Study visit – Prix Pictet 2019 – Victoria and Albert Museum

Prix Pictet 2019 – Victoria & Albert Museum

Synopsis:

Prix Pictet’s predominant theme of sustainability is continued this year with the title of ‘Hope’. Now in its eighth year the positive theme allows artists a wide range of creative possibilities. Although we are bombarded with negative news on a daily basis, it is important that we sometimes focus on positive developments around the world. This could be in the form of advances in medicine, science, or falling levels of poverty.

The exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London showcases the portfolios of the twelve shortlisted artists. The winner announced on 13th November 2019 is Joana Choumali for her series Ça va aller (it will be ok). The photographs made three weeks after terror attacks in Grand Bassam on 13th March, 2016 feature the unusual addition of stitching. The stitches which she did herself ‘are a way to recover from negative emotions after the attack’ she explained. I surprised when I read thst she made the series using her iPhone.

 

Reflection:

Walking into the darkened exhibition space ‘Hope’ isn’t a would that springs to mind.    The walls are grey and the feeling is subdued. The lighting is low, just enough to illuminate the prints. The first large prints I see on entering are by South African photographer Gideon Mendel and are part of his series titled Damage: A Testament of Faded Memory, 2016. The prints look like blown up 35mm negatives. The negatives have been damaged in some way, so much so that the image itself is quite hard to distinguish. I actually really like and it is an intriguing introduction to the show.

I have to admit I found the rest of the show a little bit underwhelming. I’m not sure if this is because I had earlier visited the colourful and exuberant Feast For the Eyes at The Photographers Gallery? The quality of the work is very good but a lot of it is displayed in a similar traditional way. White borders and white or wooden frames. Arranged either in grids or in a linear arrangement. I always enjoy viewing grids I’m not sure why.

Alexia Webster’s Street Studios 2011-18 seemed to best fit with this year’s theme. The popup street studios see set up in various places around the world documented in both an intimate and public way families and friends bonding and in love. The ‘fake’ front room’s Webster creates add a splash of colour and possibly a social commentary?

Lucas Foglia travelled the world and visited projects where work was being done to make a positive environmental future. It features rainforests integrated into Singaporean high rise buildings and research into air quality on the big Island of Hawaii. His collection of images are eclectic but intriguing.

Altogether a bit of a mixed bag but enjoyable none the less. I liked the scale of the prints on display, they are big and fill the space well. The wooden frames used by Ivor Prickett make a change from the usual back or white and suit his work.

How will this study visit effect my practice:

Sometimes bigger is better and the large displays at the Victoria & Albert seem to suggest that, it is a large space to fill though. I enjoyed the grid displays, it allows the artist to show more work on less wall space. Displaying some of my work as a grid could help me as my exhibition location is a bit limited space wise. I seem to be noticing a move back towards frames at recent photography exhibitions and I am thinking about framing a few of my prints for my display. I still have not settled on a preferred frame colour though. The lighting at Prix Pictet is deliberately subdued this year and it made me realise what a difference lighting makes. My chosen exhibition venue has good natural and artificial lighting being in a library. I have to consider if I need to any extra lighting and whether this is feasible.

https://www.prixpictet.com

http://burlingtoncontemporary.org.uk/reviews/reviews/prix-pictet-2019-between-ethics-and-aesthetics

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2019/jul/05/prix-pictet-2019-shortlist-photo-essay

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/07/05/hope-prix-pictet-2019-photographic-competition-shortlist-selection/lucas-foglia-esme-swimming-parkroyal-pickering-singapore-2014/

https://www.ft.com/content/b205a6d4-0617-11ea-9afa-d9e2401fa7ca

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Study visit – Feast for the Eyes – The Story of Food in Photography

Feast for the Eyes: The Story of Food in Photography – The Photographers Gallery

Synopsis:

The idea of an exhibition of food photography did not exactly fill me with excitement but I thought it would be a good gallery visit to assess the way the group show was curated and designed. I was pleasantly surprised by this show, and is probably one of my favourites this year!

The show could be described as a history of the very best food photography made since the invention of photography itself. Photographic prints by an array of influential practitioners were included in the show: Andy Warhol, Wolfgang Tillmans, Stephen Shore, Martin Parr, Nobuyoshi Araki, Cindy Sherman and Nan Goldin to name but a few. Many of the Photographers in the show probably wouldn’t be thought of primarily as ‘food photographers’ but it seems food is such a universal subject it can be found in the majority of artists oeuvre. The pictures in the show include commercial, fashion, fine-art, documentary and vernacular photography and display the history of food photography and it’s association with the arts.

The show takes up two floors of the Photographers Gallery and includes more than 140 works. The curators Susan Bright and Denise Wolff have created three themes: Still Life reflects on the relationship between photography and the tradition of food in painting, Around the Table explores cultural and social interactions associated with food and Playing With Food includes more humorous, and ironic works.

Reflection:

What immediately hits you when you enter this show is the colour. The walls are painted either bright red, blue or yellow depending on the theme. These colourful backdrops give the show an almost pop-art feel which is lively and cheerful, great when the weather is so grey and miserable! The show really is a riot of colour when you combine some of the vibrant and colourful works by the likes of Parr, Tillmans and Shore with the colourful backdrops. Historical works by the likes of William Fox Talbot, Paul Strand and Edward Weston anchor the exhibition with some important historical context. Their smaller framed black and white prints display strong a relationship with still life painting and a reliance on light and form.

It’s hard not to like the colourful works of Stephen Shore and their commentary on American society. I was surprised to see the two colour prints by Russell Lee made in the 1940’s for the Farm Security Administration. Historically interesting it is reminder of the fragility of the food chain and the unfair distribution of food throughout the world.

I have to admit I was much more intrigued by the more contemporary artists in the show whose full colour large format prints offer an immersive experience to the viewer. Wolfgang Tillmans ‘Summer still life’ 1995 is a firm favourite of mine. The unusual viewpoint, precise composition and some unconventional objects enhance the viewing experience. Tillmans print is very large and unframed. Cindy Sherman’s ‘Beach Picnic’ offers an unusual and colorful commentary on society and it’s sometimes complicated relationship with food.

How will this study visit effect my practice:

Something that made an impact on me while viewing this exhibition was the coloured walls and the huge amount of quality works on display. I am so used to going to galleries and seeing the standard white walls it seemed quite refreshing to see a different approach. It made me think about how my work could look with a different coloured background. The venue for my own exhibition has a display board that is coloured red. This could be perfect for my own project as the red could be symbolic of the blood spilt at all the places that I have photographed effected by conflict. Also it has made me consider how my prints will be displayed and whether they should framed or not. I feel that the smaller prints that are grouped together benefit from being framed while larger stand alone works work well unframed. I am considering making a mixture of smaller framed prints and larger prints mounted prints.

Going to a show of this quality was very enjoyable and inspiring. It reminds me how much I love photography and what can be achieved in this medium. The quality of the work and the way it has been presented inspires me to make something of similar quality albeit on a smaller scale.

 

https://thephotographersgallery.org.uk/whats-on/exhibition/feast-eyes-story-food-photography

https://www.lensculture.com/articles/foam-amsterdam-feast-for-the-eyes-the-story-of-food-in-photography

https://www.bjp-online.com/2018/12/feast-for-the-eyes/

https://www.timeout.com/london/art/feast-for-the-eyes-the-story-of-food-in-photography-review

 

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Study visit – Shot in Soho – The Photographers Gallery

Shot in Soho – The Photographers Gallery

Synopsis:

I have alway had a fondness for Soho ever since my late teens and early twenties when I was affiliated with the the Metal/hard rock scene. Going to a gig in London wasn’t complete without a visit to Carnaby Street first. Soho has an almost village like feel to it and a sleazy glamour that has continued to lure the curious traveller and bohemian characters for many years. It is historically associated with diverse and vibrant arts, fashion and music industries. More recently it has become a popular location for the LGBTQ scene. Of course it is hard to ignore it’s association with underground crime syndicates and the sex industry.

This exhibition curated by Julian Rodriguez and Karen McQuaid showcases rare and unseen work by seven photographers that have made memorable photographs in this unique part of London. William Klein, Anders Peterson, Corrina Day, Kelvin Brodie, John Goldblatt, Clancy Gebler Davies and Daragh Soden have all made bodies of work that are very different in their approach. The photographs on display highlight the chaos, eccentricity, unpredictability and quirkiness that exists there. The curators chose to ignore the more obvious and well known bodies of work made in Soho and instead opted to show photographic works that are less well known.

Reflection:

This quite small exhibition takes up one floor of the Photographers Gallery. As you enter the gallery you are greeted by a large colour print by William Klein. Almost comedic in appearance, it shows men covering their faces as they exit a sauna and massage parlour at number 69. Apart from this large print on display at the entrance the rest of the prints on display are relatively small but impeccably presented. The show is interesting even if it seems a little bit predictable. John Goldblatt’s series ‘The Undressing Room’ 1968 and Kelvin Brodie’s series of street portraits also made in 1968 for The Sunday Times Magazine look back through tinted glasses and reminisce about a part of London which is rapidly changing and in danger of being swallowed up but rapid development and gentrification of the area.

Surprisingly I found myself enjoying Goldblatt’s series of work the most. It is a fascinating insite into the mundane surroundings of beautiful strippers and performers as they get changed and wait between performances. They appear to be completely at ease in the presence of the photographer. This has allowed him to document some remarkably candid and revealing images of the girls who at times appeared to be bored and killing time. He does a great job of showing the personality of the girls who are very obviously at ease with their own nudity.

How will this study visit affect my practice:

Viewing this exhibition has made me think carefully about print quality and presentation. The prints by all photographers were exceptional. Corinne Day’s prints were framed in white without borders while others were presented in a more traditional way with a white border and black frame. Looking for Love (2018) by Daragh Soden is presented in a more unusual and contemporary way, he simply pinned the prints to the wall. I’m not sure if I like that approach I feel like it is trying too hard to be different and does not best present the work in a professional way.

Also how does the colour of the background wall where the prints are hung effect the presentation. Clancy Gebler Davies’ ‘The Colony Room Club’ 1998-2001 stood out because of the green wall it was mounted on. I liked the blast of colour, it added a contemporary twist to a body of work that looked like quite traditional black and white photojournalistic prints. This is something I could include in my own exhibition by either painting a wall (unlikely) or by using some type of display boards or panels.

 

https://thephotographersgallery.org.uk/whats-on/exhibition/shot-soho

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2019/oct/17/shot-in-soho-review-photographers-gallery

Shot In Soho x The Photographers’ Gallery

The Photographers’ Gallery celebrates the chaos of Soho in new show

 

 

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Study visit – Urban Impulses: Latin American Photography From 1959 To 2016 – The Photographers Gallery

  Urban Impulses: Latin American Photography From 1959 To 2016

Synopsis:

This exhibition of more than two hundred photographs by more than seventy photographers and artists in Latin America since 1959 is split into two chapters ‘Shouts’ and ‘Pop-ular’. It features works by well known photographers Alberto Korda, Graciela Iturbide, Sergio Larrain and many unknown photographers and artists.

Shouts’ is a collection of gritty journalistic style black and white photographs with a strong political bias. Violence and repression being the main theme. Many significant historical events that occurred in Latin America feature in the exhibition including the Cuban revolution, and troubles that occurred due to dictatorships in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Paraguay. Kidnappings and forced disappearances that happened in some of these countries is explored in some of the work.

‘Pop-ular’ is a visual commentary on the rapid urbanisation of Latin America with much of the work echoing the pop-art movement of the United States. Tropes of the mass media and advertising feature heavily. The rise of consumer society in Latin America is explored and pictured in various ways and includes appropriated imagery.

Reflection:

After seeing the experiential presentation approaches of the TGP New Talent 19 on the fifth floor this show had a much more modernist/traditional feel about it. Most of the works were presented in a similar way. The majority of the prints were black and white and had white borders in black or white frames. Apart from a few colour prints and variation in sizes it all looked a bit similar. The imagery itself was interesting though, especially the ‘Pop-ular’ chapter. I have always been a fan of pop-art and much of the work was quirky and unusual. I particularly liked the quirkiness of Sebastián Mejia’s (b. 1982) ‘Quasi Oasis 17’ and the weirdness of Juan Enrique Bedoya’s (b. 1966) ‘Portraits series’. Mejía was clearly inspired by the New Topographics and possibly Ed Rushcha. Bedoya’s portraits brought to mind Diane Arbus and her quest for strangeness. Helen Zout (b. 1957) is another photographer in the exhibition whose work echoed Arbus. Her photograph ‘Hairdressers, La Plata, 1985’ not only resembles Arbus but also documents workers in Argentina during a time of unrest in the country.

I found this exhibition to be a bit of a mixed bag. I liked some bits but I found the overtly political emphasis of a lot of the work became a bit too much at times. I enjoyed the photographs as much for their historical angle as I did for their artistic representations. It was great to see work by a diverse group of Latin American photographers and artists many of them relatively unknown. Together with the TGP New Talent 19 exhibition upstairs these two shows proved for a highly enjoyable and stimulating afternoon.

How will this exhibition affect my practice:

The photography in this exhibition is quite different from mine in terms of concept and capture. The images are more about movement and captured fleeting moments. My work on the other hand is about revisiting places where a violent event happened in the past. My pictures are still and brooding. They invite thoughtful contemplation of a past event. This difference in concept leads to differing approaches when showing the work. My prints will better communicate my work made using the genre of ‘late photographg’ by being bigger and with more concise titles shown in a more prominent way.

I don’t feel like this exhibition gave me many ideas for my own show although it has made me think more about mixing colour and black and white prints in my display. I am not keen on having white borders on my prints and instead I am strongly considering making large prints without frames mounted on board of some description. This will allow me to maximise the size of my images and let the audience glean more details and visual information from them. I was impressed by the free handout that came with the Urban Impulses exhibition. This has sparked some ideas of my own. I am certain that I will make a handout of some description. It will include the prints in my show, their titles and other information. I feel that as an artist the handouts made available at the Photographers Gallery add to a better understanding of the work and increased enjoyment of the show itself.

https://www.galleriesnow.net/shows/urban-impulses-latin-american-photography-1956-2016/

Press Release and Image Sheet l Urban Impulses Latin American Photography 1959 to 2016 l 14 Jun – 6 Oct 2019

 

Study visit – TPG New Talent 19 – The Photographers Gallery

TGP New Talent 19

Synopsis:

This fascinating exhibition at the Photographers Gallery is a showcase for eight artists selected by Jim Goldberg for the inaugural TPG New Talent (TNT) mentoring programme. The chosen artists exhibit a varied approach to both the medium of photography and to the presentation of the work itself. The work ranges from documentary, collage, 3 dimensional pieces and found imagery. The names of the artists in the show are Rhiannon Adam (b.1985, Ireland), Chiara Avagliano (b.1988, Italy), Alberto Feijóo (b. 1985, Spain), Adama Jalloh (b. 1993, UK), Seungwon Jung (b. 1992, South Korea), Alice Myers (b. 1986, UK), Giovanna Petrocchi (b. 1988, Italy) and Miguel Proença (b. 1984, Portugal). After the exhibition these lucky few will receive twelve months of individual mentoring working with The Photographers Gallery curators.

Reflection:

Before visiting the TGP New Talent 19 exhibtion I did I bit of research on the featured photographers but have to admit I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I was very pleasantly surprised when I entered the fifth floor of The Photographers Gallery. I was immediately impressed by the display of Riannon Adam and her work made in the Pitcain islands. Also the unusual backdrop for Alberto Feijóo’s work was very stimulating. A big reason for visiting this exhibition was to inspire me to try new display techniques for my own exhibition and these young talents did not disappoint with their experimental approach.

Most of the artists in the show experimented with interesting and innovative display techniques. Rhiannon Adam’s display was notable for its use of archive material (newspaper clippings), found imagery and pictures made using expired Polaroid film (which I loved). Chiara Avagliano and Alberto Feijóo combined 2 dimensional imagery with 3 dimensional  pieces of work. Alice Myers used only digital displays (three flat screen televisions) which I thought was a bit risky as there was nothing to immediately capture your attention. Saying that I do like the idea of using digital screens in some way alongside traditional prints. Miguel Proença and Adama Jalloh stuck to the more traditional display of framed photographs arranged in linear or as a grid allowing the pictures to do the talking. Seeing the high quality black and white prints by Jalloh was nice but a bit old fashioned some how. Korean artist Seungwon Jung utilised textiles which although very eye catching, seemed a bit out of stepwith the other works on display.

 

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How will this exhibition influence my own practice:

One thing that struck me was that many artists were unafraid of mixing colour prints with black and white prints. I remember many years ago someone saying you should never mix colour and black and white prints. This has always stuck with me and I find it hard to not break the ‘rules’. I feel like I would like to mix it up a bit and start making some new work in black and white as well. In this digital age it’s simple to convert colour images to black and white but I would like to also make some ‘pure’ black and white images possible using instant film or with black and white negative film printed in a darkroom.

Another thing that I noticed was that no one printed really big prints, is this a new trend in the photography art world? I found this refreshing as the slightly smaller prints allowed the artists to include other pieces already mentioned and the placement of the prints could be more unpredictable. This has taken the pressure off me slightly to make my prints as big as possible.

This show has given me a lot to think about. Should I include archive material and found imagery? Frames or no frames? Size of prints? Could I include found objects? Should the background be light, dark or even textured I some way? What about a digital screen? Some of the decisions depend on the venue I am using for my display. This was an extremely inspiring exhibition visit for me. I am feeling more excited and less nervous about the prospect of showing my work in public thanks to these talented artists.

 

https://thephotographersgallery.org.uk/whats-on/exhibition/tpg-new-talent

Research – Althea Wilson Exhibition Private View – Ransom Art Gallery

Private viewing – Althea Wilson exhibition – Ransom Art Gallery, Sloane Square

Synopsis:

Althea Wilson is an experienced photographic-artist who trained and worked in various disciplines most notably painting and design. Her recent photographic work has concentrated on still lifes which feature antique props, flowers, fruit, vegetables and even an octopus. Her approach is unique for one quite obvious reason, most of the things she photographs are in a state of partial decay. This gives her work a reflective and mournful feeling. The images themselves are quite beautiful, combining natural light and the subtle colours of the objects in a carefully composed and perfectly balanced frame. The photographs have a painterly feel about them due to way Althea photographers her still lifes. She photographs the objects in front of her through sheets of perspex and glass that is scratched and stained. The result is quite stunning. Her images have little post production or special effects added to them. This approach reminds of when I used to use different types of filters on my medium format film camera many years ago before Photoshop existed. This gives her images a very natural look that would be hard to duplicate in digital post production.

Reflection:

As I arrived at the gallery I was greeted by a stunning floral installation, this made for an enticing entrance to the exhibition. The fresh flowers outside also served as a stark juxtaposition to the pictures of partially decayed flowers. The exhibition itself featured a number of Althea’s large scale prints, mounted on aluminium. Her work filled the whole floor of the gallery. The matt prints contained huge amounts of detail and subtle colour transitions. It was obvious to see Althea’s arts backround and influences. Next to the prints were the expressive sculptors of Anna LeaClelia Tunesi, this gave the exhibtion a multidimensional and layered feeling. The images themselves were pensive and thought provoking, why photograph things in a state of decay? Althea had mentioned using poetry in conjunction with the prints for her forthcoming book and I was a little disappointed that the poems were not included in the exhibtion. I managed to get hold a printed press release for the show which was perfectly designed and presented. Visiting the exhibition has given me lots of ideas for my own exhibtion in the future. It was professionally presented and the content was exceptional and presented perfectly.

Links:

http://altheawilson.com/index.php/about/

https://www.markransom.co.uk/photographers/althea-wilson

https://www.markransom.co.uk/exhibitions/women-in-art

Press release – https://static1.squarespace.com/static/57b0ba972e69cf0f156abee2/t/5c681e2bec212d754522d19a/1550327348353/%23PRESS+RELEASE.pdf