Monday, 7 April 2014

The National Gallery Visit (05/04/14)

The main paintings I wanted to see in The National Gallery was the paintings by J M W Turner and Claude Lorrain the main painting being Turner's 'Dido Building Carthage'. It was amazing to study their paintings up close and actually see the texture of the canvas rather than just see them in a book. In 'Dido Building Carthage' Turner has been able to take Carthage during antiquity and put his own spin on the city and create a new landscape more complex than the original city. I have to say I was moved more by Turner's painting 'The Decline of the Carthaginian Empire' more than 'Dido Building Carthage' as it just seemed to have a more intense light however both paintings are incredible. One painting in the National Gallery that amazed me was Joseph Wright of Derby’s ‘An experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump’. The painting had an incredible sense of realism in terms of its detail and how realistic he painted the light and shadow and people’s faces. I hadn't seen the painting before but I like this style of lighting both in paintings and portrait photography, it is like the Caravaggio style of lighting a subject with hard light creating hard shadows that blend into darkness. This is my favorite style of portrait lighting. I also saw his painting ‘An Iron Forge’ in Tate Britain and that was equally impressive.

J M W Turner 'Dido Building Carthage'

Joseph Wright of Derby 'An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump' 

Joseph Wright of Derby 'An Iron Forge'

David Bailey Stardust Exhibition (05/04/14)

From Tate Britain I walked to The National Portrait Gallery to see the David Bailey Stardust Exhibition, Bailey is a portrait photographer I admire greatly (along with Avedon) and he has shot some of my favorite people such as Cartier-Bresson and Keith Richards. A highlight of the exhibition was the room of Rolling Stones photographs as they are one of my favorite bands and he took photographs of them when they were in their most creative period and the end of the 1960's and early 70's. For me the best photograph of the exhibition was a colour photograph he took in 1968 of The Rolling Stones in a field walking towards the viewpoint. They all look to stylish with their colourful clothing and look very natural as if they are just having a quiet walk and don't even know Bailey is there. The photograph gives the impression that that period was a very free time for fashion and the arts which it was. Another photograph that stood out for me was Bailey's photograph of Cartier Bresson, the photograph was printed very large and contained Bresson in black and white with his Leica. I think the reasons these photographs were highlights for me was the fact they were of people I admire so you have a personal connection to the photograph. The show was very inspiring and it was great to see his work up close, there were also various personal objects and contact sheets that were a great insight to his life and his work. 

The Rolling Stones (1968)

(Unable to find Cartier-Bresson portrait)

Tate Britain Visit (05/04/14)

The first gallery I visited in London was Tate Britain as there were J M W Turner paintings I wanted to see and I also wanted to see the John William Waterhouse painting 'The Lady of Shalott' as this is one of my favorite paintings. J M W Turner is probably my favorite painter and his landscape paintings have been a key influence in my landscape work in terms of composition and colour pallet. Out of all his paintings I saw in London the one I was most impressed by was the painting titled 'The Decline of the Carthaginian Empire' at Tate Britain. The painting has an amazing sense of presence due to its large scale and vibrant colour pallet, the most amazing thing I found about the painting is how Turner has managed to create sunset light and shadows, all the architecture has a late afternoon orange glow and long shadows, it is like looking at a photograph in the lights sense of realism. I also saw his painting 'Dido building Carthage' in the National gallery so it was nice to see his version of the city in its beginning and end. Another painting I was looking forward to seeing was John William Waterhouse's 'The Lady of Shalott' (I visited London last year and was hoping to see it however at the time the painting had been lent to the Birmingham Art Gallery so I didn't get a chance to see it). Seeing the original painting was amazing as it is very beautiful in its appearance and poetic subject matter, however the painting was exhibited high on the wall and the light glared of its glass frame so you had to stand very face away to see the painting which was quite annoying. Another highlight was seeing William Holman Hunt’s painting ‘Our English Coasts’, I was shocked at how small the painting was as it holds an amazing amount of detail so I thought it would have been much bigger. The Pre-Raphaelite movement is one of my favorite art movements and a lot of their paintings are in London, Manchester and Birmingham so I’m privileged to have seen a lot of their work. I didn't stay in the gallery long enough to see everything as I had to go to the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery before they closed. 

J M W Turner 'The Decline of the Carthaginian Empire' 

John William Waterhouse 'The Lady of Shalott'

William Holman Hunt 'Our English Coasts (Strayed Sheep 1852)' (I couldn't believe how small this painting is.)

London Visit (5&6/04/14)

Last weekend I visited London as I wanted to look around the galleries and museums and had an brilliant time, I arrived in London early Saturday morning as I caught the train at 7am and caught the train home 7pm Sunday night. In a two day period I visited Tate Britain, The National Portrait Gallery, The National Gallery, Tower of London, National Maritime Museum and British Museum. The main things I wanted to do in London was see the David Bailey exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, see the Turner exhibition at the National Maritime Museum and have a look around the British Museum. I only took my 35mm camera and phone to take photographs on as it didn't want to kart my heavy digital camera around and wanted to shoot mainly black and white 35mm . A key highlight of the trip was the huge pillow fight in Trafalgar Square which I photographed, I went right in the middle of it taking photographs and also shot some double exposures, I can’t wait to get back to Uni and develop the film to see what I got. Other than the galleries (which I will talk about in individual blog posts) highlights of the trip were seeing Roman coins from the time of Emperor Nero and seeing marble statues of Roman Emperors Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus from the Roman period. I also saw armour belonging to King Henry VIII in the Tower of London, this was interesting as it gives a sense of scale and shows his weight gain throughout his life. I wish I could have stayed in London longer as I could only stay in each gallery for a short time if I wanted to see everything I wanted to see.   

Pillow fight in Trafalgar Square. (35mm photographs coming late April)

Marble bust of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius in British Museum 

Marble bust of Roman Emperor Lucius Verus in British Museum

Armour of King Henry VIII aged 23

Himley Hall Shoot (03/04/14)

This is my first shoot from coming back home from Manchester, where I live is close to both city and rural areas so I can shoot in both. I walked to Himley Hall which is a local park and woodland area, trying to find geometric structure in a rural area is different to what I have done in Manchester so my work would contrast nicely. Firstly I found some cut down trees which made an interesting composition but the subject matter wasn't that strong so I moved on. Next I found a set of metal steps leading to a door which had an interesting composition, I shot the composition side on as they looked good in a more silhouette two dimensional form. Eventhough I didn't plan on shooting steps I always seem to photograph them as they always have interesting lines and structure. I made sure all the vertical lines in the composition were parallel with the side of the composition to reflect the geometric structure, plus this is something I naturally like to do when composing a photograph. Next I found a wooden set of stairs leading into the side of a wooden sailing building. The stairs had wooden panels heading in a variety of directions and the contrast between horizontal, vertical and slanted panels created an interesting aesthetic. I shot the stairs quite close up taking the overall shape of the stairs out of context and creating a new shape out its lines. I think shooting objects and architecture up close will work better as the photograph focus on pattern rather than an existing structure. 

From the shoot I learned that I can find geometric structures in rural as well as urban areas and that if I shoot structures up close I can create a new pattern. I just have to maintain 'the everyday' theme and not shoot structures that are too complicated and shoot things people could see everyday. I think I will also start focusing on shooting stairs as they seem to be my main subject matter and although they all have the same use every set of stairs has a different aesthetic.