SOHO Solitudes

2019-03-28150663Visiting Anna Bariball’s show (titled ‘Fade’) at Frith Street Gallery, London, I found myself sitting alone on the floor of the space for a long time. I felt a little like someone who has wandered into a church and there found a special kind of isolation – call it solitude.

Bariball’s video captivated me, with its simple but profound evocation of a wind turbine’s shadow raking regularly across aspects of the landscape in which she grew-up. The videos have the look of tinted photographs and their colouring slowly changes as you watch them.

I found myself writing, not poetry but perhaps poetic lines in response, hence in my notebook you will find:

“The scythe

of time



its shadow

over lives

trapped timid

in its grid.

Soft appeals

in silent sways

are cowed

blushing peculiar hues

in attempts

to escape

to dis – appear”

Followed by:

“I came inside to find a more real life”

There are a lot more notes there, but I won’t expand further.


My other SOHO revelation yesterday was the photographs of Dave Heath at The Photographers Gallery. Go and see these if you also look for profound, moving, perhaps quasi-religious or sacred experiences in art. I have never encountered such subtle photography that, by apparently simple and commonplace means touches some well-known but rarely represented essence of humanity in its most individuated moments.

Heath wrote (and I fully concur): “I had no community in terms of the experience of a real family in the here and now, that’s why I had the need to enter back into the human community. I did so by inventing a poetic form that would bind that human community, if only symbolically.”

It seems to me that this might be the highest aim for every artist, not reveling in the ‘formless’ but achieving a personal and contemporary version of such a ‘poetic form’.





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