London. It’s a magical place for me. I love to spend time there, generally just observing what’s going on, soaking up the atmosphere. It helps if it’s sunny, which it sure was yesterday.
I was in town on a photography trip. One of a few I’ve done recently, aiming to (a) shoot some interesting photographs and (b) visit galleries for inspiration. But it was a struggle. It didn’t help that I’d only decided to go that morning so hadn’t properly researched where to go. I visited the National Theatre, who I thought were hosting ‘The Press Photographer’s Year’, an exhibition I’d really enjoyed last year. No sign of it. Turns out the webpage I’d looked at was an archived one, still talking about last year’s show. Oops.
Thankfully, there was, by chance, still a photography exhibition on, which I did enjoy: “Silent Exchange: the landscape photography of Charlie Waite“. Now, typically, I’d never heard of Charlie Waite, but whoever he is he takes a dark fine photograph. You can see loads of his work if you click on the link above. It wasn’t what I’d hoped to see, but it was beautiful and, for want of a better word, ‘inspirational’. (More on that later.)
The other abortive trip wasn’t really my fault; when I looked in the morning The Photographer’s Gallery’s website was still showing a couple of exhibitions. When I arrived later there were signs up saying all exhibitions closed, only cafe and bookshop open. I was told that the exhibition I’d fancied, “Fresh Faced and Wild Eyed“, had closed on Sunday. Yes, the day before. Shame they hadn’t updated the website. (Yes, I know I should have checked the actual dates, but it – and another – were still listed as ‘current exhibitions’ when I checked.)
(Side note: if you were curating an exhibition space with three separate floors of galleries, would you aim to stagger the changes to avoid any times when there was no shows on? I know I would, but then I’m not a curator.)
I did manage to get to two shows. The Michael Hoppen gallery, just off the Kings Road (no, I’d never heard of it either) was featuring an exhibition of work by Harold Edgerton. Who? I hear you say? He was the pioneer of ‘strobe flash’ photography, capturing multiple exposure photographs showing movement in action, or freezing movements.
Gussie Moran, 1949 © Dr. Harold Edgerton
Diver, 1955 © Dr. Harold Edgerton
.30 Bullet Piercing Apple, 1964 © Dr. Harold Edgerton
I enjoyed it greatly, and found it, erm, ‘inspirational’. And as a bonus they had another exhibition of work by William Klein – who I’d also not heard of – and that was even better. Another set of old photographs – which is interesting because I’d say I’m more interested in contemporary stuff – and they fascinated me. In some cases, as often, questioning just what it was that made them stand out. It was (wait for it) inspirational.
Big face, big buttons, New York 1955 © Michael Klein
Moves + Pepsi, Harlem, New York 1955 © Michael Klein
Anne St Marie + cruiser, New York 1962 (Vogue) © Michael Klein
And then down the road I wandered, when I happened to stumble across the Saatchi Gallery, which I’d never been to before. So glad I popped in – it’s a beautiful place. Okay, so some of the artworks on display were pretentious crap, but others were clever and interesting and beautiful, and more importantly they were all displayed to carefully and given masses of space to ‘breathe’ and be enjoyed without distraction. Lovely.
And they also had one gallery showing a photography exhibition, was of course suits me down to the ground. This was “In our paradise“, showing work by five photographers from Ukraine, and it was great. There was some other photography in the Saatchi, too, which I liked but didn’t make a note of the artist so can’t really tell you about.
Well, visiting exhibitions was one element of my trip. The other was taking photographs. And, you know, despite all this alleged ‘inspiration’, I wasn’t feeling ‘inspired’. Okay, so I shot some okay-ish scenery, and a few okay-ish people, but really nothing to get excited about. And all the way home and since I’ve been thinking what do I do with all this ‘inspiration’? How do I translate some inkling of this creativity that I seek out and enjoy into my own work?
And, equally pressing in my thoughts, how am I ever going to actually make any money out of this photography stuff?
I’ve told quite a few people recently (well, they ask, you see) that I’m not under any illusions that I’m going to graduate next year and immediately start earning a full-time wage as a photographer. That’s not how it works. Heck, am I even going to scrape a part time wage? I’d like to think so. But how I get from here to there is just too daunting at the moment.
Taxi Driver © Trevor Coultart 2014
Artist at Work © Trevor Coultart 2014
City Beach © Trevor Coultart 2014
You can see the rest, if you must, here.
(And, yes, I think that is Richard Curtis, but I didn’t notice until I looked at the photograph at home.)