Reading List

Sunday 19 January 2014

Enjoying the Gap

Photo by Richard McKeever

I don't just mind the gap, I love the gap between advertising campaigns on the Tube.

On a platform that's about to be refitted, that's been cleared of last month's hashtags, I really enjoy those moments of unsolicited, visual calm.

There may be just 3 or 4 minutes before the next train arrives. Before its urgent insurance offers. Its dating sites. Its charity appeals.

Yet in the meantime there is respite, respite from London's photographic excess.

Last year, Grayson Perry suggested digital photography has meant photos are now "pouring into the world like sewage." I agree. And since they are underground, it doesn't feel much of a stretch to imagine how Tube lines, so typically clogged up with adverts, are already part of some kind of photo-sewer system.

By contrast, standing on a photo-free platform (admittedly outside of rush hour), you get a glimpse of a possible alternative. With the extra good fortune of poor-to-no WiFi, there's a sense of the peace available to cities brave enough to limit photographic pollution.

Eleanor Vonne Brown, of X Marks the Bökship, recently sent me some images of the postcards to go on show at Jeremy Cooper's upcoming exhibition of postcard art.

Unlike the images thrown at us on our transport systems, these were a delight to receive.

My favourite was this postcard by Molly Rooke, titled 'Realistic Expectation', and it was this card that prompted thoughts of ad-free Tube platforms.

Molly Rooke, Realistic Expectation, 2013

The target of the card's joke seems to be us all: how spoilt we are, able to click and click until we have the perfect shot. This easy supply of images must be one of the main causes of the excess of photography we now have to endure, and of the related appreciation for places where we can escape.

The card also reminded me of this postcard from my collection. Posted in 1906, the card's front speaks directly to Rooke's artwork: the 'error' being a slight blurring of the girl's left hand.

The message explains more, and is reflective of a time of perhaps enviable photographic scarcity:

"Dear R

You asked me to send you an Erith postcard will this one do. Baby moved a book which she held but we thought that her face was pretty fair With love hoping you are well From L& J."

More of the postcards from the show - The Postcard is a Public Work of Art - are below. The exhibition includes work by 60 artists based in Britain, and is curated and catalogued by Jeremy Cooper, author of the excellent Artists' Postcards. Thanks again to Eleanor for the images.

The exhibition opens on 23 January at  X Marks the Bökship, 210 Cambridge Heath Road, London. For more details, here's a link to the show's website.

Jonathan Monk, Cooling Towers, 2013

Peter Kennard and Cat Phillips, Study of Head XI, 2013

Daniel Eatock, Affix Stamp Here, 2013

Ruth Claxton, Postcard (St Cecilia), 2013

Simon Cutts, A Postcard Performance, 2013
Hansjörg Mayer, X for Dieter, 2013