Shape of Light

From the 2nd May to the 14th October 2018 at the Tate Modern.

Tickets £18 at time of visit.


“The world we see is made of light reflected by the things we look at: Photography records this light, holding and shaping these fleeting images. Shape of Light: 100 Years of Photography and Abstract Art explores the history of artists who have worked with light to create abstract work. These photographers prioritise shape, form and expression over recognisable subject matter. Some use the camera lens to transform reality. Others work with photographic materials to create images with little obvious reference to the real world.

Shape of Light reveals photography’s role in a wider history of abstraction. The photographic artists in the exhibition have engaged with advances in abstract art across a range of art forms; from painting and sculpture, to film and installations. At times these photographers have responded to new discoveries by their peers working in different media. Occasionally they have pre-empted them.”

The above description is from the leaflet that you receive on entry to the exhibition.

Every trip I’ve had to London recently I’ve told myself that I’d visit the Tate Modern to have a look around. At the end of July, I managed to do that, but only for an hour in between other activity.

Tate Modern is an impressive building, huge and spacious, it would be easy to spend a day wandering around.

While a lot of exhibits are free some exhibitions incur a cost, this is the case with the Shape of Light.

At the time of visiting there were several exhibitions, including one about Picasso and another by Joan Jonas. It was the Shape of Light, however, that I wanted to see.

The exhibition space consists of 12 rooms, each with a different theme.

This review will not be comprehensive but will focus on some of the artwork that drew my attention.

But first, I want to share something from the day.

I wasn’t visiting the exhibition on my own, my partner was with me as we were away for her birthday. I was expecting her to get bored quickly, but I was surprised when she started looking at various artworks and commenting on them.

Martha Hoepffner’s Homage to Kandinsky she described as looking like a boat, while the piece alongside it looked like a guitar.

The piece below, looked like SpongeBob SquarePants and a tree.


Another photo alongside Constantin Brancusi’s Maiastra looked like it included penguins.

With this terrible influence on me I found myself seeing different things in photographs, something that team behind the exhibition were encouraging in the Activity section of the leaflet when they stated “Photography is all about finding new ways of looking… Does looking differently change how you think about the artwork?” In this case it certainly inspired a new way of looking.

Throughout the exhibition there were works by artists whose names I recognised.

Alfred Stieglitz’s Equivalents provided four images, of which three are shown below. This project was one that took 8 years and resulted in over 300 photos of clouds.

These particular images struck a chord with me because I’d recently come across an article about cloud formations, and had read something about Stieglitz’s cloud images. Having taken a cloud photograph a few years ago that I was particularly proud of it was nice to know that even great photographers do similar work at times and is something I might do for the Emulation exercise later in part 4 of the course.

The series of images above was also interesting and shows how capturing something in an abstract way changes how it’s seen. The images are part of a series called Bodies and are by Bill Brandt. They were taken on beaches and appear to be rocks and large pebbles. In fact, on closer inspection it is possible to see that they are parts of peoples bodies. The top left is someone’s bent legs, the top right is a close up of a mouth and nose.

The above photograph was where my mind started to go into overtime. At first the two blobs in this chemigram by Pierre Cordier looked like pandas to me. After seeing it a few times they now look like Teddy Bears, one which is wearing a bowler hat. Facing them are either rats, dogs lying down or Falkor, the luckdragon, from The NeverEnding Story.

The exhibition comes with a catalog. Published by Tate Publishing in 2018 and entitled Shape of Light – 100 Years of Photography and Abstract Art ISBN 978 1 84976 369 1.

The exhibition is well worth a visit if you are interested in photography and especially how it can be used for abstract art. I found it very inspirational, especially seeing  work that some photographers and artists have done, which I could use as part of developing my own photography and finding my own personal photographic voice. I also wish I’d had more time to wander around the exhibition as I don’t feel that I got everything I could have from it. At some point I have to arrange a trip to London with the express purpose of visiting the Tate Modern and spending the day wandering around.

Diane Arbus: Portrait of a Photographer

Lubow, A. (2016) Diane Arbus: Portrait of a Photographer. Great Britain: Jonathan Cape (Part of Penguin Random House group)

Diane Arbus is an American photographer, born on the 14th March 1923, she died on the 26th July 1971 after taking an overdose of barbituates and slashing her wrists.

One of the most talented photographers of her generation, her peers were people like Robert Franks, Richard Avedon, she is known for her photographs of people who were on the margins of society. Sideshow freaks, nudists, transgender people (although this was before the term was coined), and others who were outside what was thought normal.

Arbus sought out the unusual, the ugly, the different in her subjects.

All through her career Diane Arbus struggled, never making enough money to be comfortable, she found herself resorting to undertaking photographic assignments in order to be able to keep her head above water and provide for her two daughters Doon and Amy.

Even so, she was able to find the time and opportunities to take the photos that she wanted.

Arbus was never totally satisfied with her work and never gave herself the credit she deserved, and that others gave her.

Born into the Nemerov family, who owned Russek’s department store on Fifth Avenue, she grew up unaffected by the Great Depression that was going on at the time. In 1941 she married her childhood sweetheart Allan Arbus, and they worked together as fashion photographers, Allan being the photographer with Diane assisting him during shoots. Together they travelled around the world on assignments.

Eventually Allan gave up photography and turned to acting, being known for his role as Dr. Sidney Freedman, a psychiatrist, in the hit US series M.A.S.H.

While Allan turned to acting, Diane became the photographer.

Lubow’s book paints a picture of a woman who struggled throughout her life. Never fully believing in her success and just managing to keep things together.

Arbus had many friends and acquaintances, both male and female, some of which became lovers. Her relationships with some male friends being complex, especially, when they became involved with other people and even married.

Although Diane Arbus never got the recognition she deserved while alive, posthumously she achieved it. One of her photographs sold for over $750,000 some time after her death.

The book is an interesting insight into Arbus, her life, her struggles and even her thought processes at times.

It’s also not an easy or quick read, at over 730 pages, including acknowledgments and source citations.

Having finished the book, the thing that I take away from it the most is that, no matter how talented the photographer, whether amateur or professional, this field can be a struggle to be successful. It is also possible to be blind to your abilities and to have a lack of faith in yourself, despite what others tell you.

Arbus’ story also shows that you should always strive to do the work that you want, even if you have to do other things along the way.

Finally, it also shows just how important it is to be able to look at the world and see the beauty and fascinating in things that society would shy away from normally.

Dippy on Tour

My sister and my twin nieces (9 years old) were staying with us over half term. To keep them occupied we’d planned to do a couple of things with them. Dragging them geocaching, I mean treasure hunting, didn’t happen, although there was a lot of excitement when it came to hunting out Easter eggs. A planned visited to the Dorset County Museum, which they didn’t know about, to see Dippy the dinosaur did go ahead on a mainly dry if chilly Easter Monday.

Dippy on Tour: A Natural History Adventure is the title of an exhibition touring the UK that is giving the nation the chance to view one of the best known dinosaurs in the country. Dippy the Diplodocus. The cast of the dinosaur has left its home at the Natural History Museum and is visiting a number of locations around the United Kingdom between now and October 2020.

First stop on the tour was Dorchester and the Jurassic Coast.

Although we’ve visited Dorchester a number of times over the years, this was the first time that we have ever visited this particular museum. Having booked tickets for the 2pm slot we were early arriving in Dorchester and so spent a bit of time wandering around.

Bypassing the Tutankhamun exhibition, which we’d never have got my Egyptian mad niece out of, we popped into a couple of shops; including Waterstones where I picked up a copy of Cecil Beaton: Portraits & Profiles. Beaton being a research topic in one of the exercises for Part 3 I thought I’d get a book I’d spotted in Waterstones, Bristol about him. Instead I ended up with this, at first skim through, a fascinating book of his portraits of various people; with his own written descriptions of them. Too late to use for Part 2, but just in time for the formal portrait exercise in Part 3.

Arriving at the museum just before 2pm, our tickets were checked, we were given stickers that would indicate that we had booked to see the rest of the museum as well as Dippy. Seeing the Diplodocus was free but the rest of the museum incurred a charge. Bags examined we made our way up a level to the gallery that surrounded the dinosaur cast.

It was packed.

Being the Easter weekend and also something that a lot of people aren’t going to get a chance to see again on their doorstep, lots of families had made the same decision as us. In fact we bumped into a friend and her family as well as a work colleague and his.

Dippy fills the large, open, two storey gallery in the museum. Its head is at one end, literally only inches from a glass screen where you can take photos of yourself with Dippy as the backdrop. At the other end the tail curves gently in order that it can fit within the area.

Dippy on Tour-6711
It’s behind you!

Dippy on Tour-6712

In work, a few days ago I was chatting with the colleague I’d seen and we found ourselves discussing whether we think the tail had been bent specifically to allow the skeleton to fit within the museum space, or whether it normally bends like that.

Around the gallery are numerous smaller exhibits, mostly fossils but in one cabinet there were a number of preserved birds. Plaques provide copious amounts of information for those that take the time to read them. Whoever curated the exhibition has done an incredible job.

After wandering around the upper gallery we went down to the lower level and were able to get a view of Dippy from underneath. The ground level being a larger area than the gallery it was less crowded and it was possible to get a better view of the Diplodocus skeleton. Around the room were a few more displays, a wooden dinosaur skeleton and a large picture of dinosaurs that you could stand in front of and have your photo taken.

Dippy on Tour-6723

Dippy on Tour-6728
Up Close and Personal

Dippy on Tour-6730

Seeing the remnants of one of these creatures its easy to imagine just how frightening it would be to have come across one in the flesh. Thank goodness they became extinct millions of years ago.

Moving on from the Dippy exhibition we made our way around the rest of the museum.

First stop was a couple of rooms. One contained a display consisting of a farm cart, some hand ploughs and a variety of farm implements. The second room was fitted out like the interior of a late 19th century, early 20th century house with bed, table and various household goods including an early bellows-type vacuum cleaner.

The remainder of the exhibition was on the upper floor of the museum, and we continued after a brief stop in the museum café.

First stop was the Jurassic room where there were more fossils and models of dinosaurs, including a life size fossil Ichthyosaur head and jaws as well as a model of the same as it would have looked in life. Very quickly I found myself left behind by the others.

Lots of families had taken advantage of the Bank Holiday and were visiting the museum, at one point I found myself chatting with a lady about her grandson who she had brought to the museum and who knew everything about dinosaurs that a young child could know, to the point that he corrected his gran when she got things wrong, something she delighted in doing just so he could share his knowledge with her.

The next few sections of the museum were devoted to local artists, poets, a large section about Thomas Hardy, Sylvia Townsend Warner and several other authors. So much to see and read, I could have spent far longer than we had wandering around.

On the walls were a number of photographs from the 19th and early 20th century. Looking at a number of the photographs I found myself thinking about how they would have been taken, photographs of farmhands where they would have had to hold still while performing an action; like winding a handle on a machine, while the photographer took the photograph. Previously I would never have thought about what was involved in capturing images like these. Knowing more about the history of photography has given me a deeper appreciation for how these images were captured.

The final part of the museum was dedicated to ancient Britain and the Romans. Again lots of artefacts to look at and information to read. There was even a man and his daughter playing what appeared to be an ancient variant of chess.

I thoroughly enjoyed the visit, there was a lot to see and when I have a bit more time spare I’ll go back and take a more leisurely wander around the museum, and maybe even make a day of it and visit some of the others dotted around the town.



The Americans

02 -The Americans
Cover of Robert Franks The Americans

Franks (2017), The Americans contains a series of photographs taken in 1955 and 1956 by the photographer.

The edition that I’ve read is very clean in its presentation. The book jacket has not details on the inside and in fact has the familiar photo of a group of people looking out of the window of a trolley bus.

Each photograph is on a single page, with the preceding page containing just the caption of the photo.

The book contains an introduction from the author and poet Jack Kerouac. Not having read anything by Kerouac but looking at his Wikipedia (2018) entry, his introduction seems to exhibit his style, poetic, almost free flowing, off the cusp, written in response to the photographs that follow.

The book is a snapshot of an America that has long gone. A peek back into history and a time where every country, and not just the USA, was rebuilding from a war that had engulfed the world.

The Civil Rights Movement was still in its infancy. Segregation of children by race had been ruled un-constitutional in 1954. In 1955, Emmett Till, a fourteen-year-old African-American from Chicago was lynched for an alleged interaction with a white woman. Later that year and into 1956, Rosa Parks came to prominence when she refused to give up her seat on a bus for a white passenger, which led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

One image that stands out for me is of a coloured woman holding a white baby. The caption reads “Charleston, South Carolina”.

02 - Charleston South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina

An image like that today wouldn’t stand out as much. It could be a woman holding a friend’s baby while they chat on a street? But if looked at in the context of the time then its meaning changes. We can make assumptions about what we’re seeing but without being able to see outside the edges of the frame we cannot completely understand what we are seeing. Although we can be certain that either this photograph was taken from a distance without the subject’s knowledge or that the subject and the parents of the baby must have been aware of what was happening and been happy with it.

In a lot of the photographs the subject seems unaware that their image is being captured. In some of these there are wonderful moments when a person is staring directly at the camera. Letting you know that they are aware of what is happening and almost challenging the viewer by refusing to look away. Some of those gazes are direct and obvious, others, although still direct are not so obvious because of the distance between the person and the camera.

02- Courthouse Square
Courthouse Square, Elizabethville, North Carolina

As an introduction to the work of Robert Franks, I think that The Americans is very good. As a window on American society in the 1950s I think it’s excellent.


  1. Frank, R (foreward by Kerouac, J) (2017). The Americans. 11th edition Steidl (ISBN 978-3-86521-584-0)
  2. Wikipedia (2018) Jack Kerouac Available at: [Accessed 4th March 2018]
  3. Wikipedia (2018) Wikipedia (2018) African-American civil rights movement (1954–1968) Available at: [Accessed 4th March 2018]

St James Arts, Crafts and Hobbies exhibition

St James Church,
Preston Road,
Saturday 24th February 2018
10am – 4pm

The church I attend decided at the end of 2017 to hold an exhibition of the arts, crafts and hobbies that members of the congregation take part in. Since David, the vicar is well aware that I do photography and has seen some of my work, there was no point in me not getting involved.

The question was what I should exhibit.

The obvious things were the photographs I developed as part of the darkroom evening class I undertook at the beginning of 2017. As part of the course we had to take and develop a set of photographs based on a theme. My theme was churches and so picking up a 4 foot by 3-foot display board from Hobbycraft I attached the selection of photographs I’d produced to the board along with a description of what each was and a short description of how “The Church Project” had come about.

The second set of photographs I put together were of St James church itself. I used eight photographs which I had printed at 7 by 5 size and then put in two four aperture 40cm by 40cm frames. One set of images made use of some photos I took of the church when it had been snowing (both front and back of church) with a couple of photos of some of the stained-glass windows. The other set again included images of the front and back of the church, taken more recently, but also a close up of the lectern and one of the organ loft and its window.

The final set of material I was exhibiting were two photo books that I’d made as a result of attending an OCA South West student workshop on bookbinding. One of the books included the material I produced for the Square Mile assignment, the other is a project I’m working on called “The Final Journey”.

At the last minute I managed to put together a brief description of some of the churches that I’d photographed as well as a description of the two photobooks, along with a description of the technique used to bind them.

The exhibition was held in the main part of the church, with some extra hanging space in the church room alongside.

The building was full of examples of the labours of almost 30 exhibitors, with ages ranging from pre-teens to the retired.

Painting, sketches, photographs, textiles, cross-stitch, knitwear, sugar craft, models, woodwork, metalwork and much more were on display. It seems that St James church has a very talented and creative congregation.

The exhibition had seen a steady stream of people since it had opened at 10am, with a busy period during the morning, and another busy period during the last hour, when the exhibitors started arriving to take down their displays so that the church could be made ready for the Sunday morning service.

I didn’t get time to see everything but what I did see I was very impressed with.

What I particularly liked about the exhibition was that many of the exhibitors were there and it was possible to talk to them as you wandered around. Discussing what they’d produced and why was a useful insight into different creative processes. Finding out a bit more about people I’ve known for a while, and things they do in their spare time was another benefit of the day.

One person I was talking to about photography had done the same college evening class that I’d completed two years ago, they’d also been to the same ploughing championships that I photographed for People and Activity exercise in Part 2 of the course.

Another person I talked to explained about the model of the church building that had been used during the re-ordering work that was completed last year. The original model had been made by him and his grandson. When the church decided to remodel the building, they updated it so that people could see what the end result would be. Something that helped a lot when it came to selling St James’ vision to everybody concerned.

I also got to talk to a friend about the work her daughters were showing, one piece having won a prize in a competition.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to take photos of the exhibits but I did manage to take a photo of my display on my phone, the same thing as somebody was doing with their work.

The feedback I had from various people was very satisfactory. It was nice to explain the background to some of the work, and a few people said they were moved by one of the books I’d produced.

I suggested to Alan, who had organised it, that perhaps they should do it again next year. The decision isn’t his but if he had his way then he said he’d rather do it during the summer holidays and have it open for a week, rather than just a day.

My Display 4
Some of my work on display at St James Church

Photographers’ Sketchbooks

23 - Stephen McLaren and Brian Formhals - Photgraphers' Sketchbooks

The Photographers’ Sketchbook by McLaren and Formhals (2014) brings together in one volume the work of 49 photographers. Each photographer describes their work and in particular the specific project that has been included.

I found the book interesting because it highlights the thought processes behind the work of experience photographers and how they decided to do the projects that have been included. Some of the projects have seen the light of day while other projects were either aborted, put on hold or are still works in progress.

The variety of work included also shows that anything is possible as a theme.

Some of the projects I think also show that photographers have to have a level of confidence, especially when dealing with people.

The Photographers’ Sketchbook is something that having read it through completely, I will dip into in order to draw inspiration from the work of professional and experience photographers when my own work touches upon theirs.

For someone who is only just getting into the theory behind photography and starting to look at the work of other photographers this book is a great way to get to know a number of them.

The only negative I have with regards to the book is that after not a huge amount of time and handling the cover and binding seem a bit flimsy. It wouldn’t take a lot more handling before the pages came loose from the cover. Something I wouldn’t have expected from a book with a similar price tag.


  1. McLaren, S & Formhals, B. (2014) Photographers’ Sketchbook. 1st edn. United Kingdom: Thames and Hudson.

The Land We Live In – The Land We Left Behind

Pots and PansHauser & Wirth in Bruton, Somerset have an exhibition running until May 7th 2018. What they describe as a survey exhibition looks at the “contradictory nature of society’s relationship to the rural”.

The exhibition contains the work from 1500 to the present day, using a variety of mediums including sculpture, paintings, photographs as well as a lot of others.

The exhibition has been curated by Adam Sutherland who is the Director of Grizedale Arts. He has brought together the work of people from Beatrix Potter to Grayson Perry, Edward Calvert to Mark Twain.

Interspersed amongst the artworks are farm implements, cheese making equipment pottery dating back to 1500, books, medals, tapestries, quilts and even a white plastic garden chair.

The exhibition is mainly inside the building but there are a few works outside. For instance in the Cloister is an interesting piece by Marcus Coates called Uniform for Apple Service Provider. This piece represents a padded jacket with a hood and is made up completely of different types of apples. As this piece is outside and apples having a tendency to rot over time it would be interesting to return in a few months to see whether rotten fruit has been replaced or whether everything has been left as it is.

Uniform for Apple Service Provider
Uniform for Apple Service Provider

The exhibition is fascinating with so much to see. Living just over half an hour away I’m sure that I’ll be popping back to have another look before it closes in May.

The one negative about the day was that it was difficult to going through the exhibition because although each of the items was numbered and a description was included in the List of Works, there were very few descriptions with the actual items. There was also a lack of labelling for the rooms. The Threshing Barn had a nice label above the entrance so you could easily work out what each of the items were in the room. After that it became a lot more difficult to figure out where items were in the catalogue, especially as in each room the numbering of the items in the room restarted from 1.

There were far too many works to cover everything so I’m going to cover a few of those that stood out for me.

As you enter the Workshop part of the gallery you find Grayson Perry’s Map of an Englishman [Reference 1]. This etching is very interesting. Areas that correspond with counties are named Fears, Cliche, Myth, Dreams. Areas that correspond with towns and villages have names like G-Spot, Fear-Of Failure and Calm. The level of detail is incredible. Unfortunately the etching is positioned above the door as you enter the room, which makes it difficult to get a good look at it.

Map of an Englishman
Map of an Englishman

As you continue to walk through the Workshop you come to the oldest item in the exhibition. A stoneware “Dragon Jar” that dates back to between 1500 – 1600. The description alongside the jar indicates that it was in use for about 300 years. For something of that age, which had been used for so long, it was in amazing condition.

Throughout the exhibition space there were a number of vitrines (glass display cases). Within the Workshop there were two. In one of the cases there was cast bronze pieces in the shape of animal droppings (fox, badger, rabbit, deer and several others). Why? What is the thought process that makes you look at animal feces and think “I know, I’ll make some bronze casts of these and put them on display”. One of the artists behind this work is Marcus Coates, who among his other pieces being exhibited is a piece called “Crucifixes for Various Amphibians”. This item is one that does have a description, and it is not for the squeamish because it describes how Coates when he was young would capture toads, attach them to crucifixes made of lollipop sticks and then force their mouths open before pouring a poisonous mixture in. If the toads weren’t already dead by this point then they would be not long after.

British Mammal Shits
British Mammal Shits

Moving onto the Piggery there were several items that drew my attention.

One of my favourite pieces in the exhibition was a wood plaque poster entitled “Lord of the Rings Gandalf with Hobbits” by Jimmy Cauty. I am Science Fiction and Fantasy fan so this work immediately ticked a lot of boxes for me, just because of the link to something I enjoy. Beyond that though I found the fact that it was on a wooden plaque fascinating and made it really stand out. The wood highly polished and varnished made it something that would far outlast the paper based versions of the poster that were sold by Athena.

Lord of the Rings Gandalf with Hobbits
Lord of the Rings Gandalf with Hobbits

Another interesting item, which links to the exercise Smash! that we did early in the course was four black and white photographs by Paul McCarthy. These were produced in 1972, before digital cameras. The images show dirt being thrown in the air using a shovel. Having done the exercise with the eggs I know how difficult it is to capture something at just the right moment. To do that with film must have been even harder because you would never know exactly what you’d photographed until you had developed the film and then developed prints. Digital with its instant feedback to the photographer makes life so much easier when attempting a project like this.

A few short steps away from McCarthy’s photographs hung a Welsh quilt, made at the end of the 19th century. The quilt was beautifully made, with a mixture of white cotton and satinteen. The pattern was simple but elegant. I was enjoying it and then the picky part of my brain kicked in and I found myself wondering why the pattern seemed to have been cut off at the edges of the main section, and not evenly cut off. Like wallpaper where the pattern hasn’t been matched up properly. Was this deliberate or completely accidental. I don’t know but it niggled me seeing it.

Welsh Quilt
Welsh Quilt

Further along there was a item that had been produced to celebrate 150 years of Disney. It was of Bambi but wasn’t a cartoon drawing or anything along those lines. In fact it was an oil painting. The level of detail was a joy because the more you looked at it the more things you spotted.

The next item that was a surprise was a pencil, pen and ink wash by Beatrix Potter. Not of Peter Rabbit or any of the characters she’s famed for creating. Instead this was a very detailed picture of absidia fungal spores. Although better known for her stories, Potter was a respected scientist, particulary in the study of fungii.

One of the last items in the Piggery that drew my attention was a platinum print entitled “Broken Tree, near Bruton” by Don McCullin. The black and white print is very brooding with dark skies and clouds. I’ve read quite a lot about McCullin and have seen a lot of his work in books. Being able to see some of his work in the flesh was a delight for me and I could have happily stood and looked at the print for ages.

Broken Tree, near Bruton
Broken Tree, near Bruton

The last item that proved to be a bit of a talking point was “Becoming a Landscape” by Roni Horn. The pair of prints are intriguing because they show a part of the landscape with what appears to be a pool of water. However, because there is nothing that allows the viewer to easily get a sense of scale the pool could be tiny or huge. Horn could have been stood over the pool taking the photograph or flying in an aircraft thousands of feet in the air. Removing anything that gives a sense of scale makes the image challenging for the viewer.

Moving on to the Rhodes gallery there were a number of interesting works.

On the wall as you entered was a rather vivid and colourful panel entitled “A Still Life of a laid Table, with Plates of Meat and Fish and a Basket of Fruit and Vegetables” by Jacob van Hulsdonck from around 1615. With the low light level in the room the colours and the subject matter really stood out.

In the centre of the room was a very long table, or in fact four tables. Each table has a different theme with the ones at each end being set up as if for a group of people to sit down and eat a meal.

As I looked at the table nearest to the entrance to the room I noticed a number of what appeared to be wraparound sunglasses, or dark glasses anyway. Looking at the table I noticed that there were 6 place settings but only 5 sets of glasses. One of the table settings was missing  a pair of glasses. With the careful positioning of items this couldn’t have been an oversight. Perhaps the glasses signify how we are blind when it come to the way our food reaches us, with the missing pair inviting us to take of our blinkers and really look at what we put into our bodies. Either end of this table were two vases in the shape of male genitalia, their presence maybe signifying how mankind rapes the planet we live on in order to provide for itself without thinking about the consequences.

Table 1

The last item I want to highlight was on one of the two middle tables and was a large structure, uniformly pale in colour with one exception. A large wasp-like figure that was positioned to one side. It was very easy to miss this but once you did notice it, then you were left wondering why it was there. What was it’s purpose?  Perhaps no more than to make the viewer think.

Middle Table

Middle Table with Wasp

Visiting the exhibition was fun. The weather wasn’t great, it was raining a lot so wandering around outside wasn’t going to happen and the grounds weren’t at their best. A visit later in the year is most definitely called for, just to explore some of the outside features.


  1. Perry, G. Map of an Englishman. Available at: (Accessed: 21st January 2018)



In Sickness and in Health

As part of the feedback on assignment 1 – Square Mile it was suggested that I look at some of the work by Colin Gray, particularly his In Sickness and in Health project. After searching online for the work I found a book on Amazon [Reference 1] which I ordered.

The book has a plain hessian style cover with the authors name about the books title (all in capital letters). Very simple, very much in keeping with the contents of the book and it’s subject matter.

The photographs on the pages inside the book are all square format, which is related to the Hasselblad camera that Gray borrowed whenever he went back to Hull from time to time after moving to London when he was young.

The photos within the book are part of a series called Parents that Gray has produced over the years by photographing his Mum and Dad. In Sickness and in Health is a series of photographs taking while his Mum was dying.

None of the photographs in the book have captions. Each page has a single photograph which the reader is left to ponder. Some of the images are self-explanatory at a surface level while others leave you wondering why the photographs were taken, and what they are trying to get across to the reader.

Some images are almost candid snapshots, while others have been taken or edited in such a way that faces are blurred or interesting textures overlay the subject.

The book is very sombre but shows the love that existed between Gray’s parents, the tiredness that comes from looking after someone with a long term illness as well as the loneliness that comes from losing someone who you are so close to.


  1. Gray, Colin. In Sickness and In Health. Published by Steidl Mack 2010. ISBN 978-3-86521-940-4.