The Viaduct: a photographic exhibition by Geoff Hodgson

Geoff Hodgson is a winner in our RBSA Photographic Prize exhibition and was awarded a solo exhibition which takes place this month.

The Viaduct will be on show from 18 June to 28 July in our Craft Gallery exhibition space. His series explores the Duddeston Viaduct, which was built by the Great Western Railway Company across Digbeth in the Nineteenth Century.

You have chosen to exhibit a series on the Duddeston Viaduct. What drew you to this particular location?

My interest in the Duddeston Viaduct initially arose from the announcement that the proposed HS2 railway terminus, in Birmingham, would be built on the site of the old Curzon Street Station.

The Big City Plan lays out the ambitious redevelopment and gentrification of both the Digbeth and Eastside areas of the city, including the proposed redevelopment of the redundant Duddeston Viaduct into a high level city park, modelled on the High Line city park in Manhattan, New York.

It became my intention to document all these areas before these major changes were made. Further research into the viaduct then revealed that, although completed in 1853 it had never had a railway track laid on it apart from one short section to give access to Bordesley cattle market. I subsequently decided to photograph the entire viaduct, in much detail, from street level. I made many photographs, some of which form this exhibition and my photographic record of Digbeth and Eastside is ongoing.

Your projects often focus on single structures or themes. How does this help you in your work?

The concentration on single structures has been the focus of my documentary style photographic practice for several years now. The emphasis on the single structure, usually centrally positioned in both the vertical and horizontal planes, makes a photograph that leaves the viewer with no doubt about what they are meant to be looking at.

A lot of my work is minimalist, pared down by careful composition to exclude any possible distracting elements where possible. I try to make photographs that show a quiet beauty in their aesthetic simplicity of composition and lighting. 

Missing you is like taking shelter from the wind at the bus stop. Just when you think you’re safe, it whistles through the cracks and reminds you of just how lonely you really are.


Tell us more about Bus Stop and Roadside Diners…

Both these projects are a continuation of the single structure theme. The small series titled Bus Stop originated when passing a particularly neglected and isolated bus stop near Bromsgrove. I was fascinated by the location and the contra-jour lighting highlighting the broken and dirty windows in it.

I searched to find more; a total a nine were found. This resulted in an artist’s book with a nine-line poem entitled ‘Bus Stop’,  one line revealed at a time as the pages are turned.

The Roadside Diners attracted my attention because I saw them as single structures, parked up in roadside laybys, and, so long as I picked the right moment, they were devoid of any other distracting elements.

They exhibited sameness; and yet the large diversity of size, colour and location, together with their advertising, made them a very visually appealing subject for me. Changes occurred when owners either bought newer vans or a new occupancy of a pitch took place.

Edgelands is concerned with forgotten spaces. Is there a psychogeographical element to your photography?

My Edgelands photographs definitely have a psychogeographical element to them. Finding the right locations involves a lot of walking around the peripheral areas of major conurbations, that liminal area between the rural and the urban. Sudden turns down unexpected paths play a large part in the discovery of the locations for the next edgelands photograph.

Wandering through these apparently uncared-for zones, where litter and unwanted household detritus is often found in abundance, sometimes imparts an uneasy apprehension as to what, or who, I might come across next! This uneasiness expresses itself in my photography of these neglected spaces.

Biography

Education 2010 MA in Photographic Studies (Merit) University of Westminster 2008 BA (Hons) Fine Art Photography University of Gloucestershire 

Recent Exhibitions:

2018 The Viaduct, Royal Birmingham Society of Artists 2017 Photography Prize Exhibition, Royal Birmingham Society of Artists 2017 Ludlow 7, the Photo Space, Ludlow 2016 East meets West, Waterhall Gallery, Birmingham 2016 East meets West, Quad Gallery, Derby 2016 Open Art Exhibition, Royal West Academy, Bristol 2016 Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London 2015 Photography Prize: Urban Life Exhibition, Royal Birmingham Society of Artists 2015 Open Art Exhibition, Royal West Academy, Bristol 2015 Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London 2015 Urban Life, Royal Birmingham Society of Artists

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Images © the artist or the artist’s estate unless stated otherwise.