This image is from a continuing large project about capturing subjective impressions of the peripheries of city centres. It is one of a group taken over a period of time in a new flagship multi-purpose public square, Brindleyplace, Birmingham (Central England).
Barbara Downs is interested in the square’s changing quality. This can seem almost imaginary because of the way in which light subtly changes the environment at different moments. The buildings are real, but the atmosphere is fluid.
For fleeting moments the place represents a feeling, an idea - it is a prophecy of what it might be.
The Venice Series demonstrates Barbara Downs’ working process. She assembles photographs intuitively as a visual notebook, not bounded by accepted formalities, but using experiment and play. In recent works, groups of photographs have become more significant than individual ones.
The Venice images are not panoramas of public places, but narrow views, closely-cropped, to give a personal and private response to this iconic city.
There are two contrary aspects to the work on Venice. Firstly, there are images informed by her ongoing affections for the sea and its mirror-like atmospheric light.
And secondly there are those reflecting the secret, inward-looking feeling of the interior space, in which she explores something elusive and mysterious about the city, something glimpsed through frames, hidden, an outsider’s view.
Work on Changing Spaces 2002-3 attempted to capture the metamorphosis of the Bull Ring development, Birmingham, and the physical dynamic of living in a city in change.