Still Occupied

I’ve just started work on scanning another of my early projects, really the first organised and extensive work I produced, on the urban development of Hull , or, to give its proper title, Kingston upon Hull.

© 1983, Peter Marshall
Cafe, Hessle Road

I just walked into the city art gallery there one day with a small packet of prints and asked to see one of the curators. She obviously wasn’t expecting anything like I’d brought, took a brief look and then asked me to come back with more work at a later date. I think it’s still true that outside of London people are much more open and prepared to look at new work, and that was certainly the case in Hull at that time.

The prints I had made were quite small – around 5×7 inches, very sharp and printed rather intensely using Agfa Record Rapid – my favourite printing paper and something of a legend. I’d started using Agfa Portriga – a warm tone paper – a few years earlier, because it was being sold off cheaply after Agfa had stopped importing their black and white papers in the the UK and had been impressed. Then somehow – perhaps a note in a magazine or by word of mouth – that Peter Goldfield had set up a small company called Goldfinger to import another and even better Agfa paper, the more neutral Record Rapid, into the UK.

Muswell Hill was somewhere in London and I was soon catching a train and the underground and then walking up the long hill from Highgate tube station only to find that the address I had was a chemist’s shop rather than a photo store. Evemtually I decided to go in and ask, having come so far, and was told that I had indeed come to the right place and was taken to a door around the side of the shop where stairs led to a photographic Alladdin’s cave.

In there I met two fellow enthusiasts, Peter Goldfield and Martin Read, both of whom I got to know over many visits. Peter who was my age and I was to get to know better through workshops – at first when he gave me a lift up to  the Photographers Place in Bradbourne to see Lewis Baltz and later at the workshops that he set up and ran at Duckspool – sadly died last year. Martin had long continued the photographic business on his own as Silverprint – it celebrated 25 years in 2009 – a short walk from Waterloo station south of the river. It’s still the place to get the best of materials for black and white photography though it now also offers a wider range of products and services. And from the web site you can still download a pdf of the original ‘Goldfinger Craftbook‘ which when published in 1978 became the second essential piece of reading for any photographer wanting to produce fine prints (the first was of course the Ansel Adams Basic Photo volume, ‘The Print.’)

© Peter Marshall 1979
Pulman Street War Memorial, Hull

The show ‘Still OccupiedA View of Hull‘ took up the whole of the top floor of the gallery in 1983. I’d originally intended to show around 80 black and white prints, but by the time it came to hang, the number had grown rather and I’d also added some colour work, and I think the final total was just under 150.

This year’s show will be rather smaller, as I’m limited to an 8 foot by 4 foot panel. In the original show the 7×5″ prints were arranged in groups of 2 or 4, and were mounted behind specially cut window mats. This time I’m thinking of using a similar layout but simply printing the 2 or 4 images onto the same sheet of inkjet paper and showing them unmatted.

Although the show won’t have so many pictures, I’m also hoping to make another Blurb book, which may well contain thumbnails of most or all of them with a smaller and tighter edit of full page images. But I’ll also be making a slightly different selection the second time round and the picture above is an example. In the original show I used a vertical image which included the doorway and the war memorial to its left, and also the whole of the window above. Now I think the car with its broken headlamp and the shop window with its boxes of ‘Tide’ and other detergents has a stronger message.

There are a few more pictures from this project on the Urban Landscapes web site.

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