MAstars 2010: Richard Glynn, MA Photography

MAstars 2010: Richard Glynn, MA Photography Ballroom Picture Store, 2010. Photography. 60cm x 60cm. Credit Richard Glynn

Paul Stone selects Richard Glynn from the University of Sunderland for MAstars

In 1869, Joséphine Bowes laid the foundation stone for what was intended to be both a home for both her and her husband, John, as well as a world-class museum of their collection of fine and decorative arts. Though both were to die before seeing its completion, the Bowes Museum was finally opened to the public in 1892 in Barnard Castle, County Durham. However, some areas of the building were never completed. The ballroom, located in the central tower of the museum, never saw the grand parties it was intended for. Over the years, the bare plaster walls of the unfinished space watched the caretakers' children grow and play before being used as temporary storage for the many paintings of the collection with plastic sheeting to protect against roof leaks.

In 2008, the roof was restored and works began to transform the ballroom into specialised storage and a library, providing an archive for paintings, prints and books with new floor levels and a warren of spaces carefully interwoven to sit alongside and within the original building structure. In his 'Lost Waltz' series, Richard Glynn has documented this space in transition. He speaks of his photographs as depicting 'an unfulfilled dream about to find new life but tinged with the stillness and sadness of what might have once been'.

Although taken at a busy construction site, the final images themselves are always devoid of actual human presence, the scaffolding, plastic sheeting and bright colours of the newly-installed electrical wires that criss-cross the muted original plasterwork are the only physical clues given of the renovation in progress. Glynn employs the juxtaposition of light and shadow, and ancient and modern, in lending theses images a sense of almost forensic stripping back of the past as these once-forgotten spaces are slowly integrated into the bustle of a working museum.

Much of the work for the 'Lost Waltz' series was undertaken at the same time as Glynn was involved emptying the family home in preparation for sale following his father’s death, when 'many of my thoughts at that time were contemplative and to do with memories, loss and missed opportunities'. He wanted the images from the Bowes Museum to be large, simple, calm and reflective. A photographer since the late 1970s, Glynn's current preferred method of working is with scanned negatives and self-printed using large format printers.

Selected by Paul Stone
Published February, 2010

View Richard Glynn's profile >

Further information

Next MAstar