‘Unfamiliar Journeys’ – Alan McKernan

alan-mckernanThere are about 150 photographs in this exhibition, all black & white. I like the way the total absence of people or traffic allows you to concentrate more on the landscape. A really good show at Liverpool University Art Gallery, Abercromby Sq until July 28th 2006.
There is a free talk by Alan McKernan in the gallery on May 19th at 13.00

The series explores the changing face of the city, of particular relevance in the last five years due to the extensive redevelopments it has undergone. As well as startling and unique interpretations of iconic Liverpool landmarks, such as the Liver Building, Alan has also sought to expose the residential heart of Liverpool, offering a view which is both honest and stimulating. None of the images include cars or people, allowing the architectural landscape to speak for itself. Furthermore, dramatic effects of natural light, combined with the hand printing process, produce highly theatrical photographs.

As Alan explains:
‘As a photographer, I’ve long been fascinated by, and experimented with, the ever-changing quality of light as it plays upon the landscape; sculpting and re-defining it. The challenge I set myself commencing in 2000, was to celebrate those ephemeral qualities of light, by utilising traditional photographic materials. I have distanced myself from the immediacy of high-tech. digital photographic equipment, utilised in so much contemporary consumerist photography. Instead, I have engaged with traditional silver-based film to record my initial alternative images of Liverpool.

By comparison with the casual capture of a digital image, which may then be just as casually deleted, the production cycle I use is slow and deliberate. I begin with careful observation of the subject matter over time. Progression to the camera work is only possible when I consider the lighting conditions are appropriate to sculpt the landscape, highlighting the qualities I wish to re-present to the viewer. The conjuring of the image is then continued into the darkroom. My revival of the specialist craft skills of hand-printing has enabled me to harness the power of light a second time; firstly with the camera, secondly with the enlarger in the darkroom. In this way I am able to personalise the final interpretation of the negative, with the production of the finished silver-gelatin print.’

This exhibition is accompanied by a publication ‘Unfamiliar Journeys’, featuring 100 images of the city, produced by the University of Liverpool in association with the artist and Liverpool University Press. Copies will be available to purchase during the show