Today has been a welcome distraction to the daily pressures, I’ve been in London with time to kill. I thought I’d wander through a few galleries and focus on different approaches to photography. The diversity was vast and I’ve outlined some reflections from the visit below:
Clearly an important photographer in the 50s and 60s taking the style of images that serve as much as a historical record as they portray a story. One of the collections I saw, Southam St, was from the 50s and depicted many street scenes in a single street of a deprived area of West London. The images focused mainly on people and depicted a wide range of emotions. All the images were black and white, with the quality of the film often quite grainy. I’m not sure if the film quality reflected the technology of the time, or if it deliberately aided the sense of a poor neighbourhood. The use of of black and white was skillfully executed, with the high contrast helping to emphasize subjects, but also ensure backgrounds weren’t distracting. One of the contrasting emotions I noticed was that almost all the images with children portrayed positive or joyful emotions, whilst I can’t remember a joyful image of adults. The use of shutter speed was also helpful in adding movement and aiding the joy that children were often showing when at play in the street scenes.
One image I really enjoyed from the Southam St collection was boys playing football on cobblestones, it really felt like you were part of the game (below). Something I remember as a child.
From the Southam St collection, Roger Mayne
In another exhibit by the same artist, the style was similar, people in social gatherings expressing emotions, however there were important differences. The images were using early colour film from 60s, i.e. washed out colours, however the emotions were all positive, suiting the use of colour. These images came from a wide range of events where people gathered and can also be seen as having important value to historians.
There were a few images in this part of the exhibition, which just confused me. For instance, the composition of the image below is mystifying.
As part of the DEUTSCHE BÖRSE Photography Foundation exhibition, there were a number of photographs from a project to visit areas most impacted by violence following the ‘Rodney King’ riots. The images are largely portraits of black residents, who live in the areas most impacted by the violence. Initially, I thought a number of portraits was fairly standard stuff and not terribly interesting, particularly as the portraits are taken with the subjects very clam and relaxed, However, as I started to spend a little time viewing them I began to understand that what appeared very emotionless was, in fact, very emotional and that some of the same emotions kept appearing in the images; defiance, pride and resignation. From the images I really began to appreciate a deep understand of the area and it’s people. This only appeared after I’d viewed a large number of images and wouldn’t have really worked if I’d only viewed the small number of images hanging on the wall. I really enjoyed my time in this part of the Gallery. The following are a couple of typical images from the wall mounted element of the exhibition:
Awoiska van der Molen
An artist that was also part of the DEUTSCHE BÖRSE Photography Foundation. These images were large and billed as black and white abstracts, all of which were natural world landscapes. I tried with this artist, but the images didn’t resonate with me, although some were cleverly shot. Fairly normal images, but with high contrast resulting from the way the images were shot, giving some abstract shapes. An example is shown below:
Awoiska van der Molen
Another artist in the DEUTSCHE BÖRSE Photography Foundation exhibition. I found this a very moving and thought provoking exhibition, exploring death and relationships. Dealing with serious subject in a very humourous, dignified and engaging manner. The exhibition focused more on the words that were with the photographs and exhibits, and so the meaning came from a different place to the images, but were completely supported by these. Although I gained a lot from the exhibition, in particular personal insights into mortality, but if the meaning came from a source other than the photograph, should it have even have been in the gallery? This does highlight an issue I’d never really thought about much, how art is catergorised into different types and does this make sense. Does it really matter how meaning is expressed by an artist and if it fits into a particular category? Whatever the answer, I’m pleased I found this exhibition.
All in all, a very educational day and with a very wide range of subject matter and styles, I look forward to my next visit.