REVIEW: Select15 exhibition at Photofusion

Our arts writer Petra Gent went along to the current exhibition at Photofusion, Select15, a collection of new photographers’ work which runs until 26th June.

 © Emilia Moisio, from the series ‘from the series ‘Vieraalla maalla (In a Foreign Place)’
© Emilia Moisio, from the series ‘from the series ‘Vieraalla maalla (In a Foreign Place)’

Photofusion hosted the private view for the opening of their new Select15 exhibition last week. The show is a culmination of a competition open to new photographers and showcases the work of four artists chosen from around 100 entrants.

This was my second visit to Photofusion’s exhibition space, and it struck me again how well the rooms allow the works to speak for themselves.

The four photographers’ collections were all developed independently, but through chance, strong themes of cultural heritage and environmental influences were apparent.

Emilia Moisio – Veiraalla maalla

 © Emilia Moisio, from the series ‘from the series ‘Vieraalla maalla (In a Foreign Place)’
© Emilia Moisio, from the series ‘from the series ‘Vieraalla maalla (In a Foreign Place)’

Emilia Moisio is a Finnish Photographer now based in London. On first viewing her collection of images I was struck by the beauty of the landscapes and the brightness of the prints. The pieces appear to reflect aspects of traditions in rural Finland.

A closer look at the photos reveals the quirkiness of the characters in them and a definite sense of irony. Emilia spoke to me about her photographs and to my surprise told me that they were staged. She also talked about her upbringing in the Carelian part of Finland and mentioned her interest in the cultural traditions that her mother would talk about.

Her images were partly in response to this but she also created them to convey a commentary on how society sometimes views the cultural history of a nation through tourist-driven images. The result is a beautifully constructed body of work with underlying humour and irony.

Lucy Llevene – The Spaghetti Tree

 © Lucy Levene, from the series ‘The Spaghetti Tree’, 2014
© Lucy Levene, from the series ‘The Spaghetti Tree’, 2014

Lucy’s collection incorporates some stunning portraiture alongside wonderfully candid shots of members of Italian communities in the UK. The title of her project comes from the 1957 fake documentary aired on the BBC persuading viewers that spaghetti grew on trees.

The communities portrayed relate to those that formed in Bedford and Peterborough in the fifties when men were recruited from Southern Italy to supplement the local brick industry workforce.

The contradiction of the realism in some of her portraits with the unexpected expressions of her subjects reveals the “interventions and the artifice of photography, and in return gets [viewers] to question the ‘truth value’ of the documentary form.”

Thomas Caron Delion – A dead man in Deptford

 © Thomas Caron Delion, from the series ‘A Dead Man In  Deptford’, 2014
© Thomas Caron Delion, from the series ‘A Dead Man In Deptford’, 2014

The slightly morbid title reflects the view of many ‘local’ south Londoners who have seen the rapid gentrification of their neighbourhood in the last decade. Thomas’ photographs depict varying view points of Deptford – capturing the beauty of London illuminated at night as well as the urban decay of abandoned spaces and the chaotic traffic systems.

One of the surprising aspects of this collection is how appealing the photographer has made the ugliness of an abandoned warehouse, and a mud bank with half buried scrap appear.

Willem Jaspert – Hinsko

 © Willem Jaspert, from the series ‘Hlinsko’
© Willem Jaspert, from the series ‘Hlinsko’

There is a sense of melancholy in Willem’s project that aims to ‘present
an intimate portrayal of the customs and simple beauty of a town in decline’. With photographs ranging from abstracts to documentary and portraiture, this series focuses on the local festival ‘Masopust’, a parade from house to house to ensure a rich harvest, fertility and to celebrate the imminent arrival of spring.

The festival was been added to the Unesco World Heritage List in 2010 and the affection and connection to its importance is apparent in Willem’s project.

During the evening we were treated to a few words in celebration of the event by Photofusion founder Gina Glover. She spoke with passion about the four photographers and how strong the links related to cultural heritage had come through. She also talked to me about the huge contribution the curator Jenna Banat had made to the whole event.

A thought-provoking and visually stunning collection, I shall definitely take the opportunity to view these again.

The Select15 exhibition runs until June 26th at Photofusion and is free. Head to their website to find out more.


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