Monday, 15 July 2013

Justin: Lights, Camera, Action! Photography at MoDA

It's been over four months since Justin Piperger took on the post of Photographer at MoDA and so it's high time he was introduced. Justin only works part time on Mondays and Tuesdays but I managed to catch up with him for a chat earlier this week. 

What does the job of MoDA Photographer entail?
The job involves photographing elements of the collections which are required for exhibitions, publications and other requests. Once photographed the files are uploaded to the Museum’s database and thereby made more easily accessible to the public via MoDA’s website.



What have you been working on recently?
I have been working on the touring Petal Power exhibition and photographing various items from the collection for image reproduction and licensing.  I also photograph new and recent acquisitions which have included books from the reference library of Charles Hasler and a collection of war time Woman’s Weekly periodicals.  As well as offering interesting knit patterns for funky pullovers, there’s a nice section where troubled young ladies can get advice about love. 

What do you make of the collections so far?
 I’m finding the collections very interesting. I didn't know the collection too well beforehand so I have been quite thrilled to wander through the racks in the store and make discoveries. I've been documenting many of the Silver Studio designs, mainly pencil with watercolour or gouache. I'm particularly drawn to the designs featuring people and landscapes including those of snowy scenes with sheep and farmers, and of children walking along a country lane. Although most of these designs are anonymous, as was the policy of the Studio, one can sense the designers presence with these pictures. I look for marks of angst within the works, such as angry ink splodges and spiky trees  - but they are seldom there. My favourite design so far is a Harem type scene with Hookah and an androgynous couple lounging in loose fitting clothes. The servant offers some choice dish and through the window beyond dhows sail the Arabian Sea.

I'm also enjoying working on the Katagami stencils. These are beautiful, fragile pieces structurally held by lengths of hair, and satisfyingly drenched in persimmon juice. The subjects that I like most are the animal scenes. Carp frolicking in bubbling streams, skinny birds on trees, even frogs waiting in damp patches. The stencils themselves have a brownish tinge so one wonders at the riot of colours on the Kimono silks that the stencils were used to print on. I've experimented with colouring in a couple of the digital files using Photoshop, it's a kind of background doodling and have found a happy bonding with Roy Lichtenstein and Patrick Caulfield.



What do you do the rest of the week?
 The rest of the week I have my own photographic practice, Justin Piperger Photography. I photograph for galleries, artists and collectors (Saatchi Gallery, West End Galleries, the Barbican and others). I also undertake architectural photography, events, people and do anything else that comes along. I am also an artist and have a studio in Shoreditch. I have regular small shows of my paintings around London, and occasionally show in group exhibitions with various organisations including the Stuckists.

For more information about photography at MoDA please contact Justin.


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