Nigel Henderson, Peter Kennard

Half Moon Gallery

The other show I liked was Nigel Henderson’s, of photographs taken 30 years ago when Henderson was an art student living in Bethnal Green, the working-class district where the Half Moon Gallery is now located. Like Ben Shahn in the 1930s, Henderson was willing to try for any and every kind of shot since it was only the imagery, not photography for its own sake, that attracted him. The result of this casual, amateur approach was to make the photographs more intense and moving. The other show at the Half Moon was probably more typical of the current photography encouraged by this photo cooperative, which also publishes the excellent journal Camerawork. The show was not so excellent. It was of collages, though not the sort done by Boyd and Evans. Peter Kennard’s collages are meant to be propaganda. One of them, for instance, was a reproduction of Constable’s Hay Wain in which the horsecart had been outfitted with Cruise missiles. Before television and the widespread use of photo-reproduction, it was possible for such collage imagery to have a significant impact, but at this point in history work like Kennard’s seems to me pure archaism, a gesture which, instead of being brutal, becomes rather precious.

Colin Westerbeck