Thursday, 3 December 2015

Suspended in space

I've been reading about Lina Bo Bardi this week, an Italian-born, Brazilian Modernist architect. Her focus was on glass, using it as a building material that could blend into the rainforests and greenery that often surrounded her constructions. The architecture becomes open, fluid, transparent and permeable. Outside, inside. She took this up again with her 'glass easels', which applied these principles to the gallery space. Glass panes held upright by concrete blocks enable a non-linear mode of viewing, and again that central openness – this time breaking down the walls between artworks. I find its effect remarkable – largely due to its perfect simplicity.

I'm writing up an interview with Isaac Julien at the moment, from when I met him in Venice back in May. He presented a multi-screen film in memory of Bo Bardi, and so introduced me to her work. I remember after the interview we ended up on a water taxi together, speeding towards the Giardini for the opening of the Biennale. Isaac was starting the week-long reading of Marx's 'Das Kapital' (some posturing there on Enwezor's part). I was quite thrilled. It was only when we arrived that I realised I had forgotten my pass, and so was forced to trail back to my hotel (mosquito-infected den) alone. So sad.

Isaac Julien said to me on Bo Bardi's easels specifically: "In terms of materiality, the easels can be considered as a metaphor to Lina’s approach. They’re made of glass and concrete, and these two elements were present in the majority of her projects. This heavy concrete base that holds the thin transparent glass in place plays with our senses through an ever-present dichotomy between heavy and light, opaque and transparent, and the graphic and the sculptural. It is within this structure that artworks flow seemingly free from any material weight apart from their grounding concrete structure. It creates this amazingly fluid space, which invites you to look at the artworks differently." 

Awake again

After a long hiatus, I've decided to start updating this blog again. It will be open-ended, and I hope a notebook of ideas and images. I started posting on here aged 17, when Twitter and Instagram hadn't yet taken off. Their growth (in the personal and corporate arenas) has been interesting to chart, with everyone from 12-year-olds to institutions like the Tate suddenly projecting themselves to the world. While the brevity of Twitter and the image focus of Instagram suggests the potential for a greater immediacy, I've found the reality to be something quite different.

Suzanne Moore wrote earlier today (in the context of this year's revamped Pirelli Calendar): "The demand for “realness” exists at precisely the same time as owning the means of production of imagery means just owning a phone. To look at Instagram is not to see how others live, but their own fantasies of life. Such lives consist of constant filters and retouching."

These projections can be fascinating in themselves, but I've found myself drawn back to the intimacy of the journal. Here formats are more sprawling, less defined. The active decision of readers to visit a blog also appeals, away from the endless scroll of social media. And the diary's introspective record of failures and impulses.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Life's a beach

While the snow fell endlessly earlier this year, Maddy and I booked a trip away to Valencia for a couple of months ahead - based mainly on the criteria that it must be baking hot and include a beach. When we finally arrived last week, the first thing that hit us was the heat - and the over-abundance of fruit sold on every corner. 

With tropical ideals in mind, we ate cherries and peaches each day on the bright sandy beaches, drank orange juice cocktails on terraces in the evening, and cycled around the city taking in the palm trees and splashes of tiled colour on every building. We visited the Calatrava-designed complex in a surreal storm of purple lightning, and wandered through the cacti in the botanical gardens. 

I carried my camera everywhere with an outline of creating a series based on the colours, forms and sheer heat of the city traced out. I wanted to combine these with Maddy's and my own portraits, taking direction from what I'd seen earlier that day. And most of all I wanted to channel the tropical heat of the holiday and our long, sunny days in the city.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Smoke of the city rising up into the sky

In Janaury when it was cold and clear in London I went round to Tony Benn's place just behind Notting Hill, to interview him with Isabella for the paper. He talked about his childhood, and his hopeful ideas for politics still today - all while clicking insistently on his lighter to try to get his pipe going. It wasn't until he got a moment before I took the picture that he finally lit it - I snapped him just as he lifted it up and breathed in deeply. The interview can be found here.  

Friday, 7 December 2012

Hemmed in by the desert

The Botanic Gardens in Cambridge are lined with incredible wooden-framed greenhouses, full of giant cacti, tropical plants and tiny shrubs. Inside, they're baking hot and full of light. We ran a feature in the paper on places to visit in the town, and so I cycled over to here to take some pictures of the gardens - I think we ended up with a big cactus on our front page, which was pretty great.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

From the terraces inward

At the beginning of August I went to Athens to visit Aris, where we walked around in the blistering heat, stopping off to drink coffee with ice cubes floating in the glass. We visited open air summer cinemas, gallery rooftops for glasses of wine, the disused Olympic stadium, and bakeries for cheese and spinach pies. We drove to the beach, sat on his grandmother's terrace for the best view of the Acropolis in the city, and ate pieces of watermelon at a local market in the suburbs. 

I felt for a while that I could see little evidence of the Greek crisis, but derelict store fronts became more noticeable as we covered more of the city. I was amazed by how cheap it could be to eat out in the city, and many galleries had weekly openings until midnight free of charge. I was also surprised by how late everything operated until, with films being screened at 1am, and one bar that we went to closing only when the sun came up and it became too hot to remain in the open air.