The “contagious collective energy” of Hackney and a fascination with nature take centre stage at a new exhibition of works by local photographer Stephen Gill.
The artist, a former Hackney resident now based in Bethnal Green, said his photographs of the borough and its residents vary from “straight descriptive studies to attempted visual extractions that try to grasp a feeling and spirit of place”.
He told the Citizen: “My interest in Hackney was born out of living in the area for many years and finding it inspiring tuning into the many frequencies and using photography to try and encapsulate a sense of place, describe and personally respond simultaneously.
“[Hackney’s] collective energies are contagious and it feels like a world within the world.
The exhibition, ‘Myeyefellout’, on show at The Photographers’ Gallery features over twenty framed prints from Hackney Flowers (2003-2007) Buried (2004-2007), Co-existence (2009-2010), Talking to Ants (2009- 2013) Hackney Kisses (2012) and Best Before End (2013). Also on display is a selection of his books of photographs including A Series of Disappointments (2008).
Gill’s photographs of a now disappeared Sunday market, shot using a plastic camera he bought at a junk stall for 50p, were first exhibited in The Photographers’ Gallery in 2005 under the title ‘Hackney Wick’.
He returns to the gallery with this new exhibition, which includes a continuation of the ‘Hackney Wick’ series. Gill said: “In the case of the ‘Hackney Wick’ series 2001 – 2005, this was much more a body of work being very much guided by the place itself within certain geographical parameters and the place itself very much informed the work.”
In ‘Hackney Flowers’ the photographs of the fly-by-night flea market vendors and hangers-on are artfully overlaid with petals and leaves and re-photographed.
As a child, Gill collected specimens of pond life to inspect under a microscope. His continuing fascination with nature can be seen in the experimental images, whose curious effects are achieved in-camera or in the development process.
For ‘Talking to Ants’, the photographer placed insects, foliage, dust and debris that he collected on East London streets directly into the body of the camera, before shooting local landscapes and exposing the film and material simultaneously.
In ‘Buried’, Gill left photos of the Hackney Wick market to decompose in the ground before developing them.
‘Myeyefellout’ runs until 8 May at the Photographers’ Gallery.