Thirty Pieces of Silver – K. Azril Ismail



Popped by the stunning Wei-Ling Gallery, a Colonial-era shophouse in Brickfields which is currently showing Dr. K Azril Ismail’s collection of 30 hand-crafted plates, all framed and set in dark wood and black backgrounds. This collection includes plates produced during the years Azril spent in the UK researching, studying and photographing, often producing daguerrotypes, tintypes and salt prints, and some, of more recent productions in Malaysia. This is is second solo exhibition.

Bearing in mind the long processes needed, and the single edition plates, there are some stunning still life imagery to behold, but up close, since the plates are merely about 4 x5 inches of smaller and some are gorgeously presented in a folding leather display case.

There is a planned talk on 4 October, details forthcoming.

Highly recommended if not for the curiosity factor.

What : Leather bounded salt prints, ambrotypes, tintypes and daguerreotypes, special interest, vintage processes

Where : WEI-LING GALLERY  8, Jalan Scott, Brickfields, 50470 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

“These pieces are hand-crafted, one of a kind, image-objects, with the lending hands of the great giants of photographic pioneers: Louis Daguerre, William Henry Fox Talbot, and Frederick Scott Archer, alongside with Herschel, Wedgwood, Scheele, Davy, Niépce, and Bayard. The tactile qualities and the idea of presenting an ephemeral experience to his works, all ties in with the artist’s belief that objects created by craftsmen are essential keepsakes.

Thirty Pieces of Silver is Dr. K. Azril Ismail’s second exhibition with the gallery following his seminal ‘Live Animals Inside‘ (2009) which documented the now demolished Pudu Jail. “

12 September  ~ 31 October, 2017

More info

Featured Artist : Caroline Gavazzi


I visited Caroline’s exhibition at The Brick Lane Gallery yesterday and thought I’d make a quick post about this amazing double exhibition of her last two projects, since the display will only be up for a short period, this weekend! At the front of the gallery, her recent work titled Tropical Sighs is a series of photographs taken through greenhouse glass of tropical plants. The works are all printed on art paper and appears painterly. The dirt and condensation from the internal surfaces of the glasshouse add layers of vibrant texture to the plant studies and gives them a unique look. Read her statement here . I was also intrigued by the way she boxed framed all her prints in clear perspex, perhaps creating another second ‘equilibrium-environment’ which has already been subjected to the living plants via the greenhouse.

The back of the gallery displays her earlier project titled We Are Here. This is a conceptual portraiture series depicting headshots in black and white of settled refugees from a small village in Calabria, Italy called Riace, where the town mayor, one Domenico Lucano, in 1999, welcomed the arriving Kurdish migrants off a boat. He managed to house them in the many empty homes in his shrinking village and through his ingenuity, persuaded the home owners to sell their properties to him for the purpose of providing migrant housing, to this day, is one of the success stories in the larger refugee crisis.

The portraits are all displayed, once again with the use of a transparent perspex layer of an enlarged fingerprint in front of the person – to symbolise giving back identities to what is often, faceless and stateless refugees, since we know that no two fingerprints are ever alike, and every print (and face) is a person of uniqueness.

Powerful stuff.


Caroline Gavazzi is a French/ Italian photographer who lived in London for over 20 years and currently resides between Milan and London.

Caroline presented a Slide Share talk at LightGallery in 2013 and since then, she worked at Spéos Photography School in London. She has Masters in Professional Photography Practice from LCC and also studied photography at Spéos in Paris.


Current Exhibition 

Tropical Sighs & We Are Here

5 – 10 July, 2017 Daily 10 – 6pm

The Brick Lane Gallery, 216 Brick Ln, London E1 6SB

More Featured Artists here

Full circle – Gathered Leaves & Influence and Intimacy

One can hardly miss the hundreds of posters around London of the blue swim-capped headshot of ‘Misty’ promoting Alec Soth’s Gathered Leaves exhibition at the SCIENCE MUSEUM in South Kensington.  I spent Monday afternoon at this rather unorthodox museum (as far as photography goes) to visit Gathered Leaves and also, adjacent to it on the same floor, Julia Margaret Cameron’s Influence and Intimacy, a tribute to this quintessential English woman photographer, marking the 200th year of her birth.


Two major exhibitions, side by side, with some 150 years of photography practice in between. I could say that these twin shows actually form a full circle in photography, from the invention of the medium, the processes and imaging styles of the early pioneers, to a very creative, storytelling contemporary approach using a modern camera. Both artists essentially documenting what they have seen, who they have met and where they have been through the printed image.

Gathered Leaves is Alec Soth’s first UK exhibition and comprises 4 titles or bodies of work, brought together to create this excellent show –  Sleeping by the Mississippi (2004), Niagara (2006), Broken Manual (2010) and the most recent, Songbook (2014). The exhibition is separated into four distinct galleries, with the Broken Manual photographs having a separate grey backdrop. His images are mainly portraits and still-life studies of the far and out towns he visited in America, some printed very large and are absolutely stunning to see up close. As a documentary photographer, Alec Soth mainly uses allegory to give meaning to his images. In Mississippi and Niagara for example.



I particularly like his solitary portrait studies in Mississippi and Niagara, less so in Broken Manual, which I thought was slightly over staged and contrived, with his subjects, hermits and their lifestyles, their surroundings slightly disjointed. Perhaps the book would make more sense as there are more images to look at.











There are hints of Robert Frank and Stephen Shore in some of these images and as a consummate traveller searching for stories, some apparently made up (Songbook) he has produced these rural Americana imagery with great depth and tenderness.

His sitters are often photographed holding something, doing something and often if they do not appear, then a trace or clue of the them is depicted. The subjects aren’t ordinary people in the true sense of the word but people who in his eyes are worthy to be photographed because of what they do or represent within the sub text of his allegory. They fit in to his stories. They all appear troubled to some extent and I feel that is his narrative.

Given enough time, if I were to have sat down for a long period and absorbed these striking photographs, I could be transported into them, and can only wish that I was with the artist when he took them and jointly observed life then.

About 150 years earlier, Julia Margaret Cameron was making albumen photographs (a laborious process then) with a large cupboard of a camera in sleepy Freshwater on the Isle of Wight.

She was given a camera when she was in her 40s by her daughter and immediately fell in love with the concept of making portraits of noble acquaintances, famous neighbours and personages of the period. She made portraits in a most novel way for her era, often of women, children and men friends dressed fantasy costumes, Arthurian legends and fairytales.

At a time when only men photographers were taken seriously in the trade, she bucked the trend with her influential and modernistic poses.

Julia Margaret Cameron travelled to Ceylon and distant lands making portraits, in particular of the ‘natives’ when most other make photographers chose to take landscapes mainly.

She also printed the images all by herself, with all the challenges of a messy and volatile processes of the colloidon print.

Influence and Intimacy is a truly remarkable exhibition of mainly portrait poses, of friends and family, staged with a degree of stiffness included (mainly because the exposures were several minutes then). The small A4 sized sepia coloured prints contrasts with Soth’s modern, bold, colour photographs in size as well as definition, or the lack of in the former.




However, to compare these small albumen prints to modern photography would be foolish. What I find remarkable about this exhibition is that these intimate portraits were made some century and a half ago and are still preserved and cherished today. As true documents of a bygone era, the faces, features, poses, stares, scowls, frowns, etc of each portrait brings these characters alive, as if they had been taken only yesterday, but instead were photographed at the dawn of photography. Lord Tennyson, Darwin, even portraits of herself remain vividly real.

Both exhibitions run until 28 March 2016.

Exhibition : Sanubari by NIRMALA KARUPPIAH


Nirmala Karuppiah is a Malaysian fine art and documentary photographer and a friend whom I have known since late 90s. As one of the established fine art photographers in contemporary Malaysian photography she has spent the last two decades documenting various dance genres, mainly in the classical Indian discipline Odissi, Cantonese Opera, Northern Malay dance-drama Mak Yong and the healing rituals of Main Puteri from Kelantan, a northern state in the peninsula.


SANUBARI is her first solo exhibition in the United Kingdom. The Malay word Sanubari has various translations, but one, which aptly describes it in the context of this exhibition is the ‘inner-self’, of deepest feelings reaching fever-pitch and a ‘heartfire’ which laces each work seen in the show.

Nirmala’s intrinsic talent, merged with a deep love and respect for these artforms are evident in each of her work; and Sanubari is aimed at presenting to the masses, both a historic and personal views of these dance genres, seen through her camera lenses in a myriad of perspectives.

Working predominantly in black and white, Sanubari is the artist’s intense pursuit of conserving, documenting and disseminating these artforms which, although has been written about in many journals and publications, still need to be actively trailed.

Exhibition :

M P Birla Millennium Art Gallery


Home of Indian Arts, 4A Castletown Road, West Kensington, London W14 9HE

11 June – 1 July, 2015

Tel: +44 207 381 3086/4608


Web: http://www.bhavan.netPerfection1

Man Ray Portraits at the NPG


Man Ray, Lee Miller, 1930
Lee Miller Archives © Man Ray Trust

I caught the Man Ray Portraits exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery last week, and wow, stunning is the only word I can describe it. This is quite a small exhibition but what was displayed was some of his most known portraits of Paris avant-garde artists of the 1930s, Hollywood actors and of course his muse, lover and student Lee Miller. It was Man Ray and Miller that gave the process of solarisation it’s artistic expression, (apparently, if you watch the video,

it was a rat that caused it). His studio portraits are not as dramatic or polished as as say Karsh or Klein’s but the surrealistic tendencies show through in some. You will see portraits of  Marcel Duchamp, Catherine Deneuve, Picasso, Kiki,


Berenice Abbott, Matisse, Virginia Woolf, Henry Miller, several self portraits of himself, amongst many others, including Blanche et Noire study of Kiki (below)


Man ray portraits dali

Salvador Dali, 1929


Le Violon d’Ingres, 1924

Man Ray in some respects have been more well known for his photogram images which we are all familiar with and have at some stage in our photographic development, have experimented or copied during our dakroom days, so seeing his signature portraits, like these, including Lee Miller’s studies is so satisfying up close in real prints. Sadly his Glass Tears photograph isn’t on show, as are some of his Surreal and Dada favourites. As a portrait exhibition purely, this is not to be missed. The exhibition set out portraits from his early New York stint, and then when he moved to Paris in the early 1920s, through to his studies with Miller and Kiki, and other Hollywood artists.




Most of the portraits are printed to 11″ x 14″  or smaller, matted and framed in black wooden frames, and is starkly in contrast to modern day prints on aluminium or some fancy medium. This is studio and experimental portrait at it’s simplest form, true to the period of the 2o and 30s. There are some stunning miniature colour prints of Hollywood stars also, his later work.

Seeing one of the most respected and studied masters of photography in a great setting will be a treat. Runs till 27th May, National Portrait Gallery, London.

SPACES OF MEMORY ~ Fernando Pérez Fraile

Diary Date : Thurs 11th Oct, yes, this Thursday at 7pm. All welcome to the Opening Reception of Fernando Pérez Fraile‘s SPACES OF MEMORY exhibit. Fernando will be speaking briefly about his photographs, and there will be (limited supply!) of jamon, chorizo and Spanish wine. Venue : Lightgallery, 5A Porchester Place, W2 2BS.  The exhibition will run from 12 to 31 October, Tuesdays to Saturdays from 12 – 6pm.

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge)

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