1 October 2014-17 January 2015

Hackney Museum marked Photomonth with a display of thousands of images unearthed from the archival material of R.A Gibson Photographic Studio, based on Clapton Road.

The display, which includes a selection of stills, audio and multimedia work, captures the changes in Hackney during the 1970s concerning its African, Asian and Caribbean communities. Viewers are not given specific names or text to support each individual image, but rather an archival numbered format. This formatting forces the viewer to look at each portrait as a typography concentrating on the subtle changes within eras, such as clothing, pose and hairstyles.

Yet each image all follows the same common backdrop of R.A Gibson’s curtain and stool props. The colour photography shows a diverse demographic and provokes questions as to why these particular immigrant groups chose to visit the studio for certain occasions, whether it was to comment on a new found prosperity in a different country, a collection of memories to pass on or to celebrate a carnival or special occasion.

The show is interactive with access to a light box where you can view original negatives, a reconstruction of the studio sits in one corner with identical furniture and props. Whilst the overall layout of the exhibition is cleverly edited into subsections of portraiture, hairstyles, full body fashion shots, professions, children and occasions.

by James Chris Parker

This review is one of a series of reviews by Redeye member James Parker. James visited several exhibitions at Photomonth as part of our Festival Bursary Programme. You can find more of James's reviews in the opinion section along with an interview with the Photomonth director.

James is a portraiture and editorial documentary photographer and a recent graduate of Edinburgh Napier University.

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