William Eggleston

National Portrait Gallery   |   21 July – 23 October 2016

PORTRAITS 

A huge collection of photographs taken by the man himself from different place around the globe. Mainly taken in his home town in Memphis, Tennessee, Mississippi and Delta. This exhibition organised by the National Portrait Gallery, in Central London sponsored by the William and the Eggleston Artistic Trust.

Nothing is more interesting than what’s around us.”  

Visiting the William Eggleston Portraits Exhibition with my auntie Alison and my studio partner Clelia at 11am on the 30th September. 

A lot of Eggleston’s images are based on Spontaneous and unconventional shots, some being of family members and friends others of strangers. I love his way of working without focusing too long on an individual, he keeps his photography natural, living in the here and now, focusing on people in movement.

The gallery space was set out beautifully, tall white walls which helped the colours and details in every photograph stand out, large floor spaces and bright lighting. The majority of the descriptions on the walls which stood next to the visuals were titled Untitled making every piece a mystery, making those visiting want to learn more about his works of art and their hidden stories.

Eggleston expressed his love for pop art and how Andy Warhol has always been a huge inspiration to him. William had met Andy Warhol in the early 1960’s, he has expressed at the exhibition how Warhol’s Photo Booth shots had inspired him to create his own. Eggleston’s collect is titled Untitled, 1974 – taken at Trader Dick’s Bar which stood next door to Ardent Records, Folk Band Record. Every photograph taken in black and white

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Moving on with the exhibition I came across two very beautiful photographs of woman which stood very close together. Both portraying two different types of beauty. Beautiful memories. The first being a huge photograph on the back wall of the main gallery space titled Untitled 1970. The detail within this image is mesmerising and the large printed image helped to bring the image to life. Whilst analysing this image I overheard a group of middle aged woman who stood just behind me discussing their views on this particular piece. The use of pattern and colours within this image clashed, however worked well and was seen to be fashionable for the era it was taken. The woman seated in this image was one of Eggleston’s family members. 

“That’s exactly the same print my mother-in-law owns, if not the same, very similar. The pattern and textured print and the colours. It’s funny how trends come back around after being outdated for such a long time.” – Unknown

This made me look back to the times I used to visit my grandparents house in essex my mothers side of the family. Focusing on the memories I still have and seeing a clear picture in my mind of exactly how the 70’s styled theme ran through the interior of their house. The eccentric patterns were the craze for those growing up within this era. 

The second image was of an image also titled, Untitled 1975 so taken around the same time as the previous image. A young woman named Marcia Hare from Memphis, Tennessee lays in the grass. From reading her facial expressing she seems completely free, relaxed, peaceful and tranquil. She could even be sleeping, her eyes are closed and her figure shaped similarly to a bird with open wings. The photograph is captured beautifully, the colours also bring a lot to the image, the greens, oranges & her skin complexion work together to create a real in the moment visual. Below is a smaller printed version of this piece along with my ticket to the galleries exhibition.

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Moving forward to the next part of the exhibition my mind was in a whirl, excited to see more of Eggleston’s collection. The second room was set out similar to the first with more stories visually shown in frames. The wall on the left was filled with photographs of William’s history, from his childhood up until his mid 20’s. The photographs worked as a timeline, my eyes followed from beginning to end focusing on every aspect, detail and the stories told. Following this timeline I was intrigued by of William’s historical pieces, some of young children in the neighbourhood, to working class individuals on their day to day travels. In the centre of the room stood an eye catching image of two men standing next to an old fashioned car.

Metal & nature are an interesting contrast, one we do not see much of in every day life especially around London, they work well together creating an interesting scene, an indepth story.” – Auntie Alison 

Their surroundings seemed remotely quiet, near a river in a countryside setting. Autumn leaves cover the ground creating a stunning nature scene. This was another image taken close to home with two of William’s family members. The gentleman on the left is William’s Uncle and on the right Jasper Staples The Eggleston families housekeeper. Eggleston’s parents were known to be absent quite a lot throughout William’s life and Jasper had taken on many responsibilities within the families home including looking after William throughout his childhood. 

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Visiting the National Portrait Gallery has opened my mind creatively in many ways. Taking a look into the world of William Eggleston, his life and the many different ways he uses his history and his memories to inspire his visuals. I have never really been the biggest fan of photography however the past two years have made me see exactly what a perfect photograph holds, the meanings behind them, the emotions portrayed, the treasured moments. My auntie had also surprised me after buying a edition of the artists book and handing me the book just before leaving the gallery. I will be researching more about William Eggleston and his photography. I am looking to experiment more with photography this year.

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