Sunday, September 06, 2009

The Photographers' Gallery

Saturday morning, Regent Street, I was in the "rabbit in the headlights" zone after emerging from the jam-packed Apple Store after anxiously awaiting the results of the autopsy of my 4-week old iPhone (relief, death occurred in non-suspicious circumstances, replacement procured). I stumbled out onto the buzzing street. Shoppers on a mission crashed into meandering tourists, smart cars jetted in and out of side streets, motorbikes revved, buses rumbled. I stood still, breathing gently, trying prevent my over-sensitized lungs from launching into an asthma attack. London blurred before my eyes, I was not in the mood for busy.

In my dazed state I was led by the hand to a non-descript building tucked away on a narrow through-road between Regent Street and Oxford Circus, The Photographers' Gallery. Peace. White walls, white frames, wide mounts displaying black and whites prints. Airy, light, peaceful. Delight. A whole building dedicated to photography. The cafe served just the type of food that I liked, every single item in the bookstore I wanted, no, I needed, to own. Future talks and events were advertised which in my mind I have committed to attend. At present they are showing Andre Kertesz On Reading. An important photographer, 'the godfather of photojournalism', the collection is well worth seeing. As the title suggests these pictures must be read, sometimes between the lines. When done effectively you can trace the transgression from text-based culture to one that is primarily image-based, and one that has come to dominate the conveyance of happenings and movements in contemporary society, both welcome and unwelcome.

In the gallery as a whole I saw few pieces that made me go 'wow', however the price tags of some of the prints for sale certainly did....can I ever hope to sell a photograph fro £2000? But the venue itself is noteworthy, its commitment to independent photographers and emerging talent is welcome, as is its commitment to education and providing a place focused on visual interpretation. It's all free too. A rarity in the capital. An hour to spare? Seeking an oasis of tranquility, and tea and cake? Let your eyes lead you to the Photographers' Gallery.

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