Tuesday evening saw the grand opening of Dave Brown‘s new photography exhibition Tough Crowd at the Stand Gallery in London. Velveteers Paulyne and Mog were there and enjoyed an early glimpse of the show.
The comedians featured in the photographs read like a ‘who’s who’ of The Velvet Onion; it’s tangible evidence of how interconnected this particular group of artists really are. The images themselves are incredibly striking – defined by their wintery colours, crisp details and luminescent eyes. This is a side of the comedian’s persona that we don’t often get to see, and across the faces in the photographs there’s a fascinating mixture of confusion, frustration, guilt and fear. Some of the featured artists haven’t quite let their guard down, but in so doing perhaps reveal how much deeper their fear of comedy failure goes.
The scale of the photographs stops you in your tracks – every whisker and laughter line writ large across the gallery wall. A massive print of Tony Law dominates the ground floor: a noble 19th century explorer with childhood in his eyes.
The contrast between these images and the photographs that Dave took in Ghana make for fascinating viewing: the single wall of gold-tinged skin and warm earth tones provides an interesting step change within the show. Summer and Winter. Them and us.
Even when arriving nearly two hours after doors open, we still found the entrance crammed to gills with the friends and family of Dave Brown, all there too see his stunning work for Afrikids.
As we circled the room and entered each long stretch of hallway it was hard not to be completely entranced by the portraits of so many well-known faces. The heartwarming touch for us was the TVO connection to a large percentage of them; and some even with a long childhood connection (e.g. Lenny Henry), of watching them on Saturday nights in your pyjamas with a cuppa.
Looking around at each of those portraits was a bit like wanting to ask the subjects probing questions but at the same time not wanting to intrude. The idea of each snap is ‘when the laughter stops’ and Dave certainly got this out of each subject. It begs the question what would I think about in that situation?
A must see exhibition for you to lose yourself in and come back to us with your own thoughts… if they’re not too private.
To buy a limited edition print of one of the Tough Crowd photographs and to donate to Afrikids at the same time visit the Afrikids website. There are 100 prints of each subject; A3 prints cost £50 and A2 prints cost £75. To see photos of last night’s opening take a look at photographer Sam Witney’s site and click on ‘Dec 5th’. See how many TVO-related faces you can spot – they were out in force!
Keep your eyes peeled for our exclusive interview with the man behind the camera lens, Dave Brown, coming soon!