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I was a fugitive from a chain gang


It’s Wednesday early evening and I’ve just planted a couple of lemon trees in the hard baked ground outside Carmela’s house in Southern Italy. Using a pick axe and spade, I feel I now know what it’s like to be a fugitive from a chain gang!

My hands are blistered …and my back aches, and so we decided to ease the pain by dining at Valentina’s, in the nearby mountain village of San Gregoria. We call first to check she’s open, she’s not but insists we come and she’ll open up anyway. This makes us feel pretty bad either way: ungrateful if we decline or inconsiderate if we go. We decide to be inconsiderate and arrive just as the sun dips down. Our hostess is a typically rotund Italian mama, in her late sixties who cooks from the heart and speaks far too fast to give me a chance. Her menu is always simple, just a couple of dishes per course, always verbal with never a sordid mention of the price. The wine is charged by how much of the bottle we drink.

The first time we ate here we were a bit apprehensive. Were we about to be ‘tucked up’ for my ‘give away’ English accent? But not so, the bill has always been more than reasonable and on this occasion 18 euros was excellent value for my pasta, Carmela’s steak, a shared ‘Mille foglia’ dessert, a bottle of mineral water and half bottle of an excellent local red wine. By this time memories of the ‘chain gang’ had long receded.

If only life back in Suffolk, could be as ‘laid back’ as this.

by Roland Blunk, engraving by Anon (I was away that day)

Roland Blunk(http://www.adamb402.sg-host.com)
Throughout my career, I have been privileged in being commissioned by so many influential clients. Having discovered photography and graphic design before the digital revolution, the possibilities for visual expression seem almost magical to me, as we live our lives together with daily miracles and wonderment. My design and photography skills were learnt in their original pre-digital form. Slow, sometimes laborious, but wonderfully rewarding. Consequently I am forever in awe of the kit I have at my disposal. My main camera is a Nikon D4, which I use with either AF-S 14-24mm 2.8; AF-S 24-70mm 2.8 or AF-S 70-200mm 2.8 Nikon lens. I process my work on a MacBook Pro, so I can shoot, download, evaluate and post-produce my work, before posting it from anywhere and to anywhere within minutes of shooting. I have travelled through time from being Roland Blunk, a 60's London art student, using my parents' attic as a first 'dark room', to using the world as my studio and that really is a miracle to me. I studied design and photography in the late sixties, at what was then Hornsey College of Art, London. Life, after a series of drab boarding schools, was exciting to say the least. Jimmy Hendrix played upstairs at the Manor House pub, James Brown at Cook's Ferry Inn and Charlie Mingus at Ronnie Scott's, to name a few local distractions. I followed this by studying graphics at the LCP and the huge irony surrounding my design studies, concerned my exclusion from applying for the 'Graphic Design' degree course'. As I left school at the age of sixteen to study at 'Hornsey', I skipped my A's and so studied on the LCP's diploma course. A couple of years after leaving the LCP, I was thrilled when Tom Eckersley head of graphics at the LCP, and one of the foremost poster designers and graphic communicators of the last century (Google him), answered my application to lecture, with the news that he loved my letterhead design. Consequently I was offered a visiting lectureship, on the same degree course that I was not welcome to study on! Now let's keep that one quiet. My clients have included: Action Aid Arista Records The Arts Council The BBC The British Council The British Tourist Authority The Crafts Council The Design Council Eversheds Solicitors The Guardian Haymarket Publications Her Majesty's Stationery Office Hoeseasons Holidays The Institute of Chartered Accountants The Institute of Contemporary Arts Island Records The Longman Publishing Company The Manchester City Art Galleries The National Portrait Gallery The Opera Babes The Royal Shakespeare Company The Scottish Development Agency 'Sotogrande' Spain The V&A Museum I have lectured at major art schools in Great Britain including 'Central Saint Martins' London, and my work has been reproduced in the Swiss graphic publication 'Graphis' Annual, The 'Designers & Art Directors' Annual and 'Modern Publicity' Annual. I was nominated to 'Fellowship' status of the 'Chartered Society of Designers' in the mid 80's. In 2002 I qualified as a 'Snowsport England' ski coach (level 4) coaching instructors at the 'Norfolk Snowsports Club'. Each season I worked in both Austria and Italy as a freelance Alpine ski guide, with an 'Internationaler Verband of Snowsport Instructors' (IVSI) licence.