Talk by John Phillips ‘Captive Light’ – 9th January at 7.00pm


Drinks from 6.30 at londonprintstudio
Free event

‘I first visited Patarei in the summer of 2011, and returned to photograph it that winter, and again in the summer of 2012. It is hard to identify the attraction. The prison is in many parts dark, dirty and downright creepy. Even after standing in an unlit cell for a number of minutes, it is often difficult to take stock of what is there. Other parts are suffused with a quality of light that, when combined with the arched roof structures, evoke a church-like tranquillity and transcendence. With its empty, dank, multi-occupancy cells and execution chambers for the condemned, linked to lace-curtained officers’ quarters via a network of interlocked corridors, Patarei is the hollow corpse of a synthetic purgatory and hell. Setting up a camera in this space, and taking long exposures, led me, through a process analogous to the development of a darkroom print, to glimpse something not immediately evident to the eye; the architecture’s capacity to capture, channel and imprison light.

Later, while sifting through these images on screen and combining different exposures to compress the extremities of tone, the idea emerged of equivalence between this subject and the instrument employed to record it. In other words, some of these images, for example a picture of tiny aperture illuminating a deep, low-vaulted room, seemed simultaneously to depict one of Patarei’s cells, and evoke the experience of standing inside the camera lens itself.


425 Harrow Road
W10 4RE

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