Jonathan Ross Holography Collection

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The Best of British

A varied set of works from four UK holographers

Whereas most European capital cities, and a number of cities in the United Kingdom, possess permanent galleries of holography, London has none. After the closure of Light Fantastic's very successful gallery at the Trocadero because of a redevelopment scheme, only the smaller gallery at Covent Garden Market remained to present holography to the public. This, too, has now closed.

Jonathan Ross (not the TV presenter) has been involved with the promotion of display holography since its earliest days, and recently showed the flag in London by staging an exhibition of work by four holographic artists at Smith's Gallery in Covent Garden.

Margaret Benyon FRPS is the senior holographic artist in Britain, and probably in the world. After graduating from the Slade School of Fine Art she has held fellowships at Strathclyde and Canberra universities, where she did her pioneer work in creative holographic imagery. In recent years her work has been concentrated on the depiction of the human face, with a strong emphasis on compassion. In this exhibition her eight works exploited the use of double and triple images in different colours, some with overpainting or ghost images, and all showing the assurance of technique she has acquired working in her own studio in Dorset.

Martin Richardson works with equal technical skill. He was the first student to graduate from the RCA in holography, and the first person in the country to obtain a doctorate in fine art holography. He was showing five large holograms. One was a reflection hologram, a symbolic image of a dove flying out of the frame from a background of prison bars, part of his Freedom series which those who visited his exhibition at the RPS in Bath last year may remember. The remaining four pieces were transmission (ie backlit) holograms using human subject matter in a surreal manner, two of them containing the narrow triangular peephole image which seems to be an obsession dating from his early days in photography.

Patrick Boyd is a graduate of the RCA. While studying there he developed a system for producing holograms containing large numbers of images which appear in turn as the viewpoint is changed, producing a kind of fluttery animation. Nine examples of his work were on show. The holograms, built into box frames with old sepia photographs at the back, showed collages in space of typical American scenes: ball games, parades, a dog show and a group of extrovert cows. Boyd's throwaway humour does not conceal the considerable technical achievement of these multi-image works.

David Pizzanelli was an entrepreneur in the early days of commercial holography, and later worked with Ross' company See-3 Holograms for several years, before moving back into academe. He is in the process of completing a PhD with the RCA. He has broken new ground in animated holography by taking Edweard Muybridge's classic action studies and turning them into holographic stereograms. Three of these were on show: a nude male figure executing an arabesque, a mother kissing her child, and a man raising his hat, presumably to a lady acquaintance. His other three exhibits represented a different area of imagery, including diffraction graphics. In this kind of hologram, two-dimensional graphics or photographs are encoded holographically so that different images appear and disappear as the viewpoint is changed, and the colours change too. The three pieces showed, respectively, an impression of a helmeted warrior, Pizzanelli's own birthplace cottage and its associations, and a series of kitsch-glamour photographs interspersed with images of the moon seen through (broken) glass.

All the exhibits are for sale at prices ranging from £300 to £2500. By the time this article appears the exhibition will be over, but the exhibits remain available for viewing (see below). This was the first exhibition of creative holography in London for some time, and Ross is to be congratulated on his enterprise in staging it. I hope it heralds the staging of many more. In some ways creative holography has been luckier than photography as far as its status in the world of fine art is concerned, probably because many of its earlier practitioners have been artists with established reputations in other media.

In order to partially offset the lack of a permanent London gallery of holography, Ross has established a small gallery in his own house in Clapham. Appointments to view may be made by phoning Ross on 071-622 7729.*

Graham Saxby

The British Journal of Photography 30 April 1992

Reproduced with permission

* A number of the works described in this article are now in The Jonathan Ross Hologram Collection. Telephone 207 370 2239 for appointments to view.

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