Sue Steward Evening Standard
Shadows of Doubt, Darnley Road Gallery - review
Serendipity was at work with this small, very brief but intriguing exhibition built around the actual and possible East End landmarks of Alfred Hitchcock's childhood. News of the discovery in New Zealandof his silent film "The White Shadow," made in the Islington Studios in 1923, coincided with the opening night.
David George and Spencer Rowell share a fascination with Hitchcock's early years in East Londonand their impact on his films. They approaches differ but both draw on locations mentioned in biographies and by Hitchcock himself, and the links between the psycho-geography and the actual places where the greengrocer's son lived until he was 16.
David George takes the more literal approach, creating sinister, cinematic images around East London and the East Endat night. Illuminated only by the city's sodium-yellow, they suggest scenes from the films - some more accurately than others.
At Wanstead Flats Easter Fair - which the boy must surely have visited - George shot from across the fields, leaving the Fair silhouetted against the yellow sky, outlining caravans and rides. The superbly appropriate stencilled letters shout "THE SCREAMER" from the horizon. At Limehouse Steps, reference to The 39 Steps are obvious. Here, he waits for the tide to ebb and standing on pebbles, focusses on the threatening stone walls and steps where pirates were drowned and corpses slung. Out near Epping Forest, Hitchock's father William drove his son on his fruit and veg cart. David George stands behind a burger van, lighting the scene with passing car headlights which add tension - and ensure the van's CCTV camera is in view.
These mergers of real life and fantasy rely on the suggestion that the places were embedded in Hitchcock's memory and his films. Spencer Rowell's interest lies in the interior, psychoanalytical interpretations of the director's life, particularly the impact of his Catholic upbringing on his work. His triptych of large, dream-like scenes are located in Hitchcock's school chapel at St. Ignatius's College, Stamford Hill, and inside the local family church. Rowell immerses himself inside the scene, seated on a chair, back to the camera and over illuminated to ghostliness in the claustrophobic bell tower. Here, the lighting is perfectly noir-ish without need for black and white film, and light beams through shuttered windows and the open door. His final touch - laying shredded blown-up prints of the scenes over the scenes - adds another layer of mystery and interpretation.
"Shadows of Doubt" (from the film "Shadow of A Doubt") applies to the doubt surrounding the chosen locations but crucially, to the extent to which they feature in Hitchock's films and the doubt in all of his mysteries. Similarly, in this exhibition. An expanded version in September, will be accompanied by films and talks around the subject. Follow the story in the photographers' Uncertain States publication.
Until August 12. 07771 784 931 uncertainstates.com