Photo London 2016

Hubbie had been unwell with a dodgy stomach since Friday. ‘Do you think you will be OK by tomorrow?’ I asked him as I handed him a glass of coconut water. ‘I’ll do my best’, he answered feebly as he rested his head on a pile of pillow and stared at the ceiling morosely. Oh, I feel for you, you are so unlucky…

Hubbie was so pi**ed off with himself because we were supposed to visit PHOTO LONDON the next day and he was not at all ready for it health-wise. The exhibition was designed to showcase the créme de la créme of photography from all over the world, and therefore, the scale of the show was massive – occupying almost all of the Somerset House, Strand. ‘Well, we shall assess the situation tomorrow morning, OK?’ I closed the bedroom door.

Then came next morning, Hubbie was significantly better, hence we set off for the exhibition by cab.

The venue was a lot busier than last Wednesday…

Each room was dedicated to a single gallery and the walls were covered with framed photographes in all sizes and shapes…

There were so many things to take in. The volume of visual stimulation we received by walking in and out of the galleries one after another was overwhelming and even a little mind numbing. In the end, I decided to focus on exhibits which grabbed my attention first and foremost in each room and to dismiss the rest.

Following images were the ones which caught my eye.

Ciels du Seine by Floriane de Lassée…

The images were created by giving the originals a 180 degree rotation. The idea and execution were simple. However, I found the results stunningly beautiful and they reminded me the film, Inception.

Abdulahi Mohammed with Mainasara, Lagos, Nigeria by Pieter Hugo…

Is this a dog?! Then I realised it was a hyena. A beefy black man with his muzzled beast in a very raw urban landscape, the combination created a very powerful image.

Prints with acrylic paint by Chloe Sells…

I just found the artworks irresistible. Again, the technique was simple yet the results were vibrant and otherworldly.

There were also some classics from commercial photography too.

Girls in the Windows by Ormond Gigli…

One of the main attractions of this year’s exhibition was the show by Don McCullin

He is one of the most revered war photographers of our time and his career spans from the start of Cold War to the present. Some of his most iconic images were from the Vietnum War period and this was one of them…

The picture reminded me a book I read sometime ago. It was Band of Brothers by  Stephen E Ambrose.

– Although the men lived in constant danger—a direct hit from the railway gun would destroy whole buildings—they were in a sense spectators of war. Glenn Gray writes that the “secret attractions of war” are “the delight in seeing, the delight in comradeship, the delight in destruction.” He continues, “War as a spectacle, as something to see, ought never to be underestimated.” Gray reminds us that the human eye is lustful; it craves the novel, the unusual, the spectacular.-

What effect does happening to be in the midst of armed conflicts to a normal sane individual, I asked to myself. The image was powerful.

One definite grudge Hubbie and I felt towards PHOTO LONDON was not giving Don McCullin enough space and instead, dedicating too much room to Craig Horsfield…

We were very sorry to be judgemental but we found his works mediocre and wished if his exhibits to be swapped with Mr. McCullin’s.

The staircase of West Wing was a delight to climb up and down…

The staircase was an epitome of the charm which made visiting Somerset House so special. Histric remnants of aristocratic household were everywhere and it made me feel like I was a time-traveller.

The building started its existence as a Tudor palace by the Thames and it was repeatedly redesigned and extended as it changed hands. 

I hope this snapshot I took would depict the colossal scale of the structure…

Networks of the staircases and walkways were there to make the daily machinery of the complex to run smoothly. Don’t you think it resembles M. C.Escher’s artworks?

One more image which I found charming was “For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness” by Julian Germain…

Both of us were completely exhausted by the end of the exhibition. It was so much to absorb and digest in one go. We staggered out to the street and hailed the first cab we spotted. ‘To John Lewis, please!’

We had to buy a super-king size fitted sheet but at first, we needed to refuel ourselves…

A burger and chips at Ham Holy Burger. They tasted great after a lengthy trekking at Somerset House…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Oops, he’s done it again…

I raised a hand to stop the cab coming towards us on Old Street, ‘Let’s get a cab!’ As soon as Hubbie and I settled into a back seat, he exclaimed, ‘Oh sh*t! I’ve forgot the ticket!!’ We were on our way to Somerset House for a lecture, a part of the event, PHOTO LONDON. So we asked the cab driver to wait while Hubbie would dash to his office and fetch the ticket. Oh dear, I should have looked after it instead of trusting it to him, I thought. He could be s bit of scattered brain when he was extremely busy…

‘You are in charge of this from now’, he handed me the ticket, huffing and puffing as the cab pulled out and merged into early rush-hour traffic. ‘Do you think we have time for a quick tea & cake?’ I asked Hubbie as I studied the paperwork. ‘Oh, I should imagine so’, it was his cheerful reply. Then, I spotted a fatal flaw. He told me the lecture would start from 5 o’clock but the ticket stated otherwise – it was to start from 4 o’clock! Our cab was creeping up Fleet Street and the time was already 4:20. ‘Oh no, I didn’t do it, did I? Please tell me I didn’t!’ Hubbie lamented. We thought everything was going swimmingly but our boat was in fact sinking fast with a large hole in the hull…

The event organiser kindly let us sneak into the auditorium…

The lecture was given by Nadav Kander, a South African photographer, who was famous for his portraits of world leaders and celebrities. I was especially taken by his remark about Francis Bacon. ‘The image (of a sitter) expresses better if all of him/her is not shown. Because in that way, the viewer’s imagination will do the job’ I couldn’t agree more.

PHOTO LONDON is the largest and most luxurious photographic exhibition in London. An equivalent of the Frieze Art Fair. Like Frieze, the venue are full of big name photographic galleries and dealers from all over the world…

We managed to dodge securities and looked around a part of the marquee after the lecture. ‘We must look the part’, we whispered to each other as we walked in and out of the gallery booths, studying and musing exquisite prints displayed on the walls. It was a private view day and therefore open to journalists and dealers only. Oops!

We have tickets for Saturday and in the meantime, I am looking after it and I shan’t let him come anywhere near it…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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