Sunday, 11 July 2010

This is NOT the Chelsea Flower Show, it's better!

The set-up of our current show at the gallery was a team effort with help from our dedicated & talented interns Mary & Radi ,curator Will Hewson & photographer Magnus Arrevad, could never have looked so fantastic as result. I must take this opportunity to thank them from the heart for all the hours they cheerfully put in. The space has yet again been transformed by the new show and radiates with glorious colour throughout. Magnus' photographs of the night are wonderful!

After a quick change & glamorous make-up, hair complete with flowers Mary and myself were ready to go! The picture of us both was taken in the cab on the way back to the gallery.

After a fantastic opening night, 'This Is Not The Chelsea Flower Show' has been busy with visitors & sales. Thank you to all those who attended & for the wonderful comments on all of the work on display. Artists Brittain Bright, Lisa Creagh, Neeta Madahar & Kate Owens were all in attendance & were busy answering questions all evening from the press & public. It was a carcophony of flowers as many guests entered into the spirit of the night, wearing flowers in their hair, buttonholes & on their clothes. Matthew Barnett also asked people what their favourite flower was see the results on Youtube.

The Japanese magazine Pen is featuring us in their September Issue, which shall be on their stand at Tokyo Photo Fair 2010 in September. We look forward to seeing the magazine when it is released.

From the moment you approach the gallery the flowers prevail. Firstly, there is the beautiful window display by The Black Poppy in a frame in the window. It is striking & bespoke for the gallery. I shall be sad to see it go when the show ends. It is not what is seems with the most incredibly believable fake flowers to compliment our exhibition. The general public are bemused that they have yet to wilt, but this isn't a flower show as we know it!

Upstairs we have 2 pieces by Neeta Madahar from her Flora series. Their impressive beauty is mesmerizing. No, before you ask the image of me is not on display, I am not that vain! The 2 we have are Sharon with Peonies & Christina with Freesias (as pictured). They are well worth seeing in the flesh due to their size, complete with all their stunning 5x4 detail.

Kate Owens 28 Day Flower Diary is on display in the form of 6 large framed prints. The whole set of 28 prints is also available in a superb lime green portfolio, in an edition of 12. Buy early to avoid disappointment as these will go fast. Each visitor had their favorite on display & was quite revealing, often surprising. The flowers (50% of which she has grown herself) have been arranged into bouquets -alongside diary entries & the flowers meanings - Owens explores the inherently personal attributes & associations we as individuals have with certain flowers. Personally, I find the red rose reminds me of death (note to admirers, NEVER give me a red rose) but - when given to someone else - very romantic.

Lisa Creagh's mammoth piece from her series The Instant Garden: Charting the territory between the photographic and the virtual is an image that reveals itself slowly as the symmetry gives way before your eyes to expose nuances of difference. The 6 small works also on display have proved just as popular as their intimate yet complex compositions draw the viewer into her world of controlled natural forms. As the specimens

Downstairs we have a fabulous, extremely rare oversized Dora Maar print & a stunning Robert Mapplethorpe, as well as 6 amazing photographs from Eikoh Hosoe's series Ordeal By Roses (Barakei). This work has haunted me for many years as an avid fan of both Hosoe & Yukio Mishima. Watch this fascinating video on Youtube. One of Mishima's many novels Spring Snow - one of my favorites - was also the subject of a Jeff Wall photograph After 'Spring Snow' by Yukio Mishima, Chapter 34. There is an interesting video about it on the Tate website. My copy is pictured here with a picture of the man himself on the cover looking quite fierce!

Finally, last but by no means least is the darkly evocative series Spirit Collection by Brittain Bright. Again, as in the case of Kate Owens, Brittain's work has received a very strong response with visitors being strongly drawn to certain images. Because of the abstract nature of the plants, distorted by the jars that house them, suspended in 'Kew Mix' they take on many forms, likened to many things from squids, elephant skulls, stick insects, jellyfish & seascapes. The name of the collection comes fro the initial substance white spirit that was used originally in 1880 when the collection began.

So do come & see this exhibition & see for yourself the varied, dynamic & breathtaking work on display. I look forward to welcoming you Diemar/Noble.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Recontre Arles 2010

It was a brief visit to Arles this year, but as usual a worthwhile one. After a great day looking at all the shows in the town, the heat was enough to stop anyone in their tracks, but we struggled on.
The highlight of the exhibitions for me were the Ernst Haas and Polaroid shows. Such wonderful colour and compositions. Although some of the images seemed dated with their ideas for viewing now, in context they were groundbreaking at the time.

On Saturday evening the town was filled with hundreds of people parading through in national dress and quite a sight to see, I hope it happens again next year and I have a better camera to capture it fully. The blurred smile of a chap with his fake horse reminded me of a Goya painting, hence my choice.

The lovely portrait of Yvonne De Rosa is holding an issue of Foam Magazine on display in Arles, with Lluís Artús' image from the Beach series.

By far my favourite exhibition experience was the shooting gallery in the SHOOT! EXISTENTIAL PHOTOGRAPHY exhibition - whereby you have 3 pellets to shoot a target. As each round is fired a camera records a picture of you as once popular in post-war American fun fairs. If you hit the target you are rewarded with a photo and your target. I was a good shot (those archery lessons came in useful after all) and proudly showed off my 'killer' photo.

Then there were the reviews! Wow what a selection. 10 reviews per session, 20 per day so quite a long day. The work varied dramatically in both subject and quality. It is always a great exercise to keep my photography knowledge supple. This year a selection of work was displayed by the reviewers in an exhibition in the new location for the reviews which was much cooler than last year, thank god. Less of a chicken-run setup and more of a personal one-on-one with a large table for each reviewer which helped no end when larger works needed more room to view. I think next year I shall stay much longer and see more work as I really enjoy the process. It is even better when people take your advice and you see the results the following year.

If you missed the opening fortnight never fear, the shows are on till the end of summer, worth a visit if you happen to be in the south of France this year.