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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 …

Just a little of Birmingham’s brutalist architecture.

Three Brutalist building in Birmingham. Two of which have gone. The first is the now-demolished Birmingham Central Reference Library designed by John Madin and constructed in 1974. It lasted 41 years before its recent destruction. The second is the signal box at New St Station (comprising 2 images), designed by Bicknell & Hamilton and W.R. Healey and completed in 1965. This is listed and so remains. The third is 103 Colmore Row, the Nat West Tower, as it was known. Designed by John Madin. It opened in 1975.  It was demolished in 2015-16 and is to be replaced by another, taller tower.

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.

Differing opinions.

For me, a satisfying image has shapes and layers. I was at the SteamPunk festival in Lincoln on Saturday. This image was from the lower half of the city (where there were fewer SteamPunk attendees). I was drawn by the incongruous hat of the SteamPunker – a white military helmet surmounted and enclosed by an Octopus. I use that as the front layer and slightly out of focus, with shoppers passing in the next layer.  The layer which first attracted me contains the Irish Dance Busker making eye contact with the delighted little girl.  Finally, in the last layer of interest is the shop attendant peering out of the window. I find this image satisfying even though it’s far from perfect containing as it does elements others may believe detract from the image. As you maybe aware, my images are just for me so you may not agree. That’s OK. That’s what makes this art form so interesting – alternative views of the same thing and differing opinions.

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