Three exhibitions were seen. Hertfordshire University, LCC and Brighton University.
The images were tucked away in a smallish room with the sets crammed together. By comparison the animation and model making exhibitions were in rooms three times the size. The photographs were technically good and well printed and mounted considering the lack of space but were of subjects that struggled to present anything new. Photography is its own art form but there was little new art in these images. The lighting was poor in the gallery and the corridors allowed little room to stand well back to view the images. Any more than 15 people present and your view would have been blocked. Portfolios were on display but very few business cards, possibly due to not being restocked.
Overall the exhibition was a disappointment.
We also reviewed the animation exhibition located in a very large room with many TV screens all around. Each screen was displaying the work of one animator allowing you to watch a continuous loop of the work. This was added to by all the work being displayed in a loop on one large screen. Business cards and leaflets were also available. The room was darkened which allowed the work to be watched without too much distraction although nearby screens could draw your attention if the scene was bright.
We then moved on to the modellers exhibition. This was in a bright lit large studio with the desks arranged in a non conventional way allowing you to wander and view the models from all angles. The standard of work was impressive and left you amazed at the creativity and imagination of some of the sculptors. Each display was carefully thought out and CV’s, picture portfolios and business cards were available.
I have no doubt if the photography show was given the same size space as the animators and the modellers the show would have been much better as it would have removed the feeling of viewing pictures in a broom cupboard and allowed the work to ‘breathe’, as without doubt the work was suffocated by the dimensions of the gallery.
The show was split into several galleries. The ground floor show spilled out into a narrow corridor and a beautiful set of black and white portraits was mounted there. I felt sorry for this photographer, he’d obviously got the short straw. The staircase which formed one side of the corridor was actually the best place to get an angled view. To be fair though the portraits whilst competently created were similar to the work of Lee Jeffries and several other photographers so whilst enjoyable offered little that was new. The rest of the ground floor show was in a smallish room and poorly lit (although twice the size of the Herts exhibition room).
Upstairs a much bigger room housed the main exhibition with a much more interesting mix of photography and art on show. Some of it worked, some I struggled to comprehend. Along a corridor a further show was on offer. One set caught my eye and was a joy to admire. It was a colour set of portraits beautifully taken, printed and mounted. The whole set told the story of a mother and daughter relationship and echoed Grey Gardens. The choice of using film rather than digital was inspired. The room was spacious and well lit by natural light. What was lacking were any details about the photographer beyond a small panel next to the images. A business card would have been good.
The LCC exhibition like most appears to suffer from a lack of space with each photographer artists allotted a space just big enough to show a very small sample of their work.
The exhibition at Brighton was much more accessible in that the show was by the front door, was illuminated by large windows and in relation to one set the photographer was present and willing to answer questions. This was graduate Jemma Blundell. Her work impressed me in that she’d used film and a large format Mamiya 6×7 to create her stunning black and whites photographs (http://www.jemmablundell.co.uk/home/4584684015). Although fairly contemporary and obvious influences of Jeanloup Sieff’s style her pictures were for me the best in the show.
One exhibitor presented portraits of people sleeping, and another a travel log entitled ‘with only a camera and a passport’. Overall there were few exhibitors and the space was sufficient to allow a good view of each display. Portfolios were available to view and plenty of business cards to collect. An enjoyable if somewhat smallish show.
In conclusion in all three photography shows some exhibitors suffered badly from lack of space. With so many students work to cater for and a limited space available that’s understandable in many ways. I do think though that Herts whilst producing some interesting work lost out in the cramped conditions. Brighton faired better than Herts for space but still had only a small gallery and several students to cater for. LCC had the largest amount of space but some of the best work was given the poorest area. From a photography perspective, Brighton had the most interesting sets, with a couple of sets from LCC at a similar high standard and Herts left fighting for third place mainly due to the gallery design and poor lighting not showing the work in the best conditions.