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Exhibition Review – Only Human: Martin Parr at the National Portrait Gallery from 7 March to 27 May 2019

The National Portrait Gallery presents a new exhibition entitled Only Human: Martin Parr which features works by one of Britain’s best-known and acclaimed photographers.

The exhibition brings together some of Parr’s best known photographs with new work by Parr never exhibited before. The exhibition examines national identity, both in the UK and abroad with a special focus on Parr’s well known observations of Britishness.

Parr made his reputation as a photographer in the 1980s, exploring the world of leisure activities. Parr carries on this theme with photographs of trips to the beach, tennis tournaments and a day at the races. It is these places where the public and private meet and where people can play with their identities, dressing up in a variety of ways. Another popular theme for Parr is dancing, the photographer documents people dancing across the globe.

Although best known for his portraits of ordinary people, Parr has photographed celebrities throughout his career. The exhibition features a selection of portraits of personalities often in unusual settings, most of which have never been exhibited before, including Vivienne Westwood, Paul Smith, Tracey Emin, Grayson Perry and Pelé.

A lesser known aspect of Parr’s work is his self-portraits, for over thirty years, Parr has visited studio photographers, street photographers and photo booths across the globe to have his portrait taken. The section entitled Autoportraits explores portraiture and portrait photography with a wide range of serious and humorous settings employed by professional portraitists.

Parr’s Photo Escultura is a group of shrine-like carved photo-sculptures commissioned from the last remaining traditional maker of this type of work in Mexico City.

The exhibition features a section of the British Abroad and Parr’s well known study of the British ‘Establishment’ including recent photographs taken at Christ’s Hospital school in Sussex, Oxford and Cambridge Universities and the City of London, revealing the eccentricities and ceremonies of elites in British life.

In the final room, new and previously unseen photographs reveals Parr’s documenting the social climate in the aftermath of the EU referendum.

The exhibition also includes a pop up ‘caff’ and shop which has lots of ‘paraphernalia’ developed from Parr’s photography.

This fascinating and entertaining exhibition provides plenty of evidence that the ‘British identity’ is often an ‘illusion’ produced for public display. In a public arena, people often dress up in a way that illustrates their ‘Britishness’. But how representative is this show of patriotic fervour ? Images like those in the exhibition seem to perpetuate and challenge stereotypes in equal measure. Underlying the humour of Parr’s work, there is serious questions of how ‘identity’ is forged by the individual and wider society.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information, visit the National Portrait Gallery website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide.com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in 2014 , we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

Exhibition Review – Strange and Familiar: Britain as Revealed by International Photographers, Curated by Martin Parr at the Barbican Art Gallery from 16th March to 19th June 2016

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Tina Barney, Frank Habicht, Raymond Depardon, Bruce Gilden, Jim Dow, Martin Parr, Hans Eijkelboom.

The Barbican Art Gallery unveiled their new exhibition entitled Strange and Familiar: Britain as Revealed by International Photographers. The exhibition curated by the acclaimed British photographer Martin Parr explores how international photographers from the 1930s onwards have captured the social, cultural, and political identity of the UK . The photographs ranging from social documentary and street photography, to portraiture and architectural photography were taken by some of the great names of 20th and 21st century photography including Tina Barney (USA), Gian Butturini (Italy), Henri Cartier-Bresson (France), Bruce Davidson (USA), Raymond Depardon (France), Rineke Dijkstra (The Netherlands), Jim Dow (USA), Hans Eijkelboom (The Netherlands), Robert Frank (Switzerland), Bruce Gilden (USA), Frank Habicht (Germany), Candida Höfer (Germany), Evelyn Hofer (Germany), Axel Hütte (Germany), Sergio Larrain (Chile), Shinro Ohtake (Japan), Akihiko Okamura (Japan), Cas Oorthuys (The Netherlands), Gilles Peress (France), Paul Strand (USA), Edith Tudor-Hart (Austria), Hans van der Meer (The Netherlands) and Garry Winogrand (USA).

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Martin Parr

Walking around the exhibition, it is noticeable that each of the 23 photographers may record different characteristics of life around Britain in their own distinctive style, however certain themes from the various periods do stand out. The contrast between the rich and the poor is a popular starting point, Starting in the mid-1930s with Edith Tudor-Hart’s images of London’s East End, Cas Oorthuys street landscapes in the 1950s and  Bruce Davidson’s work in England and Scotland in 1960s show Britain undergoing considerable social, cultural and economic change.

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This change is illustrated by the many locations visited by the photographers, Paul Strand ’s images feature the lives and landscape of the Outer Hebrides in the mid-1950s, Robert Frank visited the coal mining towns of South Wales in the early 1950s and Raymond Depardon’s  photographs of Glasgow capture a period of industrial decline in the 1980s.

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Not surprisingly, London was a popular location to visit with Sergio Larrain capturing the fast-moving metropolis in the 1950s, whilst Gian Butturini and Frank Habicht show the cultural revolution of the Swinging Sixties.

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Frank Habicht

The troubles in Northern Ireland were documented by Japanese photojournalist Akihiko Okamura who tried to look at the communities dealing with the violence and Gilles Peress who travelled to Northern Ireland nearly every year for two decades to document the conflict.

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Tina Barney

Portraiture is explored by Evelyn Hofer with her humorous portraits from 1962 of tradespeople in London, Tina Barney’s portraits of the British upper classes provide a remarkable contrast to Bruce Gilden’s portraits of the working class.

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Alongside the works exhibited, an extensive photobook section brings together an array of rare, new and out-of-print publications by international photographers from the 1930s to the present.

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Martin Parr suggests : The exhibition will reveal a very different take on British life than that produced by British photographers. It is both familiar and strange at the same time.” Looking at the photographs from the 1930s up to the 1980s, it quickly becomes apparent that this was a very different Britain that was more clearly polarised along class lines and still trying to shake off the legacy of empire. In many ways, the exhibition is a reminder of the remarkable changes in Britain in the last 30 years, many of the images were recording  ways of life that were to quickly disappear in the decades ahead.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

Opening hours: Saturday to Wednesday, 10am – 6pm, Thursday & Friday, 10am – 9pm, Bank Holidays: 12 noon – 6pm.

Tickets: Standard £12.00. Concessions: £10. Students 1-17: £8. Young Barbican: £5.  Art Fund Members: £8.  Membership: Unlimited free entry.

For more information and book tickets, visit the Barbican website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014 , we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

Strange and Familiar: Britain as Revealed by International Photographers, Curated by Martin Parr at the Barbican Art Gallery – 16th March to 19th June 2016

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Edith Tudor-Hart, Self-Portrait with Unknown Man, Caledonian Market, London ca. 1931-35 © Edith Tudor-Hart / National Galleries of Scotland

 Above:  photograph by Edith Tudor Hart an Austrian-British Jewish photographer who trained in photography at Walter Gropius’s Bauhaus in Dessau.

The exhibition will reveal a very different take on British life than that produced by British photographers. It is both familiar and strange at the same time”, says Martin Parr.

Curated by Martin Parr (President of Magnum), 14 years after his hugely successful retrospective at the Barbican in 2002, the exhibition considers how twenty-three international photographers in 500 images, and over 100 photobooks from the 1930s to present day have captured the social, cultural, political and topographical identity of the UK. The earliest print is by Edith Tudor-Hart (Self-Portrait with Unknown Man, Caledonian Market, London c. 1931-35),  and the most recent is by Hans Eijkelboom (The Street & Modern Life 2014).

1. Strange and Familiar. Cartier-Bresson

IMAGE/Henri Cartier-Bresson, Coronation of King George VI, Trafalgar Square, London, 12 May 1937 © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

Above : photograph by Henri Cartier-Bresson the French humanist photographer considered the master of candid photography, and an early user of 35 mm film, publisher of “The Decisive Moment”, “Images à la Suave”, republished after 62 years by Steidl in 2014.

The exhibition is the largest and most comprehensive survey of its kind to be held in the UK. Presenting social documentary, and street photography, to portraiture, and architectural it chronicles life in London’s East End from mid-1930s and slum housing of Tyneside, child poverty, unemployment and homelessness that marked the interwar years as the nation emerged from the Second World War and key moments in the country’s history from London to the Hebrides.

For many of the foreign photographers, such as the Swiss-American photographer Robert Frank, an outsider’s view provided an ideal platform to produce a body of new seminal work that enabled socio-documentary exploration of social clichés and cultural stereotypes , not just black and white but in colour, offering insight of how Britain was divided along class lines, the city and working class polarised by wealth and poverty in a style, and gravitas, previously unencountered by a British audience.

The exhibition includes 20th century photographers, such as Henri Cartier-Bresson (France), cited as “l’œil du siècle”, who founded the Magnum photographic agency with Robert Capa and David Seymour (known as Chim) in 1947. Also, Candida Höfer (Germany) and Axel Hütte (Germany), Sergio Larrain (Chile) and Hans van der Meer (The Netherlands), and Paul Strand (America), who moved to Europe in the 1950s, and believed that photography could be a force of change, all of whose collective works unseen portrait of Britain revealing originality of vision, and an unmistakably powerful, erudite, gritty and dramatically unapologetic slice of life.

Reflective of Parr’s curiosity and fascination of people, British culture, and knowledge of international photography, the works reference to the different characteristics of regional life around Britain and frequently reference to the development of Parr’s own contextual development, engaging the viewer, on several levels and oeuvres from the mid-thirties to 2014.

2. Strange and Familiar. Tina Barney

IMAGE/Tina Barney ,The Red Sheath, 2001 © Tina Barney, Courtesy of Paul Kasmin Gallery

Tina Barney (b.1945) is an American photographer best known for her large-scale, densely layered tableau color portraits of her family and close friends, many of whom are well-to-do citizens of New York and New England featured in her book “Theatre of Manners” (1997), and a member of the Lehman family.

Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004) visited Britain on numerous occasions. He captured the celebratory spirit at the Coronation of King George VI in 1937 and documented St Anne’s wedding in 1973 and the street parties of Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee in 1977.

The new postwar aspirational consumerism and hardship is represented in the work of Cas Oorthuys (1908-1975), a Netherlandish photographer who started his career as a communist labourer photographer and began working as a press photographer for the social democratic weekly Wij (“We”) in 1936.

9. Strange and Familiar. Cas Oorthuys

IMAGE/Cas Oorthuys, London, 1953  © Cas Oorthuys / Nederlands Fotomuseum

Oorthuys, trained as an architect and formerly worked for the Dutch Social Democratic Workers’ Press. He was also known for his clandestine photographs taken during the German occupation. He was also involved in Camera (the hidden Camera), a group of 30 photographers whose aim was to photograph the liberation of the Netherlands but because of increasing German terror,  hunger and starvation, and resistance of the Amsterdam people, he (the group) photographed dead bodies laid out next to the Zuiderkerk. His photographs of suffering and death were smuggled to England to convince the Allies to drop food supplies into the country. His later approach to photography was seen as commerical,  representative the principles associated with the “New Objectivity”, cited in David Chandler’s catalogue as: “that photography was to be a documentary product, not a form of artistic self-expression, and that a picture only gained value once reproduced”. Stylistically, his work was associated with stylistic imaging making in the style of Albert Renger-Patzsch and László Moholy-Nagy.

10. Strange and Familiar. Cas Oorthuys

IMAGE/Cas Oorthuys, London, 1953 © Cas Oorthuys / Nederlands Fotomuseum

Sergio Larrain’s (1931-2012), who visited London in 1958 with the courtesy of  a British Council grant, depicts London in the late 1950s as a city that was undergoing dramatic change in the post-war era. His images were taken through unusual vantage points and blurring of image that capture the vibrant dynamism of the city. Larrain who worked for Magnum during the 60s is considered one of the most important photographers in Chilean history.  His work being described in the exhibition catalogue as “elegant poems rather than descriptive journalism: full of chiaroscuro”.

GB. ENGLAND. London. Baker Street underground station. 1958-1959.

IMAGE/Sergio Larrain,London. Baker Street underground station. 1958-1959. © Sergio Larrain / Magnum Photo

Above : photography by Sergio Larraín Echeñique who was a Chilean photographer who worked for Magnum during the 1960’s.

For many of the international photographers, Britain was a foreign country in which they were perceived as foreigners, which prompted a new approach to image making and their positioning as European and international cosmopolitan outsiders effectively enabled them an ideal platform to view the country in an original, perceptive and vibrant way, in a radical and original way previously not seen before.

Other photographic departures  in the UK included Bruce Davidson (b.1933), the Magnum photographer to shoot not in black and white but in colour, as ‘colour could articulate the grim reality in a way that black and white might not.’ – all new and revelatory to the relatively limited UK photographic scene.

Exploration of 60s Britain can be seen in work by Garry Winogrand, the street photographer from the Bronx, New York (1928-1984), who came to the UK in 1967 after his breakthrough show at MoMA. Winograd is known for his portrayal of American life, and travels throughout Britain.

Candida Höfer (b.1944) is a Cologne, Germany-based photographer who in 1968 during the ‘Swinging Sixties’ went in search of the poets, musicians, clubs and pubs of Liverpool’s cultural Scene.

Examples of new editorial agenda’s included  “The Sunday Times” (1980) commissioned the French Magnum photographer, photojournalist and documentary filmmaker Raymond  Depardon (b.1942), (known for his reportage of Asia and Africa) to shoot photographs of Glasgow considered too shocking to publish.  As Depardon commented, ’ Glasgow felt totally at odds with my photography’.

According to Martin Parr’s catalogue essay, “Robert Frank, the esteemed Swiss-American photographer, who in 1958 published the landmark photobook The Americans, travelled through Britain between 1951 and 1953. Starting in the City of London documenting the office workers and the city, “he took himself off to the valleys of South Wales, and created a poignant body of work around a miner called Ben James and his family who hailed from Caerau and worked in the local pit”.

Whilst British photographers, such as Terence Donovan, Norman Parkinson and Brian Duffy, “turned their lens on the fashion, celebrities and music of the period, they did not venture out into the street to document the cataclysmic changes that were taking place”.

Examples included the Dutch urban landscape photographer Hans van der Meer  (b.1955) explored the rural locations of lower league football across the UK showing the landscape in a way that had not been previously documented and the Italian Gian Butturini and German Frank Habicht created powerful bodies of work around the Swinging Sixties.

11. Strange and Familiar. Hans van der Meer

IMAGE/Hans van der Meer, Mytholmroyd, England, 2004 © Hans van der Meer / Courtesy of the Artist

Akihito Okamura (1929-1985) who travelled to Ireland following his expulsion from Japan, and made his first made his debut as a photo journalist with a nine page spread in “Life” magazine covering the Vietnam war. Hailed as “the successor to Capa”,  the horrors of his images of Vietnam which were subsequently published in a book entitled This is War in Vietnam (1965). Okarmura moved to Dublin in 1968 with his family to cover Northern Ireland Troubles. His raw documentary images show the factional political and societal schisms against the backdrop of displacement and disembodiment of culture, society and formation of identity of children growing up in an isolated  polarised urban world of violence, decline of religion and traditional community.

5. Strange and Familiar. Akihiko Okamura

IMAGE/Akihiko Okamura,Northern Ireland, 1970s © Akihiko Okamura / Courtesy of the Estate of Akihiko Okamura, Hakodate, Japan

“Strange and Familiar: Britain as Revealed by International Photographers Curated by Martin Parr” runs parallel with “Unseen City: Photos by Martin Parr” at the Guildhall Art Gallery, 4 Mar–31 Jul 2016 where Parr has been City of London photographer-in-residence since 2013. The Hepworth Wakefield  also host an important major exhibition of over 400 photographs by Parr in “The Rhubarb Triangle and other Stories : Photographs by Martin Parr”, 4 February-12 June 2016.

Information: Barbican Art Gallery, London. 0845 120 7550 Opening hours: Saturday to Wednesday, 10am – 6pm, Thursday & Friday, 10am – 9pm, Bank Holidays: 1, 2noon – 6pm.

Tickets: Standard £12.00. Concessions: £10. Students 1-17: £8. Young Barbican: £5.  Art Fund Members: £8.  Membership: Unlimited free entry.

A series of talks, events, including an artist in conversation, and a Magnum masterclass with Brian Gilden will be run in conjunction with the exhibition.  A catalogue of the exhibition with essay by Martin Parr is available at £35.

Contributor : Pippa Jane Wielgos

For more information and book tickets, visit the Barbican website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014 , we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

 

Unseen City : Photos by Martin Parr at the Guildhall Art Gallery – 4th March to 31st July 2016

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Lord Mayor’s Show, Guildhall, City of London, 2013. © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos

Speaking to a packed audience at The Hepworth Wakefield last week at the ‘in conversation with Anne McNeill, Director of Impressions Gallery at his major exhibition of 400 works, “The Rhubarb Triangle and other Stories : Photographs by Martin Parr”, Parr, in jest remarked that being from Surrey partly explained his critique on taking photographs.

Parr also said that he felt guilty about the fact that he had done so well during the government of 80’s Britain for  much of his work he is known but added that the intent of his social documentary photography was and is equally as “questionable” and polemical in intent and subject matter as that of photojournalists who photograph hard-hitting humanitarian subjects.

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Lord Mayor’s Show, Guildhall, City of London, 2014. © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos

The connoisseurship of Parr’s critical acclaim and photographic credentials as a world-leading photographer and President of Magnum can be seen at three major venues. “Unseen City : Photos by Martin Parr” at the Guildhall Art Gallery (London), which is one of three major exhibitions of Parr’s work in the UK this year is a culmination of Parr’s two-year photographer-in-residence at the City of London Corporation (COLC), where he was commissioned to photograph a ‘behind-the-scenes’ view of the City of London across three mayoralties.

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Cart Making, Guildhall, City of London, 2015. © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos

Featuring 120 photographs, (20 of which have been acquired by the Guildhall Art Gallery for the contemporary permanent collection), it represents Parr’s atypical witty and questionable take on British institutional life. Showing a ‘behind the scenes’ view of  livery companies, ritual, tradition and high-profile occasions and open democracy where guests have included Her Majesty the Queen, Lord Mayors and city dignitaries the works portray the character, traditions, and people who make up the City to which Parr delivers a contemporary perspective of British institutional life in idiosyncratic style, posing questions on institutional life, open democracy and the nature of British identity with wit, brilliance, humour and laconic surprise.

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Silent Ceremony, swearing-in of new Lord Mayor, Fiona Woolf, Guildhall, City of London, 2013. © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos

“Unseen City : Photos by Martin Parr”, Guildhall Art Gallery of London, (4 March – 31 July 2016) will run parallel with “Strange and Familiar : Britain as Revealed by International Photographers” curated by Martin Parr Barbican Art Gallery, Barbican Centre, (16 March-19 June 2016). “The Rhubarb Triangle and other Stories : Photographs by Martin Parr”, The Hepworth Wakefield, (4 February-12 June 2016).

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Lord Mayor’s Show, City of London, 2013. © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos

An Artist’s Platform : A Q&A with Martin Parr will be held on 26 April 2016 between 6-8 pm and lunchtime curator’s talks will be held one Thursday per month at 1 pm on the 10 March, 7 April, 5 May, 2 June, 7 July 2016.

Opening Times: MondaySaturday, 10 am – 5 pm and Sunday, 12 noon – 4 pm. Admission: £5.00 (concessions available).

Contributor : Pippa Jane Wielgos

For more information and book tickets, visit the City of London website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January 2014 , we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

 

Exhibition Review : Magnificent Obsessions, The Artist as Collector at the Barbican – 12 Feb to 25 May 2015

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Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector at the Barbican  is the first major exhibition in the UK to present the fascinating personal collections of post-war and contemporary artists.  The wide range of   memorabilia and  collectibles include mass produced items to one-of-a-kind curiosities. The exhibition explores how these collections provide insight into the inspirations, influences, motives and obsessions of artists.

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The  participating artists  and their collections include: African art and samurai armour owned by Arman; examples of British vernacular culture from Peter Blake; the eclectic contents of two rooms from Hanne Darboven’s family home in Hamburg; Edmund de Waal’s Japanese netsuke; Damien Hirst’s skulls, taxidermy and medical models; Indian paintings from Howard Hodgkin; Dr. Lakra’s record covers and scrapbooks, Sol LeWitt’s Japanese prints, modernist photographs and music scores; 20th century British postcards and Soviet space dog memorabilia from Martin Parr; Jim Shaw’s thrift store paintings; Hiroshi Sugimoto’s 18th century French and Japanese anatomical prints and books; Andy Warhol’s cookie jars; more than 1,000 scarves and other textiles by the American designer Vera Neumann from Pae White; and a collection of thousands of objects assembled by Martin Wong and subsequently acquired by Danh Vo.

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The collections are installed in  separate spaces within the gallery which allow each collection to be considered on its own merits without competing distractions. The importance of this approach is obvious when you consider the eclectic collections of Hanne Darboven, Peter Blake and the thousands of objects assembled by Martin Wong .

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Other collections are more self contained and reflect specific interests notably Edmund de Waal’s Japanese netsuke, Damien Hirst’s skulls and taxidermy , Pae White’s textiles and Arman’s African art and samurai armour.

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Often there is a direct connection  with the artists work, however there is also evidence of a personal interest in a particular subject with no obvious connections to their work.

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Many people can relate to collecting and many take great pride with showing off their collection, this is probably the case for some of the artists, others no doubt use the collections as inspiration or props in their work and then put them away in a cupboard.

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It is the connection between particular objects and the artist that is at the centre of this exhibition and intriguing for the viewer to try to understand some of these connections.

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The exhibition is rather a strange  and surreal experience  with stuffed animals, skulls, scarves and Samurai armour all vying for your attention. It is quite fascinating to explore the collections in their own right, they cover some intriguing subject matters and most people would find something of interest.

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If the exhibition itself is a rather bizarre experience, some of the events planned to coincide are equally unusual. Alongside the usual talks by some of the artists, there is a Mouse taxidermy workshop with Margot Magpie. No experience is necessary !

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

 If you would like more information or buy tickets , visit the Barbican website here

 London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January, we attract thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
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Exhibition Review: Drawn by Light (The Royal Photographic Society Collection) at the Science Museum – 2 December 2014 to 1 March 2015

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The Science Museum presents a history of photography with their Drawn by Light: The Royal Photographic Society Collection exhibition, it includes over 200 iconic images from the last 160 years of photographic art.

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In 1858, the Royal Photographic Society held an open exhibition at The South Kensington Museum, which later became the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Pioneers of photography whose work was exhibited at this first show from Roger Fenton to Lewis Carroll and Hugh Welch Diamond will now be displayed in Media Space alongside remarkable images from some of modern photography’s most influential figures such as Don McCullin, Terry O’Neill and Martin Parr.

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This exhibition will also showcase key artefacts from the history of the medium – Nièpce heliographs, Talbot’s camera lucida sketchbook, The Pencil of Nature (the first commercially published book to be illustrated by photographs) and seminal images such as Oscar Rejlander’s The Two Ways of Life.

The Royal Photographic Society, the world’s oldest surviving photographic society played an integral role in the development of Photography as a medium providing exhibitions, professional recognition and advice on the latest techniques. Its collection of 250,000 images is considered one of the world’s greatest photography collections and the highlights of the collection have selected for this widely anticipated exhibition.

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Lewis Carroll

Photography in its many guises is such an accepted part of the modern world, that it is difficult to comprehend a time when photography didn’t exist. However looking at many of the earlier photographs, it is important to remember that in its early stages most people were concerned with mechanical process of the photographs rather than being seen as an art form in its own right. Not surprisingly portraits and still life were often the most popular genres in a media that relied on the subject staying motionless to get  better quality photographs.

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Niepce heliographs  are considered the first photographs using light-sensitive materials to produce images directly on printing plates. The exhibition has three of these extremely rare heliographs, 25% of all the known heliographs that have survived.

Although it is widely considered that William Henry Fox Talbot is the father of modern Photography,  Louis Daguerre had developed his daguerreotype process at roughly the same. As usually happens with competing processes it was the ease of Fox Talbot against the more complex chemical process of Daguerre that proved more popular. One of the more interesting artefacts in the exhibition is an experimental ‘mousetrap’ camera used by Fox Talbot in 1835.

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The Valley of the Shadow of Death – Roger Fenton 1855

Once processes and equipment became more widely available, the many different movements within the media began to take shape, early pioneer Roger Fenton was considered the first war photographer with his photographs of the Crimean War. Linnaus Tripe began to experiment with architecture and light and Oscar Gustav Rejlander began to experiment with photomontage.

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As the media developed, so did the myriad of uses it was applied to, it became used for staged portraits, photojournalism especially exposing the ills of the society, documentary photography and towards the end of the 19th century avant garde experimental photography.

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The exhibition explores all these various movements up to the present day with a whole series of iconic photographs from photography’s most influential figures often pairing similar subject photographs of different time periods.

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Many of the photographs may be familiar, however there are some real surprises, the Chinese landscape by Chin San Long and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor jumping in the air by  Phillipe Halsman.

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The biggest surprise is series of photographs of a young woman named Christina in 1913 by Lieutenant Colonel Mervyn O’ Gorman. They are so contemporary, they could have been taken last week, she even wears a ‘hoodie’.

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For anyone interested in early photography or the history of photography, this exhibition is a ‘must see.’ It clearly illustrates that at different stages of the media’s development it has produced remarkable photographers and iconic photographs. The Royal Photographic Society Collection is rightly considered one of the world’s greatest photography collections and rarely do the public have a chance to view many of their most treasured photographs at one time.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

If you would like to find out more about the exhibition or to buy a ticket, visit the Science Museum website here

2 December 2014 – 1 March 2015, Media Space, Science Museum, London

Admission £8, Concessions £5 (including donation)

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January, we attract thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here