The Royal Photographic Society was holding part of its 154th International Print Exhibition tour at the Civic in Barnsley.
There was a planned study visit to this exhibition planned for March, but as I wasn’t sure that I could actually make it that day, I decided to take the opportunity when I was visiting the area to call in.
As expected this exhibition featured a wide range of subject matter, from traditional portraits to landscapes, wildlife, architecture and more over its 124 prints.
Some of the images stood out to me as being worthy of a mention, there were also a small number that I didn’t like, or made me question its submission into the exhibition.
‘Nell’ by Justyna Neryng
This was the second image that I looked at in the exhibition, and while I’m not a fan of portraits, I found this very striking to look at. It’s a very unusual composition with the elaborate and ill-fitting costume, the different tones of white and the subjects pale face all combine to make me wonder what the background story is. The subject is the photographer’s daughter, yet due to the costume, it’s hard to see her as a child, yet not an adult almost a fairy-tale creature.
‘Melissa, 10 yrs’ by Charley Murrell
I found the subject matter quite thought provoking, was it controversial having a ten year old surrounded by the make-up and possessions of an adult, or was it a clever spin on childhood fantasy and dressing up. Reading the information, I can now see that it’s a mid-way between the two and I’d like to see how it fits into the rest of her series.
‘The Colour of Winter’ by Joe Cornish
Joe Cornish is one of my favourite landscape photographers and I wasn’t expecting to see one of his images in this exhibition. The colour of winter is a very organic close up compared to a typical landscape, and for me the mix of colours and textures made it an image that I’d be happy to look upon many times.
‘Buffalo Road’ by Steve Brabner
As a genre, wildlife photography is one of the areas I like to specialise in, and Buffalo Road grabbed my attention as it was very different to anything that I’d previously seen. Focusing on the buffalo in its environment, the composition of the buffalo forming lines leading the viewer’s eye into their journey is matched by a well-balanced symmetry. The snow shooting into the path of the animals adds a sense of movement, all combining to tell a story that I want to know more about.
‘Ginza Crossing’ by Duncan McKenzie
Very visually striking, the contrast of the white road markings against the dark grey of the tarmac grabs the eye, but then I found that my eyes were drawn to the lines all coming in together in the centre of the image. I have to wonder how it was taken with all the people on the crossings and the traffic stopped, is it really like that or was it a composite? It’s something that I want to look into and understand how it was created.
‘Spring’ by Xiaomeng Zhang
The gallery setting was perfect for this compared to the image printed in the catalogue. I needed to step up to this as from a distance, I couldn’t tell what I was looking at, and it was only on much closer inspection that I realised the frame was filled with geese. For me it highlights that sometimes the best medium to view photographs is exhibited and on a larger scale.
‘Herding for Return’ by Honglin Zhang
There is so much movement and activity in this image, it really speaks volumes, and the effort on all parts, both the men and the animals is obvious to see. The black and white tones really adds to the sense of drama for me, and it feels very much timeless.
While these were some of my standout images, there were some that I felt were out of place, or needed some more explanation.
‘Adams Apples’ by Liz Hardley
I’ve looked at this both at the gallery and afterwards in the exhibition catalogue. It’s very striking and eye catching and tells an interesting story, but the composition work such as the almost 3d apples, looks out of place with the rest of the examples within the gallery. To me it’s too much and clashes with the rest of the images in the exhibition.
‘Portrait of Birdman’ by Ray Spence
I didn’t know what to make of this, as opposed to a modern, eye catching image, it seems a Victorian curiosity and while I’ve enjoyed the majority of the exhibition this one has me confused.
‘Closer to God III and VII by Tobias Slater-Hunt
It wasn’t the fact that these two images feature nude models; I found it hard to see why these were entitled ‘Closer to God’ and why they had facial deformities. Sometimes I feel exhibitions focus on presenting an image, but no other information to the viewer, to enable them to make their own opinion when a few words on what the artist was thinking or hoping to show could be of use.