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DaveSinclair

Interview with David Sinclair

Interviews

30 May 2017

Posted by Tobi Oke

Hi David! Tell us about yourself in two sentences - who are you?

I'm from Liverpool but I've spent most of my adult life in London and have three grown up children. I left art college as a painter but couldn't capture the drama of post-industrial Britain anywhere near as well as I could with photography. I worked for the Militant Newspaper for most of the 80s, freelanced in the 90s, followed by 14 years for Tower Hamlets Council.

QWhat's the weirdest situation you've found yourself in while taking a photograph?

AThe strangest experience I've had while taking photos is having guns pointed at me, first in France, then Spain, then Belfast where three armoured land rovers stopped me and a pile of soldiers jumped out, all pointing machine guns at me from about two feet. A big angry sergeant asked what I was doing, I said I was photographing Harland and Wolfe shipbuilders for British Trade Unions, he said "so what were you doing on the Andersonstown Church steps last Saturday during the IRA demo? You be careful now”. It left me unsure of who I should be careful of!

QWhat do you shoot on? What's your favourite set up?

AI started taking pictures with Olympus OM1's and 2's and loved them, they were light and easy to use. I moved to Nikon FM's because of the lenses, some I still have, plus they were more robust during demonstrations and trouble. I use Nikon F3's with all my old prime lenses and a D750 for digital stuff. It's great that you can still use old Nikon lenses on the new cameras. I use 35mm black and white film and process and print myself.

QWhat's your number one tip for an aspiring photographer?

ATake pictures for yourself, ones you like and of subjects you know and care about. Be sensitive to people’s feelings but don't be intimidated, know your rights.

QWhat's the one thing you love most about Picfair?

A I like the freedom of Picfair, I can choose what to show and how much I think the photos are worth with no interference. It's easier than running a website where you have do everything yourself.

'Black Copper, Newham 7 protest' (1985) - "In the early 1980's Black and Asian youth in East London had had enough of racist attacks from the NF, and then the BNP. They fought b... Read more

'Black Copper, Newham 7 protest' (1985) - "In the early 1980's Black and Asian youth in East London had had enough of racist attacks from the NF, and then the BNP. They fought back and and on one occasion a fascist was killed. The police randomly arrested activists in Newham and charged them with murder. A campaign to have them freed was set up called the Newham 7. On this particular march past Forest Gate police station, the march slowed down to chant and the police made more arrests. This copper was sent out into the crowd, he was one of only a handful of Black police officers in London at the time" Read less

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David Sinclair

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‘Jeremy Corbyn’ (1988) - "I was covering a protest against a state visit by the Turkish leader for the Militant newspaper, many of the protestors were Cypriots. As the protester... Read more

‘Jeremy Corbyn’ (1988) - "I was covering a protest against a state visit by the Turkish leader for the Militant newspaper, many of the protestors were Cypriots. As the protesters broke through police lines, they were viciously dealt with by the police and arrested, Jeremy Corbyn spoke to the police on their behalf" Read less

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David Sinclair

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‘Greenham Common’ (1983) - “I was studying Fine Art and Photography at Gwent and was secretary of the Labour Club, so I was friends with many activists, including some of the wo... Read more

‘Greenham Common’ (1983) - “I was studying Fine Art and Photography at Gwent and was secretary of the Labour Club, so I was friends with many activists, including some of the women from South Wales who set up the peace camp at the American nuclear air base. A day visit was organised and I was invited. Some of the photos were taken during group debates about whether men should be allowed to visit and if photos could be taken. The police were using horses to intimidate and scare the women before arresting them”. Read less

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‘School Protest’ (1985) - “Margaret Thatcher’s Tory government introduced the very unpopular Youth Training Scheme. There were protests all over the country, from Glasgow to the... Read more

‘School Protest’ (1985) - “Margaret Thatcher’s Tory government introduced the very unpopular Youth Training Scheme. There were protests all over the country, from Glasgow to the south coast, but in Liverpool, the anti-Thatcher mood was enormous. The students saw the scheme as a form of slavery. Many thousands went on strike and ten thousand made their way into the town centre. They gathered outside St George’s Hall to march through the town centre, but as soon as they reached Pier Head, they ran by the shortest route bypassing town. The YTS scheme was postponed but still brought in the following year. The photos have been exhibited at Liverpool Bluecoat, the Open Eye and published in a small book by Cafe Royal”. Read less

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David Sinclair

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‘Militant Labour demo’ (1985) - “Labour took control of Liverpool City Council from the Liberals in 1983, they then started a programme of building houses, sports centres and pa... Read more

‘Militant Labour demo’ (1985) - “Labour took control of Liverpool City Council from the Liberals in 1983, they then started a programme of building houses, sports centres and parks. They demanded more money from central government and with a militant leadership and the backdrop of the Miners strike the Tories caved in and the Council received more funds. This was the high point in 1985, a year or two later with Kinnock joining Thatcher attacking Militant in Liverpool, 47 councillors were fined and barred for not setting a rate and the Militant members expelled from the Labour party”. Read less

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David Sinclair

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