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Thursday, December 26

"A Silvered Light" ~ Dundee photography exhibition

Patricia Macdonald, Blanket Bog and Felled Forest, The Great Glen, 1987
© Patricia Macdonald, Dundee City Council (Dundee Art Galleries and Museums)

I'm not sure how many readers live within a reasonable travelling distance of Dundee but for those who do there's a new photography exhibition on at the city's McManus Galleries. Dundee City Council was the first local authority to  collect fine art photography and has amassed a "significant collection" of late 20th century photographs representing many Scottish-based photographers.

The exhibition, which got underway earlier this month, will showcase images from more than 50 photographers collected in the 28 years following the purchase of two important early photographs by Thomas Joshua Cooper in 1985. The council says that the exhibition will "allow visitors to explore the different ways in which the selected artists used the medium of photography in fine art" and includes work from Calum Colvin, Oscar Marzaroli, Maud Sulter, Emma Hamilton, Patricia MacDonald and David Williams.

I have to be honest and say I haven't heard of any of these photographers. They may be known to some but I don't go to a lot of exhibitions and don't try to keep up with this sort of thing. However, it seems that most, if not all, of the photographs are real as opposed to digital so on that basis I'm happy to support it.

The photograph at the top of this post by Patricia Macdonald is very nice but a little bird whose judgement I trust has told me that some of the featured photographers might not - how can I put this - be capable of reaching the same standard. I seem to recall the word "shit" being deployed to describe some of the work. Be that as it may, I'll definitely be popping in to check it out.

The council says the free exhibition will be "changing focus"in the coming months and there will be a series of linked events taking place throughout 2014. Yes, it's on all year so you've no excuse to miss it!


Anonymous said...

Hello everyone

I'm Jurgen and I would like to welcome all forum members...
Hope to have a good time here.


Nick Jardine said...

Should be an interesting exhibition. I think people should bear in mind that 'collection' exhibitions are often difficult. Usually an exhibit by a single artist has a theme and a thread which is clear for viewers to follow, and may explain the look and feel of the photograph. This information is usually lost in the collection exhibition, so while you may look at an image and think 'that's rubbish' or 'it's not that special, I could do better' what you may be missing is vital information on why an artist uses a certain technique, or chooses colour over B&W etc.

The other thing of course is cost. Buying early works of an established artist is cheaper than buying their more successful images - and from my experience, local councils don't have huge amounts to spend on collecting.

We all have to learn and develop, and if that means you are looking at earlier, unknown work from an artist then bear it in mind when viewing. If the council buying that work allowed an artist to progress in their career, then that alone is the investment repaid in my book.

Must admit I'm slightly bemused by your admission Bruce that you don't get to many exhibitions. Granted, they are few and far between in Scotland and we don't have a dedicated National Photographic Gallery - but nonetheless, surely the whole basis of this site is about producing film based prints which can only ever be viewed properly by actually seeing a print in the flesh ?


Good points well made about collection exhibitions, Nick.
As for me and exhibitions? It boils down to cost. Since giving up work a few years ago I've been on a very restricted budget. I'll go to local auctions but as for visiting one in Edinburgh, for example, that's the best part of £40. Quite honestly, I'd rather spend it on film and paper.

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