The book is about Tunisia, a small arabic nation located between Libya and Algeria. It was called 'Africa' by the Romans and 'Ifrikya' by the first Arabs. More particularly it’s about the three years I lived there. This is what makes it different. There have been many photographic books on Tunisia portraying its beautiful Saharan and Mediterranean landscapes, its rich Carthaginian, Roman, Arabic and French Colonial ruins and architecture and its veilled women and markets. I include these images but am more interested in the everyday people and places in all of their diversity. I hope that my photos capture in part Tunisia’s unique and very beautiful light and atmosphere; its magical and exotic mixture of tradition and modernity; its quirkiness, individuality and spirituality.
True, originally I photographed mainly camels and blue and white doors but then by ‘being there, living there’ began to notice other details and colours and really feel the countries special charm. Sometimes I’ve named people in the titles because they’re friends. Often I’ve written the title in Arabic (albeit with roman letters) because of the intimacy and aptness of these words. The desire always being to show my affection for Tunisia and its people.
At the same time I hope to show the Arab-Muslim world in a broader light and I suppose in my own very small way contribute to closing the enormous gap of comprehension between the Arab and Western worlds. Not that many westerners actually live in Arab-Muslim countries. In my time in Tunisia I encountered only one other Australian living there and another just passing through. Consequently perceptions are very limited. A friend was surprised at my photo of a fashionable young girl sitting in a cafe, a family member of the snow (and no camels) in the image of Ain Draham in the North East. They sigh at the sameness of the young children learning to count and the young boy dressed in red cheering the football and marvel at the differences in clothing and architecture and the peaceful prayerfulness of the lady seated in the doorway.
The title ‘Ici et La’ (Here and There) reflects the juxtaposition of photos in an errant manner; an intention not to fix ideas and to wander with an open mind. A certain aesthetic order however is sought by the grouping of photos by colour.
After literature and architecture studies, James Leggate, a Solomon island born Australian, traveled around the world. He arrived in Tunisia in 2002 thinking to stay 6 months. He stayed for more than 3 years.....He now lives in China.
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