Category Archives: Exhibition Reviews

Arles: Les Rencontres de la Photographie 2016

This visit has been, for me, a dream come true. When I decided to book to visit Arles this year it was already the end of March and getting accommodation was almost impossible but I managed to secure a room at the edge of the city at an exorbitant price. Visiting the world famous meeting of photographers is very expensive but well worth the experience.

Having booked to go I examined the programme and asked the advice of my tutor about who and what I should try to see. His advice was extremely useful.

The exhibitions are located in 24 different venues around the city. The programme is divided, roughly, into photographic ‘genre’. I decided to start with “Street Photography”. Listed under “Street” were Sid Grossman and Eamonn Doyle, Ethan Levits and Garry Winogrand, Peter Michhell and finally Cristian Marclay. I have decided to do a separate page on each genre. Click here to read the blogs

The second genre I visited was After War. The photographers listed in this section were: Don McCullin, Yan Moravan, Alexandre Guirkinger and a group exhibition around 9/11


Grayson Perry: Hold Your Beliefs Lightly

I visited this exhibition, held in the Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht, on 30 May 2016. The scope of the work exhibited almost took my breath away. There was work from 2005 almost to the present day. Perry works in a huge variety of materials. There were ceramics, wooden and cast iron sculptures, paintings, photographs, fashion, a poem, tapestries.and even his motor bike. “If a bloke has to prove his machismo with a motorbike, then he isn’t very macho.”(1), according to Perry


Grayson Perry

When I last visited Maastricht I caught a glimpse of Perry discussing this exhibition with the museum curator. He was dressed, on this occasion, as his alter ego, Claire, or as he described in this interview (1) as a fettish, just another part of me. This double persona intrigues me. It is well documented that he had a very troubled childhood. But how troubled and what was the nature of the trouble. I am sure many psychiatrists have examined his work with a view to unraveling his childhood and he is married to one, I believe. In the same interview Perry says of his cross dressing: There is a psychological element to it as well as a sexual one. When asked if being a transvestite has helped his career he says it hasn’t harmed him because: In the crowded cultural landscape, it doesn’t hurt to be known for something different.(1)

Out of this very complicated and troubled persona Perry creates extraordinary art. The intensity of some of the pieces is breathtaking.

a map of day detail_sm

A Map of Day (2013): detail from

His ceramics contain stories within stories:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Perry weaves his beliefs, his passions and his pain into his tapestries. The resulting work can be viewed superficially as a beautifully colourful piece of tapestry. But time taken to examine in detail the stories within these works, is time very well rewarded.


A Map of Truths & Beliefs



A detail from this tapestry.





A detail of the Walthamstow Tapestry.




And I have not even got around to discussing Measles Man, Perry’s teddy. Suffice it to say that Measles Man has been deified by Perry!!

There was a whole exhibition of dresses Perry designed and wore on certain occasions. The poem about Julie and the art work around it should be the subject of another blog entry.

  1. 2016. Grayson Perry is tired of living a double life – Telegraph. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 01 June 2016].

The BA Visual Arts Degree Show: Sherkin Island

This BA degree in Visual Arts is an outreach course funded by Cork County Council and the Government and directed by the Dubin Institute of Technology. It is a full four year university degree and takes place on Sherkin Island off the south west coast of Ireland. It is the only outreach degree of this kind in the country and has been running for many years.

The idea of the course is to give students, especially islanders, who missed out on a university education when they were younger, the chance to return to college to pursue a degree qualification in the arts. Because of their diverse backgrounds the students bring a wealth of talent and experience to this course. Space is limited; a maximum of twenty students can be enrolled every two years. The competition for places grows year on year. The resultant standard is extremely high which was again reflected in the quality of the work presented by the 2016 years student’s degree exhibition.

Seventeen 2016 students have submitted their final projects and their work is on exhibition over two days on Sherkin Island. The students present their work in various locations around the island from the 14 century abbey, the Islander’s Rest Hotel, the Community Hall, private homes, the headland and a renovated barn reputed to be the oldest, intact, building on the island. This exhibition, which is open to the public, is the students’ first experience of their ‘art’ professional lives. About a thousand people travel, by ferry, to the island to visit this exhibition. The 2016 exhibition is entitled Uncover.

Because of the nature of the degree course and the unique location the work presented is very diverse.

I was unable to visit every student’s work so apologise to those whose work I was unable to see. Only one graduating student among those I visited had concentrated exclusively on Photography. After a career in IT, Jean Dunne, prompted by a love of Sherkin Island, decided to enrole in the BA Visual arts degree course. Having had her camera gear stolen in her twenties she abandoned photography and only returned to the camera as she progressed with her BA degree. Her work is original and very professionally presented.


Jean Dunne

Much of the work is concerned with conceptual art. I have rarely been so moved by work as I was by that of Lesley Cox. She investigates the connection we all have to the uterus.


Lesley Cox


Lesley Cox

Brigid Madden’s work was also deeply thoughtful


Bridget Madden


Bridget Madden

Other work, which I found outstanding, was Imagination-Emigration by Philomena Smith. The work represents this idea by linking Philomena’s life in the textile industry to her sense of misplacement or not belonging. Since the work was presented under red, blue or yellow light, photographing it was very difficult.


Philomena Smith

Detlef Schlich’s work, also struck me as very professional. It is a film installation in three parts. The work is concerned with developing an alter ego. He told me the work is to be found on YouTube:

Lucy Cox’s work is concerned with environmental, political and spiritual elements.

Lucy Cox

Lucy Cox

The amount of effort that the students had put into their projects was impressive. I was interested to hear where the students were thinking of taking their work after graduation. Almost without exception the graduating students wanted to continue their studies. I found this quite extraordinary and wondered if it was connected to a fear of “letting go” and accepting the fact that they were now qualified. One student, Deidre Buckley-Cairns, bucked this trend. She had already secured a number of commissions for her stained glass work. She was also planning several exhibitions. Her final project was concerned with the connections between colour and memory. I photographed this in a Howling gale the night before the exhibition opened officially to the public.


Deidre Cairn

She was one of the nine students selected for the RDS Visual Arts Awards long list. The RDS Taylor Art Award is a cash prize of €10,000 and is awarded to the person the judges believe to be the most promising emerging visual artist in that year – See more here.

Some of these students will make it to the short list which will enable them to take their work to Dublin for a very prestigeous exhibition in August.

Ostkreuz: 25 Year Anniversary

La Friche

First I need to say something about La Friche, Belle de Mai, Marseille. This is a space of 45,000Mcompletely dedicated to the arts and social lives of the people of Marseille. The building started its life in the mid 1800s as a tobacco factory. One in five of the famous french cigarettes, Gauloises, was made here. The factory employed 1,000  in 1960 but by 1968 the workforce had declined to 250. It closed in 1970.

In 1992 two very progressive theatre groups moved into the building in order to create a working space for the theatres and artists of Marseille. The famous french architect Jean Nouvel was on board and La Friche was born.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The project expanded to included an area for heritage preservation, a cinema, artists work spaces, a restaurant, a library, a creche, a roof garden and a dedicated play area for the people of the ‘quartier’. This is a tough area of Marseille and the idea of integrating an art space with the lives of the young people of the area has paid huge dividends. When we visited yesterday there were lots of children skateboarding, there were young guys hanging out around the cafe and artists going about their work. It is a vibrant, living space for both the people of La Friche and for artists.

The Exhibition: Ostkruez 25th Annivrsary


After the fall of the Berlin wall President Mitterand invited a number of german artists to Paris. Among them was a group of east German photographers. This group of seven were supping coffee in Les Halles when they came up with the idea of establishing a photographic agency in Germany, on the lines of Magnum, the french agency founded by Cartier-Bressan. They called this agency Ostkreuz after the railway station which linked east and west Berlin.

The agency celebrated its 25th Anniversary in 2015 with an exhibition in Paris. This exhibition moved to La Friche, Marseille in Janaury 2016. The agency now consists of twenty photographers aged between thirty and sixty five. This exhibition consists of ‘the best images’ from these photographers over the past 25 years.

A very short emission by Arte talks briefly with some of the photographers (1 )and shows very briefly some of their images. For me there were too many images from too many photographers, in this one space. I found it difficult to switch my brain between the very different styles and subjects of these photographers. I was overwhelmed. So I decided to look at some of these Ostkruez photographers quietly online after the visit (2). In this way I hoped to gain some insight retrospectively into this exhibition.

I started to look at each one of the photographers just after I had watched an interview with Steve McCurry about his portraiture. I have to say most of the east German photographers work, although it was very different. looked a bit flat. Sibylle Fendt exhibited a series she made when she travelled with a man and his wife just after the woman had been diagnosed with dementia. But I failed to get the tragedy of this experience.

schonhartig_1Anne Schonhartig showed a set of works entitled “Interiors” and one of theses stood out for me.



mahler_1Another work which I liked was by Ute Mahler and was included in a set of images entitled “The Strange Days


The other topics included German work spaces, heavy metal followers, Detroit after the Ford closure, memorial meetings, a trial in the Hague and an observation of Roma people.

The exhibition has prompted me to ask “what am I looking for in photography”? “Where do I want to go with this”?


  1. Les 25 ans de l’agence de photo Ostkreuz | ARTE Info. 2016. Les 25 ans de l’agence de photo Ostkreuz | ARTE Info. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 12 March 2016].
  2. Photographers: OSTKREUZ Agentur der Fotografen GmbH. 2016. Photographers: OSTKREUZ Agentur der Fotografen GmbH. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 12 March 2016].

Alain Laboile: la famille

This is the first European solo exhibition by this, self taught french, photographer. The theme of the exhibition,, as the name implies, is based on images of his large family. Laboile is a sculpture living in a rural setting south of Bordeaux, with his wife and six children. The images are very much in the style of Sally Mann. The children often pose with animals, both wild and pets. They seem very at ease in their surroundings. The composition of the images is beautiful drawing the viewer into the fun and games of this very relaxed family.


la famille: Alain Laboile


la famille: Alain Laboile


la famille: Alain Laboile

For me these black and white, simply framed images  are superior to those of Sally Mann. The love and rapport between the father and his children is palpable. The whole impression is of a family living a simple rural fun life. There are almost 100 images presented in this exhibition.

Most of Laboile’s photography is based round his family life in France.. He has also created some exceptional colour images as well as these B&W.

  1. Works | Alain Laboile . 2016. Works | Alain Laboile . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 27 February 2016].

Toon Teeken Photo books 1968-2015

The exhibition Toon Teeken Photobooks 1968-2015 & Recent Work is now on view in the Bonnefantenmuseum untill februari 28. Toon Teeken (1944 Heerlen – Maastricht) has been working on his photo books for over 45 years. The exhibition focusses on the photobooks as well as some recent paintings and some sketches from Teeken. (1)

I visited this exibition in Maastricht yesterday principally because I was interested in Teekan’s photo books which he has been keeping for 45 years. I really admire someone who has the tenacity to maintain work like this. The books proved to be a great insight into the progression of Teekan’s work. In the beginning (1968) they were normal family photo albums. With time they developed into something else entirely. They became works of art in themselves. Teekan cut out images and pieces of information from books and magazines and stuck these into his books alongside sketches for his new work and ideas he was developing. He cut out sections of each page allowing us to look forward and backward at work in the book.


Book cover 2012: Toon Teekan


Book cover Toon Teekan


These cut outs always involved very straight lines and clean cuts. In recent years Teekan has been working on representing language visually. He gives each colour a letter and develops a narrative on the canvas using colour lines. He explains in a video at the exhibition that his canvas is an image of an image in his head. There is always something going on below the images so very often his work has a lower part as well as the main theme.


In addition to the books some of Teekan’s latest works were on display. I was fascinating by his “Read my Lips” shown below

Read my lips: Toon Teekan

Read my lips: Toon Teekan

where he uses this narrative technique. He also expresses music visually. The other main theme in the exhibition were works on “the external brain“.

External Brain: Toon Teekan

External Brain: Toon Teekan

Daido Moriyama

Moriyama is a Japanese photographer born in 1938 in Ikeda, Osaka. This exhibition at the Fondation Cartier is his second at the fondation. The first was twelve years ago. The first exhibition featured his B&W images of urban life in and around Toyko. He has focused on the areas of Japan which have been left behind in its rapid industrial development.

In the 1970s Moriyama began to experiment with colour photography but he converted these colour images to B&W before exhibiting them. However some of the images he thought looked better in colour and this recent exhibition consists of 86 coloured images in either portrait or landscape 111.5 x 149cm format.


Daido Moriyama. Tokyo Clor


Daido Moriyama Tokyo Color

The Fondation Cartier, designed by Jean Nouvel and built in 1984, is a center for contemporary art. Three of the four walls are glass so the building is flooded with light. On the obscure wall there is a room which is separated from the main exhibition hall where film and slide shows can be shown.


Fondation Cartier on a dreary day

In the main exhibition hall Moryiama’s images benefit from this explosion of light. Although the images show some fairly derelict areas of Shinjuku life, there is no sense of sadness or squalor. Rather the impression is one of fun and quirkiness. There are images of torn posters, parts of or whole people, found objects and pipework. Although I did feel the pipework worked better in black and white. The overall impression is of the accessibility of Moriyama’s art. It makes one want to rush out and create something similar.


Daido Moriyama Tokyo Color

In the projection room there is a series of black and white images which are a lot more somber. They depict unexplored areas of many cities that Moriyama has visited between July 2014 and March 2015. The slide show is presented in a very novel way. There are five screens. the images are projected on the two screens right and left of the main screen. The projection begins on the left and the images follow one another from left to right. The viewer is continually engaged in moving the head to follow the sequence. We are not told which images are of which city. There is a similarity in the sequence which could probably be captioned as “poverty with all its different faces” I found the experience of watching these images captivating as did, I believe, all those who were present. No one moved until they reached the point at which they had come in and it was a fairly lengthy projection since it contained images over a nine month period and at least one image from most days. The title of the projection is Dog and Mesh Tights which says everything about Moriyama.