All posts filed under: Art

All change, yet again.

I was in Birmingham last week, the city of my birth. And just to remove any confusion, I’m talking of Birmingham in the West Midlands of England. Every time I visit there has been change. The city seems incapable of standing still for just one minute. Perhaps that’s how it should be, afterall, Birmingham is known as the driver behind the industrial revolution of the 18th and 19thC. and was for many years, the home of manufacturing in the UK earning it the aphorism of “The City of a Thousand Trades”. It’s not an old city. Its growth, fed by the industrial revolution, came as a result of hundreds of thousands of ‘immigrants’ from the farming communities in surrounding counties. My own forebears on both sides were “Aglabs”, agricultural labourers, from Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Gloucestershire, together with true ‘immigrants’ from Ireland. Birmingham is a crucible, and always has been. With that growth comes continual change. As a reason for change, added to that of growth, is development – in the shape of technology, working methods etc. …

A note to the artist.

I visited an exhibition of photography in Hull yesterday – 5th October 2019. Amongst the work there was a large display devoted to the work of Tristan Poyser. In this intriguing piece Tristan explores the concept of the Geographical / Political border between Northern and Southern Ireland. The line has been a contentious issue for many years and with the Brexit issue (where Southern Ireland will stay in the EU and Northern Ireland – being part of Great Britain – will potentially leave the EU ) inflaming debate once more. Tristan travelled the line over a period of a couple of years photographing as he went. Unlike County and National lines in, say North America, the lines are not straight, twisting and winding as they do. Tristan handed out images he had taken and asked people to rip the images along where they thought the border may be. The effect was to produce a large number of public interpretations of the border, many annotated with what they thought about the connected issues. The main part …

Perishing shrines

Work by Lisa Ross. Lisa Ross is a New York based artist. Her work in this exhibition shows images of holy sites of its indigenous Muslim Uyghur population in the Taklamakan Desert in Xinjiang, western China. The exhibition is beautiful. Any pictures of the show, even those on the gallery website, and my small attempt by way of illustration of the elegant basement of the Argentea Gallery above, fail to portray the glorious reality of the prints. They exude a quality of light which is mesmerising. As a photographer I stood in front of the images admiring the sheer technical expertise of the photographer and of the printer. If that is all you go to see this show for then so be it. You will not be disapointed. However, these are not chocolate box or even travel images. There is another aspect to the images. They document part of a way of life of the Muslim population of this part of China which is under threat, indeed these shrines no longer exist and access to …

Fairground attraction 1970’s

Back in the late 1970’s, I would wander around my home city of Birmingham, camera in hand. At the time it was all Black-and-White work, self-developed and printed in a makeshift darkroom. I had different cameras to choose from, nothing exotic. I used twin lens reflex and 35mm. These images were from my 35mm camera probably on *400asa film hence the grain. *(I must check as I have the original negatives somewhere) The images below were from a sojourn to an impromptu fairground, many popped up like this around the city. This one appeared in Hay Mills, adjacent to the A45 near to Small Heath.

Full Circle.

An exhibition of Images by Emma Bowater and James Millichamp. Taking their inspiration and source images from the built environment, particularly urban decay and dereliction these two artists have worked to produce the images for this show. At first glance, you would imagine this exhibition is by one artist, such is the consanguinity of their approach to the work and the resulting images. The exhibition notes speak about their images much better than I could, so… “We have always shared a fascination for the built environment, and particularly urban decay and dereliction. Over the past year we have been working together to exploit this theme through various processes, cross-pollinating and stimulating each other’s practice. Through painting, drawing, print and cyanotype we aim to capture the atmosphere of a space, alluding to the history lost through the process of decay. A disused building can act as a symbol for the temporaneous nature of mans’ achievements, or as a metaphor for emotional abandonment. Through the works, we seek to document the vacant and transient environments of architecture. …

Faded Grandeur.

In traditional Japanese aesthetics, wabi-sabi is a world view centred on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. Wikipedia. I’m not sure this image shows that principle exactly, but somehow, the imperfection of dilapidation and the consequent transience has a beauty of its own, albeit the process has perhaps gone just too far. Nevertheless, this image of an old French Colonial townhouse in Pondicherry, Southeast India, for me anyway, has a faded grandeur and a presence all of its own. Peter Barton July 2019  

The Beautiful Error.

I visited an exhibition of striking work by photographer Katie Hallam in the delightful, bijou Gallery at St Martin’s, in Lincoln yesterday. Katie is a degree qualified photographer. In her current work, she takes the structure of her initial pictures and re-works them to produce surprising and questioning images, turning them into strident artworks, full of energy and colour. The concept explores glitches – errors if you will; hence the title of the show – momentary aberrations of the norm, be those glitches natural or induced, in order to create ‘another worldliness’ in exploring and dividing what is captured from what is seen. The technique explores the manipulation of those glitches using alteration to the code producing those jpg digital files. The work dispels any doubt, if the is any, that photography is art*. The work is exciting and is well worth seeing. Sadly it closes on the 13th July 2019 but you can see her work on her web site here. https://www.thebeautifulerror.com The image above is part of one of Katie’s images, who, of course, …

A visit to the Barbican in the City of London.

I don’t know about you, but I thought the Barbican in London was simply an arts centre – “simply an Arts centre” there’s an understatement for a start. Just how wrong can you be? My wife, Sue, knowing I like Brutalist architecture bought me a ticket for a guided architectural tour of the ‘complex’ and complex it is. Not only is it an arts centre – by the way, this section of the development was finalised and built last – but it is a housing project comprising around 2000 flats.  First, throw away all preconceptions of what a ‘housing project’ of this size would look like. The project was conceived in the late ’50s by architects, Chamberlin, Powell and Bon. They planned and delivered a high quality, wonderfully detailed living space, and due to the management of the terms of the letting or sale of the units, it has remained so ever since. Strict conditions apply regarding what the occupants can and cannot do –  but I’m getting in front of myself. If I may backtrack; The area …

I can’t move the sun, and it’s always in the wrong place

I’m going to start this piece by declaring that, at no time in my life have I ever been a trainspotter or engine enthusiast. No, it’s not that particular obsession which feeds my appreciation of the technical ability and art of O. Winston Link – who? Ogle Winston Link  (1914 – 2001) was an American photographer, originally from Brooklyn, New York City. Introduced to photography as a boy by his father, Link went on to achieve a degree in Civil Engineering. Whilst at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn he served as ‘photo editor’ for the institutes’ newspaper. He later moved into photography proper. Link had a longstanding love of railroads (probably resulting from his training as a Civil Engineer), particularly steam, which became sharply focused by the impending conversion of the railroads to Diesel power in the mid-’50s. Link became heavily involved with the Norfolk and Western Railway (N&W) one of the last steam railroads in America. Link’s work was self-financed, though he was encouraged by N&W officials from the President of the railroad downward. …