A Day of Contrasts

What does this mean? A day in November I took the opportunity for a train trip to London with a friend. We began the day at Waterloo Station to view the Landscape Photographer of the Year Exhibition which is running currently until 4th February 2018.
If you have never visited before, this is what you can expect to see. The exhibition is upstairs so you will have to use either the escalators or the lift to access the exhibition space. The main display is easily visible but take care to not miss those images displayed between some of the shop fronts. There is also a free standing electronic screen featuring rolling images of many of the photographs on display. There is no entrance fee and anyone can access the exhibition as the station is open 24/7.
Our timing was superb, arriving around 11am which meant that it was relatively quiet, the station was clean and not too busy. This of course may vary depending on your timing. Be aware that there is no public seating available so it can be difficult if you want to stop and just gaze at the photographs.
If you are unable to attend this exhibition, the pictures are now available in the AA published hardback Landscape Photographer of the Year No 11.

 

 

 

 

 

 

©Matt Cooper

 

There is a continuing change of photographers in the exhibition as new and younger people are featured. My friend commented “I was particularly intrigued by this bird’s eye view of Brighton Pier – how lovely to see an aerial shot full of cogs and wheels! It made me think of amusement arcade games; seaside rock and the excitement of scary rides!” Since taking my friend to the exhibition, they are now looking forward to making it an annual trip.
After an hour or so of careful examination of all the exhibits, we exited the station and took a short stroll over the Golden Jubilee Bridge to Trafalgar Square and over to the National Portrait Gallery, which is actually set to the side of the National Gallery, to see the Cezanne Portraits exhibition which is running until 11 February 2018. It is a deceptive building with a small revolving door and entrance but as you start your journey through the rooms it becomes a tardis waiting to be explored.
Access was straightforward as the exhibition was all on ground level. We had already booked our visit and timed tickets allowed us to enter without crowds. The exhibition layout was helpfully designed to take the audience along a timeline of the life and works of Cezanne; mainly self portraits but also of his family and in later years of farm labourers and country folk.
In the early days, Cezanne seemed to be honing his skills by concentrating on his self portraits (the modern equivalent possibly being the phone selfie!). Despite little support from his family, he had enough self belief to continue his craft. A life lesson for us all? Given his self belief and perseverance, he developed and transformed his style and with that came a change of tools; introducing brushes alongside the palette knife. Despite a change of technique, this did not devalue his earlier works.

 

 

 

 

 

 

©National Portrait Gallery

 

I enjoy this particular self portrait because he is wearing his hat, something that he became well known for, and I understand his penchant for hat wearing as I too can’t resist leaving the house without one!

So from digital photography to oil paintings, their contrasting forms have equal creative validity. Similarly, the contrast in settings for both exhibitions were relevant to the era of the art form which sat comfortably in its environment.
I would encourage people to visit both of these exhibitions as it provides a truly different outlook on what is art and how it can inspire us to explore other people’s creativity and challenge our own.

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