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Impressions Gallery//Liza Dracup

3 August 2017
I decided to go to the Impressions Gallery to see the exhibition by Liza Dracup. Looking at her work online before, nothing really seemed to stand out, although after seeing them in print in the exhibition this soon changed my opinion. The exhibition was ‘Field Work’ and presents a decade of her work, exploring photographic representations of our environment. She works with museum collections as well as directly with the natural world. Inspired by historic processes whilst embracing modern digital techniques, she uses photography as an experimental tool to see beyond the human eye. This results in images ranging from vibrant ‘hidden’ landscapes to detailed studies of plants and animals.

The exhibition was split up into different aspects of her work.

RE: Collections (2013)

This was the first section presented as you walked in. These photographs are of birds and mammals as still-lives. The photographs are both artistic and scientific studies. Each image is presented on a black background, reminiscent of the Dutch Still Life tradition which I think stands out within the images. ‘’These hauntingly beautiful, yet eerie images raise questions our emotional relationship to British wildlife and its conservation.’’ I think this quote sums up the feelings this work produces when looking at it and how there is something beautiful about this piece of work even though the animals are not living. The images were large prints that filled a large space of wall, and were presented in grid like I’ve placed them below. Seeing them in this way as a viewer makes you appreciate the form of the animal and the different characteristics each of them have that make them unique.

Landmarks (2016)-

This section of her work creates a visual dialogue between past and present, delving into historic landscapes photographs in the Harrogate Fine Art Collection. Her images are inspired by parts of plants, the landscape of Northern England, and stereoscopic imagery, a 19th century ‘3D’ technique. This technique is when two photographs of the same subject are taken at slightly different angles are viewed together, creating an impression of depth. I also visited the media museum in which you can see versions of these which I thought was an interesting aspect mixing the old and new in terms of photographic techniques. The leaf prints reminded me of a type of screen print technique which I think was a beautiful way of presenting studies of the different leafs presented approximately A-2.

Listers Mill: A Topographical View (2008)-

The images were taken as part of a collective for the Bradford Grid. They all feature the recurring subject of the iconic chimney of Lister’s Mill (once the world’s largest silk factory) seen from various viewpoints from the post-industrial landscape to the outer edges of Bradford. This set of images were my favourite from the exhibition. I think the idea of photographing the same thing within a landscape from various distances and angles is a simple yet really effective idea and Liza has done it particularly well. Being from Bradford myself connects me to these images more as its a place I see yet not in this way. The use of colour within this set of images is beautiful and I feel really adds to the work fitting together as they are all similar tones of brown and green. Another element which I think really works in this is the square framing of the images and is something I would like to experiment with in the future. 

Chasing the Gloaming (2011)-

These were taken in response to Victorian painter John Atkinson Grimshaw’s famous moonlit landscapes. Seeking the unfamiliar with the familiar, her photographic studies illuminate landscapes from the rural edges of Bradford and other places with Yorkshire. The photos below where taken at St-Ives. From coming home and researching images of Grimshaw’s paintings, I can clearly see the references to the light and colour within these photographs which does provide them with a very artistic feel. 

Sharpes Wood (2007)-

This presents a series of nocturnal woodland landscapes. Dracup spent hours between duck and dawn in almost total darkness, drawing on light from the moon, car headlights and the glow of streetlights to create mesmerizing, painterly images. Again, these images are very similar to the previous ones with similar compositions and use of colour which gives them a very artistic feel. The use of layers within each of these images work really well and adds foreground, middle ground and background. The idea of these been taken in the dark with the use of light sources such as car headlights I think is an interesting element and maybe various light sources is something I can experiment with in my own work in the future. The contrasting colours within these images complement each other and overall makes them very eye catching to the viewer. 

Dracup quotes ‘’I am delighted to be presenting a decade of my work at Impressions, marking 10 years since Sharpe’s Wood was first shown. My photographic journey since then has led me to many places and collections, always seeking the extraordinary properties of the ordinary northern landscape and its natural history. I hope that Field Work will reveal hidden aspects to the environment, and the ways in which photography enables us to see the world differently’’. This sums up the exhibition perfectly and as a viewer the work I saw achieved all these things. In terms of how the work were displayed most of them were in frames, yet all scaled differently. The stereoscopic imagery were in the centre of the room in cases, and also on display next to the Collections imagery were some of the physical animals that could be seen in the images which I think work well in comparison to the photographs. There were also 2 images from the Sharpes Wood collection that were displayed backlit which brought out the vibrant colours within these images and were a little different to just ordinary framing.