Art of Angel (2)


A Demographic Mapping of a Corner of Holbeck

I enjoy people watching, working out who is with whom, wondering where this or that person is going, admiring that coat, thinking that person needs a friend to tell them that skirt doesn’t fit, but Gillian takes that observation of stranger to a different level all together.  All those people form the subject of some of her large pieces of work, and taken together, they make a sort of snapshot tapestry of a place and time.

In July 2011, she took a snap or made a sketch of every person who passed her while she was sitting in a corner of Holbeck in Leeds.  Holbeck is a mixed area of light industrial units at one end and refurbished brick factory buildings now occupied by architects and chichi coffee shops at the other.  The Demographic Mapping tracks that from construction workers, through pram pushing young women to besuited gents.  It’s summer, so there are floral print skirts and shirt sleeves, and one mysterious figure wrapped up in a duffel coat defying the warmth of the day; most are in motion, and through the drawing we get a feel for their gait and posture and how quickly they are walking.

IMG00727-20130117-1842I’ve had the opportunity to look at this piece a few times now, and each time I spot something new.  I thought it was the most interesting of the pieces on show at the Art of Angel exhibition at the Candid Arts Trust.

I wrote yesterday about the posters of art works on display at Angel Tube station at the moment.  Many of the original pieces are on display at the exhibition just around the corner.  It gave an opportunity to consider the effect of photographing a piece of art.

What does it mean if the photograph is more appealing than the original?  The photograph can flatten or flatter a piece, it can blur the colours or sharpen them.  It adds another layer to the process of communication between viewer and creator, and creates something which exists in its own right.

Might it be a helpful rule of thumb that if the original piece is more interesting and engaging than a photograph of it, then that it a successful artwork?

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  1. I’m intrigued by Gillian’s Demographic Mapping project – what a terrific starting point for creating a work of fiction, or collection of short stories.
    By the way – your proposition is probably a reliable rule of thumb, especially for paintings … no, it’d probably hold true for sculpture etc. too!

    • Gillian, with whom I’ve spent this weekend, was very gratified by your interest. I think you’re right about the collection of stories……

      It’s always disappointing isn’t it when you see the original of something you’ve admired as a reproduction and realise that you liked the postcard/poster better?

  2. I think it could be either way Rowena. If we’re saying photography is an art form in and of itself, then wouldn’t it make sense for the photograph to actually add something? Or maybe the original artwork lacked the final touch that the photo gave it. It’s all so subjective.

    • I agree and disagree (of course). I was thinking about those times when I’ve liked the postcard or poster of something and then been really disappointed when I’ve seen the original because it doesn’t add anything to my enjoyment to be able to see the real colour/texture. But equally some photographs do add something, but then it does throw into question the quality of the original…..


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