Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bohm hits Manchester Gallery

@mcrartgallery It reads like a WWII headline but the Bohm in question is Dorothy Bohm.  In the days of the war in 1942 she exploded onto the photography scene in Manchester having graduated from the College of Technology, working in a leading studio of the time and ultimately opening her own 'Studio Alexandria' a few years later.
Currently on show in Manchester Art Gallery, Dorothy's work is displayed from her early days through to her latest pieces, spanning an incredible 60 years.  The scope and scale of the exhibition gives us a glimpse of a fascinating and talented individual as we are given the opportunity to travel with them through their professional career whilst giving us a fresh perspective of cultural change across more than half a century.
 Written across the walls of the exhibition are Dorothy's words, capturing the beating heart of her craft. This is highlighted most profoundly in a quote reflecting her deep psychological and emotional connection to her work and a desire to understand and capture the transience of beauty.
"The photograph fulfils my deep need to stop things from disappearing. It makes transience less painful and retains some of the special magic, which I have looked for and found. I have tried to create order out of chaos, to find stability in flux and beauty in the most unlikely places."
Perhaps in her most recent colour works this statement rings most true, where the feeling has shifted from tonally beautiful representations of people and places through to a more abstract, subjective beauty from the arrangements of colours, shapes and textures of scenes where it seemed least obvious.  Leaving the prints untouched of any enhancements adds to this innate beauty she strives to capture.
Throughout much of her career she focused on black and white, with little attention to colour, moving away from portraiture to open air 'street' photography which she nurtured in Switzerland.  Interestingly, despite this transition she still maintained the 'human presence' as the main focus of her work.

For us today, viewing her work gives us glimpses into a changing world, both at home and abroad, with it's changing people and places.   This is emphasised further by her own transition from black and white to colour, which she finally adopted in the 80's after visiting the colour-soaked continent of Asia, sparking a new era in her illustrious career.

The exhibition is on at Manchester City Art Gallery @mcrartgallery until 30th August.

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