Wednesday, 29 September 2010

And now it's in print

As a serial blooger, my journey to tech-heaven has been as a late-comer to using a computer, let alone an ipad! Yes I succumbed to the slim sexy machine that it is...

Anyway enough salivating for now. Looking back to a time when I didn't have a mobile phone let alone a laptop, my fear of all things high tech was palpable. I felt reassured by books, paper could be held in your hand. It didn't get lost or deleted quite so easily. Writing everything down on paper before typing into a computer seems laborious, but that's how I used to work. It wasn't so much that I was incapable, but that my confidence was low.

I have now learned the only way to find out how to do something is to give it a go! I applaud anyone who has the get-up-and-go to do something for themselves and who invites others to join in. Launched as both an online blog and a paper And now it's in print does just that. The decision to produce a newspaper version as well as an online one is commendable, to draw in a wider audience, spread the word across the mean streets of Melbourne. James Noble headed up the design and production team. As the designer of the gallery website I would recommend him highly.

Having never visited Melbourne, (I will be next year, yippee) this encouraged me to explore the city more as it has come to life through the endeavors of a group of light minded creative individuals- all with great websites of their own - searching their city for others who are doing exiting things too. Curating the site and inviting others to point out great things on their doorstep is an inspiration for us all.

They successfully launched their first edition and it will appear online soon. Why not take a leaf out of their book and point out some great sites to them or do your own....

Friday, 24 September 2010

What's collecting got to do with it?

As Tina Turner once said, "Whaats collecting got to do, got to do with it?". Well quite a lot actually. As many of you know I am an avid collector of photography, but what is often missed is the importance of understanding why people collect photography and how they collect. Some photographers are keen to sell their work, approach galleries, magazines and newspapers to share the wonder of their work to the world at large. Their aim, to achieve world domination and to become as famous and successful as Andreas Gursky, to live the dream before they die in obscurity to justly be found later as a genius of the medium. These dreams of their work fetching huge may I say offensive sums of money at auction, breaking records of previous sales, their net worth ever climbing higher with each subsequent series, admired the world over.... You get the picture.

Well, in order to reach such status you have to realize several things, the most important of which is that most of it is a fallacy and breaking auction records is all well and good but to reach such heights one must work hard and prosper through making great work, promoting and having a great agent and/or gallery behind you. Until then it is worth knowing one thing: the market.

In order to sell photographs it is imperative that you understand the way in which a collector finds, enjoys, buys and displays their collection. This is one of the reasons I felt would not only help budding collectors but photographers too when I wrote my book. The course announced for October 9th at Diemar/Noble Photography is well worth attending if you are a photographer as well as those of you whom are interested in adding to or beginning your own collection. The joy I get from my own collection and searching for new additions to it is a wonderful part of my life. Having sound helpful advice can sometimes feel thin on the ground. Having a trustworthy gallery, fellow collectors and keeping my eyes open for emerging talent allows for this to be a more enjoyable endeavor. As a gallerist it is my reputation that must be upheld in advising our clients well to build their own collections and benefit from the advice we freely give.

The course is a day of seven lectures with plenty of breaks and an hour for lunch, so that everyone has the opportunity to stretch their legs and think about each lecture as the day goes on. If you are curious and would like to attend please go to the website and look at our education page to download the full details and feel free to call if you have any queries. The photograph displays the use of a black light used to test the age of print. We explain and demonstrate this on the course. Places are limited and go fast. We keep the numbers quite small so that everyone has the chance to put forward their questions on a more intimate basis, getting to know both myself, my fellow Co-Director Michael and each other. I look forward to seeing you at the gallery soon.

Remember, if I wasn't passionate about collecting I wouldn't be doing it!

Black light photograph courtesy of Diemar/Noble Photography: Copyright - Colin Coutts
Self portrait of a budding collector!

Monday, 13 September 2010


The forthcoming exhibition at Diemar/Noble Photography may have a strange name 'Quetzalcoatl' Photographs by Manuel Alvarez Bravo, but its origins are what fascinate me most. I will leave the details of Bravo's career to our website. Quetzalcoatl is the name of a mesoamerican diety. The name means 'feathered serpent'. Aptly it was related to gods of the wind, of Venus, of the dawn, of merchants and of arts, crafts and knowledge. What a perfect connection to the gifted Bravo whose imagery is both magical, wondrous, clever and beautiful.

His understanding of shadow and form are exquisitely rendered with prints so stunning you can stare at them forever. My own personal favourites are pictured here. The tools have such weight and abstract presence they seem to be carved into the paper rather than printed upon it. The gymnast's lithe form curves with such a sensuous twist, we do not need to see the face of the woman whose form fills the frame perfectly - the shadow of her fingers crisscrossing over her breast like an aloe vera plant - mimicking the creases of her gymnastic suit. This somehow subtly seems to be referential to the Mexican origins of the photographer, intentionally or not.

The use of hard and soft shapes is also fascinating in the x-ray image of a hand holding a flower in 'Giving Hand'. The delicacy of the flower has a strange haunting quality as the graceful gesture is eclipsed by the bone structure of the hand, then your attention keeps drawing your eyes to the fine stem and petals held between the finger and thumb.

In 'Our Daily Bread' I find myself thinking of scarves, gloves and Christmas despite it being taken in a place of warmth. The animals resemble reindeer but are probably some other mammal native in the Americas.

These charming, intelligent images elude a warmth and understanding that many photographers' could certainly learn from today.

Saturday, 4 September 2010


After attending the preview of Light Sensitive on Thursday night, I felt compelled to write about it & urge anyone who reads this blog to go & visit. The exhibition comprises of 24 graduates from the MA in Photographic Studies at the University of Westminster. This class of 2010 are a diverse group of individuals whose work has been beautifully curated by Elizabeth Upper, the editor of Above Magazine. her use of the impressive P3 space seamlessly guides you through the work from every angle, nothing jars. Upper has managed to showcase the work somehow uninterrupted - that is, each body of work breathes & commands its own space- so one can view & absorb each series in isolation without distraction. However, the flow & choice of placement appears effortless despite the broad range of imagery on offer. Curating any group exhibition is difficult, yet Upper has wielded her skills to produce a duality of bold & subtle arrangements to great effect, she is definitely one to watch...

When asked to write the essay for the catalogue I was delighted to do so. Of course I would encourage you to buy it, especially if you happen to be a photographer. Why? Well, instead of a long arty ramble I decided to be honest, brutally so in fact with 20 top tips or rules for photographers' which has so far gone down quite well... (as far as I can tell anyway) I hope this essay proves useful for their future in the field of photography.

Having walked around the exhibition there are definite highlights, the first of which is the series that opens the show by Debra Fabricius called Urban Drift whereby she has covered a nine mile span of Regents Canal, taking photographs from the towpath. They reveal the scars left by urban development as nature keeps growing & flowing around it.

disruptus by Colin Coutts was a visceral delight comprising stills, video & audio to impressive effect. His portraits of worn deteriorated gardening gloves on metallic paper are superb. Combined with the mesmerizing video & audio, the darkened space pulls you in as the gloves wave you in & out of the space! (As I have done here with the images chosen)

There were several projects which were conceptually fascinating also, to mention but a few Sharon Boothroyd's If You Get Married Again, Will You Still Love Me? tableaux's inspired by remembered words from children whose father's were separated from their partners are sombre, my favourite was Boy On Chair. Secondly Kossi Kunakey's exploration into the Black & Asian beauty industry discusses the troubling notions of beauty in those communities whereby hair straightening & hair lightening are sought in order to procure a more Western appearance. As a curly haired woman myself I have often been bemused by those who feel that straight hair is the only way to be attractive & love to see an afro in all its glory, ditto with dark skin. Naturally dark skin - in my humble opinion - is much more appealing than orange fake-tanned skin, which is the preferred look of many young Western women. Oh why can't we all just get on with what we've got without resorting to nasty chemicals!

On the subject of colour, Elliot Wilcox's images of climbing walls are abstractly enticing, cropping the walls in order to photograph the details & variations of the walls to great effect. This transforms a rather hard surface into a more meditative image from an unlikely source.

Jessa Fairbrother's series Subtitled portray whimsical self portraits exploring clichés. I cannot say too much about this work other than to urge you to go & see it. Read the text in a frame first, then admit your own guilty cliché pleasures before passing judgement. Enjoy the wistful long exposures.

There is some very strong landscape photography in this show too. Caroline Brown's Sandlings series, you are invited to immerse yourself in the Suffolk countryside, from low vantage points. Some make you feel like a field mouse nestled in the grass looking out into the big wide world with wonderment, surely an emotion felt by Brown also?

I feel I must stop here, less I give the game away. Go & see for yourself!