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Contemporary Photography NOW

10 August 13 words: Christopher Boyle
Heterogeneous photography emerges at Surface...

It is the diversity that is apparent at first glance. In such a situation the best solution is to aim for the free wine and stay away from the piece you are most likely to step on... unless you don’t like it of course. Thankfully the majority of work on display was attached to the Surface walls and presented in illustrious fashion.

Nottingham based Mike Colechin’s offering appears unassuming at first, but the assorted array of painterly colours in an impressionist style draws one closer to this piece inspired by the landscape.  Noctulles is small, 30cm x 20cm, created using a large format camera.  It is a response to the late nineteenth-century French Classical composer Ravel and his composition Miroirs.  It is no surprise then, that Colechin cleverly incorporates head phones with classical music to accompany his work.  Just as Ravel did, Colechin uses instrumentation in the form of sound to add a further layer of texture.

Florian Muellar’s large photographic images of clouds on aluminium di-bond; Lucid In The Sky and Nimbus, evoke a sense of imminent apocalyptic doom, conveyed through his use of muted, yellow-orange ochres. 'Atmospheric' (pardon the pun) springs to mind.

Moving away from the periphery towards the middle of the gallery we encounter James Marren’s photographic sculpture. Despite its hurdle-like appearance this is not a piece to skip over; the title, 'an image, found posthumously, from my father’s personal collection', is poignant and causes one to pause and ponder.

James Marren

James Marren

Marren exploits 'personal and found images, to create photo-based sculpture and installations'.  Two rusted trestles are presented side by side with thirteen strips of masking tape attached horizontally.  The right-hand trestle has an image of a sailing boat created with photographic gelatin emulsion, while the left displays a looped projection of Marren creating the piece in question. The strips of the masking tape are again visible on a mirrored plastic board positioned between the two tressels, further emphasising, or perhaps reflecting on, the process. 

Sailors require skill and knowledge of their surroundings and it is apparent that Marren has these qualities in abundance.  A boat propelled by sails cannot sail directly into the wind; it must 'tack' in order to progress. This sculptural photographic piece becomes symbolic of the wind as likewise, you can not go through its check-point posture; you must tack around it in order to move through the gallery.

Finally Charlie Clift’s four photographic panels entitled Brits Abroad depict not the British Army in Afghanistan, but our 'ex-pats' who have chosen to fly the nest in search of pastures new – whether it be for retirement or a change in employment.

James and Edward Newton

Clift has documented a range of characters residing on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. From Sean Mitchell, the fish and chip shop owner, to Carole; the pompous looking, weather beaten granny who poses at the Javea Green Bowls Club. Clift has to be admired for his photographic ingenuity.  He engages the viewer with his subjects, almost as if in mid-conversation.

A personal favourite is a photograph by Clift. Simon Williams is the owner of a Caribbean themed bar in Fuengirola – eighteen-stone of a cigar smoking, Hawaiian T-shirt clad man who moved to Spain to 'alleviate his arthritis'… Sure you did Simon. He is propped against the bar, palms firmly attached to his knees, staring you right in the face with the look of a serious John Candy: 'Don't worry Simon, be cool! No quarrel here!'

Parents often claim to have no favourites in regards to their offspring.  If an artist says this in relation to their work, then they just haven't created that masterpiece yet (or perhaps think every 'product' is perfection and feel no need to differentiate). The Surface volunteers are like parents to their temporal adopted exhibitors; by housing them, nourishment is forthcoming.  The outcome; little geniuses in the making!  



Contemporary Photography NOW showed at Surface Gallery from Tuesday 1 August - Saturday 10 August 2013.



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