Contrasts: The British Photographic Society v MA Students

I visited PhotoBlock at the Old Truman Brewery on Friday. I concentrated on two parts of the exhibition:

Of course these two exhibitions form part of a number of things going on in the area under the brand Photomonth East London.  (This also includes a colleagues exhibition entitled Lifting the Curtain – more information from here.)

(I will forgo offering you insights into wheelchair access at this time and just focus on the experience once inside the venue.) The two exhibitions were set out in distinct areas with the BPS show at the front of the building with the area offering viewers a series of corridors with images shown like this below. 


The above BPS approach provided a sense of order as the viewer could stroll up and down each isle looking at the prints, each framed and labelled.

As the viewer left the BPS area and entered the Photomasters exhibit the areas opened up – this exhibition space did not appear to have many false walls and so appeared much more spacious.


The change in space was also reflected in the nature of the exhibits. The Photomasters’ pieces  were much more eclectic in the way they were produced: size, order, colour, texture and forms of presentation contrasted strongly and really offered the viewer a sense of the possibilities photography can offer. For example, (and it is just one example of many) Chilyn Chen offered a really interesting take on self portraiture (see below)  where film as has been exposed, cut and woven into these rather stunning images.


I could have posts lots of photos here but when reflecting on the experience it was the contrast  between these two exhibition approaches that stood out with the BPS looking rather staid, conventional and uniform compared to the Photomasters where it was clear no one formula had been applied to either material or presentation, rather the works looked like stand alone installations offering a diverse range of visual voices that was stimulating and thought provoking on all sorts of levels.

My last thought was that I need to find out how I can participate in this event next year. The setting, space and opportunity looks too good to miss so I began exploring this. However when I found the relevant site here it was clear that the cost was quite substantial at £240 for a 2.5 metre section of wall space.

So to exhibit here there are: production costs; printing and mounting; transport costs; and the exhibition fee. So the total cost could easily be over £500.

It will be interesting to see whether, and if so what, the number of visitors to the exhibition are over its run of three days and whether the investment for students was worth it.

One interesting thing from a wheelchair users point of view is that I entered the exhibition from the back door (I’m not surprised -20 years ago I would not have got in!). But this meant that I viewed the exhibition in reverse and viewed the Photomasters works first and ended with the PBS images. I am not sure whether this amplified my sense of difference between the two exhibitions but suspect it did.

Post Postscript
Of course there was lots of other things to do and see – Karen quite liked the Dressed by Angels exhibition and while I enjoyed it I think the accessible entrance could do with some tidying up Winking smile.



About Pete

South Londoner struggling with life, art and photography.
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2 Responses to Contrasts: The British Photographic Society v MA Students

  1. This is a great post. Not easy for you U can see. But well done. T


  2. Pingback: Prejudice and opportunities | anomiepete

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