Big Ben’s Rainbow


I was in London to meet with the cultural attaché of the U.S. Embassy to the United Kingdom. He expressed interest in presenting a solo exhibition of my photography at a new building that was to be constructed at Nine Elms.

While there, I also visited the National Poetry Library to explore the possibility of exhibiting my photographs of the Longfellow House. And I finally got to meet Sapna Dhandh-Sharma, the Editor of the UK-based Aspect Ratio magazine, who published my photographs of the slave cemetery at the William Floyd estate along with my 5,000-word essay.

When I was not busy investigating opportunities to extend the reach of my art, I walked around London to do a bit of street photography. For me, walking around aimlessly and avoiding the touristy spots is an interesting way to explore the city and to learn about its people. It did not take long to realize that being in London is certainly a very different experience than New York City, although the two do share some common attributes.

As much as I made a deliberate attempt to avoid the icons of London, it seemed like they have a magnetism that pulled me in their direction nonetheless. I had no idea where I was in the city, but it was one of the more crowded areas I had been to that day. The rain was clearing up and I was busy creating esoteric images – photographs of tightly cropped street elements and reflections off of bus windshields that resulted in abstractions.

I was using a large DSLR camera rather than the smaller and stealthy one that I typically use when I am photographing on the streets of New York City. This time, however, the presence of a big conspicuous camera and lens was an advantage. Lost in what I was doing, an Irishman saw me, got my attention, and urged me to turn around.

And there it was. Not just Big Ben. But Big Ben with a big rainbow. The prismatic arc was one of the largest, brightest, and longest-lasting I had ever seen. The sunlight and inclement sky seemed to create a mash-up resulting in this very unusually colored background while the clock tower shone as if it was cast in solid gold.

The digital negative of this image has been lying dormant on my hard drive for years. So, this is the first time it is being seen and made available as a print.

Click here to get a signed print of this and other photographs.

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Published by Xiomáro

Nationally exhibited artist, photographer, speaker, teacher, and curator. Author of "Weir Farm National Historic Site" (Arcadia Publishing).

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