Esther Johnson | Obsession | 09 - 30 October 2011
To coincide with Ways of Looking, a new festival of photography in Bradford, South Square will be presenting artist filmmaker and photographer Esther Johnson's Analogue Kingdom. This short film is a poetic portrait of Gerald Wells, founder and curator of the British Vintage Wireless and Television Museum.
Wells' stole his first radio, a Belmont, in 1943 at the age of thirteen. He was immediately sent to an 'approved' school, whose psychiatrist diagnosed 'an obsession' with wireless and electricity - an obsession that continues today. The house Wells was born in and still inhabits is now home to over 1,500 wireless objects and 45,000 valves - the UK's largest such collection. Analogue Kingdom reveals the charm of Wells' world, where radio relics and their attendant stories fill every nook and cranny. As the digital switchover fast approaches, Wells' analogue collection is a reminder of the magic that may soon be lost.
In addition to Analogue Kingdom, Johnson will exhibit a selection of photography taken at the British Vintage Wireless and Television Museum.
"...in allowing her subject a sympathetic platform [Johnson creates] a palpable connection between subject and audience through film... Without any noticeable mediation (itself proof of Johnson's skill as a director) Wells hints at his own deeper story, all the while moving around his museum as a frail man, preserving technology that continues to offer pleasure, and still functions, despite having been declared obsolete by the world beyond his museum's four walls. It's touching, tinged with nostalgia (the cinematography seems to caress the objects we see, as though bathing everything in the golden light bestowed by Wells' own vision) but there's also a tougher subtext here about mortality; an implicit acceptance that today's cutting edge, multi-million dollar mass technologies will themselves, one day, be the preserve of men like Gerald Wells, pushed into the margins of whatever world they have (by then) helped to create". - Wayne Burrows, Nottingham Contemporary review.
South Square, Thornton, Bradford, BD13 3LD
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