Ian Lockwood


Archive for the ‘Published Work’ Category

Monsoon Vignettes: An Appreciation in Black & White

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IIC Quarterly opening page of photo-essay.

In recent years my explorations in South Asia have brought me into close contact with the meteorological and metaphorical super-phenomenon of the monsoon. My focus areas of the Western Ghats and Sri Lanka are both dramatically impacted by the South West (summer) and North East (winter) monsoons. The significance of these seasonal rains on the landscapes, ecosystems and cultures cannot be overstated. Water is at the heart of the issue. The connection between healthy natural forests in the hills, water and the wellbeing of human communities is a critical link. It is a theme that has been highlighted by conservationists in the Western Ghats for the past three decades.

"Monsoon Vignettes" photo essay pages 63-75.

I had an opportunity to visually explore these themes in the summer publication of the India International Centre’s IIC Quarterly. The twelve images are from my work in the Western Ghats between 1992 and 2010. A few of the pictures have been exhibited and published but there were several unpublished images in the photo-essay. The images emphasize natural landscapes and human elements have mostly been left out in this selection. The Quarterly carried essays by Jairam Ramesh, India’s Minister of the Environment and a range of other notable writers and thinkers. I wrote a short essay on the monsoon to accompany the photographs. Here is a short excerpt from the beginning:

…In the summer months, as the earth’s axial tilt and trade winds shift, India impatiently awaits news of the arrival of the season of rain. Its timing, the predictions of its strength and how much water it will grant to farmers make the monsoon a rare geographic gem of interest to a wide segment of South Asia’s population.  The heroes making these predictions are the atmospheric scientists and meteorologists of the Indian Meteorology Department. One imagines them pacing up and down the shores of Kovalam beach looking into the heavens for signs of the shift in weather patterns, though it is more likely that they are staring at computer monitors filled with satellite imagery and mathematical models in their offices in Pune. When it arrives, the monsoon comes after a long period of intense heat, paucity of food crops and general unhappiness amongst people living with the elements. The monsoon’s arrival is often dramatic bringing an explosive rush of gushing rainfall, cool relief and a revival of life to the region. It is metaphorically projected through the exuberant release of passion and erotic energy that are popularly choreographed in innumerable Bollywood dance sequences….


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2010-10-27 at 3:07 pm

Central Highlands Recognized and Adorned

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Lead spread of “Montane Biodiversity” spread in Sanctuary Asia (June 2010)

Earlier this year the news came in that UNESCO had designated Sri Lanka’s Central Highlands as a new World Heritage Site. The designation includes the Knuckles Range, Horton Plains and the Peak Wilderness areas, all favorite place for my explorations, student trips and photography. These are symbolic victories for conservationists and draw attention to the fragile montane ecology that Sri Lanka hosts amongst bustling tea estates and vast monoculture plantations of eucalyptus and pinus species. Most of the sites are formally protected by the SL Forest or Wildlife Departments, but recognition by UNESCO will give the areas greater significance within and outside the country. Conservation International has labeled the same areas (and much of the island) a “biodiversity hotspot” together with the Western Ghats. The Central Highlands now join Sinharaja rainforest to make up two “man and biosphere” reserves on the island.  The remaining World Heritage sites are cultural (Polonnaruwa, Galle Fort, Anuradhapura etc.). By coincidence the news came on the heels of a photo-essay on montane forests in the Central Highlands and Sinharaja that I had published in Sanctuary Asia in June.

I will shortly be participating in an exhibition at the India International Centre in New Delhi on the broad theme of forests. My focus will be on similarities and differences in the landscape and ecology of the Western Ghats and Central Highlands. The exhibition will utilize digital color images printed here in Colombo on 20” and 30” paper. I am also working to create a few GIS generated maps and posters using Arcmap 10 and InDesign CS5 (both freshly installed). The exhibition will be in late October as a part of the “The IIC Experience: A Festival of the Arts.”

Last five pages highlighting landscapes and species in the Central Highlands (and Sinharaja).

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2010-09-13 at 5:00 pm

In Geo A Year Ago

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Main Western Ghats article (Geo, February 2009)A year ago Geo published a photo-essay and article of mine in their February English issue. This sumptuous magazine is produced by Outlook India in New Delhi and is the only English edition of the reputable European magazine group. I have now posted PDFs on my High Range Photography site for easy viewing and sharing.

The piece is significant in that I produced all of the black &white and color pictures (and also wrote the text). It’s the first time that I have been able to successfully fuse the two mediums together to paint a more vivid picture of this endangered landscape. Kai Friese’s editorial team did a fine job with color reproductions and the ingenious vertical layout. The text was cut down significantly from the 4,500-word piece that I originally submitted and there are a few obvious gaps. Nevertheless it represents the sort of effort that I am now working on putting into a book proposal for prospective publishers.

Color foldout on endemic species of the Western Ghats (Geo, February 2009).All images by Ian Lockwood

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2010-02-17 at 3:20 pm

Bombay Shola: Fragile Heritage

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Frontline Article Image with Cover 2

Frontline (the news magazine from the reputable Hindu newspaper based in Chennai) has just published my article and pictures on the ecology, threats and restoration potential of Kodaikanal’s Bombay Shola. Thanks to their liberal policy of publishing on the web you can read the article online or as a PDF (as part of the whole issue). For reference, it is worthwhile referring to my 2003 Frontline piece on the idea of a formal protected area for the Palni Hills.

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2009-10-22 at 2:50 pm

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