I have had a few exhibitions over the years and hopefully expect more, one man shows are hard work and are never to be approached without a clear idea of the subject and the aims of the show.
In 2015 I had an exhibition ‘Festival Faces’ in collaboration with the Stratford Literary festival at the ArtsHouse in Stratford upon Avon. It was a collection of over a hundred portraits of authors, celebrities and festival volunteers that I had photographed in a pop-up studio over two preceding years at the festival. It was well received and I was hoping to revisit this project in a few years time.
In 2016 I started a major commercial project and was planning to produce my next exhibition using the material taken till mid 2018 so I was not looking to take on another exhibition. However, life and the universe often have other ideas and I was invited to have an exhibition at the Artshouse and as I always embrace opportunities so I said yes!
I was faced with an interesting challenge – a great venue and a fixed time to open as well as ensure the PR was handled in time. This is a serious consideration as most magazines require copy and images 2 months ahead of opening. I had only two months to do this.
But no existing work or project that I wanted to show at this time and place. I was busy with commercial commissions and so I had a problem – what could I deliver within a couple of months and appropriate to a venue and audience that was very mixed as the location has a footfall of thousands seeing a variety of shows and not just a usual art audience, if there is such a thing?
I looked at my archive and although there were many travel images & commissions to choose from, I had produced a ‘travel’ exhibition on Venice in 2014 and it was shown in London so I could have delivered a cohesive collection but I though that there should be more of a concept for this show.
It was looking at some Venice images that I saw a thread that would bring together a diverse series of images and still be cohesive. So “AQUA’ was conceived .
I wanted to produce a collection of images that was dominated by water and celebrated what makes life possible on Earth.
Water is free,it is priceless.
Without water there would be no life on Earth.
So I had a theme and I knew I had a few water images – so how to proceed ?
I know the venue has limited lighting so the images had to be strong and large. From experience it is best to print large and with the best quality I could afford. I set myself a budget as sponsorship was impossible to find in such a short time and without a good lead time no sponsor would be interested as they require a good PR outcome and that requires a lead of many months.
So I measured the site and calculated that at a metre wide I could accommodate ten major images.
Informed by recent exhibitions seen such as the RA summer show and such artists as Jurgen Teller I decided that I would also have some mixed sizes and mixed presentation and this is where the project got interesting. I realised that 10 images would be OK but what about material I could shoot specifically for the project ? How could I do justice to such a vast subject with an archive of thousands of images and try and communicate the diverse nature of such a universal subject .
I have used screens to show work on many occasions and this was a necessary option as it would allow the volume of material to be shown and also be easy to re edit. A smart 48in TV provided the screen as the venue could not supply one and hire was another expense I did not want to incur.
I started to shoot a series that were very personal about my evening walks along the Riverbank by my home but I wanted to produce a totally different aesthetic to contrast to the grand images shot in exotic locations. I started posting on Instagram as a teaser for the launch and it was the square format and small images seen on my mobile that reminded me of historical tintypes and daguerrotypes that inspired me to produce a mini series that are only 6in square – almost monochromes and some even shot on an iPhone.
In the V&A some of the most significant original photography prints are very small and they are like precious jewels that demand attention and close scrutiny, that is what I wanted to achieve with the ‘Welford’ collection.
As the Stratford ArtsHouse is a theatre / venue I could not add audio to the show at all times, but on the Private View I am using a sound track of Waves to provide an ambient background that should enhance the experience of seeing over one hundred images in a variety of formats.
Photography has become a universal language and with this exhibition I wanted to show a diverse approach to a single subject – I hope I succeeded ?
8th September – 3rd October 2017.
Stratford upon Avon
Free exhibition, please check opening hours with the Venue.
Monday – Friday 10 am – 5pm
Saturday 9.00am – 1.00pm
Instagram – lorentz_gullachsen