Friday, 3 August 2012


This morning, I visited the newly-reopened Photographers' Gallery, and very welcoming I found it. The makeover provides a much airier setting for the displays, in what is a fairly cramped setting for an important gallery.

I much enjoyed the exhibition of contemporary Japanese photobooks - lots of good ideas there. And even more so, the work of the candidates for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize, the winner to be announced in a month's time. I favour Pieter Hugo for this: his bleak reportage of life on the industrial wasteland outside Accra succeeds for me on every level.

From Ramillies Street I biked towards the National Portrait Gallery, but might as well have walked: it took me half an hour to find a vacant slot into which I could return the bike - I suppose people use them to commute to work.

Walking eventually down past the Garrick Theatre, my eyes were drawn to a pair of walking advertisements for "Chicago": red-stockinged legs, double yellows and chewing gum residue notating a form of pavement plainsong - or perhaps I spent too long looking at those Japanese photobooks.

To correct the balance, I ended up my time in London visiting Somerset House - not for the drawings on show at Courtauld Gallery as intended, but the Salgado exhibition at King's College, on the East side. I have long been a fan of the Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado. The extensive Arden Collection, on display in the Inigo Rooms, displays much of Salgado's earlier work, including the gut-wrenching Brazilian mining series.

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