Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Telling Tales #1

©Johanna Ward ©Brittain Bright ©Lottie Davies

With only a few weeks to go till the next exhibition opens at L A Noble Gallery I finally have some time to reflect & write my blog dear readers...

The theme of the show is all in the title, Capturing The Narrative: A Visual Exploration of Fact & Fiction - with works by three fantastic artists Brittain Bright, Lottie Davies & Johanna Ward. They each use photography to tell stories - albeit their own or someone else's in a very different way…

©Brittain Bright

Despite their different approaches, each photographer ultimately offers their narrative to the viewer to interpret as they see fit. Dictating a story in pictures rather than text is never the intension. Although images will always paint a more ambiguous picture than the written word, a great deal of care has been taken by each artist to direct rather than impose the meanings, stories & layers of each work. In doing this each photograph stands up in its own right alone when in isolation from the other images in the series it is part of. 

Approaching the works with this in mind perhaps relaxes our approach. The key to enjoying & getting the most out of the work is not to try to fully understand each & every picture or even every intension of the artist when, why & how the image was made. By gazing at the images, taking your time (something I rarely see in galleries & museums these days) & really looking the most remarkable details can reveal themselves when you least expect it. 

At this early stage I won't go into detail on the works in the forthcoming exhibition - as the best time to reflect upon these is over time - which I always find divulge more to me the longer I live with the work (I adore it already - but good works just keeps getting better) on the gallery walls; part of the addiction that is living & working with art! Having time to spend with a work is never a bad thing. Even if you don't like something aesthetically it doesn't mean that it has nothing to offer you intellectually. Dismissing a work as bad or being overtly critical is much easier to do than finding something within it to discuss. I'm sure the proliferation of imagery in our lives gives us a faster response time in registering what a picture is - but context is everything. Glancing at a pile of images on a search in Google is one thing - but standing in front of a work of art on a wall is another. This wall may be in a museum, gallery or even someone's home. We find it hard to disassociate from the works 'value' in monetary terms - but stop & think about it's cultural significance. 

Emily Allchurch & Lisa Creagh looking fabulous as ever

I recently visited the Richard Hamilton exhibition at Tate Modern with two of my artists Lisa Creagh & Emily Allchurch. Today with a more sophisticated understanding of advertising, corporations & capitalism it would have been easy to renounce some of his work as his critique of the aforementioned as clear & obvious today.

The Critic Laughs (1971-2) by Richard Hamilton (1922-2011)
©The estate of Richard Hamilton

But stopping & placing them in the context of when they were made - the work suddenly commands a deeper respect. There is always value in looking back. Often the aesthetic language we take for granted has got lost in the hectic mass-media filled lives we live today. Has something stood the test of time or even predicted the reality we live in now back then…?

Phillip K. Dick

When I am discussing this phenomenon one person always springs to mind, Phillip K. Dick. Now I am no expert on his work, let me make that clear from the outset (this is territory I cannot compete with much more learned readers of his work) but I am constantly amazed by his almost mystical foresight. If I mention his name only my best geek friends know who he is. I give a clue first, saying he wrote Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. If that is met with a blank stare I know there is more explaining to do, usually starting with "You might know it as Blade Runner?" To which an "Ooooh HIM, oh yes" is the usual response. Short of a very long essay as to why he is so relevant today, but I would never finish this post so just one example to make my point

Film adaptations of his works such as Minority Report 1956 - based on a science-fiction short story by PKD - focus on precognition of crimes yet to be committed. Taken in context - written nearly 60 years ago - this would seem excessively paranoid, however a research paper on Precognition Agents exists today! See here for the paper by the Scottish Executive Research Unit. Science fiction can be strangely predictive

(A great short story by PKD I would reccomend is a disturbing tale called The Hanging Stranger & my favourite book is Man In The High Castle, if you were interested.)

©Duane Michals
The Vanity of Animals, 2004
11 x 14 Silver Gelatin Photograph, Ed. 25

Whilst thinking about narrative photographers I must mention the might Duane Michals - whose work I love - the man even moreso as his witty persona & passion for photography made for one of the best artist's talks I have ever seen. See more of his work here

©Duane Michals

This work about Schrodinger's Cat is a particular favourite & still makes me chuckle. A nice way to end Telling Tales #1. 

More tall tales in my next post! 

Details of the next show & programme of events are below. I'm really looking forward to all of the events & interpretations by writers & the dashing actor Samuel Weir (who appears in Lottie's work).

Due to limited space please book early to avoid disappointment - pre-paid places will take priority. We have in the past had to turn people away, so please contact the gallery via to secure your place. 

Exhibition: L A Noble Gallery

Capturing The Narrative: A Visual Exploration of Fact & Fiction - with works by Brittain BrightLottie Davies & Johanna Ward.

12 June - 5 July 2014

Free Entry
Opening Hours: 11.00 - 18.00 Tue - Sat

Venue: Maybe A Vole, 51 King Henry's Walk, London N1 4NH
Transport: Dalston Kingsland Overground

Programme of Literary evenings: £5 pp - payable in advance (tickets on the night subject to availability)


Wed 18 June, 18.30 - 20.00
Brittain Bright, artist talk about Narrative Photography. 

Wed 25 June, 18.30 - 20.00 
Lottie Davies artist's talk with performance by Samuel Weir, directed by Lottie Davies

Wed 2 July
18.30 – 20.30
Johanna Ward artist's talk followed by a spoken word performance inspired by her work.

Collecting for Beginners
Sat 28 June
14.00 – 17.00 (Payment in advance, non-refundable, Poa)
Book a place for these events by emailing
Please include a contact telephone number for confirmation.
For further information please see the website