e hënë, shtator 29, 2008

Time of the Comet (Trailer)

Saw this film yesterday.
Based on a book by Ismail Kadare ("Viti i Mbrapshte")
Thoroughly enjoyed it. It was in Albanian with English subtitles.
Told the story of 5 men in 1912, wanting to fight for freedom in Albania on the arrival of Prince Wied.

I don't want to "spoil" the film for any that have not already sen it, but if you get the chance it is well worth seeing. Certainly tells a lot about the confusion within Albania at that time, and also the difficulty in coming to terms with independence.

Some good humour in the film.
Enjoyed the part that they realise the map they are using is of the Ottoman Empire and not of Albania. They react badly to being shown Albania on a map of Europe, as they refused to believe that Albania was so small. " It's not possible Albania to be as small as my shoe!"

Shkoder makes an appearance, near the end with a scene from the Lead Mosque.

More information on the film here or here.

e diel, shtator 28, 2008


A recent article from the "LA Times".

THETH, ALBANIA -- The "Accursed Mountains" tower high above the Shala Valley, snow clinging to their summits even in the summer. Their jagged peaks hide one of Europe's most remote areas, where tribal culture lives on even as the modern world encroaches.

For about half the year, Shala, a protected national park, is cut off by heavy snowfall that blocks access to the two rock-strewn dirt tracks snaking through the mountains. The only way in or out is a seven-hour trek by foot to the nearest road, if the snow is not too deep.

Here a rapidly vanishing way of life lingers in the traditions of the Kanun, the code of 15th-century prince Lek Dukagjin. But fewer and fewer locals are willing to endure the harsh winter in Theth, a Catholic village of roughly whitewashed stone houses scattered along a valley where snow piles so high that even visiting a neighbor can be impossible. Less than two decades ago, about 200 families lived in Theth year-round. Now there are 10 or 15.

"Everybody leaves during the winter," says Dilda Dednoja, a lively 69-year-old who stopped spending winters in her home in Theth's Okol area about seven years ago.

"In the winter you got stuck in the snow and you really wanted to leave," she said, describing a life of privation and toil where food was stockpiled in autumn to last until spring, firewood had to be dragged into the house and villagers were isolated even from each other. "There would be 4 meters (13 feet) of snow outside the door; there was no doctor, no school."

Agetina Carku lives on the valley's slopes, in the first house on the dirt track leading from the mountains into Theth. At 76, she has been shuttering her home in the fall and moving into the northern city of Shkodra for the last two winters. But she'd still rather stay in the mountains.

"When I come here, I am reborn," she says, watching fireflies flicker in her garden on a summer night.

"I still wanted to stay, but the young generation doesn't want to work so hard. I can't stay here alone, I have to follow the family. It is a practical need, but it's also the tradition."

It is in isolated pockets such as these that Albania's traditions are strongest.

Many still live at least in part by the Kanun, a code handed down through the centuries in which "besa" -- loosely translated as word of honor or sacred promise -- is paramount. The code was adhered to by Albania's Muslim majority and Catholic and Orthodox Christian minorities.

The code covers everything from inheritances and the rights of the church to the treatment of livestock. Disobeying the Kanun could lead to harsh penalties that might include banishment or the transgressor's household being burned. A slight could lead to a blood feud that lasted for generations.

In Theth, nobody will sell land to an outsider, or even to another villager. Brides must come from outside the valley, a tradition that follows along the lines of the Kanun's rule that marriage within the same clan is forbidden.

"The Kanun is the law. Just like the state law," explains Gjovalin Lokthi, 39, a gruff "kryeplak," or elected chief of the village.

"With the Kanun you can get killed over honor," he says, sipping homemade raki in what was until recently Theth's only bar -- a wooden shack he converted from a goat shed. "But it's better to get killed, because what good is your life [if you spend] 100 years behind bars?"

Theth's "kulla," or tower, is a reminder of the devastating legacy the blood feuds can have. Now a tourist attraction, the windowless stone building was where the men of a feuding family could take refuge -- for months or even years. Easily defendable with sheer walls and slits for windows, the men survived on livestock kept on the ground floor and food brought by the family's women, who were not targeted.

Kullas are no longer used. But there are still families in northern Albania forced into isolation because of feuds, unable to walk out their front door for fear of being killed. And sometimes these days it's not just men but whole families who fear for their lives.

The Kanun has survived despite four decades of communist rule after World War II, with hardships such as mass imprisonment in labor camps and attempts to stamp out tribal practices.

"What the people went through here is pretty amazing," says Michael Galaty, associate professor of anthropology at Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss., who led a four-year anthropological and archaeological research project in the Shala Valley that also studied the effects of isolation. "You go from this isolated tribal culture to one of the harshest totalitarian dictatorships the world's ever known, and from there straight into the globalized community."

But many in Albania -- particularly in the rapidly modernizing capital, Tirana, -- now perceive the Kanun as brutal and arcane, with its dictates that blood be paid for blood and that a woman is "a sack made to endure."

The Kanun "has been repeated for centuries and is deep in the conscience of the people," says Ismet Elezi, a retired professor of criminal law at Tirana University who spent 50 years studying the code. But "the young generation is interested in rock and pop, not in the Kanun, although they apply it. . . . It's usually the older people who push youngsters to apply it, though they don't know how."

Even in an area as isolated as Theth, it's clear the outside world is creeping in. Now satellite TV dishes are visible, and a cellphone relay antenna erected recently ensures near perfect coverage in an area where the country's landline grid is still out of reach.

Increasing numbers of tourists are willing to endure the bone-crunching journey by four-wheel drive to get into the valley. The villagers have started taking paying guests into their homes, and it is not clear how much tourism they will be able to accommodate.

For now the villagers of Theth still greet visitors with raki and small cups of thick, sweet coffee. After all, under Albanian tradition and the Kanun, you cannot turn away a guest.

e shtunë, shtator 27, 2008

Albania - The Foundling State of Europe#3

The women of the mountain tribes were sturdy and powerful and often beautiful as children, but the hard, rough, life they led destroyed all their good looks as soon as they arrived at womanhood. In Albania and Montenegro woman was the beast of burden of the poorer families; she did the household drudgery of the hut, and all but the very roughest work in the field while her husband or brother sat upon a stone with his rifle between his knees and a cigarette between his lips.when the fruits of the little farm were taken to the bazaar, the husband stalked ahead while the old horse limped along behind him with bursting saddle bags, urged on by the women of the family, whose backs bent double under a towering load of firewood.
Page 41,42

The blood-feuds which used to be so common in Scodra and the mountains were gradually dying out, for the authorities and the priests had set their faces against the practice for many years past. But the factors which had the greatest influence in putting down the practice were the poverty from which Albania had suffered for years and the enforcing of the edict against carrying arms in the city.
Page 49

Well, not entirely dying out.
Unfortunately there are many families still involved in blood feuds today, almost 100 years later!

To the casual observer the Albanians seemed to be always rebelling and fighting for no reason whatever. But it must not be forgotten that they were never really conquered by the Turks and that in the mountains they did very much as they liked.
But the Turk, the latest intruder in Albania has now gone from the land, and the city of Scodra will return to the position it occupied nearly three thousand years ago when it was chief town of the Illyrian tribes under their native kings. Many conquerors have passed over it, but the stubborn race which is now known as Albanian has survived them all. It now only remains for the people of Scodra to justify the trust which Europe has reposed in them as leaders of the new kingdom, and if the doggedness, independence and the vital force which can live through all vicissitudes of fortune, count for anything in modern Europe, they should not be found wanting.
Page 51

In the summer it was the custom of the European colony to postpone the afternoon walk until the late afternoon when the tall trees began to throw a pleasant shade, and a gentle breeze usually cooled the heated atmosphere. When the wide-eaved houses shadowed the width of the streets. Scodra gradually roused itself from its afternoon's doze. The day was almost unendurable indoors even with all the blinds drawn down on the sunny side of the house and with all the windows open, but at last the faint rustling of the leaves outside told that a little breeze had come to cool us, and that the hour for the evening promenade had arrived.
Pages 62,63

Not much has changed in the last 100 years then!

The book includes some strange stories of a dog recovering from a snake bite by applying a nearby plant on the wound and in its mouth.
A man that had a bath every day for 10 days then no more for a year !

Description of being served with coffee, cigarettes, a syrupy drink and sweetmeats which I take it were lakum. One man bit on one and got his teeth stuck and could not free them for a good 5 minutes.
Page 91

Yes, there is nothing worse than taking a piece of "lakum" during a visit and find that it is not fresh, and it is like someone has glued your teeth together.

We English are too given to thinking that all foreigners see us as we see ourselves; not merely as the inhabitants of two little islands...
Page 133

Hmmm...English are inhabitants of 2 islands. My geography was never any good, but I was sure that little island to the left of GREAT BRITAIN(on a map) was actually called Ireland, and was full of Irish people. I also thought that England was not an island as they border on 2 other countries, Wales and Scotland!

Blood feuds
Went to Shkrel and there spoke with a man who was in a blood feud having killed his brother-in-law from Hoti for sending his wife(this man's sister) away.
"and your sister? She in the city? Has she married again?"
"married? Oh no! She begs; she has her child---------- then seeing my look of astonishment he added; "what is she to do ? We cannot support her; she does not belong to us now; and the Hoti will not keep her.But I have avenged the insult ; I have shot her husband"
Page 136

"It is an extraordinarily difficult language for a foreigner to speak, and the Shkypetars claim that none but the native born can pronounce their queer consonantal sounds correctly. The difficulty of learning the language is increased by the want of a suitable alphabet. The Jesuits and Franciscans of Scodra use the Latin alphabet; in the South the Orthodox priests use Greek letters. But neither system is satisfactory, and consequently some grammarians have introduced diacritical marks or have mixed up the two sets of characters but probably with even less success, and it is a proof of the marvelous vitality of the language that it has survived through the ages without a literature, untaught and unwritten in the schools."
Page 199

"Extraordinarily difficult language" - got to agree on that one!
But then is there an easy language to learn?
Albanians do seem VERY gifted in foreign language, and I have met some Albanians that speak English perfectly with no hint of a foreign accent!
They put us "English" speakers to shame!
The Albanian alphabet - yes, a post in itself. It is remarkable how the language survived, even during the times of Turkish rule and the language forbidden to be taught in schools and no(or very little) reading material in Shqip! Full credit to those that worked to get the Albanian language recognised, in written form, and agreed by, for the whole country! (I'm glad they didn't choose the Greek or Arabic letters for the alphabet!)

e premte, shtator 26, 2008

"5 Heronjtë të Vigut" to be removed!

Well, I really cannot believe it!

It has just been decided by the council committee(keshillit bashkiak) that the statue of the 5 heroes (5 Heronjtë të Vigut)is to be removed and replaced to the graveside of those that fought for freedom from Italy. ("varrezet te deshmoreve")

The statue which has been in the centre of town for over 25 years and is one of the landmarks and best known sites in Shkoder will be replaced by....a fountain!

I mean, sorry, but surely this is ridiculous!
Had I posted this on April Fools Day, none of you would have believed it!

Surely this is an important part of Albanian History, rightfully respected and one of the most best known, most loved and most photographed sites in the town of Shkoder.
I should know!
I live a stones throw from the statue, and pass it numerous times every day, and there are LOTS of tourists EVERY DAY all around it taking photos from all different angles.

How, anyone in their right mind can think that a fountain should be there instead of the 5 Heroes...I do not know!

The decision was based on a vote of 27 for the replacement against 9 against.
And so the 5 heroes are to be replaced on a decision by the 27 numpties!

e enjte, shtator 25, 2008

Albania - The Foundling State of Europe#2

The postal officials too in Europe had vague notions as to our whereabouts. A letter plainly addressed "Albania" was once sent to America and returned from Albany N.Y. With the inscription , "Try Europe"
Page 5

Yes, believe it or not that still happens. I had mail come about 4 months later, with "try Albania Europe, but it's not in Albany!'

At both places the ambulance halted for coffee it being clearly the opinion of the escort both officers and men that it is wise to drink coffee when and where you can as you can never tell when you will get it again...the old wagon went bumping, jolting, jingling and rattling over the inequalities of the road and even the waste of time caused by stopping to make coffee gave relief to the feeling that the spine was hopelessly shattered and every tooth loosened which was induced by a mile or two of that real carriage "exercise".
Page 30,31

Yes, just like the old road to Torovice!

The fear of the author that revolution was in the air due to much gun fire as they entered Albania. However it was explained to him that it was only Bajram!
Page 33

The date of its foundation is not known but it claims to have been the capital of the old Illyrian kings about 1000b.C. And Livy is the first Latin author who makes mention of it, in his account of the war against the Illyrian pirates, as the stronghold of their rulers in 230B.C. The city, though for centuries ruled by its native kings and inhabited by the Thrako-Illyrian tribes who are now represented by the Albanians, passed from time to time under the domination of the Gauls, the Bulgarians, the Serbs, the Venetians and finally of the Turks who took possession of it in 1477A.D. For over a hundred years under the Turks it was ruled by its native Scodrali Pashas and i1t was only after the Crimean War that it was ruled from Constantinople direct, though the mountains have always been semi-independent.
Page 35

The Mahometan and Orthodox women wore a more richly embroidered dress than the Latin Catholics and in fact no dress more absolutely unbecoming to women has ever been invented than that of the Latin women of Scodra. But in a few years time It will have no doubt have disappeared entirely.
Page 41

Oh Yes, a lot of truth there! "It will have no doubt have disappeared entirely". If only he was to see how literal his words have become - the dress HAS disappeared almost entirely and the girls wear next to nothing now!

e martë, shtator 23, 2008

Please consider voting

Someone has sent me this e-mail asking that I publicise their campaign. It is a good cause - to feed malnourished children.

You can take a look at the link, and if you like it, feel free to vote.


"My organization, International Medical Corps, has the ability to save the lives of malnourished children around the world and we just received some very exciting news. We have been nominated to be one of the Top 25 in American Express' Projects, "Saving the Lives of Malnourished Children." Our project was chosen out of 1,190 projects and is now eligible to receive up to $1.5 million to help feed hungry children. I've put together this microsite explaining everything.


I'm sure that the other organizations have worthy projects, but this one asked my help, and feeding malnourished children is as great cause!

Albania is heavenly...

...for history buffs.(and not just history buffs!)

Article from the Times newspaper in the U.K. advising holiday makers going for 2 weeks to Corfu to take a couple of days break in Albania.

I would recommend that as well...or how about holidaying in Albania and taking a couple of days break in Corfu?! ;-)

Albania - The Foundling State of Europe

Roman Catholics outside a church in the mountains

Just finished reading the above book by Wadham Peacock, former secretary to H.B.M. Charge D'Affaires in Montenegro and Consul-General in North Albania.

He writes..
"This book deals with a phase in the history of Albania which is passing away. The new King has arrived at his new capital and the European ruler has replaced the Turkish Pasha. But the soul of the Shkypetar people remains the same, and the Albania of tomorrow will be the Albania of yesterday with only a superficial variation. In the Near East things when they change, change slowly, and the transition from the Middle ages to the Twentieth Century will not be accomplished by a stroke of the pen because Europe has at last recognised its foundling State."
Wadham Peacock 1914

The interesting thing about this book for me, was that it concentrated on Shkoder and Malesia e Madhe. It was quite interesting to read some comments and stories, although at times he went into too much detail regarding dress of both men and women. This over emphasis on the detail or the geography of the area made reading a little tedious. At the same time it is interesting to read of his hopes and ideas for how Albania would change and become more European. The improvements that he hoped for of course never came about! I would recommend "Two Vagabonds in Albania" as a far better read. especially as the "vagabonds" went all over Albania and had a lot more humour in their writing.

Further thoughts will appear over the next couple of days.

e hënë, shtator 22, 2008

A day without cars!

Seriously, I need an explanation for this one!
Yes, I am all in favour of looking after the world and being more "green". And yes, that means we need to start in our own town. But what is the purpose of this day?

Is it to try to encourage more people to use their bikes?
Surely not in Shkoder!
Every man, woman, child, dog and cat in Shkoder has a bicycle - and they use them!( well,I exaggerated a little about the dog and cat, but you know what I mean)

Is it to get less cars on the road?
You can start off by making tougher regulations for cars on the road. Some cars being driven should NOT be on the road. They are being driven with broken wings or broken headlights. As a pedestrian, I do not want to be hit by a car - and certainly not by a car with a broken light. It would be like getting hit by a broken bottle.

If you want less cars on the streets of Shkoder, then PLEASE give us more buses and buses that come regularly and make a full circuit of Shkoder. That would enable many shoppers to go to the markets and return by bus, at the very least somewhere near to where they live.

The answer can't be to tell people to get on their bikes!

e enjte, shtator 18, 2008

Widow of Albania’s Hoxha defends his legacy

Here is a report from Reuters on a recent interview with Nexhmije Hoxha. This is from a part of history that I as a foreigner will never really understand, nor know the characters involved. ( other than by name and old film). I will say this, however, that any time I have watched the old documentaries from TV during communism and praising PPSH, I have been struck by Nexhmije Hoxha.
They say that behind every great man is a great woman?
Then maybe behind every evil dictator there is an evil woman!
I just get the feeling that she had a "hands on" role in much of her husbands plans and activities.
However, what do I know - I wasn't here during those days and it's just an impression that I get!

Here is the article...

"The widow of Albania’s longtime Stalinist leader said some things had improved since the collapse of Communism, but defended Enver Hoxha’s tough legacy as she prepared to honour the centenary of his birth.

“Some people want me to repent for things that happened in those times,” Nexhmije Hoxha, 86, said in a rare two-and-a-half-hour interview with Reuters on Thursday night.

“People should know from the start that I cannot criticise Enver Hoxha, I must protect his reputation.”

“Unfortunately, the 100th anniversary of the birth of Enver is taking place in an atmosphere of contradictions,” she said.

“Various associations that want to celebrate the date are afraid to do so in this almost fascist atmosphere.”

Enver Hoxha was born on October 16, 1908, and after leading the World War Two resistance, ruled Albania for 40 years as one the world’s most reclusive and oppressive states. He abolished religion, closed the borders and built thousands of pillbox bunkers against foreign invasion. Private cars were banned.

Today most Albanians condemn his rule as a dark period.

Although still largely rural, the country has seen fast economic growth and a building boom in recent years as it tries to catch up with wealthier European nations.

Hoxha acknowledged that some of the changes had been positive. “People are freer, I can talk any time, but I avoid it because I do not want to,” she told Reuters. “Some things are good, it’s development, progress.”

Nexhmije met her future husband in 1941, when both were in the Communist underground — and when dating between comrades was frowned upon. “Expressions of love were forbidden in line with the expression of party rules,” she recalled with a smile.

“It had its own romanticism.”

“We had some age difference between us and he came as a delegate of the Central Committee. The idea of being with him never crossed my mind,” she continued. “It was he who started courting me. He was very, very loving, very sweet.”

One night he ferried her alone on a bicycle’s handlebars to a Communist Party safe house. “That’s how we came to love each other,” she said. They were married in 1945.

The dictator’s widow, who is in good health, says he improved Albania’s postwar standard of living, its health system and education amid desperate poverty. “When the standard of living was compared to the West, it can be considered modest, but there was an egalitarian spirit.”

As for the pervasive secret police and repression, Nexhmije, who became an important party official herself, admits excesses.

“Unpleasant and unwelcome things did happen, but that did not come from above, let alone from Enver,” she said.

“People complain now that some jail sentences were harsh, but that was the law of the state at the time,” she added.

Referring to the closed borders, Nexhmije said: “If we look at it now, I guess it should not have been so restrictive, but those were the times.”

After Albanian Communism collapsed in 1990, Nexhmije was sent to prison for five years, accused of abusing state finances. She said she had spent $360 on new glasses after many mourners accidentally broke glasses when drinking rakia alcohol and coffee following Hoxha’s 1985 death.

“The object of my trial was political because I was the widow of Enver Hoxha,” she complained. “When I came out of jail I didn’t even recognise the streets.”

—Reuters - Adam Tanner"

e enjte, shtator 11, 2008

Spelling Albanian

They tell me Albanian is an easy language, as you pronounce the words just as they are written. So unlike English that has different pronunciations for the "ough" sound - "bought", "through", "enough", "cough", "thorough" and "bough" ( all these have different sounds!). - Albanian is far easier to pronounce and to spell.

Well, maybe not that easy!

e mërkurë, shtator 10, 2008

The Trials of Shopping

Shopping is different from abroad, and you really need to have a lot of patience to shop in Albania.

There are some things that no matter how long I stay in Albania, I just can’t get used to.
I am referring to the form of “bartering” for a decent price.
Most shops don’t have prices. You have to ask the shop keeper how much the article costs.

So, you want to buy a new pair of shoes. You ask how much they are and then you have to haggle the price down. That is something I have never been used to and still am not used to. It is far easier just paying the price they ask for!

I have an uncle in Scotland that gets discount on all his purchases, even though there is no sale price. He always seems to get a bargain by asking for money off. No doubt he would get on great in Albania!

Me, I am resigned to be embarrassed at asking for money off. I just don’t do it. I get the feeling that the shopkeepers are looking at me thinking to themselves, “ This guy is foreign, he must have lots of money!”, and then I should ask for a couple of pounds off the price!?
( If I did that, then they would be probably thinking, “ Typical Scotsman!”)

Another difficulty is in the cost of an item.
Albanians still speak in the old money. So they will tell you the price is 20,000 lek when it is really only 2,000lek. This can still be very confusing. Especially when buying something like a painting that you really do not know how to value!

Then another most frustrating problem is when you come to pay for the item.
At times, just as as you are paying, someone will eneter the shop and ask the shopkeeper the price of an item, and the shopkeeper will leave you and go and serve the other person. I mean, he is adding up your bill, and you have your money in your hand, and someone comes in and says…
“A kilo of cheese please” and the shopkeeper stops adding up your bill and starts serving the other person.
I am left pulling my hair out!

Once you have got past these problems, you get your weekly shopping in plastic bags that have the strength to hold no more than a bunch of grapes and you can head off home again!

If you have purchased a new pair of shoes, then be prepared to be asked about 100 times - Where did you buy them and how much did they cost you!
Sometimes I get stopped by complete strangers in the street asking me about something I am carrying and where I bought it, and how much it cost!

Then on return to the house you will be asked - how much did you pay for the tomatoes or peppers, and why you bought apples that are “soft” and “bruised”!

Shopping – it seems to be gift that men are never born with, and never learn!

e hënë, shtator 08, 2008

Rudi Vata

A new football season has begun, and so I think I will write a few words on Rudi Vata. The Albanian from Shkoder, played for my favourite team and in fact married a Scottish girl, and I believe they still live in Scotland, with their son.

Glasgow Celtic are my football team, and in fact probably my first ever realization of anything Albanian was the signing in 1992 of Rudi Vata for Celtic. Following a France- Albania football match in 1991, he and some other players left the stadium and went to police station and claimed political assylum.

Rudi played 55 times for Celtic, sometimes in midfield , but mostly at right back. Unfortunately, his career was not helped by breaking his wrist. Rudi then struggled to get back into the team.

Celtic by that time were under the management of Tommy Burns, and were pushing for their first trophy in 6 years. Rudi made it back into the team just before Celtic's semi-final.With the game at 0-0, Celtic scored late on from a header from a Rudi Vata free kick. It was probably just what he needed and he kept his place for the final. Celtic won the final 1-0 against Airdrie.

What will I remember Rudi for?
Maybe , for him running around the pitch celebrating the cup final win with a massive sombrero Mexican hat.
Or, maybe for a rather cruel comment in the fan magazine NTV, that said the following year that Rudi would get a good run in the Celtic team as soon as he got a decent haircut!
But, probably I will remember Rudi Vata for one of his four goals for Celtic. The one against Rangers, from a free kick in a 3-0 win for Celtic!

No matter who you are, or how many games you play for Celtic, you are always a hero if you score against Rangers!

e diel, shtator 07, 2008

World Record for Albania

An Albanian artist has entered the Guinness Book of World Records for a THIRD time, this time with a large mosaic constructed out of bottle corks.

Saimir Strati, 42, used more than 300,000 of the corks in the mosaic of a young man playing a guitar, measuring 12.94 metres wide by 7.1 metres high (39 by 21 feet).

"This work is dedicated to the Mediterranean spirit which is nourished by music, the sun and wine," Strati said at a ceremony to unveil his latest piece of artwork.

In September 2006, his first record was with the world's largest portrait made of nails, of Leonardo da Vinci. It required more than 500,000 nails.

In 2007 he was back with a mosaic using 500,000 toothpicks dedicated to Antonio Gaudi, the Spanish architect famous for constructions including Barcelona's Sagrada Familia church.

Now 300,000 corks for the guitarist!
(I'm just glad it wasn't my job to count how many corks or toothpicks that he used!!)

Truly a work of art, and fantastic creative imagination and hard work!
14 hours a day for 28 days!

Wiki information here.
His own website here.
Some excellent photos of his work here.