‘Pixel This’: A Phone

    For me, an antiquated stickler to the magic of film photography, visiting Dan Shearman’s brainchild – an exhibition comprised entirely of the masterpieces captured on smartphones – was an experience accompanied by feelings of distrust, cynicism and perhaps even a dour stroke of envy.

     

    As I expected, the general standard of photography on display bowled me over with a mixture of awe and annoyance, (bitterly rebuking the banker who nonchalantly points his Blackberry and achieves a priceless shot!) but in the end I let the former take precedence and relaxed into enjoying the exhibition for its true merit. Each photograph was simply presented on small square black lacquered canvas and Dan, the curator and founder was friendly, enthused and informative. His stance on the advent of ‘phoneography’ helped me to repute my own, arguing that it removes the need for technical skill and fancy equipment in favour of simply a ‘good eye’. If everyone has the possibility to fulfil their creative potential and in effect, become artists, this can surely be no bad thing.

     

    The photographs themselves covered an eclectic range of subjects and styles. There were those that I felt relied rather too heavily on the gimmicky iPhone functions – cracked effects, pixilated skies, canvas look a likes and a profusion of red post boxes and the like, nestled in black and white backgrounds. The most successful images steered clear of such frivolities and stood out for sheer aesthetic beauty and imagination. Landscapes, a notoriously tricky realm of photography, were really strong including a luminous and inviting purple Provence field in Laura McGregor’s ‘Lavender Fields’, brooding and soft focused ‘Battersea Power Station’ from Gordon Fraser, a romantic and nostalgic shot of long, wind tussled grasses in Lindsey Thompson’s ‘Last Days of Summer’ and a haunting sepia photo of eerie woodland by Dan Shearman himself- ‘Misty Woods’.

     

    These photographers have truly mastered capturing enduring and interesting shots of their environments. The simplicity and striking nature of black and white also had miraculous results. Of particular note was another shot by Lindsey Thompson called ‘Walk Away’ which depicts a tiny figure framed by a doorway in the centre and surrounded by murky foliage and shafts of light. The photograph which attained first place – ‘Profiled’ by Gary Cohen – also used black and white with a Cartier-Bresson esque expertise; a black austerely dressed and straight backed figure is perfectly propelled into the foreground against a white pillar.

     

    The ‘Pixel This’ project was all in support of an exceedingly admirable cause, raising money for ‘Kids Company’ who assist underprivileged inner city children across London in a ‘practical, emotional and educational’ sense. With the winning entries auctioned off to the highest bidders, all other originals were for sale at a very reasonable £25. The premise of affordable art, seemed to fit in nicely with Dan Shearman’s ethos of phoneography opening up the scope of who and how we can enjoy the art form. So, after strolling around the small space several times (during which time I had been thoroughly converted!), I was seriously dismayed to discover that a woman who had been browsing the gallery with hawk eyes as I arrived, had bought up six of the canvases, including my two favourite images ‘The Diver’ by Max Berkowitz and ‘Siesta’ by Eliana Carranza. I left empty handed but happy and thoroughly impressed – instead of splashing out on second hand cameras, perhaps this Christmas I will upgrade my £10 brick in favour of an iPhone!

     

    For more info on future exhibitions and events, visit CreateHive

     

    By Kate Kelsall

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