‘Ethelburga Tower: At home in a high-rise’ is a special exhibition of photographs by Mark Cowper, in which he explores the interiors of Ethelburga Tower, Battersea in which he has lived for the last 20 years.
This exhibition shows Mark photographs of his own home and also those of fellow residents in Ethelburga Tower, Battersea. Residents allowed Cowper to photograph their homes as he found them – with little or no time for tidying up. These images are not styled in the way that shots of interiors often are.
Taken from the same position within the same room (usually the living room) in 46 flats, this series of photographs provides a life-affirming view into one of the ways we live now – cheek by jowl, but often quite isolated from one another, trying to create spaces which celebrate our tastes and individuality. Indeed, the photographs show a wealth of approaches to homemaking and decoration, even when contained in the same architectural shell.
Over the period of a year, Cowper approached his neighbours on spec, assuring them that he wished to represent their homes as ‘found’ spaces: he moved nothing within the spaces that showed within the frame. Occasionally, items were removed in order to allow him to set up his camera in the same place in each flat but this was the extent of the ‘styling’.
He neither encouraged nor discouraged people to be in the picture and the owners made their own choice about this. Cowper notes that ‘there are a total of 98 flats in the block. I shot 45 of the 68 that face east and west, and one that faces south as a test to see the difference in light and room size.’ This attention to detail regarding light and aspect, and also the consistent position of the camera in each space, gives the resulting series of images a mesmeric effect. One feels quiet admiration for the owners who allowed Cowper to photograph the space as he found it, and also a sense of respect for this photographer who gained the trust of such a wide crosssection of people. This interchange between the photographer and his close urban neighbours, and the careful framing of these documentary pictures, contribute to what is an exceptional and rare record of people’s homes today.
A number of children’s events will be held in association with the Exhibition. Click HERE for more details
Information on the Geffrye Museum
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136 Kingsland Road
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Old Street (exit 2), then bus 243 or a 15 minute walk.
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