A couple of weeks ago I visited 3 exhibitions in Bradford with a couple of OCA pals. The most interesting of these was ‘Open For Business’. For this exhibition Multistory and Magnum Photos commissioned nine of the worlds leading photographers to document contemporary British manufacturing, exploring the condition of Britain’s manufacturing future. Three bodies of work stood out for me………
Stuart Franklin documented costal related industries focusing on the construction of the aircraft carrier ‘HMS Queen Elizabeth’, wave machines of the Orkney Islands and wind farms south of Glasgow. All of Franklin’s images on display were large black and whites. The image that I found most striking was ‘Pelamis wave machines, the Sound of Hoy, Orkney Islands’. The image is of the wave machine from the front looking like a whale surfacing for air with the water rushing from its mouth. Never having seen a wave machine like this it looks almost static in the water but, in fact, forms a long sausage shape that moves with the waves. I had to Google it (probably like many others) just to see what it looked like. A powerful image of power generation; the big swells giving a clue to the size of the wave machine. It is also a very sharp image considering that it must have been taken from a boat that was also moving in the swell.
Pelamis wave machines, the Sound of Hoy, Orkney Islands
Peter Marlow uses natural light where possible. A number of his images focussed on steel fabrication in the black country. As with Stuart Franklin I was seeing shapes and forms that are unfamiliar, allowing my mind to wander. The greatest appeal for me was the limited colour palette in these images. There were rarely any more than one or two colours evident, almost like Photoshopped partial colour images.
What didn’t I like? I’ve never been a great fan of Bruce Gilden and here we see more of the same! A camera shoved in someone’s face, harsh lighting and features, wide angled and unflattering. It’s Bruce Gilden doing what Bruce Gilden does and didn’t really add anything to the exhibition for me.