Old men dragon faces appearing in the carved doorways of a pagoda, the colossal Gautama Buddha presiding lordily over his empty surroundings, unpopulated streets and landscapes that seem to shimmer with their smudge-texture pencil-like surfaces.

 Pugahm Myo: Carved Doorway in Courtyard of Shwe Zeegong Pagoda. August 20-24 or October 23, 1855. Linnaeus Tripe

Pugahm Myo: Carved Doorway in Courtyard of Shwe Zeegong Pagoda. August 20-24 or October 23, 1855. Linnaeus Tripe

British photographer Captain Linnaeus Tripe (1822-1902) joined the East India Company in 1838 as a cadet for the Madras Infantry and very soon progressed to the level of Lieutenant, joining his own regiment in South India. It was not, however, until an extended leave (due to illness) in England between 1851-1854 that he began to experiment with photography. He returned to India with his camera and began to make images of the previously un-photographed temples and structures he saw around him and, later on, scenes he encountered in Burma. He would go on to be commissioned by the Madras government to act as official photographer for Madras, capturing sculpture, street scenes, religious and spiritual sights, inscriptions and architecture.

 Amerapoora Colossal Statue of Gautama Close to the North End of the Wooden Bridge. September 1 – October 21, 1855. Linnaeus Tripe

Amerapoora Colossal Statue of Gautama Close to the North End of the Wooden Bridge. September 1 – October 21, 1855. Linnaeus Tripe

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the V&A’s Nehru Gallery which exhibits a range of objects and artefacts from their South Asian art collection and also the V&A’s autumn India Festival – the museum celebrates the prolific output of Tripe through some of his earliest images of India and Burma. The 60 images on display not only showcase the countries as subject but also give us an insight into the particular photographic working methods employed by Tripe at the time. 

 Royacottah: View from the Top of the Hill, Looking North-Northwest and by North. December 1857 - January 1858. Linnaeus Tripe

Royacottah: View from the Top of the Hill, Looking North-Northwest and by North. December 1857 - January 1858. Linnaeus Tripe

 Pugahm Myo: Thapinyu Pagoda. August 20-24, 1855. Linnaeus Tripe

Pugahm Myo: Thapinyu Pagoda. August 20-24, 1855. Linnaeus Tripe

Tripe used calotype, a waxed paper negative, rather than the traditional glass plate negatives used by his peers back in Europe. This seems to be as much a practical decision as an aesthetic one as waxed paper negatives, although not ideal in a hot tropical environment, could be easily transported without fear of too much damage or breakage - essential for a travelling photographer. The use of paper also resulted in a distinct soft-focus look to Tripe’s images as the fibres of the paper negative transferred onto the paper print. Although he did make prints with glass negatives on occasion and these were generally favoured due to the clean sharpness that was expected from standard documentary photography – the very slight textured blur of the paper negatives give the images a painterly quality that seems to radiate the heat of the streets, the humidity of the air and the atmosphere of a romantic Eastern world changing rapidly – the ancient recorded as its faces the ongoing modernity.

Captain Linnaeus Tripe: photographer of India and Burma (1852-1860) runs at the V&A until 11 October. There are lots of good resources and info available about the exhibition online including more detail into Tripe’s working methods, extensive biography and a reading list if you want to find out more.

www.vam.ac.uk/page/l/linnaeus-trip

Posted
AuthorSacha Waldron

How much better than a sip of wine from a manky cup that half the church have had a go at and a wafer that sticks to the roof of your mouth?

Every Sunday service should involve a chocolate fountain. It would improve visitor numbers no end.

This week's Photo of the Week comes from Caravan Gallery a collaboration between artists and photographers Jan Williams and Chris Teasdale that seeks "to document the reality and surreality of the way we live today" and indeed they do. From "Mr Cheap" pound shops to dilapidated seaside resorts, urban graffiti and suburban decorative aspiration - Caravan Gallery seem to capture the very best and worst of the UK in glorious postcardian technicolor.

The photography duo, who exhibit their work in their very own dedicated caravan gallery space are currently in the midst of a UK-wide tour and the roaming exhibition, extra{ordinary}:Photographs of Britain by The Caravan Gallery, has been travelling to locations all over Britain since March 2015. You can catch the current leg of the tour at Impressions Gallery, Bradford (until 29th August) before it moves on to Diffusion Festival 2015 at Ffotogallery, Cardiff, in October. Expect to see more of their work on the Point 102 blog over the coming year.

 Chocolate Fountain in former church, Derby. The Caravan Gallery

Chocolate Fountain in former church, Derby. The Caravan Gallery

Posted
AuthorSacha Waldron

I only became aware of this exhibition in the last few days and unfortunately it closes at the weekend but Aaron Rose’s lush sun-kissed shot of Coney Island, currently on display at the Museum of the City of New York are, even at this late stage, worth ruminations.

Rose began photographing New York’s seaside resort Coney Island in 1961. Swarms of beach-goers are captured in this tanned, sweating, bikini-clad leisure melting pot but the viewer can pick out subtle interactions and private competitive moments. A man sits on the beach staring out to see as his rotund lady friend stands behind him, hands on hips, her eyes seemingly closed to soak up the rays. A mad-hatted lady seems to have been captured and startled by Rose’s lens. She looks directly at him, her nose protector and straw crown render us a folk mask from an exotic festival or ritual. In a rare posed shot, a young body-builder, hands proudly on hips, is captured in a full-frontal display of muscle and bicep. As he shows off, behind him we see a couple lying on a towel mid-embrace. Their skin is much paler, they have of course perhaps been too busy for sun-bathing but an odd detail is the heavily tanned and bronzed left arm of the male. The colour like a sleeve.

Rose was one of the earliest photographers to use C-print paper and chromogenic processing, the colours he amped up were the skin tones, of the heat and human perspiration. 70 images are on display at the Museum and this is, strangely, the first time they have ever been displayed as a collection. Rose has been a New Yorker is whole life but was largely ignored by the art world until the mid 1990’s by which time he had already produced over 25,000 images, each printed only once. He was asked to exhibit as part of the Whitney Biennial in 1997 which, in a sense, launched his photography career. For Rose, the process of making the image is as important as the finished product and he uses skills learnt during a brief period in commercial photography combining them with the, at the time, emerging new technology of chromogenic colour film. Rose pushes the boundaries of the film, increasing the speed and grain to produce highly textured prints that are baked and glowing, smelling of Soltan and the fried onions of a calorific Coney Dog. 

Posted
AuthorSacha Waldron