Viviane Sassen: In and Out of Fashion

Currently exploding on the walls of the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh are a selection of photographs from Viviane Sassen’s fashion portfolio. As in the pictures themselves, huge mirrors distort projections of her work onto various planes, throwing fabric and bare body parts across the room, finally reaching a 10ft partition where the images can be observed over a 45 minute loop. Also on display are Sassen’s preparatory notebooks and various magazine clippings from Numéro and Purple. Selected chromogenic prints adorn the walls including those from Analemma and Foreplay, photographs that Sassen has taken just before a shoot begins.

Somehow, Sassen has succeeded in portraying the body as a lifeless yet expressive form, casually tossed under drapery and chairs or sculpted around architecture; some even with exotic fruits stuffed in their underwear. There are certainly some bizarre fruits on show here, but her attention to form, texture and colour has made Sassen’s collection an impressive body of photographic work.

Showing at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery until 2nd February.


Sarah Pickering: Aim and Fire

Currently on show at DLI Museum and Durham Art Gallery is the work of Sarah Pickering. Pickering has collaborated with the emergency services, pyrotechnic manufacturers, TV prop makers and the police to produce some of her most recent bodies of work. Featured in the exhibition is Celestial Objects, in which Pickering photographed a revolver fired in total darkness, capturing the entirety of the gunshot from start to finish. The resulting photographs reference images of deep space, cinematic special effects and the skies of Romantic painters such as John Martin.

Pickering has also interacted with the British Fire Service College to work on a number of projects documenting fire safety practice in controlled environments. Fire Scene, Incident and Explosion will be shown alongside Celestial Objects.

The exhibition runs from October 18th to January 12th.

DLI Museum and Durham Art Gallery

Having a word with… Al Palmer

Seeing Al Palmer’s photographs for the first time is like stepping into a world devoid of human life. His landscapes of neglect appear both lonesome and wild, yet are imbued with a stark serenity. Palmer photographs mostly in the North-East, capturing bleak disused industrial sites and abandoned homes.


Palmer has exhibited widely in the UK and USA and is also a joint winner of the Hearst 8×10 contest, 2013. As well as photographing, he publishes fantastic photography books and zines as Brown Owl Press, also based in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.

Al Palmer was kind enough to answer a few questions for BITE:

Where did you study photography?

I’m a fine art graduate. I mostly painted until the second year when there was a course trip to Barcelona. We visited the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona and there was a retrospective of a photographer whose work I’d never seen before. It was Robert Frank. I knew then what I wanted to do. From then on I photographed more and painted less until photography was all I did.

What format do you like to shoot in and why?

For long-term project based work, I mostly shoot with medium format cameras. For essays and stories (as well as commercial work) I used a variety of equipment, both film and digital. They’re just tools.

What inspires you to take your photos?

My work is primarily relating and reacting to the man-made landscape. It can veer between topographic documentary studies and more poetic narrative-based works.

How do you feel about the photography scene in the North today?

I’m not sure I’m the best person to ask about the North having a photography scene. My profile is higher in the US than in the UK, I barely exhibit here and don’t know too many other photographers in the North. There’s certainly not the scene that, say, Brighton has which is absolutely buzzing currently. Newcastle does have the Side Gallery focusing on documentary photography and PH Space (which is part of the NewBridge Project) which is a fine art photography space. The NewBridge Project have just opened an artists bookshop called NewBridge Books. What the North does have is space for people to work; it’s cheaper to be here than London so photographers can turn their lens on the lesser seen at their own pace.

Paul Alexander Knox: We Are All Brothers Here

Currently exhibiting at Side Gallery in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne is the Homelands Exhibition featuring projects by Paul Alexander Knox and Ciara Leeming. Knox’s project, titled We Are All Brothers Here: Stories From the Bangladeshi Community is a beautiful series of black and white photographs documenting the day-to-day lives of a Bangladeshi community living in Sunderland. His ability to gain an intimate view into the lives of the community has made for an illuminating and endearing portrait of a minority group in the North of England. The exhibition runs until the 21st December.




Homelands Exhibition