Yesterday I went on a little adventure around Bristol and took some photos. It went much better than I initially expected because at first I was really nervous about walking around taking pictures and getting strange looks I might get. But it actually wasn’t that bad. I managed to take A LOT of pictures I didn’t realise how much I had taken until today when I imported them onto my laptop. Better to have a lot more than less I guess. Some of them I really like and they came out well. Some places I am obviously going to revisit to get better pictures and different angles. I didn’t get a lot of pictures of Cabot Circus cause by the time I got there I was super tired so I thought I’d better save those for another day. Fortunately I didn’t face many challenges yesterday. From doing this shoot I started notice little details, buildings that I had never noticed were there before in places I walk past on a regular basis. Some of the photos that I took will be uploaded shortly after I have converted them into JPEGs. The next step for me is to review the pictures I have and set up another day to visit and re-visit the locations I didn’t get to yesterday.
The Colston Hall Company had a vision of building a concert hall in the city so they bought the land from Colston Boy’s School. It opened in 1867. In 1889 a fire broke out and Colston Hall was closed then reopened in 1901. The second Hall was bought from the Colston Hall Company by Bristol Corporation for £65,000 and was managed by the City Council until 2011. The site has been occupied by four buildings named Colston Hall since the 1860s. The location also once held a Tudor era mansion known as the Great House, which was use by Queen Elizabeth I in 1574 on a visit to the city.
Due to significant fires details of early performances at the Colston Hall are limited. The Royal College of Music holds an archive from 1896 onwards which references a triennial musical festival founded in 1873 as well as performances from the Bristol Symphony Orchestra. In the 1920s composer and pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff performed. Today the venue has played host to a variety of acts from musicians to comedians as well as theatrical productions.
There has been controversy over the hall’s name because of Edward Colston’s link to the slave trade, with much of his wealth coming from the slave trade. Artists such as Massive Attack have vowed to never play at the venue until its name has changed. And there have been campaigners who have called for its name to be changed.
Bristol Hippodrome opened in 1912. It began as a venue of early variety and revue, and was for a time a cinema. It became a wartime moral booster. Theatre manager Oswald Stoll and a theatre architect called Frank Matcham worked together to build the Bristol Hippodrome as well as other theatres such as the London Coliseum and Hackney Empire. Stoll has been credited as the pioneer of the concept of variety “to which a man could take his fiancée without fear of causing her embarrassment.”
He had a vision of something upmarket and something that spared no luxury and it was seen as his greatest triumph outside of London. The interior of the place had a nautical theme, which was in keeping with Bristol’s maritime history. Today the theatre seats 1,951; when it opened the figure was 1,870, but, with police regulations not strictly enforced, mass standing was allowed. The frist press release claimed that it could hold up to 3,000 people. If anyone found the standing room too crowded, they could get a refund. “The Hippodrome considered itself a cut above tawdry music hall. It prided itself on refined entertainment.”
When The Four Marx Brothers (a team of sibling comedians, who performed in vaudeville, stage plays, film and television.) made their first visit to Britain they only performed in Bristol, London and Manchester. It was one of the centuries’ biggest “coups”. The 1920s were the Hippodrome’s golden decade with loads of famous artists and actors coming to perform, (from Robb Wilton to Gracie Fields) But across the country there was a change in entertainment that started to occur. This was a result of emergence of sound film (aka the talkies). Even though Bristol had cinemas,the Hippodrome chose to dabble in this new medium, mixing the variety with the showing of films in 1929 (the first was a comedy short called Miss Information). The first pantomime was staged three years later with: Dick Whittington and his Cat. They also showed educational films for young people. But the demand was irresistible and a complete conversion to cinema came in October 1932.
Approval was not unanimous. The Empire had made the switch the year before, leaving Bristol without a variety house, and at the end of the Hippodrome’s last night of live entertainment a near-riot broke out. A crowd surged towards the stage demanding a speech from the manager, who emerged amid a shower of programmes to hold out hope that one day variety might return. People were even writing protest letters to the local press!
After showing films for six years, and with 29 cinemas in the Bristol area now competing for a decreasing number of new releases and forced to screen countless re-runs, the demand for variety was rekindled. The Hippodrome reopened in 1938 as a variety theatre. The Hippodrome survived the war unscathed, but it was partly destroyed by a fire which completely obliterated the stage area, including the famous water tank. Luckily the auditorium was largely saved by fire fighters. “The Hippodrome was seen as a jewel in the crown and would not be allowed to fail.”
In the 70’s there was a resurgence of interest in live entertainment, spurred by popular musicals such as Hair and Godspell. Portacabins were installed on the roof to relieve overcrowded dressing rooms, to improve the theatre’s appeal to artists. In 1984 the Hippodrome was sold for just under £1 million to Apollo Leisure, a group that specialised in transforming the fortunes of loss-making theatres, they slashed running costs but also funded repairs and improvements, including new star dressing rooms, and aggressively marketed the Hippodrome. The public no longer had to travel to London to see the very best shows because they were coming to Bristol, sometimes even before appearing in the capital, earning the Hippodrome the reputation of being Bristol’s West End Theatre.
In 1996 it had a £1.2 million facelift which acknowledged the theatre’s roots. Auditorium seating and dressing rooms were upgraded and Apollo bought back the lease from the burger bar next door and turned it into a bistro called Grant’s, after the theatre’s most famous son, Cary Grant. In 2012 it was restyled as the Piano Bar- a cocktail bar complete with grand piano.. A new box office was also opened with direct street access.
Today the theatre’s offering a range from singers Shirley Bassey and Van Morrison to acts such as the Dreamboys and children’s shows during the daytime. The ageing of Britain’s population has produced more pensioners, leisure time and disposable income, which have boosted the industry. The year 2009 was a record-breaker for the Hippodrome, with more than 80 productions, 478,000 customers through the door and a box office turnover of £11 million. Despite hard times its owners spared it the fate of so many other variety theatres, replaced with multi-storey car parks or wider roads.
I was walking around town today and I saw some places that would be great to take pictures of. Some of these places include Colston Hall because its got a very modern and contemporary look to it. I have also considered of taking pictures of the inside because I could do some interesting edits to. I also want to take a picture of this location because of the history of the place is quite interesting. I would also like to take pictures of the Hippodrome, the Millennium Square, Mshed, Clifton Suspension bridge, the City museum, Pero’s bridge, Bristol Old Vic, Castle Park, Bearpit, Cabot Circus, Union Street, Ashton Court, Christmas Steps, Nelson Street, St John’s Church.
The reason why I have chosen most of these places is because they are well known places in Bristol and are part of the history and culture of the city. They’re also interesting I think because of how they have changed over time in order to fit in with the modern society and changes in the city. I am planning to do some research into some of these places to find out more about the history and how/why these places have changed overtime. I am going to take some of my pictures on Tuesday.
Yesterday I met up with my production partner to discuss our projects, where we are at the moment and our next steps. From the experiments that I have done so far I am almost certain that I want to edit my pictures post production because I feel like it gives me more control over the finished look of my pictures. The next step for me is come up with a list of locations for my photographs and get out there and start taking pictures.
Charli will be doing her project in Chippenham using a pinhole camera and I think she has decided to also edit her photos using photoshop to make them look like they were taken during the Victorian period. She also told me that she plans to present it in like a book/album style. I think this is an interesting way to present her photographs and really emphasises the point that the subjects in her photographs are on display. This has kind off made me start to think about how I am going to present my photos, whether to print them or present them online, put them into a video. I don’t know… Maybe I will take my pictures first
Today I decided to experiment with taking my Vorticist inspired pictures in a similar style as Alvin Langdon Coburn did. I started of by using some CDs… That didn’t go so well and I wasn’t really impressed with how they came out. Below are some of the pictures from that experiment
After that I decided to take some photos through a glass, these came out a lot better and I am actually quite happy with them. In some of them I tried to take pictures of my mother, because I really liked the way the portraits that Coburn took of Ezra Pound looked (I have included one of the vortographs I am referring to in the gallery below). I think I am proud of these ones the most.
I had to do a lot of cropping to all of these photos, but apart from that I have not edited them. In most of them I don’t really feel the need to, but others I may need to play around with the colour and the brightness. If I was going to use this process to take my photos I would need to break the glass to make it smaller and easier to hold over the lens, because some of the photos came out great but my fingers would be in the way. I am hoping to experiment with objects, my production partner (Charli) has been helping me come up with other things I could use.
These are the photos I took yesterday I edited them using Photoshop and Pixlr
This picture is of a stair case, the inspiration came from Luigi Ruslo’s painting The Revolt. Originally I wanted to make this a mirrored image in the style of Simon Gardiner, but when I started playing around with layering I liked this look better.
This is a picture of a corridor ceiling. I also used Pixlr to edit this picture. I really liked some of the kaleidoscope style picture from previous photographers that I have been looking so I wanted to try and create something similar. I really like the idea of making the obscure and unrecognisable. This may be the style and idea I might go for with my final images.
This was taken in the same place as the second picture just at a different angle. This one was inspired by Simon Gardiner’s work. This little experiment was really useful because it has got me to start thinking about the style of my photographs. I like the way that all of them turned out, so I think it’s going to be hard to pick a style. I didn’t really face any major challenges during this editing process, so hopefully I will have the same luck when I am working on my final images.