Squeezing through windows, crawling under fences, climbing scaffolding and sneaking past security guards – if the intrigue surrounding the actions taking place here is hard to bear, then you will be truly captivated by the occupation about to be described. Indeed, these are just a few of the risks that photographer Gina Soden takes in order to capture her beautiful composites, and Eye Like Gallery are delighted to announce that we will be holding a solo show for her in September!
Gina lives and works in Reading when she is not travelling around Europe photographing her locations, and for the past few months, travelling and photographing is precisely what she has been doing. To begin to understand Gina’s work fully, it is fascinating to convey the background behind her pieces, the emotional, physical and technical elements to her work, that lead to the creation of astounding pieces.
Picture this; Gina is walking past you, dressed in regular clothes, and happens at that precise moment to have a fully packed rucksack with her, hitched firmly upon her back. It may seem that she is taking an ordinary trip out, but in fact this appearance is often the normality when she embarks on her photographic trips. The only clue that she may be participating in an activity out of the ordinary is the feature of a telescopic ladder, an aid that is often crucial for the photographer. This relaxed appearance does not begin to convey the amount of preparation Gina has taken beforehand however – copious amounts of research takes place into underused and abandoned locations throughout Europe, in order that each of her trips abroad gives her a fruitful amount of sites to photograph. Even once her venues are established, preceding the approach into the specific location she is required to examine if there are any homes, or people, nearby that may catch her working.
It is this capturing of spaces that are in decline that gives an element of danger to her work; she is constantly on the lookout to avoid being caught in these properties as she is technically trespassing, which may lead to her being removed from the area. This rarely occurs however, which is lucky as that would not be ideal for Gina or us for that matter! If that isn’t enough to get your heart racing, the risks of entering her chosen locations are equally matched by the hazards of the properties themselves. Each building Gina enters that is suffering from decay comes with the worry associated with deterioration, for instance broken floorboards and smashed glass. Less thought of though is the problematic situation encountered by Gina on one of her trips when faced with a homeless individual, who was taking shelter within one of the buildings that was due to be photographed. The language barrier could have led to a communication error between the two, alongside the threat of an unknown personality and character; nevertheless Gina’s urge to capture the images outweighs the risks involved and likewise gives an aura of mystery to her pieces. She is often the only person who knows which locations she chooses and how she advances into the sites, yet she delivers the final image to us with an overwhelming clarity and beauty.
This photographic precision is achieved through numerous techniques and equipment. When photographing her locations Gina uses a tripod and a tilt-shift lens, most commonly associated with architectural photography. This lens allows her to keep the image vertically straight in comparison to a wide-angle lens that would distort the perspective of each wide scene. Now if you’re as clueless as we were at the first mention of a tilt-shift lens, the mechanics of this works by the actual lens coming away from itself and physically moving up and down within the lens frame- clever I know! For each piece she takes 15+ images at 6 different exposures, capturing the top, middle and bottom of the chosen composition - it is these blending of images and colour toning at different exposures that causes her compositions to possess more detail, and even at some angles look as if they are paintings rather than photography. All of these elements take place within a scope of 5-10 hours of shooting, an incredible feat considering the entire time she is aware that she may be interrupted and stopped at any moment!
Amongst Gina’s numerous achievements is the success of her work being acquired by The Groucho Club, and also being selected for the popular exhibition ‘Things I Love at The Fine Art Society’ by Sir Peter Blake. It seems only natural then, that she should be awarded the Emerging Artist of the Year in October 2013 by the National Open Art competition, with the award being presented to her by Gavin Turk and Ronnie Wood. Her importance in the art world is highlighted further by her emergence in the media, through a highly anticipated appearance on the BBC One television show ‘Inside Out’ in September.
Gina’s prestigious reputation only exemplifies how lucky we are to be presenting some of her newest works, along with some familiar favourites, to you in September. We at Eye Like are thrilled that owing to Gina’s solo show, unable to access these places in reality, the viewer‘s imagination will be transported to the settings enabling each individual to see the magnificence that comes alongside decay. In fact, her work demonstrates how each location becomes accessible once more; they are no longer places that are shielded from society, but instead each property is introduced once again to the public eye, their emergence allowing the idea of beauty to be re-configured.
Gina Soden: Emergence at Eye Like Gallery 5th-26th September
Private View on Thursday 4th September 6pm – 9pm
Eye Like Gallery.