Posts Tagged ‘exhibition’

Pick up a postcard

The RCA secret sale gets lots of publicity, largely because there is an outside chance of picking a an artwork by somebody vaguely famous. But it’s certainly not the only option if you are looking for distinctive postcard-sized pieces.

While the RCA event has finished, the inaugural Address Unknown is in full swing and is, in some ways, a better option. Unlike the RCA sale, which is limited to invited contributors and students, Address Unknown is a truly open international exhibition.

Anyone was free to submit up to three photographs they had taken in 2012. Sponsors Loxley Colour printed them for free, and then the postcards are exhibited and sold to raise funds for the PhotoVoice charity, which aims to help disadvantaged and marginalised communities represent themselves through photography.

The only requirement was that images were to be anonymous and photographers helped “Keep the Secret”. So postcards are viewed on their visual merits rather than as a product of a name. As the organisers. Melanie Gow and Gill Aspel said: “For a flat rate of £10 you will buy something because you like it, something that there will only be one of in this form.”

The physical exhibition is in Windsor, Berkshire. But if you can’t get to that all of the items can be browsed and bought online.
More than 70 cards have been sold since the exhibition opened this week. One of my entries, taken at the Olympics, was one of the first 10 to be purchased, so I’m allowed to tell you about it.

Olympic stadium

Two more of mine and another 500 others still remain, so there are still plenty of choices for you to pick up a unique card.

Strange Bedfellows

Do opposites attract? Or are they like chalk and cheese? And can things be the same but different? With Strange Bedfellows, just about every combination seems possible.

On one wall are the contrasts. Sebastian Rich’s “Homeless child Somalia” is paired with Nino Gehrig’s “Cooking 2008”. One child bordering on starvation, the other proudly displaying a cake made from a mountain of sugary sweets.

And George Kavanagh’s diver plunging perfectly into a pool hangs uneasily alongside Rich’s shot of a U.S. marine letting a hooded and restrained Iraqi prisoner of war drink from a jerry-can.

Food and water. Two essentials of life common to everyone. The haves and the have-nots. One of the great divides in the world. The problem is that the way the images are put together feels clichéd. Not so much strange bedfellows as obvious contrasts that are predictably poles apart.

While one side of the gallery explores suffering, the other could be seen as being more about sexuality. Here, Sue Golden’s curation of work from the London Photographic Association and Gallery 1839 is much more deft.

Now you start to see the bedfellows. Couplings that look like they are suited rather than being forced together to make a point. And the strangeness is more subtle.

Julie Cook’s “A.J. Men of Sapphire” could be a classic gay icon in his shorts and chaps. While Sukey Parnell’s “Johnny in Tu-tu” is equally fit and rippling, he looks somehow less sure of himself, perhaps bordering on shy of his physique.

Ginger Liu’s study of Fever Blister in her kitchen is beautifully brassy burlesque. Ilya van Marle’s “Dolly Twins 2008” is also deliciously domestic but considerably more coy. Now your eye is caught by the wigs and the iron and the almost matching girdles.

So one half of the exhibition is chalk and cheese. The other is same but different. But do all these oppositions attract? Not entirely, but there’s no denying that the strangeness does have some appeal.

Strange Bedfellows part 2 can be seen at The Assembly Rooms, 8 Silver Place, Soho, London W1F 0JU. The exhibition is open 10am-5pm Monday to Friday, November 3 to 19.

Julie Cook's "A.J. Men of Sapphire" and Sukey Parnell's "Johnny in Tu-tu" at The Assembly Rooms

Julie Cook’s “A.J. Men of Sapphire” and Sukey Parnell’s “Johnny in Tu-tu” at The Assembly Rooms

Pick and mix

I seem to be developing a bit of a sideline reviewing photography exhibitions. Here’s the latest one, written for

If you are in London this weekend and have an hour or two to spare then Jigsaw, a show by photography graduates from the University of the Creative Arts, is worth a quick look.

The exhibition is billed as representing “the finished puzzle of photography, people and individual pieces”. It’s certainly a puzzle, but more like a jigsaw where you are given of lots of random pieces in a box with no real clue as to what the finished item should look like.

Given the number of people being displayed that shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. Perhaps “Pick and Mix” would have been a better working title because providing you don’t expect the parts to make a coherent whole and you are prepared to dip in and out of varying styles then you should be able to find something to interest you.

On an individual level, the work is hugely varied. The only real complaint is that some if it feels a little too experimental. Either the concept is interesting but the execution doesn’t quite come off, or the technique is there but the idea seems a little lacking. Work in progress rather than the finished article perhaps?

But the show does have some undoubted stars. “Are You Looking For Business” by Richard Fleming is an excellent piece of reportage. He’s done an excellent job in recording the sex workers in his town and the pictures ooze with the feel the meaner streets of Medway.

At the other end of the spectrum, Jenne-Rose Gardiner’s “Genetic Instability” is light-hearted but an equally fine example of social documentary. Her uncle and grandfather strike a series of comic poses. The photos are deftly composed and without any suggestion of the subjects being self-conscious about what they were doing.

“Architectonic” by Steven Pocock is also worth more than a passing glance. He’s resisted the temptation to portray tower blocks and housing estates as grim and gritty places. The way they are printed makes his pictures feel cool and light, bordering on graphic art.

Jigsaw can be seen at the Rag Factory, 16 Heneage Street, London E1 5LJ. The exhibition is open from noon until 6pm, Friday June 11 to Sunday June 13.