Remember the Douglas Adams joke about the plans for the bypass being on display in a locked filing cabinet in a basement with a sign on the door saying, “Beware of the Leopard”? That’s positively showing compared to this exhibition showing as part of the London Festival of Photography. A narrow door in a recess in the ‘being built on’ end of Oxford Street, a sign that isn’t really noticeable from the street, a locked door and a twisting set of steps. It’s just as well that when you find the gallery space the exhibition is top drawer.
Thirteen photographers are represented with more space given to the three winners picked from that group. More than 2,400 people submitted work for consideration and the standard is high. There’s a nice coherence to the portfolios as well suggesting that even in street photography it is possible to create a style or strong enough theme to link works.
Of those on display, I liked particularly Tomasz Lazar’s thick contrast black and white images which often include a highlighted focus on eyes – and in fact I’ve just realised I praised him as well for his World Press Photo award winning shot of a woman being arrested in New York. Also strong is the work of Alejandro Cartagena whose idea of photographing the people who flow under a bridge in the back of pick-ups is quite brilliantly executed and is both nicely styled and intriguing. You can see a fair bit of it here.
The remaining works mostly reflect the street as a place where diversity collides – the young run past the old, the tired look out over energy. Dougie “Glasweegee” Wallace’s collection of Blackpool stags and hens should be seen by everyone. I especially like the group of hens doing something odd with bikes.
The only downside to the exhibition is that its inaccessibility means few people are seeing it in the flesh. I went during lunchtime and I was the first attendee that day. Previous days have been similar. If you’re anywhere near 29-31 Oxford Street during June you should go – and tell the nice folks there I said “Hi.”
Or see it online here.