William Eggleston Portraits

The William Eggleston Portraits exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery features 100 works from the 1960s to the present day.  Although small, and left wanting more, the exhibition is momentous and both the big and small moments captured hold significance.  Eggleston’s pictures are the portraits of a place and time.

Sumner, Mississippi, Cassidy Bayou in background
Sumner, Mississippi, Cassidy Bayou in background

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Born in Mississippi Eggleston photographed the south, the colour and the temperature.  The exhibition starts with black and white photographs but even then Eggleston says he was thinking in colour.  The earliest colour photograph is ‘By God it all Worked’ (1965) which was a joy to see.  The boy pushing trolleys in the early evening heat and sunset, his golden hair, the metal trolleys and metallic reflections is an intimate story of an everyday scene.

Untitled, Women with Hair
Untitled, Women with Hair

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eggleston’s photographs are of the mundane and the eccentric lifestyles, they are psychologically ambiguous and show the shifting, changing, developing world.   As to be expected the exhibition shows how much he was a pioneer and master of colour.

East Meets West; Exhibition at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery

Armonia by Marta Soul
Armonia by Marta Soul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EAST MEETS WEST is an exhibition of contemporary photography and moving image by 16 emerging artists.  This remarkable exhibition includes works that represent the talent and ambition of artists in the Midlands today.

The artists responded to an open call to practitioners based within the Midlands, or those who have graduated from a Midlands-based University in the past three years.  The opportunity was devised in response to and was required to relate to the theme of ‘Leisure’ – a core theme explored in Doug Fishbone’s Leisure Land Golf exhibition at Quad, an installation exhibited during summer 2016.

The exhibition includes an ambitious, fascinating and diverse collection of interpretations, from projects delving into a broad range of ‘leisure’ activities and events including walking, swimming, collecting, drinking and travelling.  The exhibition is a remarkable commentary on what people do today in their leisure time.

The exhibiting artists are;  Jim Brouwer & Simon Raven, Jakki Carey, Theo Ellison, Attilio Fiumarella, Emma Georgiou, Anne Giddings, Daniel Hayes, Geoff Hodgson, Amy Huggett, Holger Martin, Tracey McMaster, George Miles, Marta Soul, Clive Wheeler and Dan Wheeler.

The project is a partnership with Format International Photography Festival, Quad, Derby and GRAIN Projects, supported by Arts Council England and Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.

Responding To A Landscape: New Work by Matthew Murray

Matthew Murray
Matthew Murray

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For British photographer Murray Responding To A Landscape is a photographic odyssey, an epic series of landscape works made over four years, to be premiered in an exhibition at mac, Birmingham in 2017 and to be featured in a limited edition photo book.  Working in collaboration with Murray to produce and manage this significant project has seen ambitious new works realised that will feature in an exhibition, publication and symposium.

The project will premier works made on Saddleworth Moor, works that reference pictorial landscape photography, showing both the vastness of landscape and the microscopic detail of vegetation and geology; works that focus on light and texture and pay homage to Dutch seventeenth century landscape painting as well as in some cases appearing biblical and in others apocalyptic and other worldly.  This is a personal series of work, where there is no evidence of human intervention or presence but a relationship between photographer and landscape.   The exhibition, publication and symposium can be seen in Autumn/Winter 2017.

Seven Day Suit; Exhibition at Brighton Photo Biennial

Francesca Jones for Seven Day Suit
Francesca Jones for Seven Day Suit

Seven Day Suit is an artist-led collaborative exhibition, devised and curated by a group of emerging artists working in photography and moving image.   In 2015 I was invited to mentor the group as part of the Redeye Lightbox programme.   On meeting the group it was decided to work towards and propose an exhibition at Brighton Photo Biennial.

In response to the Biennial’s theme of fashion and identity the artists have taken the tracksuit as their area of research and subject to explore identity and representation – personal and projected images, influences, gender, and politics of style, subcultures and the subversion of social and cultural norms.   Through the tracksuit the new photographic and moving image work features identity, subcultures, politics and social and economic impact through the fashion of one garment.  The tracksuit has become part of the identity of the wearer, individual and group/tribe.  It is an example of fashion that transcends class and cultures, existing in both low and high fashion. The tracksuit has become historically significant, yet has remained relevant to this day, having been recurrent within developing fashion trends.  Seven Day Suit opens at Brighton Photo Biennial on 1st October until 30th October 2016.

 

 

 

Stuart Whipps Isle of Slingers

This exhibition at Spike Island brings together multiple strands of the artist’s research and practice in an engaging and monumental exhibition that includes existing and new work.  It is the artist’s largest exhibition to date and it lays bear much of Whipps’ working methodologies including in depth research and the archaeology of image and material.

Stuart Whipps
Stuart Whipps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is not a photography exhibition but the history and methods of photography support and form the basis of much of the content.  The process of setting an image, the photograph as document is presented against a world that is changing, where progress is made and new technologies and industries interupt.   In the exhibition archival material, photographs and objects trace the histories of three types of stone.  The exhibition grows out of years of research, includes works made over the last 10 years, alongside new works including a new film work that attempts to bring the strands together and act as the core.

Stuart Whipps
Stuart Whipps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The title Isle of Slingers, is Thomas Hardy’s name for the Isle of Portland in Dorset, a place of unique geology.   His naming derives from sixteenth century accounts of the islander’s skill of slinging stones at strangers and visitors to keep them away from the island.

Performing for the Camera

The major exhibition at Tate Modern examines the relationship between photography and performance, from the invention of the medium through to social media projects.  There are those that documented performance formally and for the artist’s record, such as Shunk-Kender for Yves Klein from the late 1950s to the early 70s; those who used photography as part of their performative practice such as Dan Graham, through to collaborations with performance artists, performing icons and actions and photography as self-portrait through to mass photography and Instagram.

There are themes but they are broad, rich and varied.  There are five rooms that make up the exhibition taking you on a journey from Nadar’s studio through to Amalia Ulman’s Excellences and Perfections project from 2014 that was made on Instagram using selfies and captions to create fiction and a changing identity.   Just outside the exhibition, on the entrance wall, is a large photograph taken from Romain Mader’s 2012 series Ekaterina, a series that features his smiling bride, a fictional story of snapshots to chronicle lives or in this case imaginary lives and a relationship that never took place.

Performing for the Camera
Performing for the Camera

Fox Talbot: Dawn of the Photograph

The exhibition at Media Space, Science Museum, tells the story of the invention of the negative-positive process, and the transformation of photography.  Talbot’s revolutionary experiments and invention see him presented as the father of the photograph.   The exhibition is informative, shows a wealth of important works from the collection and demonstrates Talbot’s ambitions and mission, as well as the work of some of his contemporaries including Anna Atkins, Louis Daguerre, Hill and Anderson and Clavert Jones.  The display reveals the extent and impact of Talbot and includes the first publication illustrated by photographs, his Pencil of Nature, and his iconic, seminal early masterly works from the 1840s.   The Science Museum presents the invention and subsequent work as science, industry and art innovation and the narrative as the indexical capture of nature and document.

The Open Door
The Open Door
The Haystack
The Haystack

Strange and Familiar: Britain as Revealed by International Photographers

The large exhibition, curated by Martin Parr at Barbican in London, provides a snapshot of Britain from the 1930s to 2014, seen through the eyes of international photographers (that is photographers from overseas).  There are 23 photographers in number many of which are looking at the big occasion and cliches in Britain, and often in London, including the business man in bowler hat, the royal event, the sports championship, urban decay, industrial communities, swinging 60s London, union jacks, red telephone boxes, glass milk bottles and other such quirks.   Then in the works exhibited, made in more recent years, the faces affected by life, industry and poverty and the homogenised high street and way of life.

Strange and Familiar
Strange and Familiar
Strange and Familiar
Strange and Familiar

 

 

 

 

 

British photographers at this time were making work that was quite different, high fashion shoots and celebrity portraits, and more quietly by the 1960s a more humanistic realism that showed the truer streets and communities of Britain.   There is lots of great work to see here, and often photographs not seen before by many icons of street photography, accompanied by a stunning array of photo books.   Amongst my favourite works were Hans van der Meer’s pictures of local football matches in the north of England, depicting a cold, misty Sunday morning, community amateur football with the hills of the peak district in the background.  A further favourite were Garry Winogrand’s quieter streets of London and surburbia and the humorous gesture and witty moment captured as a less energetic version of his New York photographs.

Gary Winogrand
Gary Winogrand
Hans van der Meer
Hans van der Meer

 

Conceptual Art In Britain 1964 – 1979

The exhibition at Tate Britain traces the course of Conceptual Art in Britain from 1964 to 1979 with its unique, sometimes complex and always, experimental and anti-aesthetic characteristics.  This is not an archetypal Tate Britain show but is pared down, perhaps how the artists would have intended it, rather than curated for the audience’s enjoyment or fulfilment.  It is fun, political and fascinating and shows how pioneering and influential this group of artists were on future generations.   The exhibition includes installations, documents, magazines, photography, journals and lots of ephemeral works in vitrines.

Conceptual Art In Britain 1964-1979
Conceptual Art In Britain 1964-1979
Conceptual Art In Britain 1964-1979
Conceptual Art In Britain 1964-1979

 

 

 

 

 

The most notable photography comes from Keith Arnatt and Richard Long, challenging the notion of what art and photography are and using their artform to document an act, performance or idea.  Long’s work is the document of the remnants of his act of walking, undermining the traditional view of authorship and object and rejecting the artwork.   Arnatt’s Self Burial similarly is not the elevated, precious self portrait but the death of the artist, a grainy photographic document, nine images, of him slowly disappearing into the earth.  Arnatt playfully questioned what constitutes an artwork and famously questioned Tate’s stance on photography in the 80s as they stipulated they only collected photographs made by artists and not by photographers.  His conceptual photography, was and is highly influential in his documentary of the banal, mundane and detritus, influencing later Conceptualists and fine art photographers and those that today utilise social media for their deadpan images.

Art as an Act of Retraction, Keith Arnatt
Art as an Act of Retraction, Keith Arnatt
Self Burial, Keith Arnatt
Self Burial, Keith Arnatt
A Line Made by Walking, Richard Long
A Line Made by Walking, Richard Long

Paul Strand: Photography & Film for the 20th Century

This exhibition, seen at the Victoria & Albert Museum, provided a special opportunity to see a large number of works by one of the greatest and most influential photographers of the twentieth century.  The influence of Strand’s work on both fine art and documentary photography that followed is on view as we see work that covered periods of monumental change in politics, society, economics and foreign policy.

The exhibition is presented chronologically and covers his life works including the pictorial studies, the uncompromising New York street portraits, the images of architectural and urban modernism, his work in Mexico, France and the Outer Hebrides.  The exhibition also covers his commitment and innovative approach to photo books.  Strand’s demand for objectivity in photography and pioneering modernism can clearly be seen in the first galleries, his honesty then sometimes turning into anti-modern romanticism followed by his search for a new realism in the remote.

Wall Street
Wall Street
Blind Woman
Blind Woman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeing the urban metropolis and machine age image that is Wall Street is a treat for the eyes and the iconic Blind Woman is staggering in its strength, artistic realism and almost brutalism.  The Blind Woman questions Strand’s stance on honesty, his hidden camera, with this portrait and those like it taken without the knowledge or consent of the subject, his need for honesty and objectivity.   But is the subject really blind?  And is there truth in this documentary practice?  It is one of a number of New York types in the exhibition which are poignant and compelling as images of poverty amongst the thriving metropolis.

The two art film documentaries by Strand that are exhibited and the photographs from Mexico present his work most strongly in a wider ideological context and it is here we most clearly see the connections between his politics and work.  The work in Mexico is transitional and from here Strand went on to photograph more remote and hidden areas of Europe including Britain.   The work made in the Outer Hebrides, over three months in 1954, and published in the photo book The Land of Bent Grass is a beautiful, fascinating series showing a new realism and organic connection with the people land and sea.

Outer Hebrides
Outer Hebrides
Croft, Outer Hebrides
Croft, Outer Hebrides