Croydon Perspectives – Glenn Foster Photography Exhibition at Matthews Yard

By - Friday 4th July, 2014

Tom Winter gets a sneak peek of Glenn Foster’s photography exhibition that opens today in Matthew’s Yard and learns a few things about photography

Photo author’s own.

Walking into Matthews Yard on a sunny Friday evening having strolled through Croydon I was told I would know who Glenn Foster was by his comfortable location on the sofas and the presence of his dog, and luckily that is where I found him. Big in build but bigger still in heart, Billy the dog introduces himself to me with friendly inquisitiveness but then quickly returns to his position on the floor quietly observing the regular patrons of Matthew’s Yard.

Fully expecting Glenn to be dressed to the nines in SLRs and telescopic lenses inscribed with unpronounceable manufacturers’ names, I was pleasantly surprised to find him incredibly down to earth. We quickly got stuck into conversation regarding his upcoming exhibition as well as the wider world of photography in general. Glenn explains that his first feelings for a calling to photography came in the aftermath of a visit to a National Geographic photography exhibition and he soon after signed up to countless amateur photography courses, beginning what would ultimately become less of a hobby and more of a personal artistic development.

Glenn paints a picture of funny looks and security guard confrontations

Roughly five years on, Glenn now juggles his photographic adventures alongside a full-time job. Noticing the strong bond between Glenn and Billy, I ask whether Billy accompanies Glenn on most of his photographic adventures, to which Glenn replies, “He must be the most photographed dog in the world. He actually appears in the ‘Croydon Perspectives’ photographic collage that will be displayed at the exhibition in the lift shaft area”. This takes our conversation on a tangent towards photographing around urban environments, and as a nearly-qualified architect I am interested to hear about Glenn’s experiences whilst capturing the forms of buildings, especially the many he has taken that fuse together to help create the ‘Croydon Perspectives’ piece. Even with access to cameras being almost on the same level as access to water and food in this country, Glenn paints a picture of funny looks and security guard confrontations that is all too common in our modern society.

The first of the prints was a striking image of the Croydon Almshouses looking towards George Street

Taking a break from the sofas, Glenn, with Billy in tow, guided me towards the lift shaft at the rear of Matthew’s Yard where he had some of his prints temporarily stored for us to look over. The first of the prints was a striking image of the Croydon Almshouses looking towards George Street, and with an inspiring sunset beyond and the old buildings juxtaposed to the modern tram passing by this print set the precedent for the images to come.

What followed, in addition to the photographs depicting Croydon, were photographs on many different subject matters, from the colourful kinetic motor racing shots to the serene wide-angle coastal landscape expanses, and Glenn reinforces the fact that although he has a particular soft-spot for landscapes, he enjoys the constant challenges of photographing a number of different subject matters.

Nevertheless a landscape shot of the vast lavender fields located near Oaks Park towards the town of Banstead stole the show. The breathtaking richness of the lavender in the foreground raking off in uniform columns towards a tree, slightly off-centre, like a soldier standing guard over the field, is finished off with a crown of sunset, whose gradient colour bursting through the top of the clouds reaches across the lavender below on a perpendicular, creating a remarkable scene that reminds us all of the beauty that nature maintains even in the close confines of a South London suburb. Glenn explains to me the set-up he used and the approximately four hours worth of patience required to take the lavender fields shot, stating humbly that, “A lot of it is just location and opportunity”, but needless to say a photograph of such beauty reveals more than this. It paints the deep love and commitment Glenn has to his photography.

I am glad to meet a young photographer willing to capture all kinds of subject matter

I learn that the exhibition is to have an area dedicated to images depicting various elements of Croydon’s life and mass, but the remainder of the space will be used to display some of the variety of images that I have been introduced to so far, and I am glad to meet a young photographer willing to capture all kinds of subject matter rather than just a particular theme. It is this element of variety that Glenn brings with his work that gives the viewer the opportunity to translate his work, providing them with a wide pallet of subject matter to judge colour, contrast, shadow and perspective, to begin to understand what it is about photography that they really enjoy.

After viewing the black plywood banding Glenn has neatly erected for the display of his work, we finish the meeting rather ironically with myself taking a photograph of Glenn and some of his mounted prints, with Billy dependably at his side. Leaving Matthew’s Yard with photography and Glenn’s work on my mind, marrying together with the lively crowd that makes up Croydon, I began to appreciate what Glenn had said in passing earlier in the evening, that “sometimes photography can capture the world in a way real life cannot”.

Glenn Foster Photography Exhibition can be seen in Matthew’s Yard from July 4th to August 4th, with a private viewing being held on 12th July from 5pm – 7pm. For more images and contact information visit Glenn’s Flickr page.

Tom Winter

Tom Winter

Practicing Architectural Assistant and fabricator of Dirty Croydon Love architecture and urban-design blog, having worked for Fantastic Norway Architekten in Oslo over the summer of 2011 and now recently graduated with a postgraduate in Architecture at London South Bank University. Stimulated in and intoxicated with South London with a keen interest in the potential of Resourceful Design and Urban Social Spaces that can be created through provocative yet sensitive contemporary urban architecture, with a strong belief that architecture can further enhance Croydon’s complex urban community. Also a passionate cricket player, dedicated book reader and enthusiastic CD music collector.

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  • Anne Giles

    Wow! I shall definitely come and have a look at those pictures.

    • Stephen Giles

      So will I!

  • Andrew Dickinson

    Well done Glenn. Will be coming to check it out tomorrow.