There’s an Art in People Watching

Photo: Ai Wei Wei exhibition – National Gallery of Victoria

I’m a people observer: watching, drawing, photographing. It’s a long-time pleasure of mine, whether I’m lying on the local beach or sipping coffee in a favourite city – have I mentioned Rome already?  I find particular enjoyment studying people within an art space. The presence of one person can alter and enhance the mood aesthetic, creating an interesting photographic composition through colour, line or body language.

Photos: Tate Britain, London;  Bruce Armstrong exhibition at National Gallery of Victoria; MONA, Hobart, Tasmania; MAXXI, Rome.

Sometimes I see a person walking towards an artwork or object and I quietly will them to move in a specific direction or proximity (it doesn’t always work).

Photos: MAXXI, Rome; National Gallery of Victoria; Jupiter Artland Sculpture Gardens, Edinburgh; MONA, Hobart, Tasmania.

Or, I’ll stroll through a gallery looking for people contemplating an artwork.  Their body language is still and I have to be quick to capture that moment before they move on.  There’s elation in the ‘gotcha’, the approach has to be discreet.
Photos:  Dancing Umbrellas – Heide Museum of Modern Art, Victoria; National Gallery of Victoria; Ai Wei Wei – National Gallery of Victoria; Fundacio Joan Miro, Barcelona, Spain.

Gallery staff at work present other photo-opportunities. Their presence in the space is often “I’m here, but pretend you can’t see me.”    I’m watching.
Photos: Glasstresse, Venice Biennale 2015; MAXXI, Rome; Tate Britain, London: A conservator at work, National Gallery of Victoria.

Observing around public art places also offers pleasing and complementary scenarios.
Photos: Street art, Oporto, Portugal; around the cloisters, Monastery of Pedrables, Barcelona, Spain;  Hosier Lane, Melbourne;  me being silly, “circular selfie” Heide Museum of Modern Art.

Photo: Inge King Sculpture exhibition – National Gallery of Victoria

 © Photos and text Pamela Reid/tPRo 2017