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Art School Presents: Doors May Jam

by Tatty Martin

Last week, just down the Christmas Steps, a group of Bristol’s young artists put on the show ‘Doors May Jam’. In one modest room, they displayed everything from painting to print to sculpture. Just outside the gallery, among the specialist whisky and saluting saxophones of the intimate Christmas Steps, was a golden introduction to the exhibition. Under arches sat not a pot of gold, but a gold pot, surrounded by golden cigarettes. As much as we would love to believe that this touch was for Helicon’s new ‘Tacky’ theme, the distinct gold took you from the established exterior to a single brick room and a whole lot of art. The art, appearing as if it were suspended from the ceiling, rested at different heights and was of varied dimensions. All modestly sized, the collection of sculptures in the middle of the room matched the series of drawing along the far wall. The drawings, all in different colours, were unified by their simple yet effective approach to abstracted portraiture. To the right of this followed another series higher up the brick wall, arranged in a group of six. These monochrome prints created a reflection; from the light and intricate top prints, to the dark shapes below, resembling the results of an x-ray. The exhibition showed the separate workings of individual artists, draw together by their similarities in style, subject or colour. The small space housed the exhibition impressively. Through the diverse placement of artwork, whether that be a high up painting, or a gold pot both welcoming you into the exhibition and hailing back out onto the Christmas Steps, ‘Doors May Jam’ implored to be understood as a cohesive part of its surroundings.

My own work is self-labelled as documentary photography, out of a lack of a better title. By carrying a camera daily, I aim to embody the spirit of the Brownie in making the means to photography ready to me at every moment, without obstruction – by doing so, I can take a photograph of anything that captures my eye and interests me enough to preserve. Any of us can do this these days, with a camera readily available in our pockets around the clock – and many of us do so without even thinking about it. Next time you take your phone out to take a photograph, whether it is of your friends or of something that caught your eye, think about how you are participating in the act of documenting your life through photography. Make prints of your favourites, display them on your walls, share them with your friends and family. Follow the tradition of those who came before you and took their own snapshots documenting their lives. Everyone is a documentary photographer today, and this is a good thing.

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