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London Times: an eloquent, well-crafted photo exhibition at Exposure Gallery

By Apartment613 on October 8, 2014

The Ottawa Art Gallery’s Articulation: Critical art writing workshop series is intended to offer participants the support, skills, and editorial assistance they need to establish or expand their critical art writing practice. Each workshop is designed and led by a leading Canadian expert in the field of art. Participants learn hands-on from professionals who have an active writing practice, in a supportive day-long session. Apt613 is pleased to be publishing the best piece of writing from each of the workshops. This piece followed Tess Edmonson’s workshop, “I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art (Writing).”

Post by Raymond Aubin.

The artists’ collective Studio 255 presents a personal and thoughtful photographic portrait of the British capital titled London Times at Exposure Gallery.

The photographs of Barbara Bolton, Abigail Gossage, Leslie Hossack, and Patricia Wallace look at London with sensitivity, as did those of Eugène Atget towards Paris a century ago. Their images are carefully framed, composed, and lit, their prints sharp and detailed, and their colours muted. Their street scenes as well as their interiors show no or few figures. While Atget was trying to capture a disappearing Paris about to be replaced by the Grands Boulevards, the quartet reveals a London that seemingly will never change.

Barbara Bolton, Don’t forget your gas mask, 2014, pigment ink on Epson Hot Press Natural archival fine art paper, 30 x 18 cm, framed. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Barbara Bolton, Don’t forget your gas mask, 2014, pigment ink on Epson Hot Press Natural archival fine art paper, 30 x 18 cm, framed. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Barbara Bolton submits two proposals. One is a tight grouping of six small prints—accompanied by text—showing six London theatres that remained open throughout the upheaval of the Second World War. The other proposition is comprised of two quasi-panoramic vertical images revealing wet city lanes, all in grey and brick red – typically British. The compelling composition and the large print size (113 x 61 cm) draw the viewer right into the urban landscape.

Abigail Gossage, meanwhile, displays a series of street scenes taken from a double-decker bus. Her images convey the fleeting view of a commuter. Far from being cliché, partial reflections and rain drops in windows—boldly printed on newsprint, emphasizing the transience of the experience—create an impressionist aesthetic.

Elsewhere, Leslie Hossack presents pictures of the Churchill War Rooms at the Imperial War Museums. Her great mastery of composition and her treatment of colour bring the viewer back 60 years as if he were a stealth witness of the events.

Finally, Patricia Wallace shares a delicate vision of the interior decoration of classical pubs. Her finely composed photos glow with golden tones.

It would have been tempting for the members of Studio 255 to generate sentimental visions of London; this is not the case. Like Atget’s photos, the pictures of London Times are descriptive and frontal. Yet their tactile quality grants them a power of attraction that challenges the viewer. Complexity and detail in the compositions compel the viewer to spend extra time with each print.

This is Studio 255’s fourth urban landscape project following Paris, Berlin, and Moscow. For each location, the artists undertook extensive research before hitting the shutter release. Each one is responsible for her own imagery, while group discussion and editing, assisted by curator Michael Tardioli, create a synergy in installation. The exhibition’s hanging reflects this unity in diversity.

Exposure Gallery is located at 1255 Wellington St. W. The London Times runs until November 5 2014. For more information, click here.

The next workshop, led by Véronique Leblanc, “Échafaudages de récits [Propping up your writing]” will take place on Saturday, October 25. [Please note: The language of instruction for this workshop is French.] Registration is $40, students and OAG members pay $32. Or, win one of two spots to participate in this workshop! Just send us an email to apartment613 [at] gmail [dot] com with “Articulation” in the subject header. We will draw two names on Friday, October 10 at noon.