21 July 2015
Back in early April 2014 I was tagged in a short and enigmatic post by a Facebook friend: “Calling all snappers .. www.bleedinglondon.co.uk”. There an enticing “I’m In” button beckoned and 16 months on I’m up a set of steps hanging the last of 39 boards showing images from the most exciting photo project I’ve ever been involved in.
I blame Del Barrett, organiser for the RPS London Region and instigator of Bleeding London (BL), who, a couple of weeks later, sent out a call for help setting up the venue for the official launch of the project. I turned up with my tools and an eye for dressing a set. It all seems to have grown from there.
I loved the idea of the project from the start, capturing images of every street in London, then the reality of it through involvement as a contributing photographer and helping the organising team. We began talking about an exhibition to show the amazing work being done by all the BL’ers across London, showcasing the best, with at least one from all 600 contributors. After much searching we settled on City Hall, a central, iconic space with enough room for the numbers of images.
Two and a half months ago we set about selecting the 1,200 or so images we needed from the 58,000 that BL’ers had uploaded onto the Bleeding London website. It was still a mammoth task, but over the months we had identified favourite photos and some had already appeared at the literary event back in October and various publications, which made our lives easier. Eventually, aided by various intrepid colleagues, we came to a selection of the best, roughly based on how much everyone had contributed and their own favourites.
I had settled on the use of large panels with several photos printed on each rather than individual images, to make the best of the City Hall hanging system and to help with a quick set-up; useful in a constantly used space. I printed a sample board with 30 images overlaid on a page of the AtoZ map which seemed to hold the collection together and symbolised the core of the project.
So there I was with 1,200 images, not chosen to make an exhibition but rather to show off the best of each individual involved, and with about ten days until files needed to be sent to the printer.
This was an invigorating time, playing with pictures, riffing themes, textures, colours, rhythms, to mould them into a cohesive exhibition. It was made all the more intense by the print deadline looming and manifested in my dreams which were full of 6x4’s …
Prints damaged in transit and scalpel injuries cutting out last minute graphics came close to ruining my usual sanguine approach to the big night, but many hands helped with the hanging and setting up of the opening to make it the success it undoubtedly was. A chance to enjoy the contribution of so many and put faces to some of the names I had become familiar with.
If you get the chance go to see it for yourself, do. You will find the great wonder of London’s streets spread before you in all their glory and constant reinvention of themselves.
City Hall, The Queen’s Walk, London, SE1 2AA.
Wednesday 8th July to Friday 14th August
Open: Mon to Thurs: 8:30am to 6:00pm and Fridays: 8:30am to 5:30pm.
More details here
Image: 6x4's, not only in my dreams / jonathan taylor, june 2015