"Everywhere around you is a picture, and you just need to look hard enough to see it."
A recent show at Magpie Swop (http://www.magpieswop.com/), Northeast England's hip swapping shop, saw me cross the path of local artist Neil Johnson. A self-proclaimed city boy, he's installed a small exhibition of prints exploring what he calls street art primarily from Berlin (Dublin is also featured).
I thought there were some strong images to begin with, and I eventually enjoyed meeting up with Neil for a quick chat. I shot some video and cut this interview, which revealed some choice insights from a fellow who seems to enjoy getting out and about whenever he gets the chance.
Viewing his photography of street art/graffiti is to hit the ending stage of a thick sequence of making and looking. It goes something like: Person (builder) --> Wall --> Person (graffiti artist) --> Street Art --> Person (Neil) --> Photographs --> Person (You) --> whaddyathink? I couldn't help but ask a few questions about how Neil sees such a complex process of creative commingling.
He remarked that sometimes he feels like he's giving the original creator of the street art "their own gallery," and that the exhibition is a showcase of "other people's talent, really." Yet of course his own layer of influence is also a principle arbiter, the way he selects and frames the pieces of these otherwise busy urban environments is the ultimate statement of the exhibit. In addition, the creators of the brick, mortar, and metal canvases - the architects and the builders who conceived and constructed the urban form - represent another silent yet significant influence within each image.
More than anything, however, it's always nice to celebrate the pastime of looking around and finding new and interesting ways to see the world. Kudos to Magpie Swop for staging the show (one in an ongoing series of local artists), to Neil for his work and vision, and to those unnamed street artists who aren't afraid to splash some color around. Like it or hate it (and Neil sure makes it look good), it's out there to be seen.
The show at Magpie Swop remains up for a few days, so swing by, check out the goods, and maybe even pick up a print!
Jesse Stephen for http://livingexposed.com
Music: aboombong - Drag Along Behind from the album Asynchronic (http://aboombong.bandcamp.com/) unearthed on the wonderful Free Music Archive (http://freemusicarchive.org/)
Neil Johnson Photography on Facebook: http://en-gb.facebook.com/pages/Neil-Johnson-Photography/292858570950