An exhibition of photographs by Mike Morrison and jewellery by Polly Gasston
At THE UPDOWN GALLERY, 11 Elms Street, Ramsgate CT11 9BW
Friday April 1st to Saturday April 30th 2016
For the month of April, Polly and Mike will be sharing the Updown Gallery in Ramsgate, exhibiting their work under the title Black and White and Gold. Both Polly and Mike relish the way in which their respective genres allow them to blend the skill of the artisan with the vision of the artist to create work that seeks to be timeless, whilst paying a deep respect to those who have influenced them.
Mike Morrison has been photographing for over 40 years, inspired to buy his first camera in his late teens after watching a BBC2 documentary on the work of five seminal photographers, including Bill Brandt and Don McCullin.
An English and Drama teacher by profession, Mike has photographed professionally throughout his career, holding a number of successful exhibitions from the late 1970s onwards, and his work has moved with the times. Early exhibitions focused on classic Black and White darkroom printed images in a high contrast style, set alongside colour work that explored patterns and shapes. Since the advent of digital photography in the 90s he has become increasingly experimental without ever leaving behind that initial love of the stark B&W image and the abstract use of colour. Recently he has created pieces that can be backlit like stained glass as well as exploiting the impact of infra-red and polarised filtering. Each distinct area of the gallery will feature a different style of Mike’s work. He has also always taken portraits, driven by the challenge of capturing not only the look but also the character of those he photographs. As a result, a portable portrait studio will be set up in the Gallery on Saturdays during April as an adjunct to the exhibition.
Polly Gasston was born and brought up in Kenya. She came to England in her teens and, after completing her secondary education, was able to fulfil her childhood dream of becoming a goldsmith. Polly completed the 4-year, full-time course at the Sir John Cass College in London, after which she worked in Hatton Garden for 7 years, developing a distinctive style of her own.
Then, for 30 years, Polly’s life put the art of the goldsmith on hold. However, in the summer of 2007, she decided to begin again, setting up her workshop with all her old hand-tools, the very same tools she continues to use so successfully today, regularly selling her work at specialist fairs such as the annual Goldsmiths’ Fair in London.
Polly works only in 22ct. gold and semi-precious stones, which, she says, forms a direct link with the ancient goldsmiths who used the same materials: high-carat gold and vibrant, bright stones such as lapis lazuli, turquoise, garnets, amethysts and coral, as well as the subtler tones of pearls and agates, jaspers and webstones. Her strongest influences are the jewels of the Ancient Near East, from deep antiquity to the end of the Roman Empire. Each of Polly’s pieces is a new design; to own one means you will have a wear a jewel to wear that is not only beautiful and dramatic, but unique.
Throughout April, Polly and Mike will be sharing the Updown Gallery in Ramsgate, exhibiting their work under the title Black and White and Gold. Both Polly and Mike enjoy the way in which their respective genre blend the skill of the artisan with the vision of the artist to create work that seeks to be timeless whilst paying a deep respect to those who have influenced them.
PHOTOGRAPHY FOR WEBSITES
Jewellery photography for Polly Gasston (Goldsmith)
Polly works only in 22ct Gold and her bespoke pieces are influenced by artefacts from antiquity. As such each one is unique and crafted with skills that have been passed down across the centuries.
Photographing her work has been a challenge, but a thoroughly enjoyable one. Finding ways to do justice to the richness of the gold whilst at the same time being faithful to the often strong, always subtle colours and textures of the gemstones, corals, granites and pearls she uses, has been an exciting journey of discovery. I start by taking a photograph of the piece of jewellery as a whole and then take more images from other angles, or go in close to capture specific details. I have also photographed Polly's pieces as worn by a beautiful model.
So... if you are a 'maker', whether of jewellery or other artefacts, who puts quality design at the heart of your work, and you are looking for a photographer to do justice to your objects d'art, then send me an email. I am as happy and confident doing work suitable for magazine advertising, as I am creating striking images for a website.
My glass pieces work predominantly as bespoke lights but can also be used as desk tops, tables, even room dividers. As long as there is the potential to light them so that they glow like stained glass windows do when backlit (and the advent of LED lighting has made this process so much easier), then they can be the centrepiece to a room's design. I like to think of them as a challenge to the imagination and creativity of those who admire them, and enjoy seeing how many different ways they can make a dramatic impact in virtually any room in the house.
FABRIC & TILE DESIGNS
I also specialise in the way digital photography can explore various areas of design. I have created a series of tile designs that are deliberately exploit bright colours and sinuous shapes from nature.
Many of my designs can also be used on fabrics for curtains and other soft furnishings such as cushion covers.
I also specialise in classic Black & White portraits.
Although I will do colour if the client requires, I have always been a strong advocate of the black and white portrait as the best way to express not only a person's features in sharper relief, but also the character of the person being photographed. Colour, especially skin tone, can be a distraction in this day and age when so many people see heavily made-up or air-brushed models in magazines and seek that 'false' perfection in their own portraits.
I also work predominantly with natural light rather than studio lighting as I find daylight gives the skin greater depth.
If you are interested in booking a portrait session email me for a quote. I am based in Kent.
LOOK AGAIN, LOOK BETTER
An exhibition of photographs by Mike Morrison
Blue Swift Gallery Ramsgate
Friday May 2nd to Saturday June 7th, 2014
Samuel Beckett, the great Irish writer with a reputation for a rather nihilistic attitude to life, once wrote about his writing: ‘Fail again, fail better’, as if that was the best he felt he could achieve when putting pen to paper. It is a phrase that has always haunted me. So, when I was considering what to call this exhibition of my photographs, Look Again, Look Better popped into my head as a more positive expression of how photography forces me look more closely at the world around me.
I took up photography when I was eighteen. One evening I watched an arts programme on BBC2 about five famous photographers including Larry Park and Don McCullin, and nothing was going to stop me going out the next day to buy my first camera. The only SLR I could afford as a student at the time was a Russian Zenith, a clunky piece of engineering that had one great attribute, a very good lens. Within a week I had bought an enlarger as well, realising that if I was to have control over what I was capturing, I would need to learn the ‘darkroom arts’. Influenced by photographers such as Bill Brandt, Julia Margaret Cameron, and latterly Sebastiao Salgado I was soon able to establish a high contrast, black and white style which satisfied my aesthetic, whether it was being applied to portraits, landscapes or nudes. For many years I couldn’t imagine taking any other type of photograph.
When I first started dabbling with colour (in the pre-digital age, as much a matter of being able to afford it as for any more artistic reason) I realised that patterns of colour, often by looking very closely at something very ordinary, for example rust on corrugated iron, was what excited me. Flaking paint on wooden walls, the twist and tangle of different coloured ropes on a jetty, brightly painted houses against an azure sky – these were the images I liked to capture.
By the time the digital age arrived, my photographic output was about 70% black and white and 30% coloured slides. For a few years I resisted putting down the traditional film based SLR but slowly, photographic software (the modern equivalent of the darkroom), became a temptation I couldn’t resist. As I hope you will recognise in these photographs, the same principles which determined my early work are still in evidence, but the computer has allowed me to investigate the meeting of pattern and colour in increasingly complex ways, shifting this aspect of my photography increasingly towards design. The glass pieces in this exhibition are very recent and excite me because I can see so many ways in which they can be displayed – as table tops, as wall lights, as stained glass panels, or simply as works of art on a wall.
All photographers will tell you that how the light plays on whatever is their subject is one of the most significant factors to determine the quality of the final image. I never quite imagined that backlighting a piece of glass within which lies the image would be another way to express this truism.
Above all, photography has taught me to look at things twice, to see behind the seemingly ordinary or discarded, and in that way to appreciate what otherwise I would have walked past, unseeing and unknowing.
Producing the final portraits for a book on Cigars and cigar smokers has been an ongoing project for about a month and a half. The book will be published in late Summer by te Neues as a coffee table volume. The photographs will accompany interviews with a number of well known people who smoke Cuban and other exclusive cigars.
These are informal portraits taken at a reunion of some of rugby's greatest players from the last 40+ years who gathered together to mark the unveiling of a composite photograph by Alistair Morrison of possibly the greatest 'fantasy' squad of ex-internationals ever assembled.
Jason Leonard, David Campese, Gavin Hastings, ZinZan Brooke and Sean Fitzpatrick attended the event held at L'Escargot.
I was keen to take not just group shots in front of the 4 metre long photograph, but also individual portraits of each of them next to their image in Alistair's composite. Each of these great players, as if by instinct, assumed the expression and pose they had taken for the composite. Except Sean, who approached it in a more light-hearted manner!
The event ended with Sean and ZinZan doing the Haka whilst facing Jason, Gavin and David across the room. It seemed an appropriate ending - foes on the field had shown their mutual affection and respect for each other in this social setting, recalling great moments in never forgotten games...now the Haka, even in this cosy, indoor setting, was a reminder of their rivalry, their battles on the field.
These portraits use montage to create sometimes eerie, sometimes other-worldly images. In a time when tattooing has become very popular, they can also conjure up the notion of body art exploiting abstract designs.
Most of them are a blend of a black and white portrait with an abstract image that has, in almost every case, begun as a photograph taken in rural, natural surroundings. and then photo-shopped into a pattern or shape.
Rather than being a distraction for the viewer, these montages seem to focus even greater attention on the features. The impact of the eyes in particular appears to be enhanced, often creating an enigmatic mood - there's melancholy in some, suspicion in others - each person looks as if through a curtain of colour and shape, slightly detached from the viewer, yet eager to be seen.