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IN PICTURES: Beauty in the bleak

IN PICTURES: Beauty in the bleak

Saturday 27 April 2019

IN PICTURES: Beauty in the bleak


A Jersey photographer, who escaped his teenage depression through "science fiction and suburban horror", is sharing his unique take on finding beauty in the bleak in a new exhibition.

Will Lakeman's works, which move away from idealised depictions of Jersey, are mingled with those of Richard Close and Fenby Miskin in 'Don't Shoot the Messenger', which launched at Private and Public Space this week.

The exhibition sees snaps of the crematorium, Gas Works, St. Helier buildings and other colourful 'clusters' mingled with the lights of New York, Chicago and Rome.

Organisers say it was "a year in the making" and showcases the recent work of three talented photographers, who are fascinated by the public realm and urban environments.

"Each works in an entirely different way but the results are both visually striking and technically complex," gallery director Chris Clifford said. "You will find joy, anxiety, distance and great pleasure in their works and I honestly believe Jersey is fortunate to have such serious and dedicated photographers recording our age."

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Pictured: The 'Don't Shoot the Messenger' exhibition, which launched this week.

Growing up in Jersey, Will Lakeman says he was "seldom interested" in looking at images of the island, which he said mostly represented an "idealised view" that appealed either to tourists or to the values of traditional landscape photography. 

"As a depressed teen without money or transport these didn’t interest me because I wanted chiefly to escape from this sunlit and family-friendly world," he explained.

He did so by retreating into his own imagination and "travelling outwards through the lurid worlds of science fiction and suburban horror."

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Pictured: Most of Will's photographs show in the exhibition were taken at night.

For the exhibition, Will is presented a series of photographs taken at night which focus predominantly on buildings and other human spaces.

"I am not a realist and am happy to manipulate the light and composition of the images, but I do try to uncover sensations that already exist to some degree in the spaces where I work," he explained.

"Buildings may be constructed to favour the functional but I believe it’s important to allow your own imagination to expand into the cracks and corners of any public space."

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Pictured: One of Richard Close's photographs from New York.

Richard Close grew up in Kent, surrounded by historic buildings. He moved to Jersey in 2003 and says he found "structure and routine" for his life in the island, after years marked by "a sense of movement and disruption" that came with living with an army family. 

Both movement and stability are reflected in his photographs. The work he is presenting at Private & Public this month was started eight years ago and includes snaps from New York, Chicago and Rome.

"I wanted to find a way of communicating by way of photography not just the surface and the shape of an object but the way that it is," he explained.

"I want an image to give a sense of strength and depth and movement. Expressing this through photography has been an interesting journey, discovery what subjects and work and, of course, what do not."

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Pictured: For the exhibition, Fenby revisited his own photographic journey.

As good things come in threes, 'Don't shoot the Messenger' also includes the work of Fenby Miskin, who says he uses photography to document his "small observations." "The objects, places and views are all linked together. The presentation and sequencing are my interpretation, but I hope the viewer will create their own response. 

After working under "commercial constraints" for many years, Fenby started developing his eclectic style, moving from portraits to architecture, from the beautiful to the gritty. 

To prepare for this new exhibition, he revisited his own photographic journey from the last 10 years and broke apart his chronological folders to search for his "personal photograph story."

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Pictured: One of Fenby Miskin's 'Cluster' of photographs.

"I discovered sympathetic associations between seemingly unconnected images," he said. "I don't know whether these are chance, or I was referencing my memory when taking the photograph.

"Sometimes a theme emerges such as colour, pattern or symmetry, but the original moment was a response or reaction to what wad in the viewfinder.

The exhibition opened on Thursday and continues until 17 May and Mr Clifford says it is not one to miss. "Whether you have interest in art or not I would encourage you to visit this exhibition," he said, "as whilst the great majority of the photographs were taken in Jersey the images you encounter will make you see the island very differently when you leave.”

Pictured top: 'The Sentinel' by Will Lakeman, one of three photographers featuring in the exhibition.

IN PICTURES: A sneak peek of what's on show...

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