John Davies: Two Rivers

EDGEspace, Slater Street
20th January - 16th February 2011

Reviewed by Sebastian Gahan

Under a sky lit by the green light of a laser, and opposite a mist-bathed, semi-legal graffiti-clad car park, EDGEspace opened its not inconsiderable doors for a private view of John Davies' excellent exhibition of his environmental photography, Two Rivers.

Themed around an ecological message, Davies' monochrome photography is a journey into the past, present and potential future of the space around all of us. Each and every shot is a fascinating vista of nature and urbanity that looks equally as good from afar as close up scrutinizing the fascinating details. These little details reveal themselves in people about their daily business,cycling, running, resting in a field or just walking to work on a normal day (whatever that is these days!). In conversation with John, he explained that "the pictures tell a story in their openness. It's left to the person looking to decide what that story is." Indeed, as I looked at the various images, many of skylines and vistas from 1986 onwards, I saw how as times have changed, and governments have come and gone, the landscape has somehow reacted to that.

Some of the subjects have been demolished in the many years since being captured on film, and others have changed beyond recognition. But as the course of the titular two rivers flow, much has changed and this will no doubt continue. This is the feeling one has in looking at the pieces one by one, the monochrome of every piece making almost a window into an uncertain time period. In fact, on first visit to this wonderful exhibition I subconsciously took on a lot of ideas about the pieces, but to make them work in my mind's eye I needed another visit to confirm that there are many pieces of work here justifying the suggestion that all the pieces are 'a highlight'.

The skyline of Liverpool in 1986 was almost bare in comparison with 2011's proliferation of high end living skyscrapers and commercial districts. Just as the shots of locations in Wales are evocative of time that is not quite gone yet but could be affected in any way in the light of recent government policy. In short the eco theme is very important at a time when even our trees are under threat from the proverbial 'man'. Highlights are really quite hard to pick out as stated before but if forced at gunpoint, two of them would be Inner Harbour Towards Penarth, Cardiff Bay 1996 (pictured) and the fascinating Liverpool, Queens Graving Dock 1986 which really showed how much Liverpool has changed in the years between.

The truth is that I could look at most of these images for hours and still find a new story or aspect to make me smile or think of the events of my own life. Suffice to say if you appreciate the fine art of photography, this exhibition will be special in many ways.

Visit John Davies' website to see more of his work:

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