Gallery visit: Tate Modern.

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This has been my first visit to Tate Modern in London, which I have planned as part of a two day trip in middle February. There was one work I was looking forward to see: Tehching Hsieh’s One Year Permonance 1980-1981I discovered his work after submitting Assignment 2 and as part of the artists recommended for further research. I do admire photographic pieces that involve performance, specially if the performance is done by the artists himself. In this case, the length of time the work has taken, the commitment, the social references and the visually engaging presentation, makes this one of my favourite photographic work till this date. During the course of a year, Hsieh took an hourly picture of himself and recorded the time by punching a time-clock simultaneously. The installation shows through a projector a fast forward moving sequence of all the photographs. He also recorded the times he missed the clock and the reason why (which gives another insight in perhaps his level of excitment during the project, the ability of waking up in time depending on the month or other environmental conditions…). I took several photographs of this work:

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The area of the Tate where Tehching Hsieh’s work is displayed is labelled as “Performer and participant”. As I have mentioned above, this is what I find most enjoyable from the photographic practice and so many of the works exhibited in this dedicated part of the museum caught my attention. Following with these works, Pak Sheung Chuen’s display consists in a dark room where visitors are invited to use their camera flash to experiment the images the artist took on a trip to Malaysia. In this case, the photographer spent his time blindfolded, guided buy his mother and other people throughout the country; an experience that he recorded with his camera as the only visual aid. The engagement with this work is instant. The need to see what is it there, the frustrated attempt to visualise anything in detail before the camera flash vanishes, and the adventure of discovering the images exhibited (on the LCD) once they are not in front of the viewer; it all contributes to the experience and helps appreciating the means of the work.

 

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Continuing with the work about photography and performance, I discovered the images by Czech artist Jirí Kovanda. Socio-political circumstances lead this artist to re imagine his performative work, which became in a way silent and unseen. By leaving traces and creating subtle changes in the environment, Kovanda creates a series of images documented these little proofs of his existence that would inevitable fade one day, probably unnoticed. I think this is beautiful work, not only because of the final images but the process itself. This is the kind of work I consider as pure art. My images are not great, but they can be fully appreciated here.

 

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Jirí Kovanda

 

Another major discovery for me during my visit is the Portuguese artist Helena Almeida. There is an extensive collection of exquisite drawings by this artist exhibited here. The simplicity of the traces and the images represented contrasts with the captivating narrative that takes the viewer along the sequence. I can’t quite explain what I find so fascinating in these, but I could see each little scene translated into a photograph, a film or a collection of stills from a short movie. Almeida is an artist that I am committing to research in more depth.

 

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Helena Almeida, sketches.
Inhabited canvas, 1976. Helena Almeida

 

Another photographic work that I have enjoyed seeing are the series Light Sources (James Welling) and Sun Photographs (Zoe Leonard).

Leonard creates images by shooting directly into the sun, which are then handprinted and hanged unframed. This presentation really got me and I really appreciated the vulnerability of the photographs this way (I had the feeling that anyone could take them down the wall) but it also reduces the perception of each print as something distant, bringing to the viewer the idea of craftsmanship and process of creation.

 

Welling’s images are clean and effective, presented in a highly contrasted blackened white that brings up beautiful textures. In his Light Sources series, Welling points the camera towards the origin of the light (just as Zoe Leonard shooting towards the sun but with a more varied selection of sources). I saw here another interesting point for presentation of work (note the image above -left- with two radically different sized prints of images from a common project).

To summarise, I would like to leave here some images of artwork exhibited at the Tate that I enjoyed greatly seeing, as these are pieces or artists that I admire and that I have not had the change to see before in a museum:

 


Resources:

Tate. (n.d.). Jiri Kovanda born 1953 | Tate. [online] Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/jiri-kovanda-10668 [Accessed 2 Mar. 2018].

Tate. (n.d.). Tehching Hsieh – Display at Tate Modern | Tate. [online] Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern/display/performer-and-participant/tehching-hsieh [Accessed 2 Mar. 2018].

 

 

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Gallery visit. Bridewell Theatre Bar Gallery.

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I have recently been down in London with the purpose of visiting this venue where Shutter Hub is presenting a group photography exhibition at the Bridewell Theatre Bar Gallery. The show runs from 15th of January until 16th of April and I have been lucky enough to have one of my images selected to be shown together with some great artist’s work.

The theme for the exhibition was BORDERS, a broad subject that has given the participants plenty of room for interpretation.

I have greatly enjoyed the photographs exhibited and although each artist has worked on their own take of the theme, I can see the different images working as a whole. The venue itself has a remarkable character and this is something I have noticed also contributes to the experience.

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The experience has been very rewarding. From the printing process, framing, sending the work and pricing it, every step has taught me something and it is my aim to reflect on this next time I will submit my work for a show. The most obvious thing to consider is the size of the work. It is difficult to make a decision when you have no access to the venue in advance but I wish I would have printed it bigger. I choose a modest 12×8 as if that would be the bigger an image of mine would “deserve” to be. I was so wrong, and since then, I have been trying to picture my images differently. allowing them to have more presence. So for next time, unless the work requires to be shown in a smaller size, I will aim for a bigger print.

The image I presented to be considered for the show is part of a series I shoot in 201. “Lines” explores the perception of an empty space, drawing attention to the elements that represent the boundaries between the subject and the outside environment. Ironically, the alienation caused by the characterless surroundings and unfamiliarity of the space favours a degree of mental abstraction while the body remains confined.

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From the series “Lines” (2015) by Silvia Szucs (that’s me)

 

This is my second time participating in group exhibition (first one happened years ago, once completed a Photography introductory course in Spain) and I thought I would feel something special seeing my work up on a wall but I was only concerned about the quality of my work compared with the others. The question of wether or not my work deserves being exhibited and shown to others outside social media/internet is a tough one. I feel my modesty slapping back to me and making me wonder why I would love to have more work exhibited but I feel worried it might not look good enough. I do wish to have more opportunities like this over the next few years to can get to understand my feelings around this and use the experience to produce work orientated to be exhibited.

 

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Exhibitions at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery

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I have recently visited a couple of exhibitions at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Having missed Graham MacIndoe’s show “Coming Clean” last month, I didn’t want to leave the opportunity to see the actual work exhibited in the gallery.

The first exhibition is called When We Where Young: Photographs of Childhood from the National Galleries of Scotland. The works put together for this thematic exhibition showed a variety of images dating from 1800’s till the present.

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I was pleased to see a good amount of photographs from Edith Tudor-Hart. Her images draw my attention because of the clean compositions and the simplicity of the everyday events that she documents. There is one image that stands out which shows a group of children getting ultraviolet treatment; their eyes covered with googles and the practitioners directing the session. The contrast of light and shadows and the almost theatrical feeling of the scene gives the photograph a double reading, between the scientific and the absurd. Although I doubt this was her intention here (the image was commissioned to promote the treatments at the South London Hospital for Women and Children) but thinking of the actual Health Service and more modern procedures I believe this might be the way this photograph could be seen nowadays buy younger generations.

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Ultraviolet Light Treatment, South London Hospital for Women and Children. Edith Tudor-Hart, 1935.
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Images by Edith Tudor-Hart.

There is another image that caught my attention. Tassa Tee, Master Frank Jefferson by Frank Eugene (1898-1900) depicts a young boy holding a teacup and saucer in what it feels like a really dark space. As the text accompanying the image explained, the artist darkened most areas of the image in order to draw the attention to the boy’s face and hands. The image itself it’s a photogravure.

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Tassa Tee, Master Frank Jefferson by Frank Eugene (1898-1900)
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Tassa Tee, Master Frank Jefferson by Frank Eugene (1898-1900)

The resulting image reminded me of the light-painting technique I attempted on Exercise  4.3 and that I would like to try on portraiture in the future. It was initial idea for Assignment 5 but I am thinking of other alternatives, yet planing to test this technique again for a project.

There where also examples of daguerreotypes and ambrotypes on display, showing the translucent images transferred on the glass (some of them where also hand-coloured):

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Daguerreotype
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Daguerreotypes
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Ambrotypes
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Ambrotype, explanation.
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Ambrotype, glass and frame.

More modern pieces where shown, such as photographs by Margaret Mitchell (who I already talked about here) and Wendy McMurdo (who also signs the image at the entrance of the gallery room). Her image of the series Let’s Go to a Place speaks of the influence technology has for the new generations and presents a series of portraits of children where their faces appear distorted as an allegory of the different dimensions in which they interact through technology. It is a very interesting approach and the way the portraits resemble traditional school photographs appeals to me. The fact that they appear looking away paired up with the distortion of their faces creates engaging images, giving the impression of the child being there on a physical plane but with their attention and interest somewhere else. I am not sure if I have referenced this artist before as I have come across her work in many occasions in the last year. Here is the image exhibited at the gallery:

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From the series Let’s Go To a Place by Wendy McMurdo, 2016.
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Work by Margaret Mitchel.

 

 


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The second exhibition called “The Modern Portrait” shows portraiture in a variety of media, from painting to photography, sculpture, collage… The sitters are all well known Scottish public figures from different fields such as arts, politics and sports. It is an interesting exhibition and I enjoyed admiring other art disciplines than photography for a change. The piece I appreciated the most is this large oil painting of the Scottish actor Alan Cumming, created by Christian Hook (2014):

 

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Alan Cumming. Oil on board by Christian Hook, 2014

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The technique used here gives the impression of a pixelated image from the distance, I would say that it reminds me to the interferences that occasionally happened with old televisions (I feel old as I type). I guess my perception might be influenced by my acknowledge of Cumming being an actor and the connection with the media. Since I started reading about perception and how to read art, I have become more aware of my own experiences and ideas influencing the way I see images and the conclusion I draw from them.

There is a piece that caught my attention because of the media used and the apparent complexity of its execution:

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Gavin Hastings. Postcard and photograph collage, by David Mach, 1996.

The piece is a large collage made with photographs and postcards (lots of them) that depicts the rugby player Gavin Hastings. Here there is a detail of the image where the way the postcards are arranged to create the background can be appreciated:

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Detail of Gavin Hastings by David Mach, 1996.

There was a good section of the exhibition dedicated to modern portrait photography:

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Portraits by Donald Maclellan

I appreciated certain reciprocity between the artists depicted and the photographers behind the lens, reflected in very intimate images where the person is shown as a random citizen rather than a public figure. This shows specially on the portraits created by Donald Maclellan (above image).

It has been a great experience overall. I am glad I visited the gallery as it is the only one from the National Galleries in Edinburgh I had never been in before and it happens to be a very cosy and intimate venue which I am already planing to visit again soon for the BP Portrait Awards 2017 exhibition that opens next week.

 

 

RPS 159 International Print Exhibition

I am a bit behind with posting about the exhibitions I have seen. Back in July, I had the pleasure to visit the Out of the Blue Drill Hall where the Royal Photographic Society was showing their 159th edition of the International Print Exhibition 2016/2017.

I did not only loved the images but also the way they were displayed and the inviting atmosphere of the place, which made me spend over an hour there.

 

The quality of the work exhibited was outstanding and I enjoyed every single image. However, there are some photographs that caught my attention more than others. As the more obvious, I would mention the image that won the Gold Award: a portrait of Alice, by Carolyn Mendelsohn.

Alice, by Carolyn Mendelsohn as part of the RPS International Print Exhibition 2106/2017.
Alice, by Carolyn Mendelsohn as part of the RPS International Print Exhibition 2106/2017.

I was impressed by the lighting and the expression of the girl, and the overall look reminded me of a classic painting but still showing a clear contemporary approach to portraiture.

Another image that I liked is part of the series The Big O, by Abbie Trayler-Smith. She is a portrait and documentary photographer based in Wales and I find her work in this project very appealing and in the line of the imagery I would like being able to produce one day. It is a very touching portrait of obesity, where she shows intimate moments and elements of overweight teens in a way that their beauty and courage shines through each image.

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New Down by Abbie Trayler-Smith

The image above shows the exhibited photograph at the RPS exhibition and all I can say is it is truly beautiful overall. I love the colour palette and the composition, which got me thinking for a while. I thought of how would I have framed the subject (showing the whole body, probably opening the shot till the whole coach would fit, looking for some sort of symmetry) and how I would have got it all wrong, and focused on what makes this image so successful composition wise. I like how it focuses on the sitter and shows only enough of the environment to put her in context but not too much. This is something I have observed in most portraits that I feel attracted to, so I think it is time I put it in practice.

Atypical Landscape by Tianxi Wang
Atypical Landscape by Tianxi Wang

 

The image above is quite different from the previous ones. It belongs to the series Atypical Landscape by Tianxi Wang and it is actually my favourite from his project.

I have the intention of working on the idea of disrupted landscape and I am currently researching and trying different options on how to achieve what I envision and this image is indeed very inspirational to me. I like the way the opening on the fence creates a frame, giving the impression of a portrait inside the landscape. I also find the colour palette very close to my late images and I makes me feel relaxed and at ease when looking at it.

Lastly, I would like to comment on the image below. It depicts a giant sculpture of a dead fly in the middle of the road, which is already very impressive but what I like from the photograph is the way it tricks the mind as, at a glance, it seems like a real fly shot on a miniature scene of a road.

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The process and the idea are brilliant. There is so much work put into these images. The name of the project is “As I grow, I lose” and the video of the making of is worth a view.

There where so many other images I loved from this exhibition I can´t wait to see next years. The overall quality of the work is excellent and very inspiring. Taking time in studying each of the images has helped me develop my photographic eye further, and provided me with a scope of ideas I would like to explore further for personal work.


Resources

Abbie Trayler-Smith. (2017). The Big O – Abbie Trayler-Smith. [online] Available at: http://www.abbietraylersmith.com/work/the-big-o/ [Accessed 9 Sep. 2017].

Carolynmendelsohnphoto.com. (2017). Carolyn Mendelsohn Bespoke Photography | Saltaire Leeds Bradford Yorkshire | Portrait Lifestyle Fashion Commercial. [online] Available at: http://www.carolynmendelsohnphoto.com [Accessed 9 Sep. 2017].

Michael John Hunter. (2017). Michael John Hunter – As i grow, as i lose.. [online] Available at: http://www.michaeljohnhunter.com/#1 [Accessed 9 Sep. 2017].

Tianxi Wang. (2017). Tianxi Wang – Dwelling On The North (On going). [online] Available at: http://www.timothywangart.com [Accessed 9 Sep. 2017].

 

Stuart Low. Treescapes.

 

Stuart Low
Stuart Low´s Treescapes

Stuart Low is an experienced landscape photographer based in Fife (Scotland). I came across his work when visiting the Shutter Hub OPEN exhibition at Retina Scottish Photography Festival in the Ocean Terminal. It is only a small sample but it gives a good idea of his clean photographic style at the time that serves as a preview of his book “Treescapes: the Art of Photographing Trees”.

Being brought up in the Scottish countryside, he developed a preference for outdoors photography, specially trees. With a background in science, this self taught photographer applies his knowledge of both Photography and Physics to frame beautiful landscapes.

I particularly like his black and white film series of Treescapes, and the very minimal colour series of winter landscapes. There is something about his “tree portraits” that pictures nature as both delicate and magnificent at one time by the way he isolates these trees within the frame.

Stuart is also an experienced instructor and runs multiple workshops on Landscape Photography.

 

Resources:

Stuart Low website. http://www.stuartlowphotography.co.uk

On Landscape, 2016. https://www.onlandscape.co.uk/2016/08/treescapes-stuart-low/

Retina Festival

As part of the Retina Scottish International Photography Festival there are several expositions and events across the city of Edinburgh at the moment. Today, I visited one of the four venues at The Dark Room in the Ocean Terminal.

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The exhibition shows a number of international artists with varied photography styles and although I have enjoyed all the work, there are a couple of photographs that caught my attention.

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Firstly, Silvia Maggi´s image from the series “The Day I Glimpsed Inside Your Soul” was my favourite on show. The image was taken at Sachsenhausen concentration camp, situated at North of Berlin. It is difficult for me to identify what made me feel attracted to this photograph, but the first thought that crossed my mind was “silence”: there is something really intimate about the open gate but it is almost an invitation to enter a place that feels unreal, unknown and secret.

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Silvia Maggi. The Day I Glimpsed Inside Your Soul.

Maggi is telling us the story of her husband´s grandfather who, unlike thousands of others, managed to scape from Sachsenhausen. I did not know by the title that this was a concentration camp until I did some research about the image and got a bit of a shock as I went on a trip with the school to Berlin when I was 14 years old (that is over 20 years ago!) and spent a whole day visiting this place. It is huge (I only managed to see a small area) and horrible. I could not recognize the gate as most of my memories from that place come from what I saw inside. I got very emotional reading about the story of the image and trying to imagine how Maggi´s husband felt when standing in front of the gate, looking through the eyes of his grandfather.

Another photographer I have enjoyed greatly in this exhibition and on her website is Margaret Mitchell and her series “In this place“, which had two images on display.  The project observes social inequality and life choices through the story of her extended family. I like not only the approach that Mitchell has to this matter but also the subject chosen as the project depicts the reality of many families in Scotland and rises concern about inequality and disadvantages, specially for younger generations.

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Steve. From the series “In This Place” by Margaret Mitchell.

I also love her general style between documentary and portraiture, specially her Portrait Series, so I will leave a link here for future reference and inspiration.

Overall the level of the exhibition is very good. I have visited another venue a week ago at the Summerhall but I did not think of taking pictures or documenting anything as I was not enrolled in EYV yet. I regretted now as the work presented was inspiring. There was also a solo exhibition of the Dutch photographer Hellen Van Meene with a good number of beautiful and painterly portraits I really loved watching. Unfortunately, it finished four days ago, but I noted this here to do some further research in the future.