Professor Phil Shaw’s quirky and imaginative rendering of book spines on bookshelves grouped according to colour and titles to correspond with London’s tube lines shows how images can tickle the senses. His works are just one of the many on show at the third edition of the Photo London exhibition at Somerset House.
Founders Michael Benson’s and Fariba Farshad’s vision for photography in London continues to grow from strength to strength and continues to attract the world’s leading curators, collectors and galleries to the capital. This year 89 galleries from 16 countries including Japan, United Arab Emirates, Chile and USA have taken their place in the labyrinthine Somerset House.
One useful tip to visitors and photography fans, ditch the map. Follow where your heart desires and embark on journey of discovery from the pavilion to the inner sanctum of the venue. Getting lost amongst great photography is truly liberating for the senses.
Photo London Recommendations from our Critics
Mind the Gaps
This is a quirky, intelligent and imaginative body of work from Phil Shaw, a ground-breaking British digital-printmaker, who creates hyper-real images of great formal elegance and conceptual richness. His distinctive ‘bookshelf’ prints interrogate the changing place of the printed word in a digital age, and the transfer of meaning through inter-textuality. Depicting books arranged on shelves, their titles merge and melt, forming unexpected connections and new dynamics. These are images to explore and interrogate; they are clever, funny, unsettling, and beautiful.
Shaw’s work stems from what he describes as: “Questions relating to what we believe, what we think we believe and what we are told to believe. Probably as a result of a strict fundamentalist upbringing, I have always been troubled by the possibility that things may not be what they appear to be and certainly not what they are said to be.
“As a result, I see most beliefs (even scientific ones) as a form of dogma. And I enjoy poking fun at dogma – wherever it lurks. The book titles are all absolutely genuine (with the exception of the Fiction and Friction series). I wouldn’t have done the prints otherwise. They all appear in the British Library Catalogue.”
In 2004, one of these works was chosen as ‘Print of the Year’ by the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers. Shaw regularly exhibits at the Royal Academy and his work is included in the Lunder Art Gallery, Colby College, Maine.
He was also commissioned by David Cameron to create the thought-provoking print that was presented to world leaders at the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland in 2013, which now forms part of the National Art Collection.
Virtual Reality Photography
Step back in time with Matt Collishaw’s Thresholds which neatly fuses the past with the future through a skillful recreation of pioneer Henry Fox Talbot’s pioneering 1839 Birmingham exhibition staged at King Edward’s School. Fox Talbot’s images are now difficult to see as he had yet to resolve how to fix his prints hence they have faded with the years. But Collishaw brings them back to life through virtual reality.
Think of it as the way you swapped stamps or football stickers when you were growing up. Photographers from the world’s leading photo agency do something similar. Swap their best images with colleagues like Bill Brandt, Bruce Davidson, Sergio Larrain, and Diana Markosian. And to mark the 70th anniversary of the agency Martin Parr and fellow Magnum member David Hurn have curated a selection of works collected by Horn over six decades. It is akin to a stroll through the history of photography across all genres in its own right.
Photo London, 18 — 21 May 2017, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA