Exhibition Review: Greens of Greenwich (Linear House, London)

Rating: ****

It’s not easy being green – and Greenwich is greener than most. But despite its fame for royal parks, regency extravagance and the home of longitude, Greenwich is still a town like many others in London; quiet and modest.

Photographer Tom Dingley had gone around photographing parts of Greenwich with a simple mission to capture the various shades of the colour green that lurk in niches or maraud scenes. The collection – consisting of 14 large prints and several collages of smaller photos – brings together an anthology of landscapes showcasing the silent lives of the great and the green.

Dingley’s style has a great eye for depth and angle. But what really marks this collection is a subversive playfulness, often daubed with a little melancholy. It’s this humour and observation across various degrees of greenness that keeps you coming back to each work. Every time you see a little bit more, and realise a deeper story and meaning to what would otherwise seem just like an ordinary arty photo. One with particular charm is the dented road sign of the road on which the gallery sits, with green mould gathering on the fence behind. Also there’s the boarded up ice cream shop in green, sitting dilapidated next to a stately green door to a town house.

Being a local makes it an even more interesting visit. As Dingley extrapolates and re-contextualises sites around Greenwich, it causes people to look at their familiarity in a different light, and sometimes make oddly obvious realisations that they had not done so before. We overheard one patron remark, ‘I’ve known that place for years. But I never really thought of it as being the colour green, despite the fact it always has been!’

However, the weakness of the works is that they work too well as an exhibition rather than individual photos. As alluring as each picture is, the charm is mostly in the  juxtapositions and comparisons across the entire body of work. It seems a shame that the works are being sold individually. But while it’s still there in its entirety, it’s well worth a detour for any visitors – and a surprising and eye-opening outing for seasoned Londoners.

Greens of Greenwich is on display at Linear House, London, SE10 8RS, until 25 March 2012. Entrance is free. Follow Tom Dingley on Twitter @TomDingleyPhoto.

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