The Side Gallery is gorgeous little space in Newcastle upon Tyne entirely devoted to documentay photography.
I visited frequently while I was studying in the North East and it never disappointed me, there are always quality exhibitions.
Recently since I was coming back to Newcastle for the Helios opening, I decided to pop in and see what was on.
I was delighted to find Don’t Call Me Urban, an exhibition based on a ten year project on the Grime music scene in South and East London (with pictures taken around my estate) by Simon Wheatley.
I’ve googled him, because I was quite impressed by this project and I’ve found out that he used to be with Magnum and he’s now based in Calcutta.
You can find a good selection + commentary of this project on the Magnum website under the title “Inner City Youth“.
Here is an interview with him about his work ethic, done while he was still working on this project.
On the Magnum blog, there is also an interview about photographing youth in different countries.
And finally you can find an inspiring audio interview, packed with advices to young photographers, in this blog.
Regarding the exhibition, I have to say that the prints weren’t the best and they didn’t make justice to the pictures.
I had a brief chat with the curator and she told me that they had some logistic problems while putting up the exhibition.
They wanted the pictures to be printed on heavy matte paper and they were quite disappointed by the semigloss flimsy prints that they got, but it was too late to reprint them.
The prints aren’t framed, they’re just pinned down to the walls, something that seems to be an ongoing trend (like at the Brighton Photo Biennal).
In this case, it would suits the pictures if they were printed on the right paper, but in my opinion it looks a bit “amateurish” with low quality prints.
Another issue was the quality of the files provided to the printers: Simon started the project shooting film, but moved to digital after a few years and most of the time shot JPEG!
My teachers went on and on and ON about the necessity to shoot RAW and I was quite surprised by his choice.
Unfortunately in some low light pictures you can see a lot of digital noise and JPEG artifacts and it’s a real shame.
Anyway the project is interesting and the pictures are very strong, so it’s totally worth a visit.
The exhibition will be on until the 20th November so please make sure to visit the gallery if you happen to be in the area!