From a period in history frozen in time at the John Jarrold Print Museum to the futuristic Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts, my Inspiration Day was varied and emotional.
While a chasm of time and technological advancement separate hot metal and modern photography, they are bound by the human desire for self expression and creativity – both mediums equally able to convey happiness, passion, intimacy, and fear.
Creativity of language.
I was guided through the history of print by the fantastic volunteers at John Jarrold – understanding how the creativity of language was captured by letterpress, lithographic printing and book binding. The museum houses brilliant working print presses and tools, as well as real works created by the machines both from archives and the present day.
The print technicians tell fascinating true stories from their time as apprentices to now – the long process of creating the letterpress outline from metal type, proofing this, and manually feeding through a printer to transfer ink onto the page was fascinating. The speed at which we can produce print today shows just how much and how quickly printing technology has developed. Not that the pressure of deadlines didn’t exist years ago! The process was also surprisingly sustainable – with printers reusing ‘yesterday’s news’ to produce the new press for each day’s newspaper where possible.
Emphasis on perspective.
The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts’ photography exhibition, The Body Observed, focused on how the human body is portrayed and explored themes such as happiness, intimacy, fear and self-expression.
The copywriting accompanying the images complimented them well, clearly explaining each photographer’s goal for their collection and offering a short biography too. It was interesting to read quotes from each photographer to accompany some of their pieces.
My favourite project was by Philippe Halsman who coined the phrase ‘jumpology’. He asked portrait subjects to jump at the end of their shoot as this made them display a more uncontrolled reaction – capturing a more authentic side to each person. The sheer joy from most subjects was infectious! This also contributed to a key takeaway for me: to put more emphasis on perspective.
Anyone can take a great picture.
All of the photography provoked varied, challenging emotions: one collection of shots were, on first look, violent, yet the subject itself wasn’t always intentionally distressing.
The photos were ‘real’ and displayed the human form in many different ways – but always from an authentic and honest point of view. Many didn’t appear as pre-planned compositions, yet still felt professional. The curation and pace of the exhibition suited it brilliantly.
A quote from the exhibition which stayed with me is: “Anyone can take a great picture… It is incredibly difficult to put these fragments together in a meaningful way”.
Keeping our past alive.
A day full of passion and emotion, it has encouraged me to think from many different perspectives. I didn’t expect to also feel disappointed, but learning the John Jarrold Print Museum is being downsized and relocated was a real shame. It’s an amazing resource and shows that we need to support our excellent local resources and causes in the future to keep our past alive.