Jason Evans 2010

It can’t be much fun being an umbrella.

Left upside down in fine weather to gather dust, no raindrops drumming.
Regularly forgotten on public transport and folded indoors against bad luck.
A parachute that never falls.

When, on an inclement outing, you are finally up-righted you run the agonizing risk of having yourself turned inside out by the wind if incautiously handled.
Nobody loves you when your ribs rattle around your ferrule.
You always see them in the streets after a downpour, somehow sadder for being sodden. They were only trying to help.

It wasn’t always like this; a history of the umbrella reveals auspicious association with historical royalty, favoured dignitaries and religious leaders from Imperial Greece, Rome and Egypt to old Siam, the Aztec Empire and beyond.

A photographer could be forgiven for becoming a little paranoid about the vulnerability of their eyes. I always take an alternative route if caught outside on a rainy day in a busy shopping place. Eye dodging the spiny tips of a brolly’s quills absentmindedly cast in the hands of bus runners and puddle dodgers.

For a child the catch that releases the tension in an extended umbrella causes no end of squeals and nipped fingers. Better to leave it than risk one of those lingering blood-blisters.

Why Louise Gibbs chose to photograph umbrellas might have to do with a search for a subject. There’s something in the arrangement of the objects in these pictures that makes you think about futility and time and passing and inevitably. An umbrella is a thing defined not only by a relation to the elements but also to a body it would seem inevitable that we project something here. We see a tragic-comic heap, like an elephants’ graveyard hidden behind a tropical waterfall deep in uncharted jungle, the umbrellas rest in an undisclosed location, slowly sinking. We see ourselves.

Brains are just puddles that think.

An excerpt taken from the forth-coming book, PRESENT. Written about Gibbs' work.



Louise Gibbs 2010

Fable is a body of work that negotiates the fine boundary between artifice and reality, simultaneously exploring the relationship between internal experience and actuality. As a means of addressing these boundaries and correlations the project deconstructs the notion of Pathetic Fallacy through the fabrication of fictitious environments.

Pathetic Fallacy, a concept coined by John Ruskin in 1856, is “The anthropomorphic projection of human feeling or volition on to nature” (Arike, 2006) when strong emotions “produce in us a falseness in all our impressions of external things” (Ruskin, 1856). It is a false appearance induced by an overpowering state of feeling that makes us momentarily irrational. In an attempt to capture this fragile state, the work pivots on a series of tensions between reality and fiction, interior and exterior, functionality and dysfunction and nature and construction. Fable utilises the weather as a signifier of reality as it has always been in existence; our interpretation of it has, however, evolved over time, this changing state becomes represented by the artifice of construction within the work.

In the past a spiritual connection was established with the atmosphere, the weather considered an intermediary between heaven and earth and therefore interpreted with moral significance. Today our relationship to weather has radically changed due to our ever-increasing scientific knowledge; nature no longer holds the same metaphysical relevance. Weather is used within the imagery not only as a tangible example of reality, but also as a vessel with traces of past emotional significance to aid the creation of a distorted vision. The environment is constructed with multiples of broken and damaged umbrellas; chosen for their unwavering affiliation to human interaction with the weather. Though through the imagery their function is rendered useless, their decaying state only provides failed protection as they transform from practical paraphernalia into sculptural objects. This fabricated scene interacts with the weather allowing artifice and reality to collide.

Fable further contends with the fictitious and fluctuating nature of emotion that renders it unquantifiable. There is no way of knowing whether two people ever share a singular feeling therefore it becomes a fictitious knowledge, something we recognise, share and group under one title, yet individual perception wavers. Fable references the very nature of photography when considering the construction of an image, questioning the veracity of what is depicted. The work hinges on interpretation, as the photographs are not created utilising an explicit emotion, but using varying weather conditions to interact with a staged scene of umbrellas.