Stone Hole

Photofusion, Brixton: 25 Sept – 5 Nov 2009

Stone Hole is a new collaborative exhibition of large digital photographs by Crispin Hughes and a time-lapse film by Susi Arnott, made in tidal sea-caves along the shoreline of North Cornwall. 

© 2009 Peter Marshall
Crispin and Susi at the opening

Crispin and me go back a long way, to a ‘Men’s Group’ he ran back in the Webbs Road days of the Photo-Coop, founded in 1984, and a short walk from Clapham Junction station. I’d forgotten until tonight that photo publisher Chris Boot, also at the opening, was also a member; it was a very long time ago.

© 2009 Peter Marshall

The Photo-Coop moved to more extensive premises in Brixton and became Photofusion, but it was a longer and more complex journey for me, and although I’ve kept in touch – and still contribute pictures to the Picture Library there, run by Liz Somerville – otherwise it perhaps became more peripheral to my own view of photography.

© 2009 Peter Marshall
Hi Liz!

But it was good to go back there yet again tonight and there were certainly a sprinkling of people I knew from the old days as well as some newer friends.

© 2009 Peter Marshall

Crispin’s previous show, ‘Unquiet Thames’ at the Museum of London in Docklands in 2006 was a stunning panoramic exploration of enclosed spaces under bridges, piers and tunnels on the Thames in London, and its large prints and soundtrack created an impressive environment in the gallery space.

Stone Hole develops from this, working in sea caves in North Cornwall with Susi Arnott. The metaphor that underlies this work is that of the eye, with several images that strongly suggest biological structures and diagrams of the eye, and the cave mouth as an aperture admitting light.

© 2009 Peter Marshall

Reading the notes when I arrive home I found that Hughes’s work was carried out at a time of various medical crises, including at one point the loss of sight in one eye.

© 2009 Peter Marshall

Susi Arnott‘s film using time-lapse images explores the dangers of the rising tide in these sea-caves to a degree that made me feel uncomfortable. If you too have had the experience of thinking that you are about to drown and looking up through the greenish blur of water you may share this. But it is an interesting work and complements the still images by Hughes.

© 2009 Peter Marshall

Though I’m seldom a fan of videos in art shows this does add to the the overall effect, though it was hard to appreciate the sound track (which I think is a vital element) above the hubbub  of the opening.

Also in the gallery display is some detailed information about the geology of the area that led to the incredible caves and rock formations, which I soon gave up trying to understand. If you have a particular interest in such matters there is an exhibition talk with geologist Dr Jon King on 10 Oct, while two other events involve a clinical psychologist and an architect.

The splendid large prints were made at Photofusion, are are certainly an excellent advert for the services of Richard their printer.

One rather nice small touch at the opening were the several dishes of small pebbles – just like many of those in the photographs – around the gallery. Except that unlike those in the image, much to my surprise, these turned out to be chocolate.

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