Friday, July 29, 2011

Sculpture, galleries and photography

click photos to enlarge
It's fairly common for photographers to be told that they can't use their cameras in certain locations. Regular visitors to this blog will remember my experience photographing in the private "estate" of More London on the South Bank. Shopping malls ban photography. So too do the majority of galleries and museums, even where they are essentially tax payer funded institutions. So, it's a real pleasure to come across somewhere that does allow photography inside their premises, as I did at The National Centre for Craft and Design (known as "the hub" - I don't like the lower-case) in Sleaford, Lincolnshire*. This venue regularly stages exhibitions, and we frequently go along to see them. I've said elsewhere that these are not always to my taste. However, that doesn't matter because one of the points of visiting such a place is to expose yourself to new ideas. Moreover, I find that I do enjoy the exhibitions sufficiently often that I keep returning.

The two exhibitions I saw on my most recent trip to Sleaford couldn't have been more different. Jason Lim's "New work in ceramics" didn't appeal to me very much at all. The shapes and textures of his clay work offered me neither beauty nor interest. I did like some of the colours and patterns of his glaze, but that was about it. I was, however, most impressed by Claire Morgan's sculptures. These featured stuffed (as in taxidermy) animals - all road-kill I believe - placed in volumes constructed of monofilament on which were fixed various plastics and even dandelion seeds. The exhibition was called, "About Time", which sums up the artist's motivation in creating these pieces. However, had I known nothing of this - and a video gave further insight into her ideas and techniques - I should still have liked the pieces featuring the crow and the fox.

The fox was standing in a grid of vertical lines on which were fixed torn shreds of back plastic arranged in such a way that the animal appeared to be in an inclined cube. The strongly directional lighting of the gallery emphasised texture, light and dark and the sham solidity of the sculpture. The crow was up-ended on the ground as though it had just crash-landed and was surrounded by two part-spheres made of dandelion seeds fixed to a grid of wires. A third piece with the rabbits - both "alive" and dead - had the word "Shhh..." backwards, made of pieces of pink plastic floating above. Descriptions such as mine don't do justice to the pieces, nor do my two-dimensional photographs: they have to be seen and walked around to be properly appreciated. If you can, go and see them.

* I asked at the "The Hub" if I could take photographs in the gallery and was told I could. I believe, from previous conversations on the subject, that photography is allowed with some exhibitions and not others - a policy that is much better than that of most museums and galleries.

photographs and text (c) T. Boughen

Photo 1
Camera: Lumix LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 8.8mm (41mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f2.5
Shutter Speed: 1/30
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On