Panoramic, 4 solo exhibitions of photographic work 2015 - 2018

Billingham, Richard ORCID: 0000-0002-6474-5656 (2018) Panoramic, 4 solo exhibitions of photographic work 2015 - 2018. [Show/Exhibition]

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Abstract

‘Panoramic’ is an ongoing photographic research project begun in 2010 that has origins in previous work. It explores various ways photographic panoramic formats can be used creatively to represent the British Landscape. It uses analogue cameras - both low grade unbranded point and shoot 35mm cameras and high end 120 format cameras. It draws on historical British Landscape Painting and has given rise to a broad range of panoramic photographic exhibition works ranging in scale from approximately 6cm x 16cm to approximately 84cm x 247cm. The project has so far outputted four solo panoramic landscape exhibitions, each one curated by the artist. The exhibitions were: ‘Panoramic’ Towner Gallery Eastbourne 2015; ‘Panorama’ Anele Juda Fine Art London 2015; ‘Landscape Photography’ Frederica Lugar Gallery, Milan and ‘The Wakelin Award’, Swansea 2018. Exhibitions were curated in response to the scale, architecture and character of each exhibition venue and accordingly comprised differing selections of photographs. The Towner Gallery exhibition contained thirty - five panoramic photographs made 2010 - 2015. It also contained one large scale video projection (7mins) and one large (0.7m x 10m) multiple photographic piece both made in 2003 as part of the artist residency programme at ArtSway and first exhibited in the solo exhibition curated by the artist ‘New Forest’, ArtSway Galleries, Hampshire 2004. The panoramic photography, displayed alongside the two earlier pieces, opened up dialogue between form and content across time. Approximately twenty paintings from the Towner’s extensive collection of British Landscape Painting were also selected and curated alongside the artist’s work, opening up dialogue between painting, lens - based media and historical depictions of the British Landscape. Towner made a purchase of one large (84cm x 247cm) panoramic exhibition work to add to its permanent collection of works by artists including Henry Moore, Paul Nash, Victor Pasmore, Alfred Wallis, Duncan Grant and Eric Ravilious as well as contemporary artists such as Olafur Eliasson, Wolfgang Tillmans, Anya Gallaccio, Julian Opie, Tacita Dean and Grayson Perry. Towner Gallery annual visitor numbers are approximately 150,000 ‘Panorama’, Anele Juda Fine Art London 2015 consisted of twenty panoramic photographs ranging from 6cm x 16cm to 84cm x 247cm in scale. It was exhibited on the third floor of the Anele Juda Gallery at the same time as the solo exhibition ‘The Arrival of Spring’ by David Hockney on the floor above. The Hockney exhibition consisted of 16 standard sized and 4 large iPad drawings printed on paper and first shown at the Royal Academy in 2012 in Hockney's solo exhibition 'The Bigger Picture'. Both landscape exhibitions were complementary and ran parallel. Billingham was awarded ‘The Wakelin Award’ by the Glynn Vivian Gallery, Swansea 2018. It is given annually to a Welsh artist and includes a solo exhibition and the purchase of a work for the Glynn Vivian’s permanent collection. Sculptor Laura Ford was the selector for 2018 and the gallery purchased a photographic work ‘Welsh Moor, 2014’. The accompanying exhibition comprised a selection of Billingham’s landscape and panoramic landscape photography made 2001 onwards, as well as photographs from another body of work called ‘Zoo’ (2003 – 2007). Zoo examined the psychological effects of captive animals and the various ways animals are represented in zoos around the world. Curated together, the exhibition opened up new insight between the two bodies of work and their content. ‘Landscape Photography’ Frederica Lugar Gallery, Milan was a survey show of Billingham’s Landscape photography 2001 – 2017 and consisted of twenty - five pieces. The show’s aim was to reveal the development and evolution of the artist’s photography of the British Landscape from relatively standard formats into panoramic formats from 2001 – 2017. About half the exhibition comprised landscape photography from 2001 – 2014 made with a range of analogue medium formats (6 x6, 6 x 7 and 6 x 9). The remaining half comprised panoramic pieces from 2010 onwards. A central aim of the Panoramic work (begun 2010) was to find out, through creative photographic practice, how a location’s sense of place and indisposable emotional quality could be conveyed with immediacy by the camera. It evolved initially from using the cheapest panoramic unbranded cameras with plastic lenses, the cheapest (often out of date) 35mm film, and the cheapest high street film processing in order to photograph particular locations in the British Landscape inspired by the British ‘Place Art’ of landscape and open - air painters such as John Constable (oil sketches of Suffolk), Ivon Hitchens (panoramic paintings of Sussex), Graham Sutherland (Pembrokeshire landscapes), Paul Nash (landscapes of South England) and David Hockney (paintings of the Yorkshire landscape). The use of cheap amateur equipment for the project has its origins in the artist’s first publicly exhibited body of work about his immediate family called ‘Ray’s a Laugh’. Both the initial landscape photography and ‘Ray’s a Laugh’ pushed and tested the photographic medium by making creative use of the ‘snapshot’ and the various optical idiosyncrasies of a range of low grade amateur 35mm cameras to make poignant images. A second aim was to create a tension between the aesthetic of the panoramic landscape imagery and the amateur processes by which the photographs are made. With the work ‘Ray’s a Laugh’ the relative poverty of the family is a main theme and images had to be made with cheap photographic equipment the artist had access to at the time. This is transparently revealed in the work itself, i.e. the form of the work evolved through the limitations in which it was made. With the landscape work, limitations in equipment used to make the work are deliberately imposed and manipulated. There is also a change in subject matter and a deep connection with historical British landscape painting, much of which is associated with Romanticism, identity and notions of Englishness and Britishness. Panorama involved extensive time immersed in chosen regions of the British Landscape, sometimes weeks as a time, observing closely a location’s particular geography, iconography and vegetation type and being open and sensitive to changes of weather, textures, movement, patterns and phenomenology. Locations chose have distinct identities and sense of place and include Norfolk, South Downs, Constable Country and the Gower Peninsular Wales. Initially the work aimed to convey ‘sense of place’ and ‘essence’ of a region as economically as possible, as if in shorthand, like a sketch that aims to capture the rhythm and vitality of a scene or happening. The work searched for ways that low quality cameras and analogue 35mm film could combine grain, texture and ‘optical blur’ with the characteristic motifs, shapes, rhythm, natural form, iconography, geology, weather, movement and overall ‘vitality’ present in the British Landscape. A model for this was Nineteenth and Twentieth Century painting that sought to interlock image and paint so that ‘image is the paint’ and vice versa. Prime examples of such paintings are many of Constable’s oil sketches made in the open air - an inspiration and starting point for the work. ‘Panorama’ evolved further in 2013 with the use of both the professional Xpan 35mm format and the 120, 6 x 17 format. The aim of introducing these additional analogue formats into the research was to force new kinds of aesthetic response and attention onto the landscape. Change in format involved the use of larger heavier cameras, larger negatives depicting greater detail and the use of tripods. It initiated a gradual shift from rhythmic vigorous sketch - like landscape depictions made with unbranded cameras to that of a more classical panoramic vista. It involves framing much larger spaces in the landscape that take longer to compose. It forced longer exposures with the visual effect of ‘absorbing’ time into the image. A new stillness or harmonic balance between formal pictorial elements such as line, colour, pattern, natural form, texture, light and shade was achieved. There is a consistency of attention to the picture plane, often there is no focal point or area of the images that the viewer is encouraged to concentrate on or pay most attention to. The newer panoramas produced for exhibition are much larger scale, typically 54cm x 121cm or 84cm x 247cm. Panorama is an ongoing project.

Item Type: Show/Exhibition
Related URLs:
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Art and Design > Photography
Research Priority Areas: Creative Practice as Research
Depositing User: Richard Billingham
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2019 09:13
Last Modified: 17 May 2019 13:20
URI: http://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/6758

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