Tuesday, 30 July 2013


The Pleasures of Nature:


See you all Friday....

Ps. Ped, will you let my sister see these? I think she'll be tickled pink by Kevin's monkey x

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Faded Memories and Retro Chic

Hello everyone,

You may have noticed that, as part of our current exhibition, 'Funpark', we have been exhibiting photography in the gallery for the very first time.  Although this is a bit of a departure for us, the decision was made really easy by the quality and the beauty of Leeds-based photographer Natalie Liddle's work.  In fact, her photographs are an integral part of this exhibition - it would not be so coherent or successful without them.

Now I don't pretend to know a huge amount about photography, but I do know how much impact these photographs have.  Natalie found a box of 35mm slides of the Skegness area, taken by her Grandfather in the 1960's, and they have inspired her to take some images of the area herself, giving a more modern perspective of the area.  Using a traditional, analogue camera and film that is hand printed, and layering it with her Grandfather's slides, Natalie Liddle has created the most wonderfully evocative images, warm with nostalgia yet with a hard edged, contemporary feel to them.

Take a look at this:

'Wild River', medium format, C type photograph, by Natalie Liddle.

And this:

'The Big Man', medium format, C type photograph, by Natalie Liddle.

I love the fact that beneath the 'big man', there is a beautiful little image of Natalie's own big man - her Grandfather.  Very clever.  I also love how these images affect me.  When I was a young lad (admittedly in the 1970's and not the 1960's), my Father used to take us to the funpark at Butlins at Minehead in Somerset, as a treat every now and then.  I'm sure that it was all pretty small scale, but it was exciting and I confess to remembering those days with a hint of warm nostalgia.  Natalie's photographs immediately made me think of those trips especially as, along with much of what is in her Grandfathers slides, the funpark at Minehead is now gone (although the Butlins still exists apparently).

Natalie Liddle describes this work as as play on faded family memories and questioning the evolution of our fading British seaside towns.  For me, it fulfills its brief to perfection: you really should come in and see it soon.

A Special Footnote:
Last time I saw Natalie, she had this camera round her neck:

This is a Diana camera, made in Hong Kong almost entirely of plastic (including the lens), and largely given away with magazines in the 1960's.  These cameras may be beautiful pieces of retro chic, but they are also famous for being not very good!  Apparently they don't fit together very well, so light always gets into the film and distorts the image.  However, a by-product of this seemingly calamitous defect is that they can produce fascinating, if rather unpredictable, images.  Natalie regularly works with this camera, producing beautifully corrupted photographs.  I just thought it was a really interesting development for a very cool-looking, but fatally flawed product.
There's hope for us all yet!

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

The Big Wheel Keeps Turning

Hello everyone,

I hope you are all making the most of the sunshine and getting out and about. If so, VISIT UNION GALLERY NOW to see FUNPARK!

A piece in the exhibition which gets a lot of attention is this:

'Ferris Study II', screen print on aluminium, by Robin Goodall.

Earlier in the year, Robin Goodall and Norrie Harman went to Berlin to investigate the spooky Spreepark on the outskirts of the city.
Spreepark, or Kulturpark as it was know in its hey day, was built in 1969 in what was then East Germany, and was the only amusement park of it's kind in Germany.
One of its most famous attractions for the thrill seekers who visited for over 30 years was the giant Ferris Wheel which offered breathtaking views at a staggering 150 ft.
Spreepark, however, has been abandoned for the last 10 years after it was declared insolvent, and the park has been allowed to fall into disrepair.
In his screen print, Robin Goodall has captured the ghostly and desolate appearance of the Ferris Wheel perfectly - a fitting tribute that is both sad and proud, retaining some of the splendour and comanding presence of yester years.

Robin and Norrie hired bikes in order to get to Spreepark and on approach, but before actually seeing the Wheel, they could hear it creaking and slowly turning in the wind.
I like how Robin has given a fair nod to the formerly loved structure that enthralled so many people for so many years. It's as if the gargantuan structure cannot accept its fate and refuses to yield, still turning under its own steam but without the trill seekers, sad as if trying to relive its former glory. Or maybe it's just showing us its work ethic....after all, the show must go on.