The new exhibition, Committed to Memory, celebrating the 25th anniversary of John Darwell's first show, is at Tullie House, Carlisle, until 1st July 2007.
It must have taken months of intense scrutiny of contact sheets and patience trawling through John Darwell's huge archive from 1983 to 2007 to produce this carefully selected exhibition. But what has resulted is a show which gives you a taste of Darwell's oeuvre, with over 20 projects represented ranging from social documentary photography to highly personal investigations of illness and depression.
The exhibition is well laid out, leading the visitor through the early black and white images of industrial British landscapes to the more recent large scale colour images. For one thing it shows how display methods have changed - the framed black and white images immediately feel like they are from a past era (which indeed they are) when compared with the photo collage installations pinned to the wall and the huge colour prints suspended from the ceiling.
Darwell is well known for his powerful series showing the effects of foot and mouth disease in Cumbria and the Chernobyl Nuclear Reactor disaster. But highlights for me were the unexpected American Desert States landscapes with their highly saturated colour and the After Schwitters series of abstracted landscapes taken on the former site of the German artist's barn in the Lake District. Overall the exhibition demonstrates the importance of Darwell in British photography and his ongoing commitment to documenting social, industrial and environmental change.
(reviewed by Natasha Howes, Curator: Exhibitions, Manchester Art Gallery)
Various events take place at Tullie House during the show:
12th May 2007 at 2pm - illustrated talk by John Darwell; tickets Â£4 or Â£2.50 concession - book on 01228 534664.
Saturday 2nd June 2007 - Portfolio Day - all places currently taken. Call 01228 534664 for more details.
Saturday 9th June 2007, 1pm - free lunchtime talk and guided tour with John Darwell and curator Paul Herrmann. No booking required.