Seaside: Photographed explores the haven for both Britons and tourists that is the Great British Seaside. Through a vast compilation of photographs, some dating back to the mid-19th century, this exhibition presents many different, some contradictory, views on life beside the beach. A wide range of artists, photographic media, techniques, processes and subjects have been carefully selected to feature in this exhibition to ensure that visitors experience many alternate views of the seaside.
I first visited Seaside: Photographed on the 8th of July to conduct research for my work experience placement. Admittedly, initially I was quite cynical of an exhibition solely revolved around photography as I personally find more traditional forms of art such as painting and drawing more exciting and inspiring. However, upon entering Seaside: Photographed I was immediately drawn into the expressive presentation of photographic media and techniques, all of which are noted so visitors to the exhibition can take inspiration and ideas from it. I was particularly impressed by the range of sources of photographs presented in the exhibition. A prominent example of this were the incredible Victorian ferrotypes on display which had been kept in excellent condition.
The ferrotypes were amongst a handful of impressive photographic works which we were shown on the ‘highlight tour’ This was a brief tour of the exhibition whereby the tour guide selected some of the works of art to show us in more depth and explain the origin and context of its time. The tour guide was incredibly knowledgeable and explained the ferrotype process to us. I personally found this very interesting as we were shown how the effects of the different types of ferrotyping (using wet chemicals and dried chemicals to create an image) and the different mediums used for this process (metal and glass) Additionally the tour guide talked about how photography fitted into social periods of the time, particularly in the 1970s and 1980s when digital cameras were first produced by Canon. We learnt about what types of photography were socially acceptable and criticism/praise that artists had received for their works. I personally feel as though the tour allowed me to further understand the ideas and concepts behind the exhibition and I would highly recommend it!
I feel that the Seaside: Photographed exhibition is relevant to a broad range of visitors, both young and old. As it is, of course, based in Margate, a coastal town, the exhibition is very relevant, and I feel as though the location allows one to experience the true atmosphere of the seaside, this is aided by the spaciousness of the gallery featuring large windows with views out to sea. Since the beach is most commonly associated with fun and laughter, as it is a traditional holiday destination, so many visitors would view the exhibition as nostalgic or sentimental whilst others would visit to gain inspiration and ideas for media, arts, music or literature. Despite this exhibition not being entirely related to my current GCSE Art course, I found the concepts and ideas behind the pieces and some of the mediums used unique and interesting and I am assured that others will too. 000