London Notes #16

On our last day I woke up in bilious spirit, poor D had to raise all his shields, but full tranquility returned the second I walked into the Shape of Light, an exhibition of 100 years of abstract photography at Tate Modern.

As I’m sure I’ve told you before, I’ve been taking photographs since I was a small child, and got my first SLR in my late teens. But I’ve never really found photography easy. It often feels like a horribly rule-bound craft where sharp focus is paramount and one is criticised for too much tonal variation. I like extremes of tone and blur, and, anyway, can’t afford the kind of equipment that is able to deliver super sharp edges. I’m also much more of a poet than an essayist, clarity isn’t my thing. I like to leave space for the viewer’s imagination and personal experience to bring meaning, or whatever, to the final image. But I do worry that that’s a pitiful excuse for not trying hard enough. So, Shape of Light felt like a hug by a master, and permission to keep at it. Here are some snaps:

Visual Music
Kandinsky on the left, Marta Hoepffner on the right, not sure who’s in the middle.
Pierre Dubreuil
Pierre Dubreuil, Interpretation Picasso, The Railway c1911.
I think this is André Kertész, but I may have got my notes mixed up, nevertheless I do love it so.
A wall illustrating the joy of playing with light.
Jackson Pollock.
Jackson Pollock, Number 23 1948, enamel of gesso on paper.
Unknown artist
Can’t remember who this is, and, annoyingly, it’s not in the catalogue.
This huge collage by Jacques Mahé de la Villeglé (Jazmen 1961, printed papers on canvas) was quite a shock after several rooms of black and white images, I almost snorted a laugh. I’ve always been drawn to weathered billboards and the torn layers of fly-posters on lamp posts.
Room of Delights
Entering this, the last room of the exhibition, was like walking into a V V Rouleaux store on the way home from an all night party. Maya Rochat, Meta Love 2018 from the series A Rock is a River 2018

Like all exhibitions these days, there was a shop to pass through on the way out. Fine, I wanted to buy a catalogue anyway, but imagine my delight at seeing this:

Ha! I couldn’t afford it, but one day…

While I was swooning at the door of abstract possibilities D was pondering Picasso’s 1932, he came out as excited as I did, so to calm ourselves we wandered down to our second favourite London spot for a last mooch around the stalls.

Southbank Books

After which it was time to get the train back to Blackheath and pack.

I loved everything about our time in London, even the fact that I achieved not a tenth of the things I hoped to, and I was more than a little worried that Moffat would be a monstrous disappointment to me when we returned. Oddly, the opposite has occurred: Moffat seems cheerier than it has for some time. Maybe I’ll write about that later.


Header image: D muses on the Blavatnik Building stairwell. The text is on strips of different coloured papers (there’s a shot in my last London post #15), and it was that that drew me to it, but the photograph only came to life when I stripped the colour away.

12 thoughts on “London Notes #16

  1. Wonderful! How timely that such an interesting exhibition should be on at Tate Modern. The header image is very striking indeed. Safe journey home. 🙂


  2. Thanks so much for the wonderful imagery that you’ve shared over the last few weeks. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your photos and your thoughts, your outings, and the food you found too. Thank goodness I don’t live near to a massive cheese stall – I’d be very large, and utterly skint …but immensely happy!


  3. Ooh! Is that final one the book stand on Southbank? Colour me jealous!

    I like the Jazmen.It really would be an “eyeful” after the grainy monochromes. I have some boring snaps taken when the tree fellers were here and I accidentally stripped colour from one.I might blog it…


    1. It is! I’ve just had to rearrange all the book cases to accommodate the books we bought there, it was such a temptation.

      Yes do,it can be really interesting when you strip the colour from a photograph, brings out shapes, and in this instance has made a flat wall look wavy.


    1. I looked at the Kandinsky for a long time, he’s one of my very favourites. I’d love to have seen the Picasso exhibition as well, but both moolah and time were getting short by then. Next time, if there is one, I’ll be better organised.


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