Peeking behind Asia's bamboo curtain
Friday 27 March 1998
"I was 30km south of Danang, and she was a 93-year-old grandmother working in a little family restaurant. Having just cooked my lunch she got on the back of a little moped with her granddaughter and sped off, it made the Queen Mother look like nothing." The resulting picture is one of several by Burdon which feature in an exhibition of images of Asia to coincide with the Asia summit. The 30 exhibitors, including Peter Arnold, Martin Westlake, Peter Hince and Jonathan Brade, celebrate Asian culture as well as architecture, streetlife and landscape. All of them have travelled extensively in the region - from Malaysia and Singapore to The Phillipines and Thailand and India. Desmond Burdon's work captures the humour and contradictions of the Asian people with intense portraits. The vibrant colour of clothing and skin illustrate the humidity and texture of an eclectic land. Burdon, who works in advertising, says that a trip to Vietnam was a chance to get away from the commercialism of his work. "It stopped me in my tracks, it is so picturesque, but you soon realise that out there they would sell you their grandmother, they have been exposed to television and they want it.
"We were in a hotel in Hanoi when this tiny weedy man came in dressed in a tacky shell suit and wearing a diamond watch and enormous tortoiseshell glasses. It turned out he had gone from planting rice in fields to winning the contract to put plastic toys inside chocolate eggs. He had made his fortune, that is what they want and it is happening. At the same time there is poverty, you see these massive hotels being put up between shacks where people are starving. Those problems are inevitable but it is their time - we have had ours."
ASIA opens at The Gallery of The Association of Photographers in Domingo Street, London, on 31 March and runs until 11 April. Admission is free. 0171 608 1445.
Life & Style blogs
Autistic adults could take pure MDMA to 'reduce social anxiety'
Another transgender model lands contract with top agency IMG
What do the emoji on Snapchat mean?
iPhone ‘effective power’ bug: how to be safe from iOS flaw that lets people crash iPhone with text
Video claims California will be hit by huge earthquake because of the alignment of the planets — but it’s probably wrong
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'
EU referendum: David Cameron to deny EU migrants and under-18s the chance to vote
- 1 Autistic adults could take pure MDMA to 'reduce social anxiety'
- 2 Before you complain about your GP, this is what you need to know about actually doing the job
- 3 Father of 12 accused of raping, beating, starving and abusing his own children in US 'cult'
- 4 Britain's Got Talent 2015: Jamie Raven divides Twitter as fans expose mind-boggling magic trick
- 5 Charlie Charlie Challenge explained: not a Mexican demon being summoned — it's gravity
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's fastest growing full s...
£35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...
£30000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Estimating, preparation of tech...
£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will work as part of a smal...