An exhibition featuring new work by contemporary British photographer Colin Wilson opens at Argentea Gallery in Birmingham 21 March 2019. Memory of Touch is a body of work that focuses on still life through black and white film.
The show has two broad series of works. One is a set of studies of constructions of objects which are propped up and displayed to us almost as primitive sculptures. Rocks are placed on top of plates which become plinths. Blossoms are shown in rudimentary glass jars filled with water. Taken in a studio setting the light can be controlled but to strip the images of even more possible background noise, the objects are placed in front of a lead ground. This means there is a uniform light on the back of the image and no light or shade to distract. What that achieves visually is the most wonderful dark void in the back of the images that enables the light on the objects to be the stars of the images. There is a modernist sensibility to this work which becomes a meditation about form and shape and volume.
Light and dark are continuing themes in this work and are taken further in the series which is titled Morpheus, a stunning set of images of glass bottles. Each of the bottles is different in shape and design and they all have ridges on their sides - making them formally more interesting and the surface more varied. But it has another meaning, as before literacy was wide spread, a ridged bottle was a code that told you it contained poison. These bottles would have all contained morphine, used both as pain relief but also as an opiate. Anyone who picked up the bottle would not mistake what it contained and would be made aware by touching it of the danger inside. They have been filled with a milk-like liquid to the rim, the meniscus of which we see on the top of the bottles. This refers again to the original contents.
The objects that Wilson photographs act as conduits between our world in the present and the past and a meditation for the future. A monochrome analogue image is to some extent nostalgic and speaks to the past but is also startlingly contemporary in that we are aware that it is taken in the present. It acts almost like a portal between one world and another. When looking at theses bottles you sense, due to the dangerous content of the liquid they would have originally held, that each bottle has a story to tell. We know nothing of the people who bought them for the liquid they originally contained, but we know they would have touched and handled these bottles. What connects us to the past is the object that remains. Now enlarged we can take a moment to study this everyday object with a history. Something that could so easily have been lost or overlooked gets brought to our attention and its status is elevated through that process. By stilling time and making us pause to look at them up close, this work demonstrates the power of photography to make us stop and reflect for a while.
Colin’s work has been shown throughout the UK and Europe, but this is his first solo exhibition in Birmingham. He explains: “I am very pleased to have my works on display at such an inspiring gallery space. Memory of Touch represents a new movement for me as a photographer, and I am looking forward to presenting the pieces to new audiences in the city.”
All pieces on display will be available to purchase.
Memory of Touch
21 March – 4 May 2019
Argentea Gallery, 28 St Paul’s Square, Birmingham, B3 1RB
Opening times - Tuesday – Saturday: 12:00noon – 6:00pm
Private View: Thursday, 21 March, 6.00pm – 8.00pm