Published March 5, 2023 : Article by Alison Bettles

On a recent visit to London in February I had a busy day with a long list of exhibitions I really wanted to see.

Sid Motion Gallery

My first stop was at Sid Motion Gallery in Bermondsey. Tucked away in a side street this was my first visit here. There is a flight of steps up to the gallery and although a small gallery is bright and airy. The exhibition, Glossaries featuring Hannah Hughes & Dafna Talmor had only a few days to go but was a real treat and one that I really wanted to see.

Hannah Hughes (b. 1975) is an artist working primarily with collage, photography and sculpture whereas Dafna Talmor is a London-based artist and lecturer whose practice encompasses photography and spatial interventions. Their practices complemented each other stemming from an ongoing dialogue based on shared interests around forms and shape and the constructed image. There is a publication available of the exhibition as well as an exciting list of forthcoming events – well worth signing up to the mailing list.

Frith Street Gallery

Next was Frith Street Gallery (Golden Square) to see the newly opened Bridget Smith show, Field Recordings. Working in photography, video and installation, her practice explores the relationships we have with our environment, exploring the spaces in which we seek connection and transportation using a range of mediums. I was fascinated by a series of tintypes depicting twelve luminescent spheres (Silver Moons 2022) and a set of smaller, postcard-sized tintypes and ambrotypes documenting unclassified natural objects. All had a beautiful and mesmerising depth of blackness as if almost tangible as an object/image.

Huxley-Parlour Gallery

I have always liked the poetic, detailed landscape images by photographer Jem Southam – ok I am a bit biased as he was one of my tutors. The newly opened exhibition, The Seventh Winter at Huxley-Parlour (Swallow Street) is no exception. Using his trademark 10×8 camera he returned to the same spot on the river Exe in Devon to capture the liminal period between sunrise and daybreak during the winter period of 2022 observing the gradual awakening of the rivers wildlife as each day passes.

The Centre for British Photography

This was my first visit to The Centre for British Photography, a newly opened space that aims to showcase British photography in all its diversity. A charitable initiative, it has exhibition spaces, a programme of public events, an archive, shop and a vast and incredible amount of work on display that is spread over 3 floors. Some exhibitions borrow from the Hyman Collection, one of the world’s largest collections of British photography, whilst all spotlight artwork by contemporary UK-based photographers.

Among the opening exhibitions are a self-portrait show co-curated by the campaign group Fast Forward: Women in Photography and The English at Home, which features over 150 photos from the Collection of the English domestic interior by photographers like Bill Brandt, Kurt Hutton, Bert Hardy, Martin Parr, Daniel Meadows, Karen Knorr, Anna Fox, and Richard Bilingham.

There are further displays featuring Jo Spence and Natasha Caruana as well as two bodies of work commissioned by the Hyman Collection including Wish You Were Here, a recent series from Heather Agyepong which was incredible and possibly my favourite there. In 2019 The Hyman Collection commissioned Agyepong to respond to early twentieth century postcard imagery reflecting the dance craze in Europe, The Cake Walk. The resulting series was named Wish You Were Here (2020) and focuses on the work of Aida Overton walker, the celebrated African American vaudeville performer who challenged the rigid and problematic narratives of black performers.

This will be the physical home of some of the works of the Hyman Collection of British Photography of the Hyman Foundation, a registered charity. The Collection includes over 3,000 works by more than 100 photographers.

See Januarys review by Derek Cottrell for more about Chris Killip at the new Centre for British Photography.

Image Gallery

Article by Alison Bettles @alisonbettles
Images © The artists
Further information: Sid Motion Gallery | Frith Street Gallery | Huxley-Parlour Gallery | The Centre for British Photography

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