Tower Street gallery According To McGee launches its inaugural ‘Photography’ exhibition this weekend with a duo show from Nick Howard of Castle Howard and urban contemporary photographer Jim Poyner.
Nick Howard, internationally well regarded for his photography, with subjects including artists Grayson Perry and Antony Gormley, brings a collection that focuses solely on Castle Howard and its surroundings whilst Jim Poyner’s deal with urban graffiti in cities all around the world.
It is a divergence that pleases gallery co-director Ails McGee. "We have been for 15 years a gallery that has primarily celebrated painting. Photography has been forced to squat in the shadow of painting for decades, especially from a commercial point of view. Most UK art collectors, I would say, have for the last 20 years prioritised painting in their searches. And there’s been all kinds of reasons for that, namely a painting demands more time, and a careful application of colour. In the wrong hands, a camera can’t come close. But this exhibition is different in that there’s been a spike in Photography generally and both Nick Howard and Jim Poyner are excellent draughtsman and can take thrillingly controlled compositions."
Nick Howard grew up in Castle Howard, one of Britain’s greatest houses. He is grateful to the McGees for providing this opportunity for him to complete a circle that begun decades ago. "As a child, I took some of my first photographs in York’s Museum Gardens, so it’s a real pleasure to have my images on show in York now." He recounts why and how he worked so hard and so quickly in harnessing the light inherent in this specific collection. "These were taken on a particular day, an autumn morning I’d been waiting for to capture the perfect shot of the red tree, the Swamp Cypress. It turns to that delicious red for a few days each year, just at the time mists, frosts, and sunlight combine to make magic out of even the mundane. I’d gone out far too early for the tree shot, just to savour those perfect conditions. As soon as I left the house it became clear that there was a lot more to shoot than just the tree. The light was changing every moment: I’d turn from one shot to take another and when I turned back, everything had altered, again. It became a race. Under conditions like that it’s impossible to capture everything you see but I managed to take home something of what I’d witnessed.
Castle Howard’s postal address is very simple: Castle Howard, York. To be offered the opportunity to show these pictures, some of my personal favourites, in York seems somehow to complete the whole process that started that day.
Which was something of a relief. I’d had in the back of my mind a challenge, self-imposed but real. I had to make a set of pictures at Castle Howard which would stand the test of time, which would enter the iconography of an iconographic place. As time has gone by, I feel more and more certain that I achieved that aim on that morning. Castle Howard’s postal address is very simple: Castle Howard, York. To be offered the opportunity to show these pictures, some of my personal favourites, in York seems somehow to complete the whole process that started that day. I’m very grateful to According To McGee for making this happen."
Jim Poyner, based in York, is considered to be the city’s finest photographer, with recent commercial photography for the likes of Aesthetica Magazine, York College, and HISCOX Insurers giving way to a creative approach, a candid urban street collection, with locations such as Iceland, Madrid, Berlin and Sydney captured.
The results are, according to Greg McGee, game-changing. "It’s no secret that Photography is on the rise with collectors who have an eye for contemporary, collectible art. Jim’s work feels as much a slice of graffiti art as the subjects he chronicles, but there’s a playful acknowledgement of the surrounding area that he brings into the composition with a deft humour. So there’s a depiction of an ancient goddess on the side of a building in Sydney with the trails of an aeroplane forming part of the foreground. And in the background, behind the actual house? There’s an aeroplane cutting across the Australian blue sky. Poyner has timed it beautifully, with a showman’s sense of balance of colour." Says Jim, “Having spent many years travelling and always documenting how cities are decorated by street artists, I’m delighted to have been asked to show some at the always delicious According to McGee.”
...there's a depiction of an ancient goddess on the side of a building in Sydney with the trails of an aeroplane forming part of the foreground. And in the background, behind the actual house? There's an aeroplane cutting across the Australian blue sky.
Greg is pleased that Photography has made such an orchestrated return to a gallery ordinarily associated with Contemporary Painting. "The work of both possesses a certain painterly quality, in that Nick plays with light and delicate colours with Turnerian confidence and honesty, and Jim’s has an otherworldly vibrance most painters spend years trying to capture." Gallery manager Sophie Austin has led in curating the exhibition. "But it’s not an imitation of painting," she says, "It’s heartening to see Photography as an art form holding its own against Painting. And to cap it all, it’s his childhood home, so he knows it better than anyone. These are authentic items of heritage, harnessed by a contemporary photographer at the peak of his powers, who happens to have been brought up and continues to live at the stately home he chronicles so powerfully. The collectibility of these Limited Editions is a powerful reason for art lovers and collectors alike to come and visit York."
‘Photography: An Exhibition’ runs until 30 March. Click below for more details.According To McGee