Picture / Tim Lambourne.

Tim Lambourne's Love Letter to Tokyo

Tim Lambourne’s first solo exhibition is blooming beautiful

A new exhibition at the All Press Studio gallery entitled Tokyo Bloom will open next week, with each image shot on old Japanese Mamiya 1967 medium format film camera. “Flashes of beauty and colour that even on a deserted street reminded you that you weren't alone, that someone had taken the time, and the care, to grow that plant and tend to it. It was incredibly comforting and warm and it was the first time in my life I had ever actually appreciated flowers” explains burgeoning photographer Tim Lambourne of his first solo exhibition.

Tell us about the exhibition and why this is special to you?
It's my reaction to living in a city that is at once a mind blowing wonderland and one of the most crushing and isolating urban environments in the world. It's also my first solo exhibition so naturally I am shitting bricks. 

The contrast between the urban landscape and nature is an interesting one. What were some of the things you enjoyed capturing about this contrast?
Because there is so little crime in Japan, its people can have faith that their plants, hedges and public gardens will be respected. It allows flowers and urban flora to proliferate, which provides flashes of beauty and colour amongst a sometimes grey, often homogenous environment and creates such a striking contrast. It was really fun trying to capture that feeling of walking home from work, or a nightclub or whatever and being tired, strung out, confused, and seeing a beautiful cream magnolia up against a brick wall with no one around in one of the most densely populated cities.

I also saw that contrast in a lot of Tokyo residents around me: dressed impeccably, straight faced and straight laced, but when you broke through that they were so passionate, crazy, full of emotion and colour. The exhibition is a bit of a love letter to Tokyo.

What do you hope people will get out of visiting the exhibition?
Despite being drawn to the subject matter and the idea of capturing this side of Tokyo, I was, and still am, very wary of shooting flowers. They must be one of the most photographed objects in history, and for good reason: they are objectively beautiful and nice to look at, but I always felt like I was walking a tightrope with interesting photography on one side and a schmaltzy hallmark Christmas card on the other. I tried to make the photos as interesting as possible via tone and mood or through more technical photography methods. So, if people find the photos interesting, or if they can showcase a side of Tokyo people perhaps hadn't thought of, that would be awesome.

What inspired you to do this?
My friend Joe came to visit me about three months into living in Tokyo and after a couple days asked me if I got lonely here. At the time I was living in Shinjuku in a shoebox room as wide as my wingspan with a portable gas cooker as a kitchen. As soon as he asked me that question I knew instantly that was one of the strange new feelings I hadn't been able to put my finger on. Tokyo is so isolating. A lot of people wake up, spend hours on the subway on their way to work without talking or making eye contact, they work long days and nights at tough, thankless jobs, then make the same journey home. Even if you're not in this cycle, it creeps through into your life as well, and it is, I keep saying isolating a lot but it's really the best word to describe it.

I think this series caught my imagination because I was living it. Lonely, lost, overwhelmed and ultimately in love with the city and the people. 

  • Tokyo Bloom by Tim Lambourne, December 15-22 at All Press Studio, 8 Drake St, Auckland. Editions of five will be available for sale, and are framed A0 format for $2500 each.
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