Tuesday, 15 December 2009

So much to say so little time

So much has happened lately in terms of interestingness and I feel I've had no time to blather on about it, unless in conversations where there has been gin or wine involved.


Birthday (turning 28). Standing next to Bridget Riley in a small gallery space listening to her speak about how her work is heavily inspired by Cezanne (and thus Matisse) whilst also discussing the hypnotic influence of listening to Jazz as she works (and leading me to then think about the similar methods of one quite brilliant Jackson Pollock who did the same).
A few minutes after leaving the gallery seeing these:


Right, now so memory... hmmmm, this is where I suffer from goldfish syndrome.
I photographed a lovely exhibition launch in Pimlico, exhibiting the work of Tim Richards. There I heard the wonderful Dan Cruickshank speak about the rebuilding project of the mighty Euston Arch (which once stood rather near where I went to secondary school).

Here's the lovely man himself with one of Tim's pieces:

(Dan Cruickshank behind Tim Richard's model of the Euston Arch, photo copyright Lucy Johnston)

I saw the Kienholz installation at the National Gallery and was left deeply moved and pensive by what I saw and experienced whilst walking around The Hoerengracht. I urge everyone to see this work. Its free and its very very interesting (try and get there before the crowds so you don't hear annoying people say loudly and uninterestedly 'Why have they got that metal thing on their faces?' and want to smack someone and shout ART IS TO BE RESPECTED AND EXPLORED AND ISN'T JUST A SPECTACLE TO TICK OFF A TIME OUT LIST. A subject I have since discussed in length and will not bore you on here with and isn't a question of being snobby - far from it, but seriously, read the fucking intro on the wall yeah?)

Then there was the Warp20 event, where I shot some live photos for Warp (was lovely to be asked by the kind folk there!) Lights were a shocker to shoot in but we got some alright shots at the end of it and highlights definitely included seeing Nice Nice live and dancing to Plaid djs.

(Broadcast @ Warp20, photo copyright Lucy Johnston)

And then it was ATP 10 years, which I only got back from yesterday. My body is tired and my mind somewhat all over the place. I was asked to submit some shots to NME and get them through to them 10am yesterday (which meant working on shots of Lightning Bolt at 4am - HUZZAH). Gutted I didn't get a photo of the Todd Trainer wall - apparently some of my shots were up there... and I spent the whole weekend 98% sure that it was my photo of Todd Trainer that made the overall shot but apparently it wasn't... DAMN.

Photos to come as soon as I finish them off. I think ATP deserves a whole entry all on its own.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

London Shop Fronts

Just stumbled across this.... I like it, a lot.

linky: London Shop Fronts

Monday, 30 November 2009

One of the best gigs I've been to this year:


Genuinely, one of the finest live performances I've borne witness to. It was a sheer joy seeing these lads perform one of the best albums of this year in my childhood stomping ground (yes, Hoxton!). Two Dancers is really a work of sheer brilliance, in my personal opinion.

So second to Kraftwerk in Croatia, this one is up there in my top five gigs of the year.

Aaaaaand if you watch in full, you'll see me get in the way of the camera man... sorry. I was taking these 3 photos...

Wild Beasts play Hoxton Hall Wild Beasts play Hoxton Hall Wild Beasts play Hoxton Hall

Inside out

1957 J No.2. Clyfford Still

Was just reminded of how much I love Clyfford Still's paintings. I first fell in love with his work at art A' level where I became obsessed with american abstract expressionism. Barnett Newman was another favourite of mine... cue many attempts to emulate said works in a project which was about interiors and exteriors (my whole thing was about the inside of a home - skeletal structure of a building versus the human energy within it - house versus home type thing...). Was trying to find a photo of one of my final projects where it was rather obvious who the inspiration was (I told you, I was obsessed!) but sadly that was before the days of digital... saying that, I've just had a peek around two old files in my flat (which hadn't been moved since the day I moved in... erm, 2 and a half years ago) and found one! All the proper pics for my portfolio at the time are, funnily enough still in my portfolio, hidden in my parents house. I say photos, as the pieces were about 3 foot high and something like 5 foot long (maybe bigger) and there were 3 of them. Not ones my parents could easily stick on the fridge...

Anyway here's a little photo of my attempt at being an abstract expressionist when I was a little young 'un (I had to take a photo of the photo on the floor, as my scanner is too much work to set up...)

painting by me, aged 17 and a half.

Pointless post really... bit of a stream of consciousness with a tinge of nostalgia. Seriously though, do check out Still's work. Some of it really is quite beautiful.

New addition to the family...

Photo by Lucy Johnston

Pretty little Felica packed with 120mm Rollei Retro 400 film. Photos on here soon, as soon as I take them... I'm hoping for some nice black and white portraits. Any volunteers, please drop me a line.

Thank you Dan! (it was a birthday present)

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Bown's Beckett and Bjork

Samuel Beckett portrait by Jane Bown

I find Jane Bown's work truly brilliant and utterly inspirational. I'm so gutted I missed her recent London exhibition (only found out it was on!)

An interesting video with her talking about some of her work (including how she took one of my most favourite portraits of my most favourite writer of all time, this photograph of Beckett)

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

When there's photo editing to be done, be sure that you'll find a tremendous website to distract you for hours...

This site is wonderful: http://atlasobscura.com/

My particular favourites this morning have been the Biosphere-2 in Arizona, the fascinating Aokigahara suicide forest next to Mount Fuji and the strangely beautiful Blood Falls in Antarctica.

I really need to do some work...

Sneaky peek...

I recently took this photo 'behind the scenes' at a These New Puritans video shoot in the rather glamorous location of a community leisure centre in Barnet. Without going into details, needless to say I felt rather odd standing by a pool with my long lens out shooting semi-naked indie boys...

But needs must (haha!), and the full set of shots will go live on The Quietus early December. I can't wait to see the video - it looked great on the crew's screen (and I also hear the new album is going to be mighty).

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Jim Goldberg: Open See

Today after I finished work at 3, I decided to pop by the Photographer's Gallery to see what exhibitions they had on. If I'm honest, and I hate to say it, I was trying to keep my expectations low in fear of disappointment. The last few exhibitions I've been to there have been somewhat uncharacteristically weak. Thankfully, today I was greeted with Goldberg's extremely moving Open See.

The exhibition is an on-going project for Goldberg, exploring and documenting illegal immigrants, war refugees, and displaced people who have been forced to leave their homes due to social and economic devastation.

At first the disparate nature of the exhibition was quite disorientating. Goldberg uses various formats - polaroids, medium format and large format prints, video and various ephemera to explore and (what only I can guess) reflect the fragmented nature of the broken up lives of these people in transit. I instantly found (no pun intended...) the use of polaroid captured an intimacy between subject and photographer. This in itself, seemed to highlight the physical process of interaction between the documenter and the documented. Not only did the words written on the portraits draw me into the reality of the subject's own subjectivity, but the use of polaroid also made me aware of the immediacy and tangibility of the image itself.

One photo that struck me early on was a polaroid of an elderly man who had written on his own portrait: "I make 68 taka [$1] a day and have despair." It completely stopped me in my tracks. Something I would have taken as a striking documentary photograph was now a direct link to another human being and their experience of the world. If I'm honest, at first I felt a little uncomfortable with the annotation on the photographs as I wasn't sure if the subject had written it directly or if it was a post-capture narrative constructed by the photographer (who knows with some people's attempt at the post modern!). As someone who was unaware of Goldberg's methods and previous work - having seen the fragmented nature of how the various formats were exhibited, my cynical brain was unsure if this was just another part of the fragmentation, taking meaning and subverting it through the photographer's own constructed narrative. But as you look through the wealth of images and written accounts (excerpts from Goldberg's travel diary and notes that accompany some of the images) there is no doubting the sincerity and conviction of the work.

I really do urge people to go see it. The photographs are not only powerful in their subject matter and method of documentary, but Goldberg's eye for composition and light is simply stunning.

More info here: http://www.photonet.org.uk/index.php?pxid=956

Monday, 16 November 2009

Tentative steps...

I've never had a blog and the prospect frightens me rather. However, having looked at various people's blogs with thoughts, photographs and sounds, in fear of sounding too earnest, I thought I'd try and focus my mind a bit more and share similar such things (mostly photographs of my own making). Yes, I've a big ego begging to be set free.

So hope you're not too bored having a peek at my work and rambles... and I warn you now I have NO concept of grammar. Although I do know that 'less' should not be mistaken for FEWER*.
(*thank you Angus)

This photo was taken by myself on Devil's Mountain, otherwise known as Teufelsberg, in Berlin as we walked up to the abandoned US 'listening station' situated on top of the man-made hill. (More info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teufelsberg). It was sunset and the light was beautiful. I shot this on my trusty LC-A+ on Fuji Provia colour neg (200iso).