London Calling: Anna Fox, Stephen Gill, Nigel Shafran

25 February - 1 May 2010

James Hyman Photography is pleased to present an exhibition that foregrounds an exciting new generation of photographers who have placed London at the heart of their work. 

London Calling explores the way that Anna Fox, Stephen Gill and Nigel Shafran have taken the capital city as their home and subject matter. It suggests a specificity in their responses to London, whether it be the grey of London light or a type of gritty urban realism particular to the inner city. 

London Calling, runs alongside Modernist Realism. The School of London from Andrews to O'Donoghue and emphasises the richness of London's local neighbourhoods and domestic environments. In terms of subject matter it is tempting to make direct comparisons with the work of Auerbach and Kossoff and that of the photographers Anna Fox, Stephen Gill and Nigel Shafran. The exhibition emphasises that it is not the public monuments and celebrated roads of the West End that have inspired but rather a sense of place to be found above all in the depiction of the inner city and the intimacy of daily life. London is not an impersonal, anonymous city, but an intimate locale peopled by familiar faces. 

Auerbach's focus on the building sites of inner city London such as the construction of the South Bank arts complex, finds a direct counterpart in Gill's depictions of Hackney and the construction for the 2012 Olympics. Meanwhile Nigel Shafran explores the same suburban neighbourhoods of north west London familiar from the work of Leon Kossoff, and Anna Fox depicts her intimately known domestic environment in north London. Tony Bevan's early paintings inspired by the people near his studio also reflected a moving social concern to be found also in Glenys Johnson's paintings.

Anna Fox is presently shortlisted for the prestigious Deutsche BPrize. Her highly acclaimed series 41 Hewitt Road focuses on the interiors of the house in Haringey, North London, where she lived with her family and a series of lodgers. The rooms lie empty yet close-ups of graffiti-adorned walls and worn light switches attest to the life lived within. Subtle crinkling of blue paint around a chip in the plasterboard captures the aftermath of some small domestic accident. A yellow swathe of paint hovers on creased paper, and a close-up of a mantelpiece features a fresh tulip and a child's drawing. Fox's images in this series combine documentation, abstraction, and wit to distil a colourful poetry of domestic life. James Hyman Gallery has recently published a box set of twenty 41 Hewitt Road photographs available in a limited edition of 5 + 2AP. 

Stephen Gill's Hackney Wick series began when the artist stumbled across a marketplace of second-hand and stolen items in Hackney, at which he bought a fixed-lens plastic camera for fifty pence. Lacking the formal constraints of studied photography, Gill's compositions capture the bustle of the market, the foreboding calm of overgrown canals, odd collections of items for sale in the market place, and the dreamy visual haze of a wandering poet. Bits of green, local fauna and garden allotments may now be seen as endangered species, along with the market itself, as the area is being regenerated for the 2012 London Olympics. 

The focus of Nigel Shafran's Washing Up series shares an element of familiarity with Fox's interiors. Shafran has drawn inspiration from things that have come together by chance yet wear the traces of simple human choices in their construction, such as the stacking of dishes and cooking utensils in a drying rack. Shafran's compositions transcend the ordered chaos of domestic life and lend a conceptual contemplation to the gentle but incessant passing of time.