Sunday, 8 April 2012

Ballen & Bristol experiences!

The Venue 

After a very eventful week I would firstly like to wish you a very Happy Easter. As promised here is a report on the two events I have participated in. The first was the Roger Ballen lecture & interview. 

Waiting in the wings...

He spoke for a little over an hour & posed questions to the audience, really letting us into his vision for his work. It is easy to focus upon the people in his photographs without really noticing the formal qualities that his pictures present. His compositions are very carefully considered, more akin to an abstract painter's than a photographer. A mark on a wall is considered of equal importance to the person in the frame, alongside the angle of their arm & the wire hanger on the wall. His forthright unapologetic demeanour was a refreshing change & kept the audience on their toes, me included. 

Roger Ballen in full flow

When it was my turn to interview Ballen I focused on the philosophical nature & intimacy of his own drawings & others found drawings in his photographs, which translate to a sort of automatic writing both haunting & instinctive to view.

An audience gripped

There were several Tweets during the lecture that expressed dissaproval of Ballen occasionally referring to himself in the third person. I felt that this wasn't quite getting the point. He was creating an emotional gap between his work & himself in order to provoke a response, which he achieved admirably. Rattle the audience, demand their full attention...see above.

Sign at the time

A retrospective of his work can be seen at Manchester Art Gallery, I urge you to go & see for yourself. 

Then there was Bristol....

Mshed approach
A quick note about the images here. Any pics without a credit are taken by me, on my phone so nothing special. The rest are by Angela Williams who kindly let me use her photo's taken at the talk on Saturday the 7th for the 'Collecting Photography' event. (Please note that photography is not usually permitted in the gallery)  

The Venue

This was my first visit to the Mshed gallery. The place was buzzing with visitors, with several Easter themed events taking place over the weekend including my own. It's an impressive building with wonderful industrial views. The gallery focuses mainly on the history of Bristol.

The fantastic display of Parkinson's work alongside period fashion

This is one of the first views of the exhibition, wow! The combination of design alongside the photographs works beautifully. The curation is excellent, really bringing the story of Norman Parkinson's work to life. The show has been put on in association with the Angela Williams Archive. Angela herself worked with Parkinson in the 1960's & exhibits vintage & modern prints from it.  Each image is captioned with the usual information including the model's name & the designer whose clothes he or she is wearing & the campaign (if any) or shoot & who for (Vogue etc...) which is extremely helpful. The black & white works are all vintage silver gelatin prints, the colour are modern prints taken from the original transparencies. 

A little before the talk begins...© Angela Williams

I have included a few images of the talk so that you can see the layout of the gallery, which works beautifully. 

During © Angela Williams

As you can see here, there is natural light coming in from the side as well which gives the space a light & airy feel. 

More during...© Angela Williams

It was an informal affair, therefore people were free to stop & listen if they wished, so we had quite a large audience by the end & lots of keen questions, which is always welcome. 

© Angela Williams

After the talk we headed downstairs to a private room where people could view the vintage portfolio of prints from the archive. It was perfect as in my talk I had expressed the importance of getting close to prints whenever possible & the necessity of photography books when collecting (often the first step to collecting photography) & researching artists of interest. 

© Angela Williams
There were more questions here, notably the question of fashion photo's that were originally being commissioned now considered to be part of the artistic canon, not just commercial - as was their initial intention.   

© Angela Williams

The work brought people together informally & prompted much discussion. 

© Angela Williams

© Angela Williams

© Angela Williams

© Becky Peters

Finally, myself with Michael & Angela Williams all happy after a very pleasant afternoon. Many thanks to both of them for inviting me to talk (plying me with cakes) & to M shed for their wonderful hospitality.

The exhibition finishes on April 15th, so be sure to get your skates on to visit it! 

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