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Young pigeon © Janet Crosby

Young pigeon © Janet Crosby

Murmurations’ open photography competiton

Eighteen months ago, Joe Nguyen opened Murmurations Gallery to support local artists in the Bexhill Area. Not someone who wishes to stand still, he has reached out to photographers to submit images for a contemporary photography Open Competition. HOT’s Lauris Morgan-Griffiths went along to see the result.

colourshift #1 Nigel Tribbeck

colourshift #1 Nigel Tribbeck

Submissions were free; a fee was only paid on selection. Entries were in ten different categories: Street, Landscape, Portrait (which had to include people), Abstract, Monochrome, Camera Phone, Film, Young Persons, Natural Wildlife, Action/Sport. Only two images could be entered per category, but images could be entered in as many categories that photographers had suitable images for –  some could have leached into several categories, monochrome or landscape, abstract or landscape. Nguyen received 25 entrants in all categories except film, from which 48 artworks from 16 entrants were finally chosen.

“We wanted to create an event to highlight this very democratic and accessible medium within contemporary art” explained gallery director, Joe Nguyen. “Everyone seems to have access to a camera nowadays, whether it be on their phone or a digital camera; and with costs so low for taking images, it appears that our world is bombarded with photos of everything and anything. What we wanted to show was not only this sense of open accessibility to images, but also how different practitioners, from skilled professional photographers to every day ‘Snapshotters’ ultimately view, perceive and capture our modern world.”

 Brow of the Hill © Paul Praeger

Brow of the Hill © Paul Praeger

Had he been a little disappointed at the response? “I think people were holding back to some extent – waiting to see what the standard is. And also, although people are happy having their images out there on Facebook, I think they were reluctant to be judged in a more formal way.” In the end there were certainly enough creditable prints for a packed exhibition. There are images of the pier, the sea, boats, sea, people, countryside and wildlife, buildings, action. Black and white. Colour.

Floored by John Crosby

Floored by John Crosby

Portaits had to contain people, which I thought was a little restrictive because portraits can be of anything: shoes, books, mantlepiece arrangements. But this is a first off and is something that could be looked at with confidence in the future, possibly with workshops to give some tips of how to look laterally and offer a different slant on the world.  There could be fewer categories and photographs could  be submitted in a similar size and without unnecessary titles on the print – both of  which were distracting to the eye.

That being said, the exhibition displays professionals, the Hailsham Photographic Society to artist Marybeth Haas and professional fashion photographer Nigel Tribbeck, alongside amateurs and young people, like 14 year old Jack Rhys Evans.  And, as the exhibition demonstrates, many of the photographers understand the medium and have taken some interesting photographs.

Images that took my eye were: the single, golden beady eye of a pigeon; mist on the Marsh; colourful abstracts; atmospheric urban landscapes; humour of a man in an art gallery taking a picture stretched out on the floor; a camera phone image, showing composition in two planes: a whippet turning away from the camera beside the torso of a man in a gold jacket. There are textures; tones have been echoed; colours are enhanced; there are  muted pastels and disappearing perspectives.

The path of life © Christophe Allirot

The path of life © Christophe Allirot

Manipulation – Photoshop is a tool photographers use – it’s there and why not? Sometimes people can over tinker and edit the life out of their images, but here that didn’t seem to be too noticeable.

Stories hover in the atmospheric images: time stands still. You can sense anything might happen – or already has; ghostly nights; perspective disappears; an empty urban landscape broods expectantly; two bent old people walk companionably along the seafront.

The prizes of £50 will be announced on 15 June. There is also a People’s Choice prize. This is an interesting exhibition, go and see it and perhaps it will encourage both amateurs and professionals to enter next year. And do vote for the People’s Choice.

Previously HOT article on Murmurations Art Gallery

The exhibition is on until 25 June at Murmurations Gallery, 17A Parkhurst Road, Bexhill, TN40 1DE. Opening times 10.30am – 4.30pm. Tuesday to Saturday

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Posted 19:32 Tuesday, Jun 6, 2017 In: Photography

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