Our Instagrammer in Residence project invites emerging Instagrammers from around London to experience life at the Barbican and share their photography on our social channels and also in a digital exhibition throughout the Centre.
Our March Instagrammer in Residence is Melissa Cross (@mitna29), whose Instagram feed takes us to remote lands and peaceful urban scenes.
We talk to her about what makes a good picture, and capturing one of the world’s most photographed swimming pools.
How would you describe your style of photography?
I like to find interesting perspectives, symmetry, rhythmic patterns or lonely figures, often resulting in images with a minimal quality. My images are an abstraction of the surrounding environment, using tight framing to free the subject from its surroundings. I am intrigued by photographs capturing scenes or environments that the human eye misses at first glance, creating a manipulation of space or narrative.
I also studied graphic design at university, and I consider myself more of an illustrator/image maker. My work consists of creating mixed media collages and distorting found images. I am inspired by abstract imagery and patterns, and when photographing I plan the composition in the same way I would when creating images.
‘I feel as if it is the people and plants living there who breathe life into it, not just the structure itself’
What inspires you about the Barbican and its neighbourhood?
I’ve always thought of the Barbican as being a sort of sheltered sanctuary. Once you enter through one of the many hidden stairwells or passageways, there is an immediate sense of calm. You no longer feel that you are in central London. The meditative relationship between the concrete and the plants. The geometric patterns, textures and shadows. It looks like an amalgamation of natural and man-made, where harsh concrete edges are softened by draping plants. There is so much to photograph there. It’s the perfect place to capture the relationship between a man-made structure and its natural surroundings. I feel as if it is the people and plants living there who breathe life into it, not just the structure itself.
‘I am intrigued by photographs with a hint of ambiguity, where the framing is used to focus on one subject within the image’
What makes a good picture?
I am drawn to photography that transcends boundaries. I am intrigued by photographs with a hint of ambiguity, where the framing is used to focus on one subject within the image. This allows viewers to see the subject out of context and enables you to create your own narrative for the image. I believe composition is essential to a good photograph, no matter how busy or minimal the outcome may be.
Which one of your photos are you most proud of, and why?
That is a difficult question so I’ll choose a current favourite, which is my photograph of a Sydney swimmer. I captured this on a stormy summer day, with grey skies making the sea appear a much darker turquoise than usual. This stormy sea contrasts with the calm pool. It is one of the world’s most photographed swimming pools, yet on that day it was just me taking photographs and just one swimmer in the pool. The red swimming cap contrasts with the rest of the image, drawing attention to the swimmer. Without him, the photograph would be completely different.
Which five Instagram accounts should everyone follow?
@jessie.edwards.thomas – a brilliant documentary photographer, Jessie’s work captures day to day life in a beautiful way.
@christopherwayne13 – a fellow lover of Brutalist architecture and a collage artist, Chris’ work is clean and minimal and his charming collages often have a humorous narrative.
@yuliphotodinsky – Yuli Gorodinsky’s work is playful and mysterious and each photograph tells its own story.
@louis_reith – Louis Reith uses found objects, books and photographs to create geometrical mixed media collages, sculptures and drawings.
@tobyellisbextor – Toby’s Instagram is a real mixture of mediums, his work is experimental and I enjoy watching his day to day progression on a collection of projects.
Follow us on Instagram @barbicancentre to see more of Melissa’s photography in the coming weeks.