Apr 7 2012: Nine Hand-Coloured Illustrations From The Astronaut Book (Panther Books, 1969)

Over the next three days we’ll look at the monochrome and colour images featured in the pages of The Astronauts’ Book, an annual-style publication issued by Panther in the UK in 1969, the year of the Lunar landings. Comprising articles written (or, at least, ghostwritten) in the voices of actual astronauts (and the odd Soviet … Continue reading

Mar 16 2012: Twenty-Three Colour Photographs Of India And Saudi Arabia From National Geographic Magazine (1948)

Perhaps this gallery is the most intriguing of the five currently being culled from a series of 1948 issues of National Geographic magazine, partly because one of its subjects, the early years of oil production in Saudi Arabia, prefigures much that happened later in the post-war period. As the poisonous gases in the image above … Continue reading

Mar 6 2012: Six Photographs of Grottoes, Canyons and Other Rock Formations (from Unknown Encyclopedia, 1930s)

The interiors of bodies and geological formations have been fused together in a few of the visual equations of Robert Holcombe before now, and occur again (several times) in a series of poems I’ve been writing under the working title A Cycle of Songs for the Body’s Interior, modelled somewhat obliquely on the rather compelling seasonal songs produced … Continue reading

Mar 5 2012: The Furthest Possible Separation Between Photographer And Subject (Date and Location Unknown)

Photographers are invariably fascinated by images of photography itself, with the likes of Martin Parr and Anne Collier building large sections of their work on explorations that reflect the process of documenting and looking as much as the things they’re actually documenting and looking at through their viewfinders. In this image, a beautifully balanced image … Continue reading

Mar 1 2012: Thirty-Four Illustrations From The Space Shuttle At Work by Howard Allaway (NASA, 1979)

I’ve been told, but never been able to confirm, that the design of airports is utterly monotonous and boring, and much the same everywhere in the world you might go, for a very particular reason: the knowledge among those commissioning these complexes that the very last thing someone about to board an aircraft really needs is excitement … Continue reading

Jan 1 2012: Eight Photographs of an Unknown Woman in a Variety of Unknown Locations (1950s)

There’s no way of telling who the rather elegant lady in these photographs might be, nor (to my eye, at least), where she is in these pictures. My guess is that they’re holiday snaps from the early 1950s or thereabouts, and the lemon trees and coastlines sugest somewhere in the Mediterranean – possibly Spain or … Continue reading

Oct 22 2011: Photograph of a Woman and Two Girls in an Unidentified Landscape With Cacti (Date and Location Unknown)

This is a strangely beautiful image, granted a slightly surreal air by the cacti looming over the heads of the woman (a nurse, perhaps?) and two girls in the foreground. Behind them, a door appears to lead into the hillside itself, suggesting some kind of cave dwelling or shelter. It’s not clear where the landscape … Continue reading

Uneven Geographies: Art & Globalisation (Nottingham Contemporary, 2010)

One advantage of waiting until a few weeks into an exhibition’s run before writing a review of it is that you’ll get to hear a range of opinions about its contents before having to commit your views to print: in the case of Nottingham Contemporary’s ‘difficult third’ exhibition, looking at responses to issues around Globalisation, … Continue reading

Ghost Money, Gothic Trappings and Crusades: Huang Yong Ping & Wael Shawky at Nottingham Contemporary (2011)

Ghost Money, Gothic Trappings and Crusades (from Nottingham Visual Arts issue 4: Summer 2011) There’s a point in the latest exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary where the concerns of its two otherwise very different artists – the French-Chinese sculptor Huang Yong Ping and Alexandria-based multi-media artist Wael Shawky – seem to merge almost seamlessly. As we … Continue reading