I thoroughly enjoyed the OCA study visit to the Intermissions exhibition curated by Keith Roberts (OCA tutor), who also hosted the study visit.
As well providing an opportunity to meet some fellow students, hearing Roberts discuss his work provided insights that would have been difficult to see based on purely on the material accompanying the images.
A pdf of my notes and iphone snaps from the day are shown here and detailed explanations of the exhibition can be found in the links referenced below:
For me the important learning points from the exhibition and visit were:
- In the context the work, Roberts was very much the photographer as curator, using found images. However in contrast to the work of Joachim Schmid (reviewed here), in which I found it difficult to find interest, I found Roberts’ take on the Hardman commercial portrait archive very interesting. I’ve reflected on the reasons for this:
- There is historic value in the work – recovering some of an archive of portraiture, which had been left hidden in a library’s storage, out of view, and bringing it and its story into view. The commitment and skill required to do this, and the value in showing the images, seems to me very much different to collecting digital images already posted online, and already available for viewing by anyone with the time or inclination.
- Then, the concept of presenting the images with an ‘intermission’ (same sitter with a time lag of years between the sittings) encouraged me, as a viewer, to reflect on what could have happened in the intervening period to age the sitters, particularly as the images were taken around the period of World War II.
- Hardman is already well-known for his landscape and cityscapes – Roberts brings fresh information on his work.
- Though Roberts did not explicitly pass comment, I sensed there had been some struggle in bring the art to public viewing. For example in gaining access to the library archive of the negatives, which had until recent years been stored in less than ideal conditions and were deteriorating. I found it surprising that the National Trust had declined to show the images in Hardman’s House (preserved by them – reference below) – apparently as the prints were not created by Hardman’s own hand. A photographer as curator, struggling for his art.
Hardman Portrait [website]. Available from: http://hardmanportrait.format.com/2317785-home [accessed 16.1.16]
The Double Negative [website]. Intermissions: The Quiet Portraits Of Edward Chambré-Hardman. Available from: http://www.thedoublenegative.co.uk/2016/01/intermissions-20th-century-liverpool-via-edward-chambre-hardman/ [accessed 16.1.16]
The National Trust [website]. Hardman’s House. Available from: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hardmans-house [accessed 16.1.16]