THERE is photography with a curious twist at a new Oxfordshire art gallery this weekend, which joining celebrations for a festival of camerawork.

Zuleika Gallery in Woodstock is launching the show of pictures by Dutch photographer Femke Dekkers tomorrow. The exhibition, Open Space is the inaugural exhibition of contemporary photography in the Park Street space and features photography which has been compared to optical illusion.

It is part of the Photo Oxford festival, which has the theme of Women and Photography.

Banbury Cake:

The show, curated by Charlbury’s Anstice Oakeshott, draws on nearly a decade of work, bringing together photography, painting and sculpture to explore what the gallery calls “the limits of human vision and comprehension”.

Dekkers uses the camera as a tool to play games with our powers of perception. Treating her studio as a stage set, she explores the tension between static architecture and illusions of painterly perspective. Building up layers and shapes using paint, paper, wood and tape her work gradually materialises on the studio walls in a fluid process evolving without sketchbooks or planning.

Banbury Cake:

Moving back and forth between her camera and the physical space, she adds and takes away elements from the set, building up to the moment when the ‘click’ of her camera translates the set into film – creating the illusion of a 2D surface.

“I feel more like a painter or sculptor than a photographer,” says Femke, who uses old-style film cameras, as she focusses on colour, form and scale.

“I judge all actions via the lens,” she adds. “I move constantly between the set and the camera, between action and result.

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“After the ‘click’ of the camera the process of searching, trying out and correcting, continues. That’s why I chose to name some of my photos ‘stages’. It refers to the stages of the process, but also of the stage set that I create in front of my camera.

“For me this process is very close to painting. Here in my studio it gets more and more painterly every year.”

She goes on: “For me the title Open Space refers to my studio space where anything can happen. I never have an exact plan of what I’m going to do or make, everything is always open. From the start, but also during the process.

“Every action I judge via the lens, because the single eyed lens sees the sets that I create in my studio very differently to me looking with both eyes into this same space.

“I’m fascinated with how the camera looks in contrast with how I look. There is something about looking around outside my studio that I want to capture in my studio.

“Ways of seeing. For example, when I’m travelling on the train or when I’m on the bike, I see compositions come and go, fall together and fall apart again, just from the random things we pass by in everyday life.”

Anstice says: “When I discovered the theme for this year’s Photo Oxford Festival was ‘Women and Photography, Ways of Seeing and Being Seen’ I thought immediately of Femke. Her work has rarely been exposed in the UK and what better opportunity than this to bring her work to Oxfordshire?

“The exploration of disparate ways of seeing; of how the eye, brain and camera differently interpret space is fundamental to Femke’s unique artistic practice.

“While Femke’s artistic practice is founded in fabricating 3D space, she has trained her eye to view her sculptural compositions in 2D – in a truly individual way of seeing.

“It is rare to find a contemporary photographer who pushes the boundaries of the medium, offering a new & different experience to the audience, Femke Dekkers certainly achieves this.”

  • Zuleika Gallery is at 6 Park Street, Woodstock. Call 01993 3570777 or email info@zuleikagallery.com. See zuleikagallery.com
  • The gallery is open daily, observing current regulations around social distancing – viewing appointments can be booked online through the gallery’s website.