New 'moving' portrait exhibition starts at Black Swan Arts Centre
By fromepudding | Monday, April 02, 2012, 10:17
A new exhibition capturing quintessential Somerset craftspeople in life-sized photographic portraits that 'move' will be on show in a new exhibition at Frome's Black Swan Arts Centre from Friday 6 April.
Mudhorse fishermen Adrian and Brendan Sellicks
The installation by Terry Flaxton, which is being produced by Charlotte Humpston of Visualfields, shows 25 life-sized filmed portraits of the county's craftspeople, from father and son mud-horse fishermen, a stone carver, papermaker, rope maker and beekeeper to a sheep shearer, ex- coal-miner and family of cheese makers.
Film-maker Terry Flaxton used an interesting technique to capture the images, getting the craftspeople to pose as if for a still shot but recording them for one minute in an ultra high resolution moving image. The images will then be beamed onto the walls of the Bridge Street gallery, surprising the viewer when they realise that the 'image' is moving.
People visiting the free exhibition will also hear interviews with the people featured, adding to the rich sensory experience of the 'Portraits of the Working People of Somerset' exhibition.
"We wish to send the message of the rich vibrant Somerset culture to the rest of the country - as well as abroad. 'Portraits of the Working People of Somerset' is intended to sustain and enhance the identity of our region," said Terry, who is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Bristol. Working together with producer Charlotte Humpston, they have produced high definition art projects in Somerset, Bristol, China, America, Italy and Malta.
Producer Charlotte Humpston said: "The life-sized portraits of craftspeople, standing still for one minute, are completely fascinating for audiences, and this is one of the last chances to see this exhibition. As our 21st century lives are so busy and full of disturbing news items, we wanted to celebrate what we have here in Somerset. This is very much about appreciating and celebrating our heritage and traditions."
Oral histories of the 'portraitees' have also been produced by Bridgwater's 'Engine Room' using volunteers who received professional training supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund award. These fascinating interviews can be heard by visitors as they enjoy the portraits and provide a great deal of added local interest in the exhibition.
"This could be the last chance for people to see this exhibition when it comes to the Black Swan so we're very pleased that Terry and Charlotte chose our Frome gallery to play host," said Black Swan Arts trustee chair Luke Wilde.
Explaining the reasons for the award Nerys Watts, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in the South West, said: "We recognise the crucial importance of traditional skills in ensuring the future of so many aspects of our varied heritage, from historic buildings to unique landscapes and biodiversity; our recent 'Skills for the Future' initiative is helping to ensure that these skills can be passed on to a new generation of craftspeople. By recording the memories and way of life of today's traditional workers, this project will help to ensure that their skills can be understood and appreciated by future generations."
The 'Portraits of the Working People of Somerset' exhibition is on from Friday 6 April to Saturday 5 May at the Black Swan Arts Centre in Bridge Street, Frome. The gallery is open Monday to Saturday 10 to 4pm and entry is free, although donations are always welcome.