Category Archives: Exhibitions & Books

Exhibition Visit – Gillian Wearing 4th May 2017 National Portrait Gallery, London

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Rain on the window from our hotel room

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We also went to see Les Mis on the Wednesday. It was amazing!

We arrived at the National Portrait Gallery on Thursday afternoon. I was excited to visit, I had never been before. We didn’t have lots of time on this visit so decided to check in our bags and go straight to the Gillian Wearing expedition, we paid for our tickets and headed to the exhibition.

In the entrance we saw the newly acquired portrait of Ed Sheeran by Colin Davidson. I’m not a big fan personally, I don’t particularity dislike him either but my wife likes his music. I must admit the portrait is incredible.

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Ed Sheeran by Colin Davidson

As we entered the exhibition I was in high spirits, ready to document my visit for the learning blog on C & N. Unfortunately as I started to take some snapshots as a record for my blog I was rudely approached by a member of staff and told something along the lines of ‘there is no photography in the photography exhibition’ I must admit I was taken aback initially and also contemplated the irony of the statement. I tried to explain I was a student but before I could say anything else, I was told it didn’t matter and I wasn’t allowed to take shots on my i-Phone. For the entire remainder of our visit around the Gillian Wearing exhibition we were followed and observed by staff from the gallery, making us both feel really uncomfortable. I’m not that great socially at the best of times and it took a lot of effort and courage for me just to get to the exhibition in London with so many people but it just made me feel horrible and not welcome in the slightest. I also find when I get anxious I struggle to remember things so the snapshots usually help. The whole experience left me with a bit of a foul taste in my mouth but I tried to take in some of the photographs on display as best I could.

The bad experience had me contemplating what the artist would have thought, what her position would have been and also what my own thoughts would be if I were displaying my work in an exhibition and someone was taking snapshots. I mean, I wasn’t looking to steal the artists work….all of the images are available to view on line anyway if I really wanted to, there are countless images of the exhibition online elsewhere under the hash-tag #wearingcahun. I only wanted to document my visit visually.  Was I asked permission to be filmed whilst I was attending the gallery? No, however I was…should I have protested being filmed without my consent? I have now visited a number of exhibitions and I’ve never had a problem with taking shots for my learning log. Some probably think I am making a big deal about this but I feel it’s a really important issue.

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I have no other images to support the visit. I viewed the work by Claude Cahun but I was more interested in the images by Gillian Wearing, I was interested to see some of her work as it has been covered in this unit of my degree, ‘Context and Narrative‘.

I enjoyed seeing the Family portraits series Album in large scale print, they just make more sense in person seeing them so big on a wall rather than in my study books. I find the use of masks quite creepy and unsettling but its a really inventive way of doing self portraits. It’s amazing how she takes on the role of the other family members. It questions identity, gender and roles within families but also the links that connect the family chain. My wife observed how the faces looked different yet you can see the link of the same person through the eyes (my wife didn’t initially know about the masks but she spotted the eyes) she said ‘these eyes look like a younger persons eyes’ when looking at the image of Wearings father. There was also a fascinating series of Polaroid shots of Wearing taken over a number of years starting from the 1980’s up to 2005, all compiled together in one display, I found it was good to see the visual development of the artist over a long period of time, they are essentially all ‘selfies’. There were also images Wearing had ‘recreated’ of some of her ‘idols’ again using masks.

I must admit I went into the gallery not really being a fan of the artists work but I left feeling I had a better understanding, appreciation and respect for her work.

There were also some great portrait images on display at the gallery by David Gwinnutt ‘Before we were Men’.

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Trying to collect my thoughts after the gallery visit

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Experimenting with the 360 panoramic feature on the i-Phone

Its definitely worth a visit to see this exhibition, its on until 29th May 2017. I hope next time its a more enjoyable experience.

Reference:

http://www.colindavidson.com/

http://www.davidgwinnutt.com/

National Portrait Gallery London

http://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/wearing-cahun/home/

Exhibition Visit – ‘Plants in a Different Light’ by Jan Ramscar LRPS, Fox Talbot Museum, Lacock – Saturday 15th April 2017

Today I visited an exhibition at the Fox Talbot museum in Lacock by Jan Ramscar LRPS titled ‘Plants in a Different Light’. It was a fascinating exhibition, very different to other exhibitions I have been to.

I got to meet the artist Jan Ramscar who briefly explained the process behind creating the photograms by shining light through the plants onto light sensitive photographic paper, so the images are created without a camera and how she blends her love for science and art together. I mentioned to Jan how some of the images reminded me of an underwater exhibition I had seen previously at the museum, how some of these images could be slotted into that exhibition as they looked like they could be alien like creatures from the depths of the ocean.

I loved the vibrant luminous colours in the images, patterns created by nature, how science and nature can become art. It is fitting that the exhibition is at the Fox Talbot museum as some of Talbot’s first images were of plants like flowers, leaves and ferns.

A couple of i-Phone snaps from the visit:

Reference:

Fox Talbot Museum

Jan Ramscar Art

 

Exhibition visit to the Victoria Art Gallery, Bath – ‘History through a lens’ The Incite Project – Friday 24th March 2017

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Today I visited the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath, where they have a new exhibition on called  ‘History through a Lens: Iconic Photographs from the Incite Project’

The exhibition displayed documentary and photojournalism photography from some of the greats; Don McCullin, Steve McCurry, Dorothea Lange, W. Eugene Smith and Robert Capa. As described in the exhibition, by extracting the photographs from their context within newspapers and their accompanying captions they become standalone art within their own context. I found the exhibition to be very moving and thought-provoking. Some of the images were very tough to view but great photography doesn’t shy away from controversial issues, it tackles it head on. A number of the photographs covered conflict, war, historical issues of race, religion, refugees and politics.

The whole exhibition had me thinking again about the boundaries in photography (if there are any?!), I mean, what can or can’t be photographed, or perhaps what should and shouldn’t be photographed? Are their limits on what is acceptable or is everything/anything fair game as far as subject matter and subject is concerned? Do I think suggestion is more powerful as a story telling tool/technique than shock? I am curious as to the longevity of the shock factor in imagery against perhaps a more psychological, suggestive approach. Once I have moved past the initial step of an image being shocking is there anything within that image that makes me want to return to view it or stay looking at it? I guess if I were to illustrate this, I would say the image of the Shell shocked marine by Don McCullin or the image by Henri Huet of the dead US paratrooper being airlifted say more to me about war than anything else I have seen. That is not to say they aren’t shocking in their own way, they are, the images sit with me in my mind for a long time but they used a different method of delivery.

I think the exhibition shows the historical importance of photographry as a means to record the past. It also illustrated to me again how the photographs from photojournalism and documentary photograhy can stand within their own space, seperate from its original intention, text or captions to become art within a gallery space.

I was really moved by all of the photography that was on display today but one of the images by Nilüfer Demir showed a dead Syrian child refugee on the beach, I remember the image being featured in newspapers and in the media. I believe the boys name was Alan Kurdi, he was 3 years old. It really cuts deep. I haven’t included a snapshot of the image in my write up… it feels disrespectful. I spent some time viewing the image and just thinking….no thats wrong….feeling, it was emotion not thought. We get wrapped up in our own little world sometimes and then when you see something like this it puts your whole life in perspective. Maybe in this instance the shock works. Most of us have a really comfortable life, whilst others are literally fighting for their lifes, fleeing from conflict or famine and sadly in many cases, dying. I can sit here comfortably and write up my random thoughts but I don’t mean to pass any judgement. I remember seeing the image when it was in the papers and thinking this has got to change things, people will act, rise up, help but I fear nothing has changed and it just feels like this revolving cycle of documenting the human condition.

I would highly recommend this exhibit to my fellow students.

Some snapshots from my i-Phone of the exhibition:

 

Gallery visit to The Photographers Gallery and The Mall Galleries London, Friday 10th March 2017

Today I visited 2 galleries in London; The Photographers Gallery at Ramillies Street and The Mall Galleries just down the road from the Queens House. It was a long journey again on the National Express from where I live in Wiltshire but I quite enjoy the journey now, it gives me time to take in the view, catch up on some reading, sleep and a bit of music as well. This is my second visit to London in a couple of months. I’m not really very good with large crowds of people, the city, enclosed or confined spaces like the underground etc but I am trying to find coping strategies, bringing along a friend helps. First on the agenda is to get a strong cup of caffeine, I haven’t had any yet today and I’m slowly slipping away into some strange state of dreamlike-zombie-walking akin to the walking dead. We stop at a coffee shop in Trafalgar Square then head on up to The Photographers Gallery, we are travelling by foot today, I prefer it that way,especially after a 3.45hrs sat on a bus.

The Photographers Gallery

Its gone midday by the time we arrive at the gallery and there is a bit of a buzz around the place. At the Gallery today there are a range of exhibitions on show, the gallery exhibitions are split out over about 5 floors, the ground floor has a restaurant/cafe and the basement has a shop full of photo-books and camera gear along with print sales today showcasing some early black and white photos on display from  Martin Parr called The Ceremony of Life, you can see at this early stage in his photographic career he just has this eye for noticing and framing things beautifully.  I watched a clip on YouTube with Martin Parr giving a speech I think to students, he basically said you need to take more crap photographs, take more crap photographs, that’s how you get the good ones essentially, or something like that. I thought it was funny but also spot on!

The first exhibition I come across in the Wolfson Gallery shows photographs by British Photographer Roger Mayne which illustrates the urban city of West London and Sheffield during the 1950’s and 1960’s there is also a projector room setup with multiple projectors which fires of a series of slides every couple of seconds, called The British at Leisure I found this a little hard to watch as there are around 6 photographs being displayed for a couple of seconds then they all change, it gave me a bit of a headache so I went back to looking at the the printed images. I really enjoyed viewing Roger Mayne’s photography on display here, he really managed to blur himself into the background as a photographer to almost be unnoticed to show the unseen world and culture of the time,  the playfulness of youth, you feel like you are peering into these people’s life’s and there are some really interesting characters captured on film, from the teddy boys to the kids playing in the streets.

Next up in the John Lyon galleries are photographs on display as part of the Deutsche Borse Photography Foundation Prize 2017 with images from Sophie Calle, Dana Lixenberg, Awoiska Van Der Molen, Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs.

I am drawn to the the large scale photographs by Awoiska van der Molen, which explore landscapes, place and I think isolation. I have had that moment when you are on the trail alone and stare into the darkness of the deep dark woods and a little part of you stares back at you like a reflection,  a bit of excitement but also some fear of the unknown.

I was also really keen on the work by Sophie Calle called My mother, my cat, my father, in that order. The photographer of objects she relates to her parents or cat with large scale accompanying text explore the death of her parents and her cat and these relationships. I thought this was a great display and made me think about my own relationships I hold with the people in my own life.

Some i-Phone images from the visit:

The Mall Galleries:

On the suggestion of my friend who is an artist, we also decided to visit The Mall Galleries which displays a range of contemporary art. It’s free to get in and they also have a cafe in the gallery space. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I must admit I was really pleasantly surprised and also impressed by the incredible works of art on display. As with all art, everything is subjective and somethings I preferred to others. When I visited there was art on display fin the main gallery for The Lynn Painter-Stainer’s Prize 2017  there was also an exhibition displaying some fine art by John Sprakes. I would highly recommend a visit. I really enjoyed some of the beautiful landscape art that was on display from the likes of Emma Haworth and Tessa Coleman.

I have included some i-Phone snaps from my visit below :

 

 

Exhibition Visit to the Tate Modern in London, Friday 27th Jan 2017

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Tate Modern, Friday 27th Jan 2017

At 06:00am my alarm clock goes off…its the start of what will be a long day. I have been looking forward to this day and overwhelmed with a massive feeling of dread. Today I face a number of my own personal fears about heading to the big city, large crowds of people etc, etc. I shower, grab some toast and orange juice before my wife and I head out the door to walk down town to catch the bus, its a cold crisp morning.

Its a long 3.5 hour bus journey on the National Express to the big city from where I live in Wiltshire. I settle into my seat and put on some Pearl Jam on my headphones and enjoy taking in the view, its nice not to have to drive. The closer I get to the city I notice how the horizon starts to disappear and the urban jungle emerges. This Hobbit is (most definitely) no longer in the Shire! Maybe its something people in the city get used to but I’m used to being able to see the sky, I mean, there is something special about seeing that point where the ground meets the sky, openness, space.

Its 11.15 and we have arrived, my body aches, so the long walk from Victoria to the Tate Modern will help (I am not a fan of the underground). Within 5 mins we are totally lost, a nice Londoner points us in the right direction and before we know it we are at Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and people, lots and lots of people everywhere!

Getting over the bridge and down by the river, past the London Eye I feel more comfortable, there is a nice vibe to this area of London. After about an hour of walking we finally arrive at the Tate Modern, I look at my wife and I know, if don’t get lunch soon, she is going to kill me, so we grab some grub. Our bellies full and me £30.00 worse off (are you mental Tate sort your prices out) we head into the various exhibition spaces.

The Tate Modern exhibitions are spread out over a number of floors and split between the Boiler House showing modern art from 1900 to the present day and the newer Switch House showing art from 1960 to present day. For this visit we stuck to the free exhibitions, there were a number of other exhibitions at the time that you had to pay for; notably Robert Rauschenberg and an exhibition of a selection Elton John’s photography collection.

The whole mass of exhibition space is massive and on a much larger scale to anything I have been to before. There is a mix of different art forms on display. I found some of it was not really to my taste or I didn’t really get it. My wife and I discussed the different art as we went around and agreed that it’s all subjective, so tried our best to be open minded but some stuff just had us scratching our heads and moving on. I struggled with some of the more abstract art like that of Piet Mondrian. I really don’t get the work of Gerhard Richter either that was on display or how it can fetch such a high price tag.I guess it just doesn’t float my boat but I can’t be the only one who wonders why some of this stuff is here and other art isn’t. I  kept pondering how there is all this exhibition space and they fill it with this?! Then I started wondering if its more about the architecture of the building the idea of a community hub for artists, maybe that’s what this space is all really about. I also have to say that as I walked around I was disappointed by a feeling that there should be more photography on display.

There was of course some stuff on display that I liked and got me thinking; it was nice to see the vibrant colourful prints of William Eggleston,  I liked the rebellious work and message of the Guerilla Girls,    , Photobooks: Protests in Latin America the ‘Babel’ display by Cildo Meireles was amazing. One of the ‘highlights’ of the whole visit was seeing the art by Jane Alexander titled ‘African Adventure 1999-2002’ out of everything I viewed throughout the whole visit this was the one thing that interested me the most and where I spent the most of time walking around absorbing the message. It’s really very powerful stuff and I want to see more of. To sum it up as simply as I can, it seemed to speak an honest truth and a connection with the artist that I didn’t get from a lot of the other work on display which left me feeling a little cold if I’m honest.

After a walk around the shop and a purchase of another photography book ( in this instance ‘From My Land to the Planet’ by Sebastião Salgado) we made our long walk back  to Victoria Station. I spent the bus journey home reflecting on the day, what I had seen and also the personal barriers I had overcome. It will be 09.30pm before we would step through the front door of the house, this Hobbit is back in the Shire!

All in, a great day out and I hope to pluck up the courage to visit again, for now I am returning to my introvert cave for mental and social recuperation.

A selection of i-Phone snapshots from the visit:

 

‘Drawn to the Land’ by Sophie Gerrard Exhibition at the Fox Talbot Museum, Lacock 11th Nov 2016

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Today I visited the Fox Talbot Museum in Lacock to see the new exhibition by Sophie Gerrard ‘Drawn to the Land’.   The project explores the rural Scottish landscape and the women who work on it in agriculture. My family are from Lochgilphead, Ardrishaig and Tarbert in Argyll and Bute, although I wasn’t born there myself I feel a pull to its beautiful landscapes, its history and the preservation of its rural places, so this one kind of tugged on my heart strings a little and I felt a big connection with the work. I have spent many days wandering around the hills, mountains and woodland. I need to plan another visit, I haven’t been for some years now.

The exhibition starts with an introduction to the subject/project and next to it is a very  large (huge!) print of the Scottish landscape. I mentioned to my Mentor Jill how I felt I could just walk into the landscape, it seemed life like and gave a real sense of place as an introduction to the project. Wonderful!

I took some shots of the exhibition to record my visit for my studies but of course as usual all credit must go to the artist/photographer Sophie Gerrard.

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I liked how the exhibition was laid out and presented, with the first picture being the person/subject then next to it were photographs of the persons belongings, which gave a sense you were peering into their life, photographs of them at work, out in the landscape giving a sense of the environment they work and live in.

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My iPhone doesn’t really give this photograph justice (so go along and see the exhibition in person!) but my mentor and I both agreed this photograph was one of our favourites. There is something very special about all that white and open space:

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I liked this shot of the the old tools with the painted wood where the tools should go…  nothing seems to be where it should be except for the shears all neatly lined up in a row in the bottom of the frame, rustic, textured, layered, tools of the trade.

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The exhibition also shows photographs of a diary kept by one of the subjects which gave further depth and understanding to the hardships and lessons learned by the farmer.

I quizzed how the photographs didn’t show family members or partners. It is very isolated on the individual which I am guessing is intentional by the photographer.

I also observed how all of the photographs were in a square format, with the main portrait being larger with the photographs of their belongings generally being smaller. I can only assume this was either intentional by the type of camera used or cropped to a square format afterwards rather than the regular 3:2 ratio.

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Finally, this was one of my favourite shots of personal possessions, there is just something intriguing about this old compass, I can imagine a farmer cold shivering out on the land in fog, using the compass to point them true back home to a warm cosy cottage or farmhouse.

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Definitely one to go along and visit in person!

Reference:

Sophie Gerrard Website

Fox Talbot Museum Lacock

My Reading/Film List for Context and Narrative

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This page will evolve throughout the unit.

Books:

READ:

  • 2015 The Family of Man: 60th Anniversary Edition. 60th ed. Edition. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. READ
  • Barthes, Roland 2006. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. New Ed Edition. Vintage Books.READ
  • Brandt, N, 2009. A Shadow Falls. 0. Harry N. Abrams. READ
  • Durden, M, 2012. Dorothea Lange (55s). Reprint. Phaidon Press. READ
  • 2014. Brassaï (Photofile). 1 Edition. Thames & Hudson. READ
  • Erwitt, Elliott, 2007. Thames & Hudson. READ
  • Kirstein, Lincoln 2012. Walker Evans: American Photographs: Seventy-Fifth Anniversary Edition. Anv Edition. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. READ
  • Maier, Vivian 2013. Vivian Maier: Self-Portraits. Edition. powerHouse Books. READ
  • McCurry, Steve. 2013. Portraits. READ
  • McCurry, Steve. 2012. The Iconic Photographs. READ
  • Parr, M, 2004. Think of England. New edition. Phaidon Press. READ
  • Prodger, P. 2016. William Eggleston Portraits. National Portrait Gallery. READ
  • Peterson, Bryan F. 2012. Bryan Peterson’s Understanding Composition Field Guide: How to See and Photograph Images with Impact. Edition. Amphoto Books. READ
  • Salgado, Sebastiao. 2007. Africa. READ
  • Salgado, Sebastiao 2014. From My Land to the Planet. Edition. Contrasto. READ
  • Short, Maria 2011. Basics Creative Photography 02: Context and Narrative. 0 Edition. AVA Publishing. READ
  • Sontag, Susan 2004. Regarding the Pain of Others. New Ed Edition. Penguin Books, Limited (UK). READ
  • Szarkowski, John 2007. The Photographer’s Eye. Reprinted Edition. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. READ
  • Wanick, L, 2013. Sebastião Salgado: GENESIS. Pck Har/Bk. Taschen.READ

READING:

  • Higgins, J, 2013. Why it Does Not Have to be in Focus: Modern Photography Explained. Thames & Hudson Ltd. READING
  • Ashley la Grange, 2013. Basic Critical Theory for Photographers. 1 Edition. Focal Press. READING
  • Susan Bright, 2010. Auto Focus: The Self-Portrait in Contemporary Photography. 0 Edition. Thames & Hudson Ltd. READING
  • Stephen Bull, 2010. Photography (Routledge Introductions to Media and Communications). Edition. Routledge.  READING
  • Natasha Caruana, 2012. Basics Creative Photography 03: Behind the Image: Research in Photography. 0 Edition. AVA Publishing.READING
  • 2015. Langford’s Basic Photography: The Guide for Serious Photographers. 10 Edition. Focal Press.READING
  • 2012. Art and Photography. Abr Rev Up Edition. Phaidon Press.READING
  • Susan Bright, 2011. Art Photography Now (Second Edition). 2 Edition. Thames & Hudson.READING

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