Tonk mixes portraiture and documentary to show how important post-colonial tradition is to the
      survival of these communities and how their adherence to a kind of old-fashioned Britishness can
      make them seem culturally as well as geographically isolated in our increasingly globalised world.

      "...this often surprising and strangely melancholy meditation on belonging and identity, and the
      creation of an exaggerated Britishness in places that are anything but."

      I don't know about the lifeboats, but these are fascinating comments. Virtually
      all of this traditional Britishness has been lost, or perhaps dumped, by us in
      the British Caribbean Overseas Territories. More at:

      On buying books about the South Atlantic islands:

      And perhaps the last news of the year from the official website:

      Visit of the cruise ship MS Bremen:
      http://www.tristandc.com/newsshipping2013.php and

      Happy New Year to all...


      Robert S. Conrich, ACIArb
      Box 666
      Anguilla bob@...
      British West Indies Tel: 1 264 497 2505