Only the Lonely? was a wonderful collection of photographs that really captured moments of hope, resilience and the spirit of people, especially during difficult periods of time throughout 2020 and 2021.
The power and energy of the work really engaged the attention of the Art House’s audiences. The transformation of the gallery space was beautifully delicate and tranquil, and a perfect place to capture the essence and importance of the themes that Tony explores with this project – one which many people, more than ever, can relate to.
Coming out of the recent challenging times – and which is still the case for many people – the project was incredibly timely. The Art House was absolutely delighted to present the work of this ongoing and much-needed series, which really does celebrate the individual spirits of people and their communities. We are very grateful to Tony and his support team for bringing this project to Wakefield. It provided a great opportunity for the Art House and our audiences to get to know Tony’s practice, his own personal journey, and reflect on the moments of hope that we may have missed or forgotten about during the difficult periods of national lockdowns.
We realise the themes that Tony’s work explores are still prevalent and still one of the biggest crises people face today. The Art House’s work is all about connecting communities, breaking down barriers for those that need it and working with artists, especially those that experience their lived-experiences of barriers, to support their risk-taking ideas.
Therefore, we are thankful to Tony for continuing his important work, connecting communities and highlighting these important issues, and proud to have shown his work to many people. We are really looking forward to the project growing and seeing more and more people engage with it. It really is an important project.
Damon Jackson-Waldock THE ART HOUSE WAKEFIELD MARCH 2022
Arts Council England funded
An exhibition of photographs by Tony Fisher
Broadway Mezz Bar Broadway Nottingham UK
Review by Nicola Monaghan
As you wander around ‘Explorations’ in the Broadway Mezz Bar, you could be forgiven for thinking Tony Fisher is a Photoshop artist, altering his pictures for the best abstract effect. In fact, this is not the case. Of the twenty exhibits, only two have been changed in any significant way, which makes the abstract and alluring nature of the pictures all the more impressive. In ‘Dog with Red Logs’ the animal in question appears almost to levitate above the ground it is straining so hard on its leash. The colours are incredibly vibrant and rich, so that the photo resembles a painting. Touch shows a child’s hand on a plastic-looking cow, as if he or she is attempting (somewhat like the viewer) to check whether or not the animal is real.
Perhaps some of the most alluring pictures though, are those where Fisher has taken photos of glass or water to great effect. ‘Almeria Dreams’ shows a bus reflected in a puddle. ‘Hand in swimming pool’ is the distorted image of a hand in amazingly blue water, the ripples and richness of hue giving the impression of acrylic on canvas. ‘Arkwright Dreams’ shows a reflected building, which, on first view, seems almost a mirage that is about to disappear. ‘Woman in the Window’ is a mysterious and glamourous image of a girl, but distorted by patterned glass. That these images have come straight through Fisher’s lens is quite astounding.
Other photographs have a distinct emotional pull. There’s Christine Collister and Richard Thompson performing, ethereal and ghostly under the spotlight. This is reminiscent of the photo on Fisher’s comments book, his children on an outing, light from above hitting their upturned faces. Especially emotive when you know this is a snatched moment; his children lived away from him at the time. ‘Bonfire Night’ has a similar impact, the image of a girl on the shoulders of a man who is looking up and checking on her. In a nice touch, the zip on the man’s coat appears to be a devil’s tail attached to the girl. In ‘Change your Life’, a man in a mask points at a tree emblazoned with the message of the title. The photo was taken outside the Imperial War Museum, formally ‘Bedlam’; a place where people with psychiatric difficulties were locked away so they couldn’t be seen or heard. These images are at the heart of what Fisher is exploring; the intense emotional traffic of living.
Where Fisher has used technology in his art, the resulting works are conceptual and fascinating. ‘Portrait of the artist as a young man (Now I am Fifty)’ is a montage of booth photos in black and white from over the years, placed around a central image in colour of Fisher as he is now. This is the first exhibit you come across in the room, and I think that’s deliberate. You see Fisher grow and change here, from boy to man, and travel through decades of fashion, hairstyles and emotion. But it centres on him as he is now, as if declaring something about how he views himself. To me, it captures the transience of life, the way it only allows you to view yourself in snapshots of the ‘now’. Then there’s ‘Global Warming’, a haunting representation of the theme, with ice cream melting in the foreground, the beach warping in a similar way behind it. Enough to make you shiver.
This rounded exhibition gives a real sense of life explored through image, and touches on many aspects of Fisher’s personal experiences, as well as contemporary issues such as global warming, mental health and provision for the elderly. More importantly, it looks amazing. There’s not a single photograph on display I would cut, or that doesn’t make me linger. Fisher truly has an eye for capturing the unusual and abstract in the everyday. A remarkable achievement.