robin cracknell
the camera suture

15 june - 21 july 2015

Whitecross Gallery is pleased to present the work of Robin Cracknell for his first solo exhibition in London. 

Cracknell’s ethereal work incorporates uniquely developed techniques combining traditional film photography and cinematography with a chemical deterioration process, giving his images an emotive sensibility which conveys a narrative of love, language and loss.

Exploring a dichotomy between the reality of childhood and the orchestrated family snapshot, Cracknell questions why our happy moments are so eagerly art directed while the real story of childhood languishes unrecorded with many of life’s little miseries edited away.  With text, language, symbols and braille, he articulates a more credible document of the perilous moonscape of childhood experience.  

As a single father, Cracknell has not only watched the sand shifting beneath his son's feet but has felt those same tremors himself and often glimpsed his own desolation in his son’s sparkling eyes.  In this sense the photographs of his son are in many ways self-portraits, as in the shadow of divorce, father and son were left equally blind, leading each other hand in hand towards the rim of the strange forest in which they’d found themselves stranded.  These photographs document their journey through the darkness and some points of light along the way.

From Cracknell’s jaded adult view, the paradox of childhood reflects the paradox of language.  Just as proudly displayed ‘happy’ family snapshots often conceal more than they reveal, words too, can so often fail us.  Never is this more profound than on the tongue of a stutterer where thoughts become nonsense and poetry slurs into gibberish.  In Cracknell’s notebooks particularly, words are so fragmented and scratched, erased and rewritten, that his own history as a stutterer becomes evident and central to the story behind the photographs.

The photographs here are individual, not editions.  Each one is unique and abstract to its date of printing, and although archival, it is the nature of the chemical processes Cracknell uses on the negatives and transparencies, that causes them to deteriorate with time, and react in the way rust corrodes or daylight bleaches.  While the finished prints are completely stable, the colours and textures of the source material are always and deliberately in a state of flux, the temporal element being as crucial as the tonal aesthetics of light and shadow.  Like their subject matter and the places and feelings they document, they will change, fade and ultimately vanish.

Born in India and educated in the US, Cracknell began his career as a fashion photographer in Washington DC and Milan, after which he enjoyed many years of commercial success in photo-illustration.  This showcase of photographs and drawings follows Cracknell’s participation in the Guardian –Saatchi exhibition of September 2006, where he was chosen as one of ten finalists amongst 12,000 artists from across the globe.  He was nominated by celebrated British sculptor, Marc Quinn, and then selected by a panel of prestigious art critics, as well as Guardian readers. The following quotes refer to this achievement.

Nigel Hurst, Director, Saatchi Gallery:

"We are thrilled that a gallery as highly regarded as Whitecross Gallery
has picked up on Robin Cracknell's work from Your Gallery.  We were
delighted to have the opportunity to present Robin's unique photographs
on our website and wish the artist and Whitecross Gallery every success
with this exhibition" (May 2007)

Francesco Petillo, Director, Whitecross Gallery:

"Your Gallery is a really useful place to find artists. As soon as we
saw Robin's page on the Saatchi Gallery's website something clicked. We
were fascinated and wanted to see more..." (April 2007)

Rebecca Wilson, Editor, Saatchi Gallery:

"When we were deciding on the shortlist for the Your Gallery @ the Guardian exhibition last October, Robin Cracknell's tender, beautiful photographs really stood out.  They suggest a sense of loss, a nostalgia or longing for times past, their cracked, worn, faded surfaces evoking fragments of narrative leaving us to wonder what was happening on either side of the image in front of us.  I think this is one of the reasons why his photographs leave such an imprint in your mind.  We are absolutely delighted that being part of the Your Gallery exhibition has led to his first major solo show in London.” (April 2007)