Saturday, 17 November 2012

Story telling at Somerset House

Yesterday I ventured out into foggy London to take a wander around Tim Walker's photography exhibition at Somerset House. Now, I know nothing about photography and certainly nothing about fashion but I like looking at pretty things and will take advantage of any excuse to pop over to Somerset House! 

The exhibition is largely comprised of Walker's fashion photography shoots from established magazines such as Vogue. For me seeing them out of context, ie not on glossy A4 pages sandwiched between text and pages and pages of adverts, meant that the photographs were able to stand alone and tell more of a story (which I guess, judging by the exhibitions title, was the aim). Some of the 'stories' are particularly clever and quite fascinating - I really liked the 'Like a Doll' series of photographs shot for Italian Vogue featuring a giant doll. Which brings us to his props. The giant doll, a spitfire plane, jelly mould hats and more are all present at the exhibition, stationed near to their moments in the spotlight. Their presence hammered home the fact that the things you can see in Walker's photographs are real, in the loosest sense of the word, someone had to make, transport and position them for the final shot, they haven't just been dropped in using photoshop. The fashion shoot images are, on the whole, heavily dressed but beautifully so, and therefore contrast quite sharply with the portraits also present at the exhibition. However, although they are stripped back to contain just their subjects each one has been photographed in varying guises so that their portraits too tell a story. Look out for the remaining members of Monty Python, Helena Bonham Carter, Vivienne Westwood, Scarlett Johansson and Alexander McQueen. 

The last thing I wanted to mention was the accompanying moving image reel. Mostly shot on an 8mm camera, a collection of short films (approx 2 mins each) document a handful of Walker's photography shoots which for me provided even more depth, through a sort of backstory, to the images on display. The Monty Python one is amusing but it was the other more whistful and dreamlike sequences from the fashion shoots which really had an impact on me. (This film in particular. I want to go to outer mongolia. See more here and here.) If you do go to the exhibition don't be put off by the tiny little room containing the moving images bit, it fills up quickly but its only short and definitely worth a look, as is the entire exhibition. It was a lot bigger than I was expecting and showcases an interesting collection of surreal images to admire and absorb. Gloriously, this exhibition is free and open until the end of January, I highly recommend it.

If you go between now and Christmas you could also treat yourself to a skate on the ice - I've never skated at Somerset House but have always wanted to - it's such a picturesque setting! I've never seen these before, they're penguins which little kids use to stop them falling over whilst they're skating (shuffing) around on the ice - v.cute.


  1. I love a bit of ice skating, it's so festive and fun :) You get out and about to such interesting places, I'm jealous!

    Lea x

    It's Such A Wonderful Life -

    Why not check out my Yankee Candle Giveaway?

  2. Those pictures are great, I'll have to check out more of his work.

  3. you're always doing such interesting, cultured things! sighhhhhh. when I go home for xmas i'm going skating at the natural history museum, ahh yeahh xxxx

  4. awww I love Somerset House we went there in 2005 after we brought my engagement ring so it always warms my heart to see <3


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