Rob Ball: Dreamlands
Rob Ball: Dreamlands
Print Sales Gallery
16 June - 2 August 2015
20 April 2015
Print Sales' Gallery presents Dreamlands, a new body of work by British photographer Rob Ball. The project comprises a series of tintypes created on the site of the disused Dreamland amusement park in Margate, Kent. It is a continued exploration of Ball's long standing interest in our interaction and inhabitation of landscapes and spaces of leisure.
Located on England's south-east coast, the site of the park was first used for amusement rides as early as 1880 before establishing itself as Dreamland in 1920. During the height of its popularity it was considered to be one of the UK's best-loved amusement parks and a top tourist attraction. Years of steady decline in visitors and a slow dismantling of iconic rides led to the park's eventual closure in 2003. Plans to re-appropriate the site for housing purposes triggered a decade long campaign to restore it back to a fully operational amusement park which will reopen to the public in June 2015.
In 2013 Rob Ball began using tintypes to document the process of restoration as the park was entering into its initial stages of reconstruction. Created in the 1860s - around the same time the Dreamland site began being used as an entertainment venue - the tintype process has strong historical links to the seaside where itinerant photographers would set-up temporary studios offering family portraits to weekend and holiday visitors.
Ball chose to use tintypes as a way of emphasising the physicality of the landscape and its imperfections. Each time he visited he had to construct a temporary darkroom in which the tintype was coated, sensitised, exposed, developed and fixed in-situ. Each plate carries the evidence of the environment it was made in and of the photographer himself. Dust, debris, fingerprints and even the quality of daylight are all recorded on its surface, resulting in a unique object. Quiet and contemplative, Ball's images are devoid of human presence, revealing the passage of time and decay alongside the process of rebuilding.
Presenting over twenty tintypes and silver gelatin prints the exhibition also features original Dreamland memorabilia in the display. These include old signs, tickets, pool balls, remnants of arcade machines, colour photographs taken when Dreamland was first shut down and an original Victorian tintype taken in Margate.
Ball will also present recent work from New York City's Coney Island theme park in counterpoint to the Dreamland images. Using similar tintype techniques, Ball is looking to trace the inspiration for Margate's Dreamland and further extend his investigation of historical coastal leisure sites.
Rob Ball said: I have childhood memories of going to Dreamland as a boy and noting its decline and state of disrepair even then. Having spent the past two years in the space, I do feel this series has become about restoration and the restorative. Our image of Margate is one of repair rather than a renaissance – something that was broken and slowly being put back together again. This, I think, is echoed in my own work, where cracks, dust, the materiality and vulnerability of each plate is tangible.
Prices start at £800 + VAT with unique tintypes and silver gelatin prints produced in varying dimensions. Additional works from these series are available to view and purchase on request.
To accompany the exhibition, we are holding a special tintype portrait event with Rob Ball from 10:00 – 17:00 on 4 July 2015.
Download l Press Release and Image Sheet l Rob Ball l Dreamlands l 16 June - 2 August 2015