Friday, August 29, 2014

The Caravan Gallery

Emdad Rahman: I spotted this gem on my way to the London Eye with my eldest today. I made a mental note and a public pronouncement to my son to be on his best photographer mode as we would be stopping there on the way back.

The Caravan Gallery, a diminutive mustard model (circa 1969), with white walls and beech floor on the inside (like a ‘real’ gallery), provides the perfect setting for an evolving exhibition of wry, often tragicomic, photographic observations made in response to the areas visited.

The mobile exhibition venue and visual arts project was set up to document the ordinary and extraordinary details of everyday life. Eager to examine clich├ęs and cultural trends, the exhibition is particularly drawn to the absurd anomalies and curious juxtapositions typical of places in transition and in the process of reinventing themselves as regeneration fever spreads.

The Caravan Gallery Tour details and showcases photographs from the archives of Portsmouth-based artists Jan Williams and Chris Teasdale. The duo host a touring exhibition of photos from their 'Is Britain Great?' Archive accompanied by a selection of images from each area.

Since 2000 the customary mustard coloured caravan has documented the artistic insight into the photographers’ take on their own local environment.

I enjoyed the Gallery particularly because it's the type of photos I look out for and take whilst I walk. It's the humour side that really struck a chord with me.

"Our collection of photos goes back to the start of the millennium and a lot of it is humour related as well," said Jan.

"The Caravan Gallery is making a tour of localities to publicise our works and hopefully encourage the locals to get involved."

The Caravan Gallery exhibits at an eclectic range of locations, rural, urban and suburban, from small-scale community events to prestigious contemporary galleries and international art and photography festivals.

Jan and Chris' travels have inspired a growing range of merchandise which now includes 4 books, Welcome to Britain – a celebration of real life, Is Britain Great? 1, 2 and 3, subversive Visitor Guides, postcards, greetings cards and gift wrap-cum-posters that show the world from a Caravan Gallery perspective. "We also produce some limited edition prints and sometimes draw and collage too," said Jan.

Much of 2013 was devoted to Merseyside. The exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool – Merseystyle: Photographs by The Caravan Gallery, was a key part of LOOK/ 13 Liverpool International Photography Festival and was complemented by Pride of Place Projects in Liverpool and Wirral.

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