Welcome to my photographic world! If you wish to use a photograph from my photostream that is not Creative Commons, then please contact me via Flickr mail, please do not use my photographs for commercial purposes without consulting me first.
Flickr is a significant part of my creative life. Through Flickr I’ve made contact with so many like-minded people both near and far. I have always felt strongly that art should be shared, and not just in a gallery setting, I enjoy seeing how different photos and artworks can be linked.
In recent times I've started to map out these links and look at how my sets interact with pools on Flickr, it gets complicated, however somewhere in this tangle there's something creative happening. I use Flickr as a kind of "digital sketchbook"....not everything I post up here on Flickr is considered finished photography or art as I now practice it; most things have some link with my outside interests and life.
My first version of a Flickrmap (best viewed large)
Short clip about my work on Flickr
Until May 2008 I named my contribution to Flickr asOxfordshire Church Illustrations this was because it was through my illustrations that I made my debut on Flickr. With over 7,000 uploaded by 2008 that name really didn't sum up what people could discover in my stream, so now I'm me! I also was often confused with my fellow photographer John Ward who is also Oxfordshire Churches, I hope that clears any confusion between the two of us, we are friends. Martin Beek and John Ward Within a few months of membership I realised just what a valuable resource Flickr could be, so I extended my folio to include monuments, the texture and history of the many churches close to my home in Oxford.
As you can see, if you look further into my sets; I have illustrations, details and general photos of many of Oxforshire’s finest buildings. There are now photos from many parts of England and Europe . I'm building these collections bit by bit...with over 60,000 photos in my archives, I sure it'll be a never-ending task. Most weeks I like to take on some new photographic work if possible. It has been great organising, and participating in, Flickrmeets, which just goes to show that contacts made on the internet can become firm and productive friendships.
(Photo of me in Libya 2008)
I am married to Alison, we live in Oxford, England, in fact a number of the portraits in my stream are attributable to her, even video clipssuch as this. Alison often gives me good advice on my art and photography. We both enjoy seeing new places together when we can . Oxford is a great city to live in with so much going on. A camera, for me, is just another instrument of expression like a pencil or paintbrush, I’m seldom without one near at hand. Digital photography has opened me up to many new creative possibilities, I was early to embrace digital photography, buying my first simple digital camera in America in 1996. Although I've taken traditional photographs since college days and am familiar with "old style" photography, I'd have to say I largely prefer digital.
I want to show some of the many thousands of photographs I've taken since going digital. Oxfordshire ChurchesI don't often tweak the photos in Photoshop, I try to do as much as I can on camera and using its available settings and light before me. I like to take long exposures with my SLR and try to experiment with my Canon G9. I'd say my main strength was composition, I don't wish to become over technical about the practice although I hope I learn more each year. I try to keep to a few chosen themes; I do not post multiple takes of a single photo, but if an idea or setting varies or if I take a subject with a different lens camera or light condition I may post a variety of images from the same source. As my catalogue now hits 12,000 this rule is slightly blurred!
I enjoy many of Oxfordshire's beautiful buildings; over the past six years I've been trying to photograph and record every significant building in the county. It is a huge task, as you can see I've concentrated here on many of the parish churches. I like the countryside, and try to explore as much of it as I can during my free time. I co administrate for three county church groups, and this has been a rewarding experience:-
I’m very grateful to Allan Barton for his superior knowledge on these fascinating buildings.
We’ve enjoyed many a Flickrmeet together exploring this part of the world.
I am also a co-administrator for “Sir Ninian Comper”, “English Baroque” and “English Stained Glass- pre Victorian.”
My recent art includes illustrations, which are often based on my photography although none are direct copies or manipulations of photographs. These are a series of contemporary illustrations based upon Oxfordshire’s churches. Throughout 2004 I photographed almost all of the county’s churches at different times of day and season.
My approach is unorthodox and I’m not looking for a “chocolate box scene.” Compositionally my illustrations are based upon these photographic studies but I have not attempted to replicate them with photographic realism. So far the illustrations do not exclusively concentrate on Oxforshire’s best-known or grandest church buildings, or necessarily the most historic ones. I have depicted remarkable and unusual features, and tried to illustrate the church in its landscape context. I am interested in both town and parish churches.
Reading Panorama from Journeying
The illustrations use strong hard-edged colour and are often visually similar to Brian Cook’s book jacket designs for B.T. Batsford in the 1930’s. Similarly I have simplified each image whilst attempting to retain and distil the essence of the place or object I feature. Other influences include the paintings of Sir John Piper (who made many fine studies of Oxfordshire’s churches) and the paper cut outs of Henri Matisse.
Up until my last exhibition in 2001 I worked in traditional media, and although I’ve begun a few paintings based on these churches, it wasn’t until I started to use a computer based program, that a cohesive series really began. In 2007 I produced a series of twelve large prints for Journeying an exhibition based on Reading’s historic Abbey and town churches. This body of work on Flickr was my first burst of creativity since a fruitful period in 2000 with the song-writer Sean O'Leary Songs of Experience. Perhaps there are links with the songs that I wrote at that time in the photographic work; it’s hard to say. I mentioned this a year or so later Outtake of 2001 interview on paintings
I now co admin theLeonard Cohen group here on Flickr, he is a writer I very much admire . This group seems very popular too, sadly I don't too have many original visual contributions to make to the pool as such.
Although I'm mainly concerned with visual work I did once try my hand at working on lyrics...here's the cover of the album I wrote work for which Sean turned into songs "Songs of Experience" 2000-2001 and Sean's latest album (2005) "The Alchemist" which is a musical adaptation of some of Gerard Manley Hopkins' poetry.
Popular music of the singer songwriter variety does still move me greatly and although these days I often attend classical concerts My Desert Island Discs can be found here.
These are some paintings that I really enjoy....How could I pick out of all that I know and love? In my early years it was
Edward Hopper's Art that inspired many of my American images. Well these came to mind and I had some photos of them in my records, I’ve subsequently built up a Cyber Gallery of images that I enjoy by other artists I’ve seen along the way. I'm also an enthusiastic admirer of Willam Blake's illustrated books.
On location in Perthshire working from
The Fringe of The Moor
I enjoy John Everett Millais' later Scottish landscapes which have a peculiar mood and poignancy ; I'd like to capture something of that in my photographic work, possibly in my monochrome work. I have a set on these Millais’ landscapes here on Flickr with many of the actual locations as they appear today .Martin introduces his work on Millais Allied to this personal research I set up a pool on this artist The Art of John Everett Millais which has become a place to study this important Victorian artist. I was prompted to start this group following the highly popular exhibition at Tate Briain 2007-2008. This likewise encourages contributions that may be influenced by Millais’ aesthetic sensibilities and also hard to find images of his enormous oeuvre .
Some popular music that I've been listening too. These are singer songwriters whose work I like, mainly American. Perhaps this reflects my 20 years of work and travel in USA, I don't know. Many of these songs influenced my series "Heartlands" based on the life of an imaginary backwoodsman...
Shoveling Snow from Heartlands (1997-2000)
Over the coming years I plan to develop my artistic database on Flickr and go on building an interesting body of work on architecture and the decorative arts of all periods. As ever I intend to show a few “behind the scenes” glimpses of my paintings as I work on them. My most recent series of landscapes are entitled Shadow and Substance. In 2008 I produced a series of portrait paintings and also did two lithographs. Some new work will at Yarnton Manor in the summer, and also I’m taking part in Artweeks in May.
Of course what makes Flickr worthwhile is the exchange and interaction of ideas and views, I'm interested in commenting on photographs and artworks, but I would say I don't really see Flickr as an alternative Facebook, so I may not respond to work I feel has no link with what I'm showing here.
I hope to update the site with new paintings, illustrations and artworks from time to time, and much, much more...Martin
a snapshot of statistics in May 2009
TheHinksey on YouTube supports Martin Beek's work, not great for films but fine for background information.
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"I was astonished by the 144 Galleries that Martin had assembled within a week or so of Flickr implementing this new facility, and by the range and the depth of his artistic taste. He's captured some Oxford and environs memories and has demonstrated the use of Flickr as a tool for recording the details around us that few others would remark upon, were it not for his keen observations. Thanks a lot, Martin."
25th October, 2009
"Es realmente impresionante la obra que realiza Martin Beek, por su extensión y por la fuerza expresiva con la que plasma su paisajes, principalmente los experimentados en América, en ellos es posible entrever un componente romántico y enigmático a la vez, en las grandiosas composiciones de vastos desiertos y ásperos cañones solitarios...Se percibe en su pintura una verdadera dedicación al arte.
For me, the artworks developed by Martin Beek are really impressive, conveyed through an expressive strength and a hardworking attitude to work, the way he represents wild landscapes, mainly in the series of landscapes seen in America, where one can guess both a Romantic and enigmatic hint in the grand compositions of vast deserts and rough lonely canyons...A real devotion to art can be perceived in his paintings."
22nd June, 2009
Matthew . G says:
"Martin is a good man ,which is the first sentence i want to say about him . He helped me a lot through my building up of my newness of life , or , even a time of salvation . All his works will be a just reflection of his kind heart and nice spirit , i hope the best for him , God bless ."
22nd May, 2009
"I first discovered Martin's work after seeing one of his pictures in the Gilbert Scott pool. His postings turned out to be a delight and his paintings deserve a photostream all to themselves. The connections that he's recently been making with Millais' late landscapes are of great interest and I'm looking forward to seeing the results in due course.
Martin's enthusiasm and energy make him an inspiring contact and his knowledgable and generous comments encourage me to improve and experiment with my own work. Being co-admin with him of the Leonard Cohen and Nineteenth Century Poetry Groups is the best fun I've had so far on flickr. His dedication to these projects is already producing great results, and yes, Martin, yes! I would like to do the Metaphysical Poets too!"
16th August, 2008
Tudor Barlow says:
"Martin is a true artist, a man of creative talent with camera, computer and traditional media. His contact with me, in my early Flickr days in 2006, led me into a study of church architecture and history and gave me a whole new interest in my retirement. He is very generous with both his time and knowledge and his encouragement and support on our Flickrmeet in October made for a very special day.
His latest set "Shadow and Substance" is an inspiration to us all, whatever medium we use."
4th January, 2008
Folashadé Olagundoye says:
"Martin Beek- The man of many talents. Photoshop, photography, illustrator, oils- all of which he uses effortlessly, making him a true Renaissance man of the 21st Century. His work is beautifully detailed, and intricately researched inspiring anyone who views it. I'm in complete awe of his talent, of his kind heart personality and I highly recommend his portfolio!!
22nd December, 2007
Barack Obama says:
"Thank you so much for adding our photos to your favorites. We really appreciate it.
-Michelle S @ HQ"
1st August, 2007
Vitrearum (Allan Barton) says:
"I first came across Martin Beek on Flickr last summer and I have subsequently met him and am very glad to call him a friend. Martin's photostream reflects his passion and wide-ranging enthusiasm for buildings, for our landscape and above all art. The title of his photostream does not reflect the great breadth and diversity of work you will find on his photostream. Martin approaches his work from the perspective of an artist not a technician and he has a remarkable eye for detail. He has an ability, rarely found, to capture the very essence of a place. Atmosphere pervades his work. I think Martin is a true flickrite, extremely productive when collaborating with others and generous in sharing his knowledge and his art. I highly commend his work to you and look forward to seeing his photostream develop over the coming years."
27th April, 2007
"Simply amazing! What a great gift you have, Martin. Thanks for sharing it with all of us."
6th April, 2007
Eric Hardy says:
"My first contact with Martin was when he left a comment on one of my photos asking me to post it in the English Church Monuments pool. This led me to exploring his photo stream and what a delight it was. His knowledge of churches, particularly those in Oxfordshire, was a revelation. He later invited me to an exhibition of his art works in Oxford and I was very impressed with his work on the churches of Oxford. Since then we have met on a number of occasions for a Flickr photoshoot and his enthusiasm is infectious. I can truly say that I now count him as a friend.
His photographic work grows on you, he has a great eye for detail nicely composed. At first I concentrated on his churches but then discovered more delights. His pictures in Spain and France are no run of the mill travel pictures, each one has been carefully considered before the button has been pressed. Many are of small beautiful details. He has covered places I visited many years ago and it was a joy to revisit them in this way.
His photographs of Oxford are of a similar excellent quality. I often visit Oxford and think I know it, but a beautifully composed shot of a small detail on the Ashmolean, for example, makes you see the place with new eyes.
It was quite a while before I discovered that Martin does not only record buildings, there is a wealth of things to enjoy in his pictures of landscapes and trees.
I would recommend anyone to spend the time and explore Martin’s work. They will find it not only most informative but enjoyable too."
18th March, 2007
"Ultimately Martin is an artist who is comfortable with a series of mediums including photography, computer graphics and traditional materials.
After studying his images I find an unusual gift in Martin's approach to his work. Firstly he has an eye for composition which is appealing; and secondly he is able to combine this with the essence and meaning of the subject, thus giving us a beautiful image which has much greater depth in terms of a historic record of what is actually there.
His images therefore, not only fulfil the practical, they also contain the essence of the subject. See his Nuneham Courteney image at www.flickr.com/ph.... For me this is where his appeal lies.
Martin's illustratative and artistic creations bring the traditional world of the historic environment to a whole new audience. For me his work has the timelessness of an early C20th Batsford Book Cover, combined with the immediacy and freshness of a Julian Opie. Check out his Great Tew image at www.flickr.com/ph...
There is also a social aspect to his work - look at his Time and Tide & Working Spaces sets which documents artists, methods, materials and locations - extremely valuable in today's throw away age.
The combination of all these aspects of Martin's work bring to the flickrsphere,and beyond, a truly unique body of work."
29th January, 2007
"Exploring Martin's photostream is always a thrill. He is a shining example that architectural and art photography need never be dull or formulaic - he has a keenly creative and interested eye. I always find something to capture my imagination. And technically his work is superb, of course!"
13th January, 2007
Lawrence OP says:
"Martin's erudition and enthusiasm for church architecture and art clearly shows in his comprehensive photostream. His passion for his subject is inspiring and only surpassed by his kindness and generosity."
8th January, 2007
"I first became aware of Martin's excellent work through Flickr. His dedication to showcasing the buildings of Oxfordshire and surrounding counties is clear from the many hundreds of photographs he has uploaded on to Flickr. I look forward to seeing more of his work in the coming years."
7th January, 2007
"There is one word that describes Martin's work - dedication. His work is meticulous, he captures the fine detail at every location he visits - revealing features that the orginal architects were justly proud of. What's more you can always rely on Martin for honest critique of one's own work. Please take your time to browse through Martin's Flickr - I am drawn back here regulary to see what he has been doing as there's always something new to see."
25th October, 2006
Darío Traveso Quelle says:
"El trabajo de Martin, profundiza en detalles, que solo los ojos acuciosos y observadores de una persona con gran susebtivilidad pueden ver, donde otros tantos no lo hacemos.
Su gran Labor nos lleva a conocer una gran cantidad de "Obras Maestras", que de otra forma quedarían hay, expuestas a todos pero sin verlas.
Amigo, muchas gracias y sigue, muchos te lo agradeceremos
Martin's work, it penetrates into details, which alone the urgent eyes and observer of a person with great susebtivilidad can see, where some others we do not do it. His great work leads us to knowing a great quantity of "Masterpieces", which of another form would(still) stay is, exposed to all but without seeing them.
Friend, thank you very much and he continues, many people we will be grateful for it to you
2nd August, 2006
"While many of us on flickr are confirmed generalists, taking pictures simply of what takes our fancy, Martin's work is unusual for its sheer focus and consistency, allowing us to discover new and hitherto unglimpsed aspects to places like Oxford and themes like baroque architecture. He is also unusual in bringing to his work an artist's perspective and is both eloquent and knowledgeable on the subjects of the artists that have influenced him."
22nd July, 2006
"Martin's photostream contains one of the most (if not THE most) comprehensive collections of Oxfordshire churches and their architecture to be found anywhere. Take a look and you'll see what a gloriously detailed study it is - the work of a truly dedicated enthusiast."
17th July, 2006
"Think you know Oxfordshire? Well meet a man who really knows the county inside out! From little known hamlets to much loved landmarks, Oxfordshire Church Illustrations photos are a comprehensive record of the counties historic Churches. His well crafted illustrations perfectly capture the essence of his subjects. His photostream is a perfect way to acquaint yourself with and explore the beauty of Oxfordshires buildings and their individuality."
1st May, 2006
- March 2006