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Skies is the last of two consecutive exhibitions of new works by John Riddy. In the previous exhibition Recent Places many of the landscapes assumed an almost mythical look – they evoked the worlds often seen through a window in a Renaissance painting. The works in this exhibition are, in some ways, an extension of this and relate strongly to the subject’s role in art-historical terms.
The act of photographing the clouds puts the photographer himself in a somewhat different physical role than usual. Riddy’s pictures of the constructed environment involve positioning and repositioning his camera until the viewfinder captures a full or resonant description of a particular place. To make an image of the sky however the process is precisely the opposite. The viewpoint remains fixed while a changing and constantly unfolding vista extends overhead to be captured on film when the composition seems promising – when the light, colour, atmosphere and formation appear to fall into some kind of meaningful order.
The photographs in this exhibition also symbolise a kind of release from the gravity of Riddy’s earlier work where his view of the world expressed a certain sculptural weight – made by extended exposure times and often involving extensive journeys. Here the images are captured in less than 1/30th of a second and are nothing but light and water-vapour and were, for the most part, made through the sitting room window of a south-London flat ; yet they touch upon so many cultural attachments and all kinds of metaphors and meanings which relate to religion, literature and art history.
Riddy’s recent move into colour photography has allowed him to further explore the particularities of the moment and eloquently stresses the subtle relationship between light and space, colour and form. These images impart a sense of both familiarity and transcendence, they reverberate with our own experience of staring at the sky and our accumulated images of it as a meaningful vista; they tread a fine line between meteorology and poetry.
John Riddy would like to thank Jean Lippett and everyone at Visions for their help in the realisation of this exhibition.
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