Monday, 28 May 2012

Holywell Music Room

I suppose this is the sort of shot I would have gone for prior to this course. A study in tone and form, admittedly decoupled from any context and quite removed from any course work I am doing, or researching into. It was interesting that my reaction to it was reflexive. The newel posts can be seen toward the rear of the stage/podium.

My visit to the Holywell Music room (HMR) was twice postponed, both due to my spraining an ankle. Nevertheless Rebecca, who was my contact at Wadham College, to whom facility the HMR belongs, showed great patience. It is, as I said previously here, reputedly the oldest purpose built concert room in Europe. The image below of the facade to the building. Clearly distortion from the wide angle lens, but this gives an impression of the importance that the architect implied to the facility.

The entrance, looking left to the box office, not much space, perfunctory, almost utilitarian, and right to the stairs leading to the upper level. Beautiful light on this occasion, but no real "elevation" to the spirit in the entrance area this all done in the auditorium. The entrance to the aforementioned auditorium can be glimpsed through the door, where the stage and part of the organ is clearly seen

Two shots of the entrance to the concert room, the one being landscape and the other being portrait. My preference is the landscape as, to me, it has a better natural balance.

The reverse angle shot, from the stage, showing the entrance to the room, giving a sense of the scale and height of the room.

Three shots from the upper level of the seated area (in front of the door - seen from the reverse angle shot above) giving different perspectives of the performance area. The shotabove left provides more information I think and would likely be my favourite for inclusion in the assignment.

Two shots from inside the "Green Room" where the performers prepare themselves and relax before entering the auditorium. Both these shots show the banality of the area, tea bags, coffee and easy chairs.

Shots of the key visual feature in the HMR - the organ, slightly differing perspectives

A couple of detail shots of the ceiling lights.

And lastly another shot of the outside, providing a little more detail of the building.


  1. I think you have some interesting images here. Personally I am not at all sure about those with pronounced receding verticals - they feel a little mannered and self-conscious and to my eyes rather distract from the message. that may be just personal taste and it will be interesting to see what your tutor says. For me the strongest picture - the one that most makes me fell like I'm there - is the 11th - the vertical shot including some of the railings. It's the railing that seems to me to give a real sense of how people use the building, which I think is what this assignment is about. The second green room picture works well for me from that perspective also. I think these work best for me because they are most like how my eyes would see the place and that makes it feel more human and like a place that others would use.

    I may be miles off in that you are not trying to get that sense across at all. I've looked at the links you give in this and other entries about this project but none that I've found say much about what you are trying to do in this set beyond simply recording historical buildings. I think you are trying to do more than that but of course may be wrong.

  2. Thanks for your encouragement Eileen. Simply put I am trying to deliver the requirements of the assignment, from a users perspective. The user - the audience, the staff or the performer(s). In all buildings, bar the Ashmolean performance is the central motif, or narrative if you will. I purposefully decided not to try and do anything more than that - all shots are at "eye-height". Assignment two went so badly wrong because I tried to develop a narrative that didn't work for anyone but me so I "throttled-back" any sense of overlaid metaphor or allusion. My biggest concern is of course the edit - I'm putting it off because I am not sure about committing. I have another shoot at the Sheldonian on Monday - when the Cape Town opera are in for rehearsal and performance and I have another building to find locally that will complete the set.

  3. One of my favourite photographers in term of communicating a sense of place is David Moore. His places rarely or never have visible human occupants but you feel them everywhere, and I think he is a master at giving you a sense of actually being in a space. Look for example at The Commons, The Last Things and 28 Days. You probably are already familiar with his work but for me it seems tremendously relevant both to this assignment and your approach to it so thought I'd mention just in case. In the Paddington Green set (28 days) I need almost no effort of imagination to feel what it might be like to be held there, or to be a guard. He manages this wit ha tremendous economy of style also. Really masterful, I think.

    Best of luck with this one. I know what you mean about the difficulties of making the final selection. I live with my choices as small prints around the house for days sometimes before they start to make sense to me. I also often find it helps to talk through options with others. You don't have to agree with their viewpoint, but the process of talking, virtually or in real, helps clarify your thinking.

  4. Thanks again Eileen. I was aware of some of Moore's work - notably "The Last Things" and 28 days as they've been featured recently somewhere. I'll post some more of the leper set on flickr to see what reaction there is - though I'm not hopeful.