I have to admit that it feels a bit odd writing this particular post after the events in London of Saturday 3rd June. I’d been in my city centre only a short walk away from Borough Market a few hours earlier. I was on my way to visit The Photographers’ Gallery near to Oxford Street. It was a beautiful sunny day & the Southbank was busy as usual with both Londoners & tourists enjoying the friendly atmosphere.
I didn’t capture many photos on my walk en route to the gallery, but this one gives an idea of just nice it was.
After crossing the river on Hungerford Bridge, taking this photo, I stopped to eat my sandwich in the Victoria Embankment Gardens.
I then made my way through Villiers Street, past Trafalgar Square, through Leicester Square then Wardour Street & China Town before navigating the maze of Soho streets to get to Ramillies Place & The Photographers’ Gallery.
During my walk, I just observed people living their lives & just being part of this metropolis I’ve had the honour to call ‘home’ all my life. This is photo taken in 1981 of me on a school trip.
During my time living in this town since birth, I’ve never felt threatened or afraid, despite many attempts from groups or individuals trying (& failing) to do so. I hope that this will continue, not just for myself, but anyone who has the privilege to either visit or live here.
So, what of my visit to The Photographers’ Gallery? There were several works on display, but just three stood out for me.
Sophie Calle is a French conceptual artist who uses photography combined with text, video, film & performance. I’ve not heard of this artist previously & was pleasantly surprised to encounter her work. I really like the idea of bringing photography to life with text & physical context instead of just flat images pinned to a wall.
I especially liked the last one of these images. It’s also quite spooky in how I’ve caught my own reflection & those of the work on wall behind me. It almost adds another layer of meaning to the piece. The text, engraved on a brass plaque, reads:
Every time my mother passed by the Bristol Hotel, she stopped, crossed herself, and told us to shut up. “Silence” she said. “This is where I lost my virginity”.
Awoiska van der Molen
This photographer’s work certainly caught my eye. Van der Molen’s method of wandering alone absorbing the landscape resonates with my own time spent in Bushy Park. I really liked the large scale images & could almost feel the movement within the images.
The third & final work that made a strong impression was that of Roger Mayne. Again, not a photographer I’d heard of before, but his images of London & other areas during the latter part of the 20th century are wonderful.
The other aspect I like about this gallery is the space for comments left by visitors’. It’s nice being able to read other’s impressions of what you’ve also seen.
The trip was certainly worth it, with small slivers of inspiration that may or may not influence my own work.
As for my reaction to the events of that Saturday evening, it was almost a galvanizing moment with a combination of elements. Seeing my city at its Summer best. Witnessing, albeit on screen, London being scarred in an unthinkable way. Thoughts on how short life can be & to appreciate the moments to be able to say goodbye. Feeling how much London is part of me.
Tasks 1 & 3