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Ambit: Photographies from Scotland

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Ambit is a new partnership between Street Level Photoworks and Stills, Scotland’s public venues dedicated to photography. The exhibition will be presented across both venues as a joint venture embracing some of the current tendencies and innovative talent from the art photography sector in Scotland. 

Each venue will include 5 artists who take a diverse range of approaches to photographic image making. Work by Tine Bek, Sylwia Kowalczyk, Donnie MacLean, Blazej Marczak and Margaret Mitchell will be shown at Street Level. 

The exhibition at Stills includes work by Eden Hawkins, Lorna Macintyre, Norman McBeath, Kristian Smith and Karen L Vaughan.

Tine Bek's Barok takes the baroque as a main inspiration, not just as a period within architecture or art, but more so as an expression of a certain philosophy. The photographs are all individual pieces, however as a whole, they create this expression of the Baroque, containing an explosion of decorative decadence, richness of colour, materiality and form.

Desire, pleasure and sorrow are the main affects that Tine utilises in an ever-growing body of work which turns and changes the viewer’s perception in an unexpected way. Every image is a fold that allows multiple readings and changes the conditions of looking through visual material that is as visceral as it is tactile. 

“For me personally the images are always moving, changing and evolving, leaving me with something not quite graspable, where the architecture is more sophisticated than the people, who seem almost more animal-like than civilised. With statues that seem alive and people mainly portrayed as almost abstract figures, the reality as we know it is turned upside down, leaving all rules of etiquette behind.”

Sylwia Kowalczyk's Lethe reflects on the river of the same name that cleanses Dante in Purgatory, the one that wipes memories of the dead as they drink from it or bathe in it. The poet Sylvia Plath describes stepping up from 'the black car of Lethe, Pure as a baby'. It is an escape, a relief from our own physical limitations. 'The soul that has been rash enough to drink from the fount of Lethe... is reincarnated and again cast into the cycle of becoming', according to Mircea Eliade.

As important recollections slip from our memory, this loss brings its own kind of grief. The past becomes a vast, blank territory where even the most important memories from childhood are erased - if we do not remember them, perhaps these might as well not have happened in the first place.

Donnie MacLean's Sealed With A Glasgow Kiss places focus on individual isolation representing the uncertainty and distrust that prevails throughout society. We live in an uncertain time and through the medium of street photography MacLean looks to highlight the fear of social interaction amongst us in the busy realm of city centre streets. The images offer much more than just simply visual sign pointing to the existence of something else. For MacLean it is a 'desperate measure to capture the inner aspect of our life', looking for the indecisive moment, rather than the decisive. 

Donnie's recent publications include: A Glasgow Kiss (2015), A Still Death (2016) and Sold Post Brexit Blues (2017).

Blazej Marczak's series The Grey City documents a personal and subjective impression of Aberdeen. Bounded by two river mouths, the North Sea and vast green stretches of land, Aberdeen is often described as the Granite City, though others say it is silver. It is also the energy capital of Europe. The label Blazej feels is the most accurate is the 'Grey City'. A ubiquitous landscape has been created by the silver granite and a matching sky: this evokes an atmosphere of gloom. Blazej fails to see the glamour as described by others; he is instead attracted to the things that are seemingly commonplace, things which many may see as unimportant and mundane. The silver remains but is becoming stained, a patina encroaching.

Margaret Mitchell's In This Place looks at family and home, connections and place and touches on issues of social and personal inertia. Behind a personal familial connection sits a larger narrative of social mobility, environment and choice. Do we have choices in life or are some predetermined to an extent and made for us?

Fundamentally, this is a story of people’s lives: what they do and what they want. Where the ‘place’ is both mental and physical: where we put ourselves and where we are put, sometimes by others and sometimes by circumstance. What puts us there, what keeps us there, and do we want to be there? 

Banner Image: © Margaret Mitchell, from the series 'In This Place'
Left Image: © Sylwia Kowalczyk, from the series 'Lethe'