London Galleries

Nick Hedges exhibition Make Life Worth Living was an incredibly raw, hard hitting yet beautiful all encompassing experience. The harsh light of reality cut through you like a lightening bolt as you bore witness to these harrowing yet surreal scenes that were difficult to imagine coming from your home land, England. It brought to light not only the dire situation of poverty endured by so many but also ones own ignorance of the situation- a successful campaign exhibition! Visually the layout and execution of the exhibition is extremely bold and impacting- using the same sized (and very high quality) frames in a symmetrical and professional arrangement/strong layout, creates a very striking and polished finish that could impress even the hardest of those to please, having black and white as the only colours used except for the title of the show written in bold red font seen as you first walk in is also extremely effective at generating much emotion and exerting influence over the viewers and the size of the prints themselves (excluding the opening image alongside the red font) are very dramatic, at 10×8 the repetition makes a very comprehensive show with direct commentary between the subjects and final photos- with no one photo larger than the other or all images at colossal sizes Hedges is demonstrating how universal the problem is, no one family is worse off than the next or deserving of more attention, however small their problem it is worth saving. Such important factors need to be considered when I am exhibiting my own work.

This short video piece by renowned film director Steve McQueen, is unlike one I have seen before. The void of speech for much of the piece allows the viewer to submerge themselves into the ambient sounds of the sea and waves much as the man featured submerges himself under the cool waters at one point in the footage when he falls off of the side of the quaint fishing boat. The absence of words or further information allows the onlooker to clear their minds of all other information and fully focus on the scene before them, growing attached to the man within the piece as the wind breezes through his hair and the sun warms his strong back. Only once the spoken dialect breaks the calamity do we snap back into reality, leaving our haze of desire, and listen to the words that fall upon our ears. The lack of formal information juxtaposed with the harsh words of reality consequently mean that in the learning of the mans murder the viewer is far more outraged yet sombre upon hearing this news, they had grown found of his boyish antics and became attached- something they would not have done had they known of his death all along, for what would be the point in attaching to the already deceased? The clever use of not disclosing all of the information from the start is defiantly something I can use in my own projects to create more impacting and memorable work.

This exhibition by Carrie Mae Weems at the Pippy Houldsworth gallery demonstrated another great use of how to successfully have a direct link between your subject photographed and how you display them. In particular the colour people grid was extremely memorable to myself and a prime example of a unique way to exhibit ones work- what seems so simple yet is so effective. The term “coloured people” has long been used as a phrase to describe the black race and Weems has cleverly and comically taken this into her own hands and visually taken this one step further by depicting black persons or “coloured people” in a  grid of vibrant block coloured squares. This very literal approach to the phrase is ingenious with its attraction to the 21st century desire for bold artwork, peoples attention for bright colours and those looking for something more in their art- be it wit, sarcasm or just entertainment, Weems has opened the floodgates of how one should display ones work and her abstractivity has inspired me to think more about how I display my own photos and what impact the framing brings to their response from others.

This collection of work by the incredible Sebastião Salgado was highly impressive to view, especially with so many of his works together in one small space; it enabled one to see the cohesion between his photographs despite their obvious subject differences.  He calls on us to notice what is happening on our own planet, and often does so with the eye of an aesthete. In particular his landscapes are insanely spectacular, with the majority taken from a high angle and in sharp focus throughout the photograph, I have much to learn from this master! He knows exactly how to grab the essence of a moment so that when one sees his images one is involuntarily drawn into them and can envision themselves within that landscape. His use of portrait for a landscape scene works very well, he does not use it often and so when he does (executed perfectly of course) they are exceptionally impacting and effective and bring a new and fresh dimension to the rest of the collection. When shooting my own landscape images I need to experiment with this when I see the right topography in front of me, such as a long path, valley etc- linear landscapes. I was not confident with how this would work before I saw Salgado’s work but now have visually seen how impacting and astounding it can look if done correctly and well so shall definitely give this a go with a new found positivity and mental confirmation of how it should be.


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Filed under Landscape: The Social and Environmental, Reflections on the Real

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