Rhiannon Adams

It was International Women’s Day on Friday, so it seems only right that there’s a new girls-only art collective, Peachy ‘n’ Keen, by Brighton-based Rhiannon Adams and Eleni Mettyear.

Both the founders have their own astounding photographic portfolios. Eleni is a member of the infamous Create Studio, whose Matt Martin brought us my other recent art-love, The Photocopy Club.

The artists Peachy ‘n’ Keen are currently posting are fantastic, it’s early days but I’d genuinely love to see an IRL exhibition of their work.

If you’re a photographer, or a girl, then it’s probably worth following this promising collective.


It’s always going to be hard to sum up the 20 year award-winning career of a photographer who’s enjoyed by tumblr as much as by Alisdair Sooke in The Telegraph and the high fashion brands of Marc Jacobs, Helmut Lang, Yves Saint Laurent, and Vivienne Westwood. But the ICA has managed just that by opening up their entire gallery space for Juergen Teller: Woo!. The show was recommended to me by a coursemate who was lucky enough to interview Teller a few days previously. Despite a horrible cold I made it along to the ICA and I can say it was absolutely worth it.

The exhibition is sharply divided along the lines of commercial and personal work. In an interview with the Guardian Teller states that “There’s very much a divide”, he seems to prefer the freedom of subject matter that personal projects allow, while recognising commercial work is important - it funds his personal projects, and allows him to meet new people.

This divide in his work seems to be reflected in the hang of exhibition. The grand downstairs and upstairs galleries of the ICA are dedicated to Teller’s personal projects. Here the photographs are all framed, hung sparsely, and some of the prints are vast, easily 3 metres tall. Its the downstairs gallery that houses the infamous 2009 nude triptych of Vivenne Westwood. Meanwhile the commercial work has been relegated to the small Fox reading room. Here the aesthetic is closer to his recognisable eclecticism, the walls plastered floor to ceiling with tear sheets.

Juergen Teller’s wide appeal and popularity comes from his distinctive anti-aesthetic: brightly-lit highly-saturated analogue photographs. But also from his ironic subjects; he photographs the absurd and mundane, as well as the sublime, sexual, and abject. Of course, his commercial projects are generally toned down, and I think that’s why my two favourite photographs of the show were both personal works.

One from the Louis XV series. A double portrait of his long-time collaborator and subject Charlotte Rampling playing a grand piano while Teller himself sits ontop of it naked and baring his anus.

The second, a snapshot of a dead octopus upturned on a bed, its tentacles and mouth pointing towards the camera, thoughtfully entitled Octopussy.

It’s been nearly a decade since Juergen Teller’s work has last been exhibited in a London gallery, so this show should be on the to-do list of anyone interested in contemporary photography.

Juergen Teller: Woo! is at the ICA, London until the 17th of March, 2013



Nobody should be surprised that I didn’t like Paul Emsley’s portrait of the Duchess of Cambridge. Still, in the interests of art and blogging I decided I better go to the National Portrait Gallery and see it. Some writers and viewers have said it looks better IRL, but it really doesn’t. I honestly have little more to say about it than it looks exactly like a reject passport photo.

Down the corridor in a separate room is a series of portraits by Humphrey Ocean that are infinitely more interesting and worthwhile seeing. Since 2006 he has made quick goache watercolours of friends, family, and visitors to his studio. He insists on only spending 30 minutes on each, to allow the spontaneity of the portrait to show. Ocean says that he wants to give the impression ‘I was there and I was with this person’.

It is this essence of personality, immediacy, and individuality present in Ocean’s paintings, that the Kate portrait lacks. Awkwardly posed, lumpy, and in thick vivid paint, Ocean manages to give more emotion in the two dabs of Rose’s eyes - shown above - than Emsley does in the whole of the Kate portrait. Then again, it was always going to be difficult for a warts-and-all painter to remove the warts and all from a sitter.

These portraits aren’t photographic reality, but their unreality makes them more real and emotional than Kate could ever be. If the choice was mine, I would much rather have my portrait done by Humphrey Ocean than Paul Emsley.

A Handbook of Modern Life is at the National Portrait Gallery, London until the 1st of September, 2013.



I’ve finally gotten my hands on a copy of South London photographer (and friend) Emily Sherwin’s Cellular zine. This zine takes the mobile phone snaps of several young photographers (Ian Bird, Matthew McNulty, Emily Sherwin, George Morris, Patrick Lawrie, and Seamus Gough) out of the context of the screen, and into a quality printed, 60 page, perfect-bound book.

Mobile phones are increasingly the medium in which we access photography - especially as film and camera sellers go bust. The lo-fi aesthetic is one side to their appeal, but also the subject matter of the photos. There’s a certain beauty to the mundaneness of photo of an ice cream. It’s this celebration of the everyday that really makes this zine stand out when compared to the equally beautiful staged portraits of other contemporary publications.

Cellular is available on



Before I travelled back to Manchester for the Christmas holidays I went to see Shoot! Existential Photography, currently occupying the top two floors of The Photographer’s Gallery, London. The exhibition was one of the clearest and most thought provoking I’ve been to in quite some time. It is a fantastic exploration of the intimate bond between the history of photography and the act of shooting, and the violence involved in each.

The works in the exhibition are varied, but the focus is on the photographic shooting gallery, a funfair attraction popular after the First World War: When the shooter hit the bullseye, they triggered a camera which took a photo of them in the act of shooting. The simple enjoyment of the shooting gallery at the funfair becomes an existential contemplation, the act of shooting the gun literally becomes the act of shooting a picture. The shooter, after they fire the gun and receive the picture, see themselves as their own executioner.

Of the whole exhibition, two artworks really stood out. First, the huge photographic collection of Ria van Dijk (pictured above), a woman who has documented every year of her adult life in shooting gallery photos since 1936. Her unusual autobiography shows the passage of time in her steady ageing and fashions - but in a very mechanical way. The slightly off centre angle of the photographs reminded me of a comment by Slavoj Zizek about the experience of seeing yourself from an odd angle. The confusion of realising that the idealised virtual image of yourself is not actually real.

The second work was Christian Marclay’s 2007 video installation Crossfire. A dark square room with full screen projections on each wall. A choreographed montage of what seems to be every single gunshot in Hollywood history. I stood in the middle of this room for the full 8 and a half minutes of this film. It was a very intense experience, with the pace of the action constantly changing with the flashes of light and rhythm of gunshots. The effect though was very different to that of the videos at Frontline: A Year of Journalism and Conflict of early 2012.

Shoot! Existential Photography is at The Photographer’s Gallery, London, until the 6th of January 2013.