Roll Up For Magic Lantern Shows!
Awaiting a Magic Lantern Show at the Bishopsgate Institute
It is my delight to collaborate with the Bishopsgate Institute, staging a return to the glory days of Magic Lantern Shows that were such a popular feature of the Institute in its early years.
We have invited Libby Hall, collector of dog photography, and two Spitalfields Life Contributing Photographers Phil Maxwell and Colin O’Brien to show their favourite pictures to an audience as modern day Magic Lantern Shows and talk about their work – to cheer up our evenings in January, February and March.
Admission is free but tickets must be reserved in advance and we expect to get booked out, so if you would like to come we advise you to book online sharpish through the Bishopsgate Institute or by calling 020 7392 9200.
Libby Hall, Tuesday 29th January at 7.30pm
Between 1966 and 2006, Libby Hall collected old photographs of dogs, amassing many thousands to assemble what is possibly the largest number of canine pictures ever gathered by any single person. Libby began collecting casually when the photographs were of negligible value, but by the end she had published four books and been priced out of the market.
Yet through her actions Libby rescued an entire genre of photography from the scrap heap, seeing the poetry and sophistication in images that were previously dismissed as merely sentimental – and today, we are the beneficiaries of her visionary endeavour.
Brick Lane Laundrette Kiss
Phil Maxwell, Tuesday 26th February at 7.30pm
Phil Maxwell is the photographer of Brick Lane – no-one has taken more pictures here over the last thirty years than he. And now his astonishing body of work stands unparalleled in the canon of street photography, both in its range and in the quality of human observation that informs his eloquent images.
“More than anywhere else in London, Brick Lane has the organic quality of being constantly changing, even from week to week.” Phil told me when I asked him to explain the enduring fascination for a photographer. “Coming into Brick Lane is like coming into a theatre, where they change the scenery every time a different play comes in – a stage where each new set reflects the drama and tribulations of the wider world.”
Clerkenwell Car Crash, 1957
Colin O’Brien, Thursday 28th March at 7.30pm
Colin O’Brien grew up fifty yards from Hatton Garden in Victoria Dwellings, a tenement at the junction of Farringdon Rd and Clerkenwell Rd – the centre of his childhood universe in Clerkenwell, which Colin portrayed in spellbinding photographs that evoke the poetry and pathos of the forgotten threadbare years in the aftermath of World War II.
Over all this time, Colin has pursued his talent and taken more than half a million pictures, many of them in the East End. His work is barely known because he never worked for publication or even for money, devoting himself single-mindedly to taking photos for their own sake – yet over the passage of time, as a consequence of the rigour and purism of his approach, the authority of Colin O’Brien’s superlative photography stands comparison with any of the masters of twentieth century British photography.