John Blakemore Exhibition

Posted on October 18, 2011

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I visited the John Blakemore exhibition at the Hooper Gallery in London. Blakemore is a British photographer who has worked  in the field for upwards of 40 years. He has been a lecturer and is now emeritus Professor of Photography at Derby University.

Blakemore’s work is largely in black and white but some colour work including some very recent photographs were featured in the exhibition. He has published a number of books including several hand made books. His oeuvre covers early portraits and reportage work, through landscapes and more recently still life work.

His seminal work is JOHN BLAKEMORE’S Black and White Photography Workshop. In this book he sets out his approach to photography and a great deal of information on how he develops and prints his black and white photographs.

Blakemore talks about what he calls Relationship – the relationship of the photograph to the reality it depicts. A landscape image for example might be about a particular place, a document as it were, or alternatively it could be intended to allude to larger forces which shape the total landscape. He uses the terms descriptive and transformative for these two extremes. He also demonstrates how he works in series developing a theme over time. He allows the concept to  evolve and is not overly prescriptive at the outset. The book illustrate how he works through discussion of a number of his projects. He is perhaps best know for his series on Tulips.

The need to clarify intentions and to discriminate between the descriptive and the transformative  and his way of working in series are both useful insights…ones which I hope to develop in my work.

The exhibition was well worth the visit. The quality of the black and white prints was superb. It was very interesting to observe that his prints ranged from the extreme high key to very low key and others with a broad tonal range. His recent colour worked is very abstract but intriguing.  Lensculture has an article about the exhibition and some photographs here.

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