North and South of Keith Arnatt

So in the last few weeks I have been lucky enough to see two Keith Arnatt exhibitions. One at Oriel Mostyn…


and the other at Tate Britain.

A.O.N.B. (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) 1982-4 by Keith Arnatt 1930-2008

As you can imagine both at different ends of the spectrum on scale, yet punching at the same weight. The North end of Arnatt’s work is some 10 to 12 images of post-market and typically British rubbish in the Mostyn. The South (Tate Britain) represents a retrospective of Keith Arnatt’s work, not only this but it is placed in the context of the History of British Art show that the gallery is running.

Keith Arnatt quote


The above statement taken from the Tate Britain highlights our constant obsession to document everything on a phone rather than enjoy the moment for yourself. I recently saw on T.V someone on the West Holts Stage at Glastonbury with Nile Rodgers with is face stuck in his i-pad filming. What would Keith have done? Enjoy the moment look around, that is why we are fitted with memories!

I was introduced to Arnatt at an early age in my creative journey. It was like the fear going to High School then finding out your older second cousin went there to protect and everything would be ok. I think I am like Arnatt, inspired by the Mundane, feelings of ‘the big tourist attraction is on the right, what happens if I take a picture to the left?’ The scale of both shows is inconsequential, they both deliver a Heinrich Manoeuvre to the senses.

Arnatt’s place in the Tate is along with Richard Long is a tip of the hat to arts based photographers, from Arnatt’s images of dogs, decaying food produce or post it notes. His process was a struggle but the continued commitment to art gave it foundation and strength. The boxes work in Oriel Mostyn is refined in scale but still solid in impact, touched again with Arnatts melancholic chic. For me the sadness created by the boxes is metaphorical in maybe what he was trying to the say. What are we like?

Keith Arnatt; the thinking mans photo documentarist…




Inside Abbey Rd

Father Christmas sent me to London to go around Abbey Rd studios. The never opened space where so many beautiful things have happened from Shirley Bassey The Hollies to Pink Floyd. its kind of weird to describe the space. You have to go in it to get it. if i said when they played the various songs in the talk for instance the Beatles Hey Jude. If you listened closely the notes in the song had the same hushed resonance that the people talking in Studio 2 had. It was a room with people all pulling that bring that minute back expression to over listening e.p’s l.p’s and bootlegs. These images aren’t the best photographs I’ve ever taken as you will see it was a bit packed but like the albums recorded here use your imagination 🙂

Above is a sound partition that said The Hollies were keen on using. This was the first of many things i stared at longingly trying to extract the memories of magic that had been created in its presence. Tony hicks Graham Nash and Allan Clarke for me nailed the harmonies better than George Harrison John Lennon and Paul McCartney


The Mono and Stereo recorders Custom made for EMI and the Abbey Rd Engineers. Abbey Rd made its first recording in 1934 but as with most things the cost was to high and demand was not there. We watched the footage of the 1934 Recording of Stereo panning from left to right on the screen to show movement.


This little beauty changed the way of the musical world with Stereo albums with Help! It was used till the end of the 70s so its got a bit of history.



The two above images are the 8 track desks the Dark Side of The Moon was Recorded on. This could be the finest sets of nobs I’ve ever seen!


One of the amps from 1962 onwards…


The sound is dampened by these fabric blankets originally filled with dry seaweed but now something less flammable.


If you look closely you can read the Writing for the Altec Rs124 Compressor. I love the fact that all this stuff is still used today


Strawberry Fields Forever is all i thought about while looking at this. I can say no more…

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Priceless! used on Yer blues!

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Nowhere Man was recorded on this little beauty which fits in with the above image around 1965 1966. Maybe that is what he was playing?

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The Above Piano was used for Hey Jude. I’m probably doing the artists a miss service as for what they have been used to record with but it was heavy on The Beatles in the talk. All there pianos were used for the end note on A Day In The Life which they got three people from the crowd to perform. They just let the note resonate after it had struck on the keys. it was like listening to album 🙂

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The Celeste was used on Dark Side oF The Moon Track Time for its haunting intro which they also played. Richard Wright so sadly missed


As you can see it was pretty full. this was the only room you could go in as Hall 1 used for Classical music and film scores. Which in the 1980s saved the building which was going to get turned into small recording studios until the scores for Empires strikes back, return of the Jedi and Indiana Jones were recorded in Abbey rd. Also Dave Gilmour recorded Shine On You Crazy Diamond solo in the vast hall 1


They shown footage of Cilla Black over singing a song on this mic that she had Burt Bacharach flown in to compose. The guys doing the talk also made fun of this. I think  Bob Carolgees was doing backing vocals


These are the semi original chairs brought in 1958 for Cliff Richard and The Shadows with metal frames to reduce any creaking so basically any one you see sat in Abbey Rd recording sits on these. I just know I sat on John Lennon’s that he recorded across the universe on 😉


Heres me actually silent for once


Number 9 Number 9 Number 9 Number 9 Number 9 Number 9 Number 9 Number 9 Number 9 Number 9 Number 9 Number 9


I though rather than naffly reacting crossing the zebra crossing outside photo (which sadly they had shown ‘friend of the people’ Margret Thatcher doing) in a video. I worked out which line Lennon had his foot on the album cover. Sad but original 🙂


Loving Diane Arbus

Reproduction of Diane Arbus' "A young man...
Reproduction of Diane Arbus’ “A young man with curlers at home on west 20th street”picture, shot on 35 mm film developped the old fashion way (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Diane Arbus' contact sheet from the photo shoot
Diane Arbus’ contact sheet from the photo shoot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


So today was the day…
I got my hands on the book I’ve dreamt about for a long time. No more will I have to look it images on-line. I got hold of the legend that is An Aperture Monograph by Diane Arbus, my first lady of photography. The minute I bought the book I thought I want to write about it. I want to understand it. So I started reading through the Severn or so pages put together from various Arbus interviews before her untimely death.



The front cover of the two twins is the story of the next 50 or so images. Life is the same thing but everything is different. We judge on the discrepancy rather than happiness. They transpose sadness into our own grief and our lack of understanding of the situation we structure around our opinions.


I don’t think you can say the book is to show anything specific as it was never put together by the artist. However you get a feel of image impact, isolation, turmoil and confrontation. Arbus captures eyes so well they haunt in every image. The much talked about boy in the park image taken in central park in 1970



Is one of my favourite images of all time. What i love more is this image captures the essence of the decisive moment invented by Henri Cartier-Bresson and the fine line of Stadium and Punctum devised by Roland Barthes


what he terms, the stadium and the punctum. The Studium refers to the range of meanings available and obvious to everyone; it is unary and coded, the former term implying that the image is a unified and self-contained whole whose meaning can be taken in at a glance (without effort, or ‘thinking’)


The Punctum is a detail or “partial object” that attracts and holds the viewer’s (the Spectator’s) gaze; it pricks or wounds the observer.


(Exerts from Roland Barthes Camera Lucida)


We see the stadium in the image of the alleged psychopath child, the posed image. The image without information has a second world war germanic feel to it again you are caught by the eyes. What really pull’s you in creating the Punctum of image is the grenade which sends a cold shudder down your spine.


This is also the decisive moment as described by Bresson


“To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression”.


Henry Cartier-Bresson


This is shown by the selection of contact images from the central park image



Depicting the sweet child at play. I’m not sure what Arbus said to her subjects but her befriending of subjects resulting in lasting looks. I think in a time when it may have been frowned upon to capture transvestite, dwarfs and people with disability. Arbus skill to control the image and get the subject to pull the face we least expect. The down syndrome children laughing and joking. The cross dressing entertainer looking sad and troubled something people would never have seen and been challenged by.


The images that have had the most influence on my work are the empty spaces. loveless and striking


The Swan lake image I see as Arbus on her travels to new unvisited places that she would venture to photographing the people who inhabit them.


Maybe I see Arbus in the wrong way to me she is strength and reason to take on and photograph the mundane.


What do you think?



Some John Bulmer influence crept into my Hereford Trip

Had a great day in Hereford at the Photography festival . I saw loads of great work in some interesting spaces. Some in an office stair well, a market, a swimming pool and the Cathedral.

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Joel Meyerovitz Talk at Darby Format 2011

I went to Format festival In Darby. This will be the last Space I will visit as it must be full steam ahead with my Exhibition. I went to Format two years ago. The Main Reason was to see a talk by Joel Meyerovitz  the American street  photographer I knew that this would be good to  see but I wasn’t ready for how much of a impact it would have on me. I’m not a fan of modern street photography as I see that most of it has been done in the past by masters like Meyerovitz Arbus and Winogrand. He was said to be on for over 1hr. 2.15mins later he asked did anyone have any questions?

He was like a evangelist giving a sermon. He spoke about his early days in graphics and the guy coming in to take pictures of his work which was Robert frank. He worked a lot with the Maverick Tony Ray Jones. where they both discussed the putting the subject at the side of the image as it was just as important as the traditional Middle. He talked how ” he would sharpen his skills by knowing where in as shot he didn’t have time or show courage”. Meyerovitz said the main lens he would use would be a 35mm on his Lieca as this was closest to the human eye. He kept preaching that you should always carry a camera that is how he got most of his shots. He Said “The world is dissolving in front of you have to take every second”.

When he started out there was only one small gallery in a  underground basement in the whole of New York that would show Photo images. The only Exhibition he ever saw there Ansell Adams and you could buy a original of his images for $25. It wasn’t until M.O.M.A curetted by John Swarovski. That photographty become recognised. He encouraged The crowd with “ Take a risk, take bad photographs be provocative”. All this was rumbling along at a great space to him using his view cam (10×8) camera. His work totally changed from the street photography that made his name. He had taken a large picture of the space at Versailles in the 1960s which in the mid 1970s become relevant and linked to the large format work he would from there on under take. However in October 2001 he was due to open an exhibition of work called looking south. This was from his studio and it was the changing skies of the world trade centre.

However there was on change in the September that the world could never predict. 9 days after 9/11 Meyerovitz had to do something. so he started to document inside the rubble of the World Trade Centre. He went from 10 stories high to 72 ft bellow sea level. I reckon that s about he size of the Blackpool tower to give a sense of scale. This is the only major document of the event. He had to cross red tape and threats of arrest to go about his job for the people. This will be shown in a book later. However through all the genius and Brilliance of the Talk. The last picture really choked me. A gray work man’s glove and rail track. This was the rail track of the land below the world trade centre that held the underground .9 months after he started photographing he was at the rail track. A Roland Barthes Comments With his Studium and punctum. This was a great example of it. You loved the image on first glance as you had a rough knowledge of the subject mater. It was when he explained that there was grass growing that had been covered for the thirty years that the trade centre had stud on it. He was using this for a Metaphor of how life heals and moves on. This was the closing statement from Joel Meyerovitz. Totally blown away by a master of his trade with a tear in my eye concluded a beautiful Experience.


Evening with John Davies

23 November 2010, 6.30pm

Speaker: John Davies

“John Davies is one of today’s most outstanding British photographers; he became famous through his research on the English industrial landscape, observed in vast and detailed views…”

“John Davies’s work belongs to the world of contemporary documentary photography. Faithful to a refined, pure black and white, taken on as the absolute rule of a subtle, analytic style. He chooses the vastness of space inhabited by the powerful elements of nature and the contradictory ones of culture to operate in two directions. On the one hand, the evocation of emotional states through the photographic rendering of a space-light that is alive, almost metaphysical, and recalls the symbolisation of the forces of nature in Turner. On the other, a crystal-clear gaze that sounds the material aspects of the contemporary landscape which is tied to the development of the productive activities and concrete structuring of the world through the molding power of economy and property.”

Quote from Roberta Valtorta in 2000

John will be talking about his work from the past 30 years, both colour and black and white, digital and slide.

I went to the audience with John Davies in Liverpool. I found the night to be really positive and welcoming. I made some excellent contacts. I spoke to Karen Newman who has just been appointed curator of the gallery. I hope to send her a follow-up email after my meeting. I also spoke to john Davies in some depth about his work. The main thing I was interested in finding out was the main drive he had in stepping into the world of Photography. The interesting point about was this was he described his home life and the work of turner as his biggest influence. For me to see his early 1980s work on slide projector was a magic moment

Although he shows spaces that have people in them. I still feel his works contacts with mine and a big influence can be taken from. It was interesting to hear john talking about how he use film and digital side by side. Id say he one of the first traditionalist image makers I have heard say that.

John talked about how sad it that so much public space has been sold off by council to private investors. He commented on the massive development at chavas park which is Liverpool 1 shopping centre. I’m not sure I totally agreed with what he was saying. I see that area although belonging to the people as glorified wasteland



Maybe im missing the point but that’s what opinions are for to differ…


London Gallery visit 13/9/10 (updated)

On Monday 13/9/10, I take the Welsh Dragon Express to the big smoke to see some galleries. At this moment im going to Sally Mann at the photographer’s gallery. Edward Maybridge at Tate Britain. Im also going to Tate Modern to see Exposed. I’m sure we will find some other things to visit


First of all i didn’t get to the photographer’s gallery as it was closed on a monday .So sadly i missed out on seeing sally Mann’s work. however i made up for it with the other things that i saw while in London.

Exposed, Voyeurism, Surveillance & The Camera @Tate Modern

The artist statement on the wall read ” Exposed asks whether such incisiveness is inherent to the medium itself”? The exhibition starts off when Photography was a new medium. There was two little 5×3 Carbon Print images of Vatican guards been taken as they stood in window, an early example of paparazzi. Horace Engle was a amateur photographer capturing people off guard. The far more documented amateur Paul Martins work was very interesting capture a Victorian Britain at play on the seaside. The people unaware to his presence. The foundations where set for a whole british fascination with photographing the seaside. This type of image for that time will have been used to show. Inner City Britain what is out there with the use of the new train networks. The juxtaposition to this was Lewis Hine’s work in New York of the same period. Capturing a total different dress styles the people in comparison almost look alien. Helen Levitt captured early street life in New York during early 1950s onwards. Her work has an innocence to it that would maybe hard to capture in this day and age. Her images cried out of long warm summers free from any cares.  I didn’t think at the time of viewing these images it really was a cornerstones for the greats to come of the 1960s & 1970s. THis was it landscapes didn’t have to be the only thing you could capture with the camera.Un like paint and canvas. the camera could move a lot faster.

In the next section the quote “photography invented modern celebrity culture” to be where the celebrities are you had to be out and about always ready to capture what was on the street. Harry Callahan was a four runner in this. Spending his time split with morning on the street to afternoons producing his body’s of work. His close up invasive style would soon be the norm breaking a new barriers in pushing what was acceptable. A sketched an image (see Above) of Garry Winogrand and Lee Freelander’s work. Freelander almost immerses himself in the ladies fox coat jacket. The symmetry in the image is a total master class

Garry Winograd was the first image half way throughout the exhibition where you could see the reflection of the photographer. This become a major thing in photography books to capture yourself in the image. The image almost had line down the middle of it. In B&W there is something looking like a down and out. THere is a young couple looking up from the lower steps. I think this show the watershed of the young people being aware of the photographer and older disheveled man unaware. A beautiful image, both photographers are master of their discipline for me.

The almost mystical work of Wegee never fails to enchant my imagination the highlight image of the exhibition for me was this one of Marilyn Monroe. The first image by Wegee say a lot about his work on the outside looking in. Where as the second image took at the same time by Gary Winogrand is the more famous of the two images.

The next section of work captures the darker side of the subject. featuring work by Larry Clark cult classic Tulsa. Where Clark follows the actions and goings on of heroin users in New York. He was one of the first photographers to document this subject in such a graphic way. Brassai had a series of 8 images one after the other of a man found dead in the street. The series shows people finding him police arrive the body taken away. THe last image show the street empty back to normal. There was an image of Paris Hilton on being arrested in the back of a police car. I’ll be honest i walked pat the image. I later found out that it was taken by Nick ut who captured the effects of napalm being dropped on a village in Vietnam Again these image are challenging what we don’t expect to see. This type of Photography constantly pushes boundaries. sadly I don’t think the image of Hilton will be as iconic in 3o years time if even relevant!

This is shown when looking at mitch epstiens workagain this was a standout image for me. Capturing the actions of a New york couple naked in a bedroom. I thought this was a great homage to Alfred Hitchcock Rear Window.

I think reply to the question at the start of the exhibition. I found the Exhibition very interesting as to see how over just 100 years what is seen a feasible to be captured has evolved. Maybe all the shock has gone from the image.  Photography has to ask the question other than word of mouth how do you capture the split second. Some may say its gone to far with the level that paparazzi has gone to. While there’s demand these pictures will always be taken.

Muybridge @ Tate Britain

In the above image there pictures of fighter planes.This was work By Fiona Banner. It was so impressive to see such a fine use of the space in the gallery. Tate Britain never fails to not let you down with some really challenging exhibitions. It was brilliant to be able to take photographs of the installation.

I was unsure what to expect from the Edward Muybridge exhibition other than the career defining work he did proving the horse while galloping didn’t have all feet on the floor. THe exhibition was really well laid out. They had a mock up of the measuring device he used to capture info mation through a series of multiple camerasFile:The Horse in Motion.jpg

The area that took me by surprise was his landscape work. It was in the now farmiler yosemite national park. This work was pre Ansel Adams and must have been a massive influence on Adams work.

The images of the half dome mountain by Adams

this was also  taken by Muybridge 

It adds more to how adams captures the location in his own unique style some year later. Muybridge dedication to press on with his pioneering activities was even more so with 360 degree of San francisco bay taken in 1877 which consists of 14 A-3 images

Kurt Tong @ Photofusion, Brixton

Photofusion is always worth making the trip out of your way to see. It always has some really contemporary photography work. Kurt Tong was the Artist in residence with In case it rains in Heaven. An offering of paper items used in Chinese culture to lost relatives who they say leave with no worldly possessions. The exhibition was great example of why the artist statement is so important. At the end of the photos was a video of all the paper item being set on fire. The point was unclear until i had viewed the reasoning behind the work. As im reading the hand out the inner beauty came striking through. Like I said Photofusion always good as a hidden gem!

Photographs from The New Society @ The V&A

The new society Magazine was around from 1962 and was later bought out by New Statesmen. John Berger the writer of Ways of seeing worked as a writer for the magazine. For the time of the magazine it for me was set out to challenge what british society saw as the norm. The work of Paul Trevor, Chris Steele Perkins Michael Bennett and Martin Parr. The images had in places a touch of humour as seen in Ian Berrys work shows

I was in the past lucky enough to see the Paul trevor archive which is held in the Museum of London. The archive was boxed away in a little room and documented the turbulent times of 25 years on the brick lane area in London. Impeccable was the precision that Trevor worked with. Sadly the images are not seen to have enough relevance as of yet to be worked with into a book. Maybe the subject is to close to the bone with race issues in a time of trying to put the forgotten Great Back into Britain. It was great to see Trevor s Work.

Wolfgang Tillmans @ The Serpantine

Ill be honest i didn’t get the direction of the  exhibition  by Wolfgang Tillmans. It had a very strong abstract theme running through it. Although each image was impressive in its own merit it was somewhat lost on me. However the big plus for me was the delivery and presentation of the images. I’m really none conformist when it comes to putting photos up. We know why images are put in frames. It what we expect. Apart from tradition where is this rule written. Tillmans really challenges this. Image put on the wall with Sellotape(other Brands are available), Bulldog clips and a wooden table covered with Glass. The images were printed on Per-specs frames, Aluminum prints, Photo Copies, 6×4 images and of course the traditional framed style. I think this shows the value of seeing work in the flesh rather than on a computer screen. Like i say i may not have totally connoted with the content. The delivery has really sparked my imagination…