Arts Award Reviews: Kaja Bruce - Silver Award

Kaja Bruce visited a photography exhibition in Brighton by Simon Roberts, and here's what she thought of it...

On the 18th February 2016, I went to see “Pierdom”, a photography exhibition on the piers of Brighton by Simon Roberts in the Brighton Pavilion Museum. The exhibition went on from the 3rd of October 2015 to the 21st of February 2016, and the pictures were taken by a 4x5” field camera. The exhibition explored the story of Britain’s relationship to the seaside – specifically the piers – from the early links with artists such as J.M.W Turner, to the technological advancement of the industrial revolution.

The camera he used was one similar to the photographic technology from the Victorian era, which creates a link to the historical significance of piers in British History. In the exhibition, there were about 20 detailed and well-crafted pictures; however he did take more which can be found in his book. If you looked closely enough, in one of the photos you could see a family balancing a bottle of wine on the remains of the Brighton pier. I think that little details like this sum up the whole exhibition quite well, that there is and have been a connection between the British piers and the public for centuries.

I liked many of his pictures. One, for example, was the picture of Worthing pier because Roberts took it in the rain and when the waves were rough. This picture in particular stood out to me because I had never seen such a picture that was taken in such bad weather conditions. It looked as if it was quite hard to take the picture, with there being a chance of the camera getting wet and broken. I think that this makes the photo more impressive and interesting.

Roberts also took photos in various settings, and even of a couple of piers that no longer exist. In the information video, it showed that he even took one picture from the top of someone’s apartment. To me, this is fascinating. From this exhibition, I learnt about how the piers are related to British history, and how you can tell the ways that the local community have used the piers throughout the decades. I also learnt some information about how Roberts took the pictures. I found out that there are still existing old fashioned cameras that work well and can be used.

As someone that has an interest in photography, I thought that it might be interesting to have a section of the exhibition that was dedicated to knowing about how the pictures were made. Normally, in an exhibition this wouldn’t be shown, but this was just an addition that I would add if I was to improve the exhibition.

Even though it isn’t open any more, if the exhibition ever is again, I would recommend seeing it. I think that Simon Roberts is a fantastic photographer, who took his time and effort with all of the pictures that I saw in the exhibition. In the information video it said that taking the pictures with a special Victorian camera was lengthy process. In addition to actually taking the pictures, getting the right shots, frame and lighting must have taken a while too. I have huge respect for this photographer and am going to look at his work in the future.

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