East London, Exhibitions, Photography

Exhibition Update

Two of my images are currently on show in the 2018 LIP Annual Exhibition which runs from today, October 2nd until the 7th at the Espacio gallery in Bethnal Green Road, East London.

Both images come from a set I have been making around ephemeral and temporary shelters and occupations by homeless people in the borders between hackney Tower Hamlets and the City in East London. An area challenged by increasing disparities in both wealth and lifestyle.

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Art, East London, Exhibitions, Hackney Road, Photography

Exhibition: LIP Annual 2018

I have had a couple of images from my ongoing Hackney Road series selected to be shown in this years LIP Annual Exhibition at the Espacio Gallery, Bethnal Green Road. The Exhibition runs from the 2nd to the 7th of October 2018. Opening hours as follows: Tue 2 – Sat 6 October 1-7pm; Sun 7 1-5pm. The Venue is 5 minutes from brick lane, walking east and ten minutes from Shoreditch High Street the 8 & 388 bus routes also run past Espacio.

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Architecture, Art, Exhibitions, Review

De La Warr

Visited the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill on Saturday. Designed by Mendelssohn and Chermayeff it is one of the few truly iconic modernist buildings in the UK and one which I never tire of.

Now for a quick rant. Sadly the Magnum exhibition on show at the De La Warr was one of the worst I’ve seen. The daft curatorial conceit seems to have consisted of 3 people pulling prints out of a pile and more or less randomly grouping them. Stripping reportage images by noted photographers like Eve Armold, Eliot Erwitt, Martin Parr or Rene Burri of their context and meaning leaving a bunch of snaps on a wall. Essentially the exact opposite of a good or effective exhibition.

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Architecture, Books, Exhibitions

On Photography and Money

I just had a request, via flickr, for the image that heads up this page to be used in an academic book. It is, of course unpaid usage with a credit. I’m accepting as I like to get my ego stroked as much as the next guy and it’s an image where any number of similar shots can be found, so it might as well be my image as someone else’s.

Mind you, I would love it if – just for once – there was a suggestion of Payment in an image use request. After all, I paid handsomely for the 1Ds and the Canon 17mm TS-E shift lens and travel to make those images. It seems the only way I can bring money in is via print sales, but that’s tricky too as people are kinda resistant to buying photographs. Sure I’ve exhibited and sold my work but for an unknown to put on a full scale exhibition, even in the cheapest gallery space, you maybe cover venue, printing, framing flyer and private view costs…

I guess my problems are small beer compared to those facing guys who make a living from this, with their day rates being constantly undercut. Also Digital has taken the quality of everyone’s snapshots to a different level (I know my images are much better now). It makes sense that so many are moving into videos as it absolutely requires better understanding of lighting, storytelling and camera skills than most people are willing to learn.

I guess I’m lucky to be able to make images for the love of it underpinned by a day job with a good salary.

Media-tic, Barcelona

Media-tic, Barcelona

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Exhibitions, Review

08.05.14 -> Deutsche Börse Prize Exhibition

A short wordy post  – I got to this years Deutsche Börse Prize exhibition exhibition for the second time and wanted to jot down a few thoughts.. I’m really a colourist at heart, Saul Leiter, Alex Webb and William Eggleston speak to me in ways that Cartier-Bresson never will. Perhaps because of this I’m not sure I managed to properly connect with any of the work this year. Yes I know that Richard Mosse’s project is dominated by colour, but it’s every bit as unreal to me as black and white because the colours he achieves are defined by the medium – infra red film – and not how the human eye perceives colour.

Which leads me on to what I felt was a defining motif of the work on show – each photographers work was defined by the medium of film. This seems to be a follow on from John Stezeaker’s win last year, where the use of archive materials was core to his practice. The strongest Echo of last year’s winner is in the work of Lorna Simpson who rephotographed / reinterpreted a series of found images.

As an exhibition it must have been problematic to hang, as there are only two galleries available. That means that one of the three sets of black & white  images was always going to be in visual contrast to the huge and colourful images of Mosse. I think the curators got it right by going for the one which is most different – Simpson’s wall of small snapshot sized prints.

On the lower floor of the show are Alberto García-Alix and Jochen Lempert. we first encounter García-Alix’ series of self portraits, some of these are fine images and, viewed as set, we begin to get a feel of his progress through life, from a young man on a motor bike to middle age. Lempert’s work is a mixed bag, gain there are some individually strong images. He is nominated for what may have been a retrospective show in his native Germany, and I get the sense that you may need to be aware of the work and his history to get the full benefit from the show.

Mosse’s series is the most visually  striking, but I consider the visual shock value of the work isn’t quite enough. Simpson’s work addresses issues (racial and gender) in a way that García-Alix’ more personal work doesn’t appear to and I don’t quite ‘get’ Lempert’s work. In my view then, based on what I’ve seen Simpson is my favourite for the award.

 

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Art, Exhibitions, Review

17.01.14 -> Exhibition Review – Burroughs/Warhol/Lynch

14_01_17-Photographers Gallery Review

Today was the first day of the new exhibition program at the Photographers Gallery in Ramillies Street, London. I happen to work just just around the corner and it’s a good place to while away a rainy lunch hour, so I dropped in for for a quick look at lunchtime. A couple of points need to be made about this show before getting into my thoughts on the work;

  • First up is the issue of the entry fee, this is the first time in my recollection that a show at TPG has had an entry fee. It’s only £4, which isn’t a great deal of money but it does mean that it’s not going to get multiple visits if it’s not a early good exhibition.
  • Secondly, given the authors of the work in the show have not gained their fame or notoriety primarily from their photography(though Warhol’s work was often photographically derived), it looks like the aim may be to draw in extra punters and it might also be seen as a step back from what the Photographers Gallery should be doing?
  • Thirdly, and this is probably the biggest question. Do these artists have a common practice or common ground other than being American, does this hang together as a series of linked shows or are they a disparate group? As the Photographers Gallery is an unusually vertical establishment over seven floors, with it’s series of small galleries at 2nd, 4th and 5th floors, maybe my third question above doesn’t matter because the space lends itself to having a series of small exhibitions.

I’ll address the Exhibitions in the order I saw them walking up to the Warhol, then Burroughs, and finally Lynch’s factories at the top of the building.

Warhol

The Warhol Exhibition is a mixed bag of images the style and content varying and neither the hang or the sketchy explanatory text give us any real feel for why the particular works were selected or what the show is trying to tell us about the artist, beyond the idea that he liked to shoot a roll of dil a day. The work on show includes some of the well known stitched multiples along with a number of celebrity snaps, some work which could be considered as street photography and a number of images of products and flea markets. The Themes revealed are consistent with aspects of what we think of as typically Warhol; consumerism, celebrity and reproduction come through along with a bit of sly humour and innuendo in some of the images.

What was missing was a sense of engagement real enquiry. Maybe because all the images dated from 1976 or later, by which time the Warhol aesthetic was well and truly established or maybe the curation has selected images which conform to that aesthetic. If Warhol did indeed shoot at least a roll of film per day you’d hope that there might be more interest in the images.

For me the work that stood out in the end was the stitched multiples. They are both a comment on the reproducibility of photography and clearly related to the famous multiple screen prints. They also reveal opportunities for playing with the medium of the print, for example in one set (a shot of Jerry Hall) the print density changes with each shot, revealing a slightly different details as they go from dark to light. What intrigues is that something which would look like a shallow effect on a PC screen has added depth in the physical artefact. For me this idea of multiples, and working with a the physical embodiment of an image is central to what I took away from this first room of the exhibition.

Burroughs

Moving up to the the 4th floor, with some trepidation I entered the room given over to William Burroughs. I did try in my youth to read Burroughs but never managed it. I’ve never been a great reader and the stylised approach never appealed.

Entering the gallery there was quite a bit of explanatory text on the walls which helped contextualise the work. Burroughs took the same cut up techniques and created tableaux and collage, many of which were very effective.

Also very effective we’re a couple of sequences taken in sort time frames which were grouped and hung together, along with a quote about walking down the street and viewing the world through the camera letting it see the episodes and incidents your eyes catch as you move. It put me in mind of the approach Paul Graham took in ‘A Shimmer of Possibility’ though he cites Checkov as his inspiration. There was also a lovely set which was based around Burroughs harassment of a Cafe in London which made me chuckle.

As with Warhol what hit home was the materiality of the photographic artefact, the idea that you can cut up, recombine and multiply images and change their meaning and content (a thought that would return later at the Michael Wolf talk in the evening). The contrast was that while Warhol’s photographs seemed superficial and consumption driven Burroughs work seemed more engaged with and rooted in the messy side of real life with subjects like a cafe, a car crash or a sequence showing a bed before and after sex. There was also an engagement with current events evident in some of the collages.

I recommend this exhibition as there are many very good images and some really interesting ideas and lines of photographic enquiry to follow up.

Lynch

In it’s own way this was every bit as much of a surprise as the Burroughs. Entering the gallery I found a series of direct and well made, slightly dark, prints of industrial decay hung in a line at eye level.  And that’s it. Where I some sort of narrative and maybe an off kilter take on a well worn subject I just didn’t find it.

Summary

For me the exhibitions rank in the opposite order from the ay they read on the photo at the top of this page – i.e. Burroughs was most interesting. In fact, I’d say that the admission was worthwhile for the Burroughs exhibit alone and that’s great because it’s not what I expected. I like being surprised in this way it’s something that can happen when you see a band play live and something just clicks inside your head… you know you’ve found something you want to hear again. I want to see the Burroughs exhibition again and I will probably also buy the catalogue to get that extra layer of information which was so lacking in the Warhol exhibition.

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