Friday, April 01, 2011

The deep end

click photo to enlarge
I've written about Kingston upon Hull's Terry Farrell designed aquarium, "The Deep", before. On that occasion I had a few thoughts about its purpose and shape, and posted a photograph of its angular steel exterior and colourful windows. That shot shows part of the elevation that faces the River Humber. On my recent visit I noticed that this area of steel has been coated with some kind of dark paint/covering: presumably the original finish has been found wanting in some way. Today's main photograph also shows part that overlooks the Humber, but this time it includes what is probably the most interesting exterior feature of the building - its sharp, glazed prow that encloses "The Observatory" cafe. The gleaming steel, angular shapes, coloured glass cladding and the the thrusting point of the tip invited a semi-abstract approach to my composition.

I also took a more distant, contextual photograph from the old pier, and this shot set me thinking once again about the design of the building. The location, on a triangular promontory, determines the overall shape, but what I wondered as I took my photograph was why the architect treats the elevation at which the visitor arrives so poorly, and applies his art to the less frequently seen elevations that front the Humber and the River Hull. Certainly anyone crossing the latter river and standing near the old pier gets a good view of the building. However, those who see the River Humber elevation is restricted to people on boats and ships. I wondered too about the overall shape as seen in my smaller photograph. It seems animal-like, with a pointed head to the right, a creature about to pounce on its prey with details that can be interpreted (am I being too fanciful?) as feet and an eye. Was that the intention? I left thinking that, firstly, I'd like to have seen that great flat wall recess or protrude in one or two places a bit more than it does, and secondly, that if the slight breaks in the incined roof line were a bit bigger they would have offered more interest. If that sounds like I'm damning what I see, I'm not - there is a lot to like, and a lot to photograph.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Main Photo
Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 24mm
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/1600
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On