This week I went to the opening of a fabulous new exhibition at the Ipswich town hall art gallery, featuring the work of artist Mandy Christmas. The exhibition featured a stunning display of photographic works featuring countryside and coastal views along with some simply astonishing up-close shots of wildlife. Even the artist’s exhibition sign was a work of art; using a slice of a rusting old beach hut door as the backdrop for the Hunter – Gatherer exhibition title.
The beach hut door certainly set the tone for the exhibition – large-scale images focused on texture and moody colours, taking an abstract look at natural forms, shadows and decaying materials. These images contrasted rather pleasingly with a series of bright, lush, lively wildlife photography. Mandy Christmas explained how she photographed her surroundings on a series of walks – hence the Hunter-Gatherer title – and often found nature and decay living side-by-side. It was also really interesting to see a photo of the artist at work, taking a photo of a seagull – it showed that she wasn’t using a zoom lens to capture the gull’s cheeky face, but was actually crawling on the beach with the camera inches away from the bird! The artist’s patience in photographing birds, bugs and animals has clearly paid off as an entire wall of the exhibition is dedicated to her close-up wildlife images.
I was completely mesmerised by one of the artworks in particular; an image of a smouldering forest fire. This photograph stopped me in my tracks and transported me straight to the location of the fire. I worried about being in a forest that could potentially ignite and I imagined how it would feel to be surrounded by fire and cut-off in the woods. I admired the artist even more so for putting herself in possible danger in order to take the photo whereas I would have definitely been running in the opposite direction! Despite feeling uneasy while looking at the piece, I was drawn back to it time and again, and really enjoyed looking at the dusky colours and charred shapes.
After a thorough look around the exhibition, hubby and I sat down with a cup of tea to take in the surroundings of the magnificent town hall building and I took some snaps. Please forgive the quality of my images; I forgot to take my camera with me and snapped these photos on my phone but I hope you get can an idea of the exhibition and the building as a whole.
I will definitely be visiting the gallery again and will be sure to report back on any other exhibitions I see over the coming months. Please get in touch if you’ve seen any fantastic artwork recently and please do recommend any galleries you think I’d be interested in – it’s always great to have new places to explore!