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Photography Glimpses of social experience

A Sense of Exposure (photography by Ian Currie)
The Hive Coffee House
Blackpool 

AS the Hive opened its doors for A Sense of Exposure, a drummer called Busking Joe began a spirited performance on the pavement outside. The controlled but restless clatter provided an apt soundtrack to this exhibition of Ian Currie’s photographs.

Currie’s arresting images, as stylistically diverse as Joe’s grooves, were presented in four sets, each exploiting a phenomenon well established in neuroscience – the tendency of the brain to impose order and meaning on visual information.

In Surface Textures, Hidden Depths, a collection of abstractions based on everyday features and objects, there are competing hints of the organic and manufactured. At times, the weirdly decorative gives way to impressions of human anatomy, seething lava and looming monsters in dense, menacing oceans.

Text and Glory is a group of images exploring the complex interaction of words and images. Currie uses slogans, mottoes and traditional sayings to reinforce or contradict the impact of his photographs of people, places and structures. For example Smile features a cluster of overhead security cameras, shot from a jaunty angle against the bluest of skies.   

The world of Everyday Dust has little human presence, but plenty of human artifice. Currie’s still life photographs of tools, furniture and aspects of the built environment continue the obsession with form and texture that informs all his work, but many hint at mysterious narratives about erasure and forgetting.

The standout images relate to electricity – powerlines backdropped by an ominous sky, shot in stark black and white, and a frayed power cable “posed” to give the illusion of a pollarded tree.

The photographs collected in Peeps offer glimpses of social experience – people in public performances and in private moments, instances of loneliness, connection, joy and alienation. Some exhibits are photojournalistic, some involve manipulation and others use “found” features, such as shadows, to create oblique but telling portraits.

Currie’s work explores the possibilities of photography beyond its traditional role in reportage, aesthetics and reminiscence. It is a celebration of neglected facets of human experience and a philosophical enquiry into the interaction of people, places, language and artifice.

The venue, a café cum delicatessen known affectionately the “GuggenHive,” provides a regular showcase for artists working in Blackpool and the Fylde. In a seaside town struggling to find an identity long after its heyday as a holiday venue, this kind of cultural jumpstarting is important. All events are free of charge.  

Until June 15 2022. Free.

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