Spitting: Photographs by Andrew Bruce & Anna Fox at James Hyman Gallery
The James Hyman Gallery invites visitors to Spitting: Photographs by Andrew Bruce & Anna Fox, a series of contemporary photographs capturing some of the original puppets that starred in the popular television program Spitting Image. These satirical puppets caricature and contort significant politicians in a comical and outrageous fashion, proving to be brilliant subjects to photograph.
Purchased by James Hyman, owner of the gallery for his private collection, the puppets seen are incarnations of former Conservative party members, consisting of three prime ministers including Margaret Thatcher, and several cabinet ministers, such as Norman Tebbit and Leon Brittan. Timed perfectly to coincide with the upcoming general election, photographers Anna Fox and Andrew Bruce have been given full liberty to photograph the collection in order to both preserve and revive the memory.
The result is fantastic, frank and fearless. Photographed on large format film, every gruesome detail that the puppets behold is crisp and accentuated; the puppet stands and wires holding them up are also unconcealed. Each character is positioned differently and set against various coloured backgrounds, which were chosen as a reaction to the characteristics of each figure. Fox explains how the entire process was collaborative – every creative decision was made together.
A contrast of the colour and lighting in the display is visible within the gallery, with an equivalent juxtaposition also reflected in the composition of the puppets. The first room mainly hosts full body shots, whereas venturing deeper into the next room, viewers are faced with more close-up images, encouraging them to think further than the comical impression that they are initially faced with. In a few of the photographs, the puppets are exposed or undressed, and their mechanics beneath the clothing are visible. Abstract Triptych focuses on the tears in the back of the jacket and sleeve which would have been used by the puppeteer, reinforcing that the characters are only imitations of the real people.
It is interesting to see how Bruce and Fox have interpreted the puppets, capturing them as both a still life and a portrait, simultaneously portraying the puppet and the iconic politician that the character is based on. Now three times removed from the original politician, the photographs are arresting, amusing and unique.
Photo: Erol Birsen
Spitting: Photographs by Andrew Bruce & Anna Fox is at James Hyman Gallery from 22nd April until 8th May 2015, for further information visit here.