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Posted on 19th November, 2011

Review of David Lake's "Leica Postcards" photo exhibition,

at The Lowry Hotel, Salford (Nov 2011).

 

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One of the cultural attractions I saw on 5th November was the small photographic exhibition called 'Leica Postcards'. This is an exhibition of personal work by local commercial photographer David Lake, running until 29th November at The Lowry Hotel, which is just over the River Irwell into Salford from Manchester.

 

Images are all portraits, mainly black & white, and feature many great-looking characters from places as diverse as European cities, New York, Kathmandu and the Canaries. Mostly, the subjects are aware of the camera, but there are a few candids where faces are visible, and there are some which are simply from behind.

 

In truth, it's not purely an exhibition, as it's at least as much a display of work for sale. Unfortunately for Mr Lake though, it's not a blatantly pushy sale, as the images are not displayed that prominently. Even though there is a large reception area at the hotel just begging for something to fill it, the pics are hung on the first floor, in a corridor between a bar / restaurant and the lifts. And there aren't too many pics either, as I could find just 31 examples.

 

But does the work deserve better presentation I must ask? Well yes, all still photography deserves a high profile in my opinion, but I don't think this set will get to the NPG or the Photographers' Gallery for instance. There are gems without doubt, such as the image called "Old Man" that is being used to promote the display, and pictures called "Flamenco Man", "Fire Eaters", "Green Woman", and "Man with BBQ". Interestingly, all these are printed and mounted in large frames, suggesting to me that the author & promoter may have themselves tried to 'separate' the great from the not-so-good. If so, I'd say that they havn't got it quite right, as there are a couple of other large ones which come into the second of those two categories. In addition, I'd say that the distinction between the two extremes is more blurred than that, as there are some very good shots such as two of the candids: "Shirley's 30th" and the one of three people at La Gomera. Just to confirm that there is the spread I suggest though, check out "Ella Silhouette" (uneven horizon) and "Florist" (from rear, no activity of interest) if you make a visit.

 

I need to emphasise that I can't be certain that I've noted all image titles 100% accurateIy. However, they are mostly correct, and, to me, lacking a little bit of imagination: they didn't add much to my understanding of the content I'm afraid. Other things that bothered me were:

1. the lighting that causes reflections,

2. the burnt-out areas in many of the images, and,

3. what I see as the rather high prices.

 

In summary then, the exhib left me with reservations, but relieved by a small number of great, inspiring images. Therefore, I wouldn't recommend travelling far to visit, but if you're in the Greater Manchester area, do make the effort.

 

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