Cairo London Aswan – 3 screens

This is small video piece for Chain of Hope – it’s a three screens piece designed to connect the work the charity does in supporting the Aswan Heart Center from it’s offices in Cairo and London.  I first saw the three screens idea used by the late Tim Hetherington on his work in Afghanistan – an audio visual piece to run alongside the book ‘Infidel’, film ‘Restrepo’ and photographs for Vanity Fair [one of which won the World Press Photo].  As an idea it offers so much scope for exploring ideas and themes – I hope to get more time to try more of these in the future…

three screens from Misha somerville on Vimeo.


Excerpt From Interview with Magdi Yacoub

I was lucky enough to have the chance to interview the world’s leading Heart Surgeon Magdi Yacoub in 2012.  He pioneered several medical procedures – most notably ‘the Ross Procedure’ – which he pursued through a period in medical history when it looked like artificial heart valves would  surpass procedures like the Ross procedure, which used natural tissue/grafts to make repairs to the heart.  It wasn’t until decades later (once the patients have lived with the repairs for years/decades) that it became obvious that Yacoub’s intuition and served him well and results showed the Ross Procedure was in fact more successful than the use of artificial values.  Both still maintain their place and continue to be used and developed.

This question I asked in reference to his development of the Ross Procedure:

Misha Somerville:  Ehhh, I mean this field is obviously lead by science, but looking back at seminal figures in history it almost seems like the great scientists are explorers, the great exporers are athletes and the great athletes are mathematicians.  This might be science, how often do you work with your instinct waiting for the science to catch up?

Magdy Yacoub: I think that is an excellent question  ..ehhh… in science you have to be guided by instinct as well, because the progress in science, which is defined as the search for the truth, starts as a leap of imagination  …and these leaps of imagination, called theories or conjectures, and that’s, that’s where things start – it’s like a leap – and then the reasoning starts to either prove it or refute it, and if you can’t refute it then you are are nearer to the truth and science advances   … what does science do?  it is in service of humanity, and the difference between science and humanity is ill defined if you like – science and humanity are intermingled.


Fanfare for the Makers

A cloud of witnesses. To whom? To what?
To the small fire that never leaves the sky.
To the great fire that boils the daily pot.
To all the things we are not remembered by,
Which we remember and bless. To all the things
That will not notice when we die,
Yet lend the passing moment words and wings.
So fanfare for the Makers: who compose
A book of words or deeds who runs may write
As many who do run, as a family grows
At times like sunflowers turning towards the light.
As sometimes in the blackout and the raids
One joke composed an island in the night.
As sometimes one man’s kindness pervades
A room or house or village, as sometimes
Merely to tighten screws or sharpen blades
Can catch a meaning, as to hear the chimes
At midnight means to share them, as one man
In old age plants an avenue of limes
And before they bloom can smell them, before they span
The road can walk beneath the perfected arch,
The merest greenprint when the lives began
Of those who walk there with him, as in default
Of coffee men grind acorns, as in despite
Of all assaults conscripts counter assault,
As mothers sit up late night after night
Moulding a life, as miners day by day
Descend blind shafts, as a boy may flaunt his kite
In an empty nonchalant sky, as anglers play
Their fish, as workers work and can take pride
In spending sweat before they draw their pay.
As horsemen fashion horses while they ride,
As climbers climb a peak because it is there,
As life can be confirmed even in suicide:
To make is such. Let us make. And set the weather fair.

By Louis MacNeice

Yosi Horikawa

Several months on and I’m still finding this track hugely inspiring.  I especially like the woodpecker samples.  The use of ambient noise and field-recorded samples in electronic music is of course not new, but it seems there is so much space in this genre that the artists exploring it are working in uncharted territory.  It was these components that drew me to document Barry Reid‘s recent work with the project Meall a’ Bhuiridh.

Click the image to link through to an Xlr8r post and Yosi Horikawa‘s ‘Wandering’ >


He went further than he could not go.
Holding the waver of light in his green hand
He disappeared beyond the impossible. No
Word could befriend him in that friendless land.
Then the impossible grew its usual fruits.
The monsters withdrew beyond his ring of light.
We found him talking to us – the old disputes;
For we had been waiting for him, all the night.
And so we met oursleves agin. And so
Once more we were one of him; until one day
Wanting to meet us, he prepared to go
Further impossibilities away.

Norman MacCaig

[ it would seem that I'm fully disappearing into a Autumn Poetry place ]


Light Over Water


Myriad instantaneous alighting raindrops on the stream
That has run unbroken down and on
Since this once familiar place was home,
Each in its alighting flashes sun’s glitter and is gone
As another, and another and another come to meet me,
Always here and now,
The same bright innumerable company arriving,
Anew the present always absolving from time’s flow.

Old, I know
How many, many, many of the epiphanies of light.

And yet now as I write
They are only memories,
Those bright arrivals of the travelling light,
Now nowhere,never again.
No Road or bridge or gate
Into the past, once now, once here,
Nor farthest star comes near
Where they are gone, who once were dear;
For memory is Hades’ house
Where none is present, where none meet.

And yet again, always
Those presences come to us, are seen, are known,
Messengers of meaning, sacred, indecipherable,
Present everywhere, to all.
Inaccessible as life their source;
We know untold, untaught
Who they are, what holy truth proclaim
The know a mystery, a mystery the known,
Forms of wisdom in perpetual epiphany, they and we,
Sun and eye, seer and seen,
Daily angels, sun and stars, river and rain.

by Kathleen Raine


A small matter
whether I hope
To be blessed, or despair
With the lost, on the last
Or any day.
Enough to be
Part and particle
Of the whole
Wonder and scope
Of this glory.
Cannot even
The condemned rejoice
That the presence
Is, and is just?
   Kathleen Raine
i. Kathleen Raine wrote the poem ‘Ring of Bright Water’ – a title that was later used by Gavin Maxwell for his book about raising Otters at Camusfearna on the West Coast of Scotland.  From as much as I can tell Raine and Maxwell did have a relationship – Raine was later to say Maxwell was the love of her life.  The first of the Otters actually came from Iraq – where Maxwell had been  travelling with the hard-as-nails English gentlemen traveller - Wilfred Thesiger - and the death of this Otter has been cited as the reason for the breakup of Maxwell and Raine’s relationship.  
[ Before The Otters and Tex Geddes' shark fishing days, Maxwell had actually started the shark fishing station on the Island of Soay - just off the South of Skye. ] 

Leader of Men – MacCaig for the Egyptian Revolution?

When he addressed ten thousand
faces worked by automation
he was filled, exalted, afflated
with love and ambition for
his fellowcountrymen – in so far,
of course,
as they were not incomparable
with the love and ambition he felt
for himself. No sacrfice
would be too great. No
holocaust. No bloodbath. He
was so affected by the nobility
of his vision, his eyes were,
naturally, blurred.
How was he to know
the mindless face of the crowd
broke up, when he finished, into ten thousand pieces – except that,
when he went home,
he found the tea cold, his wife
plain, his dog smelly?
- Norman MacCaig

I had MacCaig on my mind before leaving for Egypt.  I wondered what he would’ve made of it – Tahir, The Revolution.  Perhaps I have my answer.   The original pics are here