Stephen Clarke Exhibition

Stephen Clarke displayed an extensive collection of his work, which had been accumulated over several decades, exploring the seaside culture. Clarke’s series displays a collection of black and white photographs along side a collection of postcards. This post will explore and review the exhibition displayed in February 2017 in the Vallum Gallery, University of Cumbria.

Clarke’s work, shot on black and white film shows an intimate relationship with the photographer and the landscape. Clarke explores this relationship through the use of text and image. This clever collaboration allows for the viewer to see how Clarke and his family view the landscape. In the series, the postcards are shown large scale in a grid format, which shows the formality of the tradition. When viewing the images and the postcards, especially the physical copies displayed in the cabinet, as a viewer I felt nostalgic. Even though the photographs and the postcards were sent and taken before I was born, the culture is still very similar.

A prominent piece in Clarke’s work was displayed on a television screen, as it was a collection of moving images. The quality of the film was very much similar to the family snapshot. This style allowed for the viewer to understand the idea of recording precious moments in the British holiday season. This work oozed nostalgia, from building sandcastles at the beach, having a donkey ride, to visiting the amusement parks. The lack of clarity in the images allows the viewer to take what they wish from the experience.

The construct of the exhibition was interesting, as Clarke played with scale, form and framing. Clarke used a combination of small 6×4 prints in large frames, large prints in large frames, and a collection of large prints mounted onto aluminium dibond. From personal preference, I would prefer a collection of prints all the same size and framed and mounted the same way. However, Clarke’s decisions to display his work this was place emphasis on some images more than others. By presenting a collection of large scale prints, Clarke is intending for the viewer to notice those prints first and appreciate their importance over other prints. By presenting a selection of small scale prints in a cluster, Clarke is intending us to explore the print in much more depth and appreciate them as collection.

Overall, Clarke’s exhibition was an interesting collection of images that can be interpreted in a multitude of ways. I felt very nostalgic when viewing the images. The display of the work is something that I will explore further when exploring presentation options. Although the work was something that I would normally pass by, it was a interesting change to see how other genres of work.


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