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JULIA MARGARET CAMERON AND ALEC SOTH STUDY TRIP REPORT

11 January 2015

Visit to London Museum Gallery to see two photographic exhibitions of work by Julia Margaret Cameron and Alec Soth

Cameron’s V&A Exhibition

Julia Margaret Cameron exhibition was hosted at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The exhibition was run to mark the bicentenary of her birth in 1815.   There were over 100 photographs of hers displayed in the exhibition. Part of the significance of Cameron’s work was that she was an innovative pioneer portrait photographer when photography was still a new and evolving technology and art form. Photography at that time was demanding because of the nature of the photographic wet emulsions, chemicals used and processes required to develop and print.

Cameron’s photographic processes

Cameron used the wet collodion photographic process to create her negatives, (Process is fully described https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collodion_process ) The process was invented around 1850 and refined during the 1850s. The process was demanding, difficult and delicate using fragile large glass plates that are coated with a number of different substances at different stages in their processing. The large glass plate negatives are used to create contact prints, the negative had to be at least as large as the image that is printed. There are a lot of opportunities to make mistakes, breaking the plate glass, smudges, smears and swirls. Fluff, hairs or fibres falling on to the plates or finger marks.

To make the prints from the negatives Cameron used the albumen print method to make her own photographic paper. (Process is fully described https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albumen_print ) Albumen or egg white is used to combine and hold the light sensitive photographic chemicals to bind to the paper. The plate negative would be laid on top of the albumen treated paper so it is in contact with the paper. The paper with the contact negative is exposed to the light and the print appears. The darkening process is stopped by submerging the print in sodium thiosulphate and a stabiliser to stop the print from fading.

Cameron was in her day criticised for some of the faults and flaws that occurred with hand processing \and the fact that some of her portraits were out of focus or evidence that the model slightly moved while being photographed. These imperfections did not concern Cameron, and now often emulated to show the ‘handmade’ one off creativity, a reaction against the modern day machine perfect images captured and produced by modern photographic and printing equipment.

 

Alec Soth’s Exhibition at the Science Museum

Alec Soth first UK exhibition was shown in the Science Museum, London. The exhibition ‘Gathered Leaves’ is a collection of photographs from four previous books/exhibition – Sleeping by the Mississippi (2004), Niagara (2006), Broken Manual (2010) and the most recent, Songbook (2014).

 

South and Cameron similarities

The photographers are from two very different times, Cameron was taking photographs from Victorian 1860s to the 1870s. Soth is a contemporary photographer of the 2000’s his first book ‘Sleeping by the Mississippi’ was published 2004.   There are similarities in some of their works Soth’s portraits of unusual characters have qualities of a story that can be told in the image, the viewer makes their own mind up as to what has just happened or is going to happen, whereas Cameron dressed her models and posed them to emulate a scene from a story or from the bible.

 

Overall impression

The visit was very interesting to see photography presented in an exhibition, to see the original prints, to see the quality and colours of the images. To compare an early photographer’s work with a very modern photographer’s work. There was so much to see and appreciate I could have done with more time to be able to study more the photographs that I was drawn to, also to have an opportunity to visit the shop and if available purchase cards or the accompanying guides to the exhibitions.

 


 

Three Soth images that inspired me

ashwednesday

USA. New Orleans, Louisiana. 2000. Adelyn, Ash Wednesday. Sleeping by the Mississippi.

The picture is overwhelmingly an image of a woman deep in reflection and thoughtfulness, presumably after performing an act of worship and witness by painting in ash a cross on her forehead. The mouth is shaped such that you are not sure if she is sad or about to break into a smile. The waves and texture of her hair is accentuated by the streaks of colour. Her back is against railings, is she standing inside or outside of the church?

blokeplanes.jpg

USA. Vasa, Minnesota. 2002. Charles

I love this picture of a character who is clearly obsessed and proud of his hobby of model aeroplanes. Possible a man so involved with his hobby that he has stopped noticing the things around him.

The man does not appear to be too concerned about what other people think of him or his immediate surroundings, the breeze block, pieces of roof felt and clutter   He is a man dressed for working in his garage or workshop and dressed for warmth, above all else ready to go outside to fly his planes in his flying suit.

petrolst

USA. Fountain City, Wisconsin. 2002. Cemetery. Sleeping by the Mississippi

I like this picture for its contrasts, the dark background of the hill and twilight as the night is falling. This contrasts against the brightness of the petrol station that is accentuated by the reflections of the light on the snow covered forecourt.

The contrast of the natural surroundings of the dark forbidding countryside compared to the lonely isolated petrol station. The petrol station looks to be inviting because it is manmade and offers a safe harbour that stands out like a beacon in the on setting cold night.

The lines of the snow tracks left by vehicles lead into the petrol station, drawing the viewer to safety of the illuminated forecourt. It is like a scene out of a thriller movie.

 

 

Three Cameron images that inspired me

cameron

Julia Jackson, Julia Margaret Cameron, 1867, albumen print from wet collodion glass negative. Museum no. PH.361-1981

I like this portrait the way that the portrait melts into the background. The long flowing hair over the models shoulders that is slightly out of focus and looks like running water. The piercing eyes that are looking straight out back at you. The photograph is in warm sepia tones and has imperfections that give it the aged vintage look.

neapolitan

The Neapolitan (1866) Julia Margaret Cameron

The model has a pale ‘willowy’ face. The blanket on her knee is caught in detail, but the shallow depth of field, the models hands, arms and face are slight blurred and out of focus. This gives a soft warmth to the model.

Hosanna

Hosanna, Julia Margaret Cameron, 1865, albumen print from wet collodion glass negative. Museum no.PH.245-1982

This is a great picture, the young girl in the foreground looks to be resting and about to go to sleep. There are three faces crowded around looking down on the young girl, as if they are angels watching over the girl. The three faces are not in focus, and the photograph has what appear to be different levels of intensity possibly due to the wet photographic techniques, but they add to the mystery and the feeling that the three faces are hovering angels, not solid people.

Field trip report to Barbican Art Gallery & Saatchi Gallery

Barbican – Art Gallery: Strange and Familiar: Britain as Revealed by International Photographers, 16 March 2016 – 19 June 2016

The exhibition was curated by British photographer Martin Parr, Strange and Familiar considers how international photographers from the 1930s onwards have captured the social, cultural and political identity of the UK. Exhibition includes photographers Henri Cartier-Bresson, Rineke Dijkstra, Robert Frank and Garry Winogrand, Raymond Depardon, Jim Dow, Akihiko Okamura, Frank Habicht, Bruce Davidson, Candida Hofer, Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Parr has selected photographs by international photographer’s images that represent Britain. They are a mix from old to new images, everyday views that typify the UK from the 1930s to the present day. Petrol pumps, to people playing football at local community match, high street shops, people on the peace march of the 1960s. The common appear unusual as things have changed over time. The exhibition is not only a collection of interesting photographs, they are a documentary of social history and political and cultural events. Over time life styles and occupations have changed.

Details of the photographers and the list of thier photographs exhibited 17922strangefamiliarwalltexts

Newspaper reviews and reports about the exhibition

Two very different nations in one: Britain as seen by foreign photographers – review. Daily Telegraph review of the exhibition, including some of the photographs from the exhibition. By Mark Hudson, 14 March 2016 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/photography/what-to-see/two-very-different-nations-in-one-britain-as-seen-by-foreign-pho/

How Britain is really viewed by the rest of the world – in pictures. Monday 14 March 2016 Guardian review of the exhibition https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2016/mar/14/how-britain-is-viewed-by-the-rest-of-the-world-in-pictures

Britain through the lens of outsiders by David Chandler, 19 February 2016, FT Magazine http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/c2e6b93c-d4fe-11e5-8887-98e7feb46f27.html

Details of the event

https://www.barbican.org.uk/artgallery/event-detail.asp?ID=17922

Also http://www.barbican.org.uk/strangeaudio/ or https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/251960858 shows some of the images with recordings that accompany the photographs

Photographs from the exhibition on the Magnum Photos web site

http://pro.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=SearchResult&ALID=2K1HRG6JI2CN

 

Some of the photographers and their works that made an impression on me:

Raymond Depardon

Photographs of Glasgow taken in 1980. Colour photographs, very stark images showing a derelict Glasgow with steel skies and boarded up buildings. They are photographs that show a bleak and social down at heal Glasgow.

SCOTLAND. Glasgow. 1980.
SCOTLAND. Glasgow. 1980.
SCOTLAND. Glasgow. 1980.
SCOTLAND. Glasgow. 1980.

http://pro.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=SearchResult&ALID=2K1HRG6JI2CN#/SearchResult&ALID=2K1HRG6JI2CN&VBID=2K1HZOLM0OXTF4

Jim Dow

Photographs of shops, buildings and the inside of buildings. I like this photograph, it looks like an aquarium that has jackets bobbing in the tank.

uk_1

Covent Garden Tailor Shop, London, England 1986 by Jim Dow

http://jimdowphotography.com/, htp://jimdowphotography.com/England-portfolio.php

Akihiko Okamura

4_akihikookamura_twoladies_edit-b102ae0b23e646eaa41c2ffa26c00c52

Tea and biscuits were provided by local citizens during the Battle of the Bogside. Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland. (August 1969) by Akihiko Okamura

http://www.barbican.org.uk/strangeaudio/photographs/akihiko-okamura/

Frank Habicht

http://www.frankhabicht.net/

frank-habicht-1969-rolling-stones-concert

Alice Ormbsy Gore, 1969 Hyde Park London. Photograph by Frank Habicht

hydeparkstones

Hyde Park Stones in the Park, London 1969 by Frank Habicht

 

Bruce Davidson

Photographs of London in 1960, plus photographs of people going about their business outside London, at the seaside Brighton.

UK. London. 1960. Man holding curry sign.
UK. London. 1960. Man holding curry sign.
UK. London. 1960. Bus conductor woman with ticket machine.
UK. London. 1960. Bus conductor woman with ticket machine.

http://pro.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=SearchResult&ALID=2K1HRG6JI2CN#/SearchResult&ALID=2K1HRG6JI2CN&VBID=2K1HZOLM0WTNP2

Bruce Gilden

Portrait photographs taken 2013 and 2014, the images are unsettling because the heads virtually take up the whole frame, and the face of the subject are staring straight back at you, making me feel uncomfortable.

http://pro.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=SearchResult&ALID=2K1HRG6JI2CN#/SearchResult&ALID=2K1HRG6JI2CN&VBID=2K1HZO6EVL0ML0

GB. West Bromwich. 2014. Andy, from Newcastle, at the bus station.
GB. West Bromwich. 2014. Andy, from Newcastle, at the bus station.

.

GB. Romford, Essex. Sherry. 2013.
GB. Romford, Essex. Sherry. 2013.

Candida Hofer

B+W images of Liverpool and the people of Liverpool.

http://www.artnet.com/artists/candida-höfer/ http://www.barbican.org.uk/strangeaudio/photographs/candida-hofer/

cafefront

Liverpool XVI (1968) by Candida Hofer

Henri Cartier-Bresson

 

GB. London. Coronation of George VI. 12th May, 1937.
GB. London. Coronation of George VI. 12th May, 1937.

https://pro.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=CMS3&VF=MAGO31_10_VForm&ERID=24KL53ZMYNhttp://pro.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=SearchResult&ALID=2K1HRG6JI2CN#/SearchResult&ALID=2K1HRG6JI2CN&VBID=2K1HZO6EVDNT7U

Shinro Ohtake

The style of Ohtake and the everyday subject matter is reminiscent of William Eggleston, a photographic style I like.

shinropumps

Shinro Ohtake / Courtesy of Take Ninagawa Gallery. From the series UK77: Digging my Way to London, 1977

http://www.shinro-ohtake.com/

 

 

Warwick Arts Centre Visit

Visit to the Warwick Arts Centre, Warwick University, November 2015.

Art-Warwick-Leaflet Flyer that details the artists and the event.

Aim was to hear presentations from artists and photographers.  The speakers were:

Hannah Starkey – Photographer Hannah Starkey – Wikipedia

hannah_starkey_may
Untitled (1997) Hannah Starkey

Hannah Starkey is a British photographer who specializes in staged settings of women in city environments. I found her talk the most interesting and inspiring because photography is something I would like to continue to study and develop into a career.

 

DSCF0007I had taken a photograph for my Media Studies that follows in Starkey’s style. Women going about their everyday lives

 

 

 

 

Rosalind Wyatt – calligraphy http://www.rosalindwyatt.com/

Artist that studied calligraphy and fused the two creative art forms together also uses textiles in her work to create compositions.

David Mach  – Sculptor http://www.davidmach.com/

'Out_Of_Order'_by_David_Mach_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1102588
“‘Out Of Order’ by David Mach – geograph.org.uk – 1102588” by Walter Koscielniak. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Sculptor that uses many man-made objects and creates interesting sculptures. One of his famous sculptures I like is a sculpture in Kingston upon Thames.  It is a series of telephone boxes that have fallen on to their sides like a set of dominoes.

 

 

Roz Hall – Digital artist (iPads and surface computers) http://www.rozhall.com/
Hall uses consumer tech, such as the iPad and Surface PCs to create fusion artworks using graphic packages and personal and social media.

The artists discussed their career paths from the early studies through higher education to professional artists.

All the artists talked about their work and the creative process.  Their inspirations, how they developed ideas.  The approach they take when trying to work on concepts and ideas, from the initial stages, working the ideas up and to producing final pieces of work.

They talked about being commissioned for pieces of work and developing pieces of art for sale.  They also discussed areas of special interest such as Starkey discussing the need to use consent forms when photographing the public that becomes part of a work.

The one thing all stated was you need determination and drive to try and be successful in building a career in art.