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Your lens has no shutter

about 1475The architects of the Observatory were inspired by “the geometric works of American artist Sol LeWitt and Antonello da Messina’s painting ‘St Jerome in His Study’. I’ve been looking at the latter to see if I can discover why working here isn’t as straight forward as you might first think. There were not many people around today, so a chance to get on in peace, but still the feeling of being looked in upon was there. What strikes you when reflecting upon Messina’ painting is how everything forces your eye onto St Jerome. If this was cinema then this scene would be one long zoom in. However, if you remove him, the focus shifts to the architecture: look at the way those slender columns on the right recede; how you can see through the back into the landscape behind; and the proscenium arch in the front framing it all, with two members of the audience already in place, peacock and guinea fowl (?). The picture goes further: the wall of St Jerome’s wooden study has been striped away to reveal the inner workings. The whole scene is as if viewed through a lens that has no shutter. And the observer, you, are here, behind the camera. So this is where I am working, in St Jerome’s study, the complete version of which you can find in the National Gallery.

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