Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Exhibitions - Hinterland the spaces between

During half-term I took the opportunity to take in a few free exhibitions, I was looking for many reasons; to see how others approached their work, looking at composition, use of colour, subjects, messages (if any) and also how they were displayed.

The first exhibition was Hinterland the spaces between, which was on at the Capital Culture Gallery, 3 Bedfordbury Covent Garden - photographer Barry Cawston. The blurb on his  website says that much of his work has both Sociological and Architectural elements and the core of his commissions are from several international charities and English Heritage. He has also encountered success  in the Nikon/BJP Endframe competition -  followed by winning the Exeter Contemporary Open and the Chairman's Choice Award at the RWA Photographic Open. So it was with great interest that I went along to this latest exhibition which is a mix of his work taken from all over the globe. You can see his on-line gallery here.

The images were displayed over several levels, in well lit rooms on white walls. This worked really well and showed the photographs off to their best. Print sizes available to purchase were in 3 different sizes; 122 x 91cm, 91 x 72cm  and 50 x 40cm. Prints were displayed in 2 different ways, float framed or mounted on glass/aluminium. I really loved the way the colours and detail came out on the glass mounted ones but these did have the downside of reflecting the light :o/ All the prints are archival C-type prints and I found the fact that all these details are available was brilliant. I could wander about and instead of thinking "I wonder what this is printed on, how was this produced" the information was there so next time on hearing about something printed on glass, or an archival c-type print I know what it looks like!

I was struck by many aspects of his photography; how diverse it is, the wonderful way he captures the light no matter what time of day or in inside or out, the recognition and use of colours and shape and how much social commentary you can read into some of the most simple of shots. I think you can definitely feel in his images that he has a degree in sociology! I think that was apparent in 'Tenement block' Marseilles where which you could see from a distance was a shabby tenement but on close examination the detail was amazing, each balcony giving insight into someones world, the ones with washing, bikes, people on mobile phones and oddly a rather large stuffed toy zebra....I stopped to speak to the lady manning the exhibition, saying how I loved his use of colours and how he sees the beauty in the derelict or 'ugly'. It transpired that she is Barry's partner and was telling me how he works with a Wista field camera complete with tripod bellows and hood, and how it comes in handy when taking images in not quite so desirable areas. "No-one wants to steal it" she laughed, "they ignore us or are fascinated." She also commented on how he manages to see beauty in everything and sometimes gets frustrated when all of a sudden he will say he wants to stop in odd places and take a photo, she gave the tenement black as a prime example of wanting to be continuing on a journey home but no a photo was just waiting to be made..... Some of the interior images are of her mothers old farmhouse in France.

Even though Cawston prefers the Wista he does occasionally use digital and one image 'Blue Drapes- Brazil' included within the show was taken on a digital camera with several images stitched together. Reassuring to know professionals do do that kind of thing ;o)

I walked out smiling. I had seen some stunning images and learnt quite a lot; you can be diverse, take pictures of people and place, there is beauty to be found in everything, realism can also be surreal, don't worry about weather conditions, images can work just as well with grey skies as with blue, take note of the light and use the time of day to your advantage, simple images can be just as effective as the more complicated, colours can add a stunning dimension to your work, that photo opportunities are always there and part of the trick is to keep your eyes open and make time for them. You can find interesting images in your own locale/family as well as further afield. Last of all that talking to people can give you some lovely insights as to how the photographer works ;o)

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