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Ashley Jordan Gordon, photographer

November 27, 2009
by the gentle author

The gaze of this girl on Kingsland Rd is inescapable, she is the still point at the centre of Ashley Jordan Gordon‘s unforgettable photograph. With the deep perspective of Shoreditch High St to her left and the momentum of the crowd to her right, she stands poised in her own turning world, ready for whatever adventure the night will bring.

It is a measure of this remarkable picture that it draws you right in to a drama of infinite possibility. Gordon admits, “I thrive on catching action and atmosphere as they converge in a narrative moment. It is the convergence between myself, the subject and the camera – how we got there and what happened once we met – that is exciting. It is an act of life happening…”

Since I featured the photographs of John Gay and Paul Trevor, I have been looking at recent photography that captures the life of the neighbourhood but found little that was distinctive until, to my delight, I came across “Girl on Kingsland Rd” by Ashley Jordan Gordon, currently featured in the Taylor Wessing Photographic Prize exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery until 14th February. If you click on her name at the top of this article you can go to Gordon’s website, explore her portfolio of concert photography and read the blog recording her daily life here in words and pictures. Remarkably, all the images on display share the same vibrant clarity of form.

Clubbing has become a major part of the culture of this place and “Girl on Kingsland Rd” manages to capture this entire phenomenon in a single iconic image. All the hopes and dreams, grace, chaos and trashiness are here in this pictorial microcosm. Gordon likes the photographic masters of the last century like Walker Evans, Eugene Atget and Henri Cartier Bresson but to me her expansive panoramic composition recalls nineteenth century narrative painters like William Powell Frith, Theodore Gericault and John Everett Millais.

Unlike the photographers I previously featured, Gordon is a dynamic colourist. Observe the strategic use of red in the photo above and of yellow in the picture below. In each case the colour is part of the meaning of these pictures and it connects the subjects with their environment. But it is the people we see, and it is portraiture that is Ashley Jordan Gordon’s passion, “No matter what other kinds of photographs draw me in, I always come back to loving portraits of people. I love watching and meeting people, and taking the time to take a really good look at someone,” she says.

Let me admit, I walked past that line of clubbers on Kingsland Rd a hundred times and never gave it a second look, until now. Similarly, this delicate subtle portrait of a “Guy with Bike on Brick Lane” is a familiar subject that you might pass by in Spitalfields any Sunday, but through Gordon’s eyes you see it for the first time.

Photographs copyright © Ashley Jordan Gordon

One Response leave one →
  1. Ian Harris permalink
    November 27, 2009


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