Tuesday, 11 October 2011

A little gem

It's rare that I come across a photography show which I haven't heard about. But that's what happened today. On my way back from Tate Modern I popped into the Purdy Hicks gallery. And there... was a little gem.

It's Bettina von Zwehl's new work, a series of miniatures made while on a residency at the V&A museum. Inspired by original miniatures, von Zwehl took photographs of the assistants of the museum, facing a window which emits a glowing yellow light. One particular work, Made up Love Song, is a series of 32 miniatures of the same woman, Sophia, an assistant at the museum. Shot in exactly the same position, two or three times a week, on first looking the photographs appear exactly the same. On closer inspection, slight differences become apparent, as time passes, light changes and the relationship between sitter and subject develops over the six months.

©Bettina von Zwehl

There are single portraits of other assistants too; all women, all photographed in the same way and in the same location. The resulting photographs are so peaceful, so timeless. And there is something about seeing photographic miniatures in an industry which seems so obsessed with enormous images. These objects are precious, each one a little treasure. This gives them a status similiar to the painted miniatures back in the 16th, 17th century, used amongst the wealthy classes as a form of introduction; fathers would send miniatures of their daughter to possible suitors for example. The dagurrotype eventually replaced the painted miniatures, and I can't help feeling that this exhibition brings this history full circle...

The exhibition is on til the 7 November, and it is not one to be missed. Go see!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The Apocalypse

Today I went to Tate Britain with my Dad... the John Martin show is dramatic and a little kitsch; the 19th  century version of the Hollywood film. But the poster and the surrounding abstract design on the stairs inspired some colourful portraits...

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