John Berger

At the start of this project I thought that I would be spending most of my time taking pictures. What I have found is that I have been spending a lot of my time reading, like these three books by John Berger.


Having a deeper understanding of what I want to say in the images I am taking and why I am taking them is very much what this project is all about. And the only way to get that knowledge is by reading.

It is a shame I’m a fairly slow reader, so if you are looking for a review on these books you may have to wait a while.

[If you have access to the BBC iPlayer John Berger: The Art of Looking is still available for a few more days]

18 November 2016 Ways of Seeing is the first book for me to complete. I’m going to sum it up with the following cliché – if you only buy one book about art this year then this is the one to buy.

Most books about art or photography are either how to guides or a collection of works. This book is different in that it makes you question your relationship with what you are looking at. How your role plays a part in how you view the work in front of you.

Even though the book was written in the 1970s it is still relevant today. It is not often you put a book down and say, “wow, I would never have thought of that.”

3 January 2017 Sad to learn that John Berger has died at the age of 90. From the obituaries and social media tributes, his work touched both those he met and those who admired it in print. I’m sure his influence will live on.

John Berger 1926 – 2017. 

Feminist Avant–Garde of the 1970s


Those of you who follow me on Instagram will know that I went to a talk by some of the artists on show in Feminist Avant-garde of the 1970s at The Photographers’ Gallery a few weeks ago. I took another trip to the exhibition this week now that I have had the chance for the talk to sink in.

Walking round the exhibition a second time did give me a new perspective on what was on display. The first time round I was pretty confused about what the artists were trying to say with their work.

I’m not going to pretend that this time round I was any the wiser with some of the pieces. But that is part of the challenge. If you put the effort to try to work out what is being said, you do get the reward when you finally get it.

Feminism is a complex subject. So it should come as no surprise that the works are also complex too.

It would be arrogant to say that after reading a few books on the subject and doing some research that I know what it was like to be a woman in the 20th Century. I can only speak from the perspective I hold and this exhibition did question my “male gaze” on what was on show. It wasn’t comfortable but then maybe it wasn’t supposed to be.

A question that I raised in my head after the talk was why The Photographers’ Gallery weren’t showing more recent work created by the artists who gave the talk a few weeks back.

What was even more surprising was to be confronted by the large fashion images of beauty pageant winner Joanne Salley on the floor above in the exhibit Simon Fujiwara: Joanne.

Simon Fujiwara: Joanne

My initial reaction was – What. The. Hell. You have an exhibition about feminism on the floors below and then the curators decide to have a “fashion model” on show.

How wrong I was. The film is a personal story of a very modern woman. It is a very clever juxtaposition that shows the issues a woman in the 21st Century now faces.

On my way home I was questioning how much has changed for women since the 1970s and really how much there is still to be done.