Posts Tagged ‘exhibition’

The New York School

Saturday, October 10th, 2020

Another exhibition I would like to be able to see opened in Montpellier on 7th October (until 10th Jan 2021), at the Pavillon Populaire, the Espace d’art photographique de la Ville de Montpellier, a venue whose very existence screams a very different regard for photography (and culture in general) in France compared to the UK. I’ve never been to Montpellier, a large city on the Mediterranean coast with a long history and considerable historic remains, but it would certainly seem worth an extended visit in other times.

The show, featured in The Eye of Photography, is The New York School Show. New York School Photographers, 1935-1965, “presenting, for the first time in Europe, a project specifically dedicated to this movement considered to be a true visual revolution” and the ‘Eye’ features an introduction by Howard Greenberg, Exhibition Curator and Director of the Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York, which you can also read in French on the Pavillon Populaire web site (a section of the municipal web site). From there you can download the exhibition booklet in English (or French) which contains, after an introduction by the Mayor a longer text by Gilles Mora, former artistic director of the the Rencontres d’Arles and since 2010 exhibition curator of the Pavillon Populaire and biographies of the 22 photographers included in the show. It’s an interesting selection including both very well-known figures and just a few previously not known to me – I think I have written at least a little about 18 or 19 of them.

Although Jane Livingston coined the name ‘New York Photographic School’ in her 1992 book (The New York School: Photographs, 1936-1963), when I was writing ten years later about the Photo League it was still not widely known, and I received considerably email from people about the articles, including from a number of photographers who had been involved, some of whom I had as yet failed to mention, but mainly from those previously unaware of the huge body of work from this era. I republished one of 2001 articles on the Photo League in general on this site in 2015.

Livingston included in her book The photographers included in the publication were Sid Grossman, Alexey Brodovitch, Lisette Model, Helen Levitt, Robert Frank, Louis Faurer, William Klein, Weegee, Ted Croner, Saul Leiter, Leon Levinstein , David Vestal, Bruce Davidson, Don Donaghy, Diane Arbus, and Richard Avedon, with shows based on her work adding Roy DeCarava and Ed Feingersh; 13 of them appear in the Montpellier show.

Many of them were of course included in the wider show  ‘American Images – Photography 1945 – 1980‘ at the Barbican in 1985, thanks largely to the personal knowledge of New York photography by one of the three curators of that show, John Benton-Harris, born in the Bronx and had became an active part of New York’s photographic culture before coming the the UK after serving in the US Army as a photographer in 1965. Although not dedicated the ‘New York School’ it introduced many of us to some of the main figures in it, and the catalogue, ISBN 9780140079883, available secondhand for under a tenner, remains worth buying.

April 1987 – Around Paddington

Monday, August 17th, 2020
Junk Shop, Lisson Grove, Westminster, 1987 87-4b-62-positive_2400
Junk Shop, Lisson Grove, Westminster, 1987 87-4b-62-positive_2400

Recycling is nothing new and we did a lot of it in the past, with many larger household items being re-sold in particular after house clearances in shops such as this. Of course it still goes on today, particularly in the poorer areas of large cities, but much more modern stuff is built to self-destruct after a relatively short lifetime. We now also have car-boot sales and charity shops that hardly existed back then, though we have more or less lost the jumble sales which used to be a big fund-raiser.

Broadley St Gardens, Ranston St, Lisson Grove, Westminster, 1987 87-4b-65-positive_2400
Broadley St Gardens, Ranston St, Lisson Grove, Westminster, 1987

The formal qualities of this view amused me – the apparently pointless circular raised area in the foreground set against the resolutely rectangular and square repetitions of the housing in the top half of the image. And between the two a kind of transitional phase with the arched doors a rectangle with a curve emerging at the top. The fence along the side of the road seems to link the brick wall below with the row of buildings behind and gives a kind of spatial dissonance which interested me. In photography we are almost always dealing with the two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional space.

Henry & Farthing,Bell St, Lisson Grove, Westminster, 1987 87-4c-32-positive_2400
Henry & Farthing,Bell St, Lisson Grove, Westminster, 1987

You can still find this cubic building should you walk along Bell Street in Lisson Grove, though Henry & Farthing Ltd are long gone, and their entrance at the right is now fenced off. It and the shop to its left are now one of several spaces in the area which make up the Lisson Gallery, a leading gallery specialising in British and Contemporary art.

According to Grace’s Guide to British Industrial History, Henry & Farthing were ” Manufacturers of: “Ternex” Brand Quality Precision Woodwork and Joinery; Reproduction Mantels and Panelling; Painted Small Piece Furniture; Table Woodware. Old Rooms Reconstructed. Precision Woodware Machine Turned and Fabricated. Joinery, Staircases, Built-in Fitments, Custom Built and Fixed.” The company is now dissolved., but there is a company Ternex Ltd still making similar products in Hertfordshire.

Orchardson St, Edgware Rd, Lisson Grove, Westminster, 1987

This view from Ochardson St across the Edgware Rd is dominated by the 20 storey Parsons House on the Hall Park Estate in Paddington Green. The 56m high tower which contains 120 flats was built in 1969 using a concrete panel system which provided poor insulation. In 1984 the windows were in danger of falling out and were replaced, and the outside clad with a non flammable Rockwool insulation behind powder coated aluminium panels. The bright red ‘fascinator’ on the top of the building is a  maintenance cradle rail which was also added, along with other improvements. Fortunately Westminster used reputable architects for the refurbishment.

Rotunda, Harrow Road, Paddington, Westminster, 1987 87-4a-15-positive_2400
Rotunda, Harrow Road, Paddington, Westminster, 1987

The Rotunda is still there next to the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union. Designed by Paul Hamilton it was built as a maintenance depot for British Rail’s road vehicles in 1968-9 and is Grade II listed. It was renovated around 20 years ago and opened as Nissan Design Europe in 2003.

Harrow Road, Paddington, Westminster, 1987 87-4a-14-2-positive_2400
Exhibition, Harrow Road, Paddington, Westminster, 1987

And finally, a small mystery. Though the location of these images just off the Harrow Road close to the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal and the Westway is clear, with the ‘Battleship Building’, like the Rotunda designed by Paul Hamilton for British Rail and built in 1968-9, inning the Concrete Award in 1969. Again like the Rotunda it became very dilapidated in the 1990s (raves didn’t help) and was refurbished in 2000.

But I can no longer remember what the ‘Exhibition’ was about, though I think as the text on the image suggests it was for one weekend only. It may have been connected with the Notting Hill Carnival, as the ‘Carnival Party’ was here, I think in 1986. I have a vague (but very vague) recollection of having been to something here, perhaps the exhibition advertised, but more likely in later years, mainly to look inside the building, but if so I don’t appear to have taken any pictures.

Exhibition, Harrow Road, Paddington, Westminster, 1987
Exhibition, Harrow Road, Paddington, Westminster, 1987

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

Regents Canal 200

Friday, February 14th, 2020

If you are in London next month you are invited to the private view of the exhibition ‘2020 Vision – Vistas and Views’ at The Street Gallery, University College Hospital, 235 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BU. The gallery is along an area at the front of the hospital – turn right immediately you go through the main entrance – and will be on show until 22nd April 2020.

As well as paintings by Hilary Rosen the show includes a dozen pictures from a project I’ve been working on when I’ve had time over the past year, ‘Regents Canal 200‘.

The Regent’s Canal, which runs from Little Venice on the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal to Limehouse Dock was completed and opened in 1820, 200 years ago this year. There are other, more official, celebrations later in the year but I began this project in complete ignorance of these.

I’ve photographed the Regent’s Canal occasionally over the years since the late 1970s, and have hundreds or probably thousands of pictures from it, both in black and white and colour. But since space is limited in the gallery I will only be showing a small selection of the several hundred colour panoramas I’ve made over the past year.

Please RSVP to Laura Bradshaw – 020 3447 7146 – though you will be welcome anyway, and Hilary and I will be pleased to see you there. If you want to print out a copy of the invitation you can open it as a PDF.

Secret Rivers

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

Just opened at the Museum of London Docklands is the exhibition Secret Rivers, which is worth going to see if you are around – and is free. Not all of the rivers featured are secret – they include the Thames and the Lea – but they are all of interest. As well as videos and maps and pictures including a few photographs there are also objects found in the rivers on display.

I’ll leave more general comments about the show to the reviews listed at the bottom of this post, but say a little more about my own minor contribution, the picture above of the DLR being built across the not very secret Bow Creek which I made in morning fog back in 1992. It was one of around a dozen images of the DLR extension shown as part of a group show on Transport at the Museum of London later that year.

I’d left home early on a Sunday morning in mid-January as a fine morning with clear sky was dawning, catching the first early morning train to Richmond then the North London Link to Canning Town. As we approached the destination I was disappointed to find everywhere was shrouded in mist; had I known I would have stayed in bed at home!

I’d recently bought what was then the most expensive camera I’d ever owned, a new Japanese Widelux 35mm model, a rotating swing lens camera, which had cost me around £2000 (equivalent to around £7000 today allowing for inflation) and had decided this was an ideal project to make use of its unique characteristics.

I was pretty fed up with the mist, as I wanted nice clear pictures, and it was also much colder than I’d anticipated in the mist, but as I’d spent a couple of hours travelling to the location I decided to take some pictures, and stuck at it for an hour or two, making around 40 exposures – roughly two films. The camera gave around 21 exposures on a normal 36x 35mm casette with negatives the same width as those made with a 6×6 camera but only 24mm tall.

It was a slow job, as the camera had to be carefully levelled on a tripod for each picture, otherwise the horizon would appear curved. The viewfinder was imprecise, and I soon learnt it was better to rely on the two arrows on the top plate which indicated the field of view to visualise the result.

The camera used no batteries, but was clockwork and entirely manual. Winding on the film also wound the shutter and rotated the lens, held in a vertical cylinder in front of the curved film behind, to its starting point. On pressing the shutter release, a slit behind the lens opened to epose the film as the lens rotated around a roughly 130 degree arc. I think the shutter speed was probably 1/125 s, based on the exposure of any point on the film, but it took perhaps 1/30th for the slit to travel across the film as the lens rotated.

I calculated the exposure using a separate hand-held meter, a Weston Master V, which could make relected light readings as in-camera meters do or, with the aid of a curiously shaped lump of translucent plastic, it could measure the light falling on your subject, almost certainly what I used for these pictures in the fog. The Weston meters used a selenium photo cell around two inches in diameter, which generated enough electricity to power the meter, and again needed no battery.

I’d walked from Canning Town down the Silvertown Way and over the Lower Lea Crossing to where the DLR crossed the creek. The mist I think was rather thicker than it looks in the picture, and I could hardly see Pura Foods. I took a few more pictures then my way back via the East India Dock Road to Canning Town cold and disappointed. It seemed to me to have been a wasted day – and I came back a week later to retake the images in clear daylight.

Once I’d developed and printed the films a couple of weeks later, I realised that although for most of what I’d taken the mist really spoiled the pictures, this image, with the viaduct disappearing into the distance was rather special. It remains one of my most widely published and exhibited works, but is the only one from that foggy day day that appears on my River Lea website.

More about the Secret Rivers show at:
London Live (video)
The Guardian
Evening Standard

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My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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