After a tumultuous time in the fair city of London, I have to say that I have been comforted by seeing images of London in the gallery on display in 'The Fitzrovia Photography Prize'. For those of you who haven't been to see it I urge you to visit in the next week as the last day is on Saturday August 20th. (opening hours Tues -Sat 11-6)
All taken 'Within A Mile' of the gallery you may well recognize many of the places, but I can guarantee that there will be aces you don't also. One image is taken through a microscope, another inside the room at the Savoy during the refurb that Claude Monet famously stayed in (see article about it here) & paint the view, extraordinary. Talking of extraordinary we recently received press from the Stylist magazine website, which praised the show & displays several of the images under the title, 'Extraordinary London'.
After spending time watching, listening, reading & discussing the horrible occurrences of late I was inspired & deeply moved by those helping with the cleanup of the city, many generous offers of help & money by citizens to help those affected.
I have chosen just a few pictures as a teaser to speak about so as to let you see the rest for yourself.
© Julian Wakeling: Image Courtesy of Diemar/Noble Photography, London
I must of course speak about the winning photo first. This image jumped out when judging the hundreds of entries we received & was the image that had to be beaten to compete for the 1st prize. Taken on Berwick Street, the exquisite face of a woman is highlighted by the reflection given by the less romantic sign on the opposite wall notifying people that the 'toilets were for customers only' in the cafe he was in at the time. However, wether you have this information or not it still remains a haunting yet beautiful vision. A glimpse of a face through the re-enforced glass which appears like a barrier or even a veil with which to look through heightens the fleeting moment's precious capture.
"Red tabletop through restaurant window partially obscured by condensation"
© George Hill: Image Courtesy of Diemar/Noble Photography, London
George Hill's glorious image of a cafe shot through condensation reminded me of some of Saul Leiter's work (one of my favourite artists - I feel another blog coming on...) who's immaculate eye caught moments on the streets, transport & cafes of New York. The common bond between the two for me is not just that George has photographed similar subject matter but that she has carefully composed this image in light of it composition & attention to the colour pallet which evenly bounces warm & cool colours against one another & back again. The tabletop bisects the scene sloped on a gentle diagonal to further balance the image, pressed against the window, bringing the inside out. The condensation acts as a wonderful textured filter to break up the colours inside into soft forms, recognisable by their familiar shape not details, fractured by the water droplets on the glass.
Soho, London 2004
© Richard Bram: Image Courtesy of Diemar/Noble Photography, London
Richard Bram's caption with his photograph reads:
"I was hurrying through the back street of Soho from Tottenham Court Road to meet my wife at Andrew Edmunds for dinner on a bitter cold night with freezing rain, the rime visible glittereng on the metal tables and chairs. As I passed the fogged window of a café, I observed the couple inside looking like ghosts and made two frames."
What I love about this image is that we only see what we need to in order to register what is going on inside whilst leaving enough to the imagination to create a possible narrative (a romantic one in my case, life's too short to create miserable scenarios, there are enough of those in real life) as to the connection these two share.
You can alsoBram's work on display at the Museum of London's, London Street Photography exhibition, which is well worth a visit, perhaps compare the 2 shows & see how different the approach is to the genre. (if you do, please post a comment on this blog, all feedback is really appreciated).
This insight into a street photographer's observations of the world are invaluable to the budding street photographer. I have recently had to think about this myself whilst on my to & from the gallery I have been snapping with my phone little moments of fascination to add to the gallery's Twitter feed. It has been a wonderful surprise that there was no shortage of things to photograph & I am now quite hooked!
I haven't been able to come close to the fantastic image entered by Olivia Spooner, whose 'Tory Scum' photo seems topical with recent events in mind. I suspect it was not up for very long before the high pressure water-jet washed it away. Thank goodness for astute street photographers' who capture street ephemera in times of upheaval. With news happening so fast, the political landscape changes daily, but also the physical landscape. The importance of recording these changes become imperative as well as informative when media sometimes is slow to keep up with live feeds from the general public. As I mentioned in my previous post, images can capture the world's imagination with clear, concise bold imagery. Spooner is definitely in this category. I have just begun following her blog which is very interesting also. (Her 'Dropped' series is fun too)
Ok so onto less dramatic things...
Here are some of my paltry efforts:
OK, the first is cakes, not surprising as I love 'em. However, I do have several reasons for photographing them.
1.If I take a picture rather than buying one I not only get to stop adding inches to the waistline, I can see them as a 'feast for the eyes' to be enjoyed at any time!
2.I do have many pics like this whenever I see a good cake display, they are so lovely to look at, with amazing colours & textures to drool over, imagining how good they taste. Let's face it, most are not as good as they look when you get right down to it. I also am not good at making my mind up, so would be in a jam trying to decide anyway.
3.As a huge fan of Wayne Thiebaud, my passion for the way cakes look was ignited upon seeing his incredible paintings.
4.They are wonderful subjects from a compositional perspective, with great colours, shapes, shadows, textures, wonderful joyous still life's & a lovely change from vases.
Next the fantstically designed seat on one train on the central line last week. I have no idea why there isn't more of these on every train in the right place as many visitors may not speak or read english but could get the purpose of this instantly! As a bit of design, the colours worked great together too, so I easily composed this shot. I hope it is pleasing to enjoy for the colours alone, regardless of the subject.
Then the fantastic Oswald Boateng window display in his Saville Row store, lit beautifully at night, to show the deconstructed pieces of his yellow jacket. This is a very knowing setup, picturing the jacket as a work of art, not just an item of clothing. In creating this deconstruction we are reminded of cubism. Walking past these expensive shops at night when they are closed has become one of my favourite pastimes as I can peer to my hearts content & take lots of pics, drawing inspiration from the window dresser's who create them as well as the items themselves. Placing it beneath the picture above, I love that the figure on the seat & the position of the jacket mimic each other too.
Still on the subject of window displays & deconstruction - or in this case destruction - another wonderfully simple window which caught my eye & my funny bone was this one. As a proud Northerner I couldn't resist cropping the red letters to spell 'ALE' instead of SALE!
Shop on Regent Street
© David Axelbank: Image Courtesy of Diemar/Noble Photography, London
Another window, this time on Regent Street, becomes a magical other-worldly moment in David Axelbank's hands. The square glass tiles outside the store provide a wonderful pattern across the ground under the mannequins' feet. This could easily be a theatre set. Some kind of yellow light flickers on the walls, with only a partial view of the mannequin again a new narrative has been constructed from quite an abstract composition.
So composing 53 different photographer's works to co-incide in the same space without jarring visually. The sign of great curation is that you don't notice it as it feels perfectly natural. When you see a wall display with multiple images upon it, they should display connections, links to one another in order to visually please the eye at first glance & reveal relationships upon much closer inspection. When deciding where to place these works, myself & my assistant curator Eleanor Kelly had a long day (11am - 11pm) deciding & finalising the hang of the show.
We decided that each wall was to be approached individually without a set format (which would have become visually dull & repetitive) & use heights & distances to add coherence to the final display. The space between works was the same, but the arrangements differed as grouping themes & balancing palettes to avoid bad placements.
Here is the drawing I made to use for measurements & to show the final appearance as I saw it. We could lay out the work on the floor & then put it up. As the central works were all portrait apart from the 2 which were landscape, therefore it worked best setting the corners in a little bit to give it a more circular feel, keeping the eye moving from one image to another. This circular effect gave a fluidity to the display, rendering a less rigid appearance.
The central image is predominantly yellow, thus acted like a central beacon to the display. Either side of this a single figure walking toward the central picture helps to create some symmetry. The green tones in each of the four corners harmonise the set of 9 with the red phone box picking up the red in the writing on the wall of the work above it. When you look at these relationships (after a LOT of swopping & changing the arrangement) it soon becomes clear when it is right.
But don't take my word for it, come & see for yourself. I look forward to your responses. If the comment book in the gallery is anything to go by, you should be in for a treat!