There’s a huge building on London’s very salubrious Piccadilly which used to be the home of the Royal Institute for Painters in Water Colors. I know this because the words “The Royal Institute for Painters in Water Colors” are written in large stone letters across the top of the building. People sometimes say of something they’re not quite sure about: it’s not set in stone. The Painters in Water Colors were obviously quite sure of themselves when they moved in and so they decided, yes, let’s set the name in stone. Or perhaps their decision was motivated more by their determination to be considered a serious art form. The Royal Academy, just across the road, had refused to admit water color paintings to their exhibitions. I love the idea that the Painters in Water Colors were giving a very firm middle finger to their snooty neighbors quite literally across the road when they emblazoned their name across the top of their building.
I used to say that taking photos with the iPhone was like painting with water colors when people asked whether I agreed with mixing big-camera photos with iPhone photos. You wouldn’t go along to a watercolors evening class and do an oil painting, would you? I used to say, to explain how I thought it was a good idea to keep the sub-genres separate. And like the water color painters, mobile photographers sometimes find it difficult to be taken seriously by their big-camera counterparts. The Photographers’ Gallery is running a week-long workshop called “Photography Now” but it includes no reference to mobile photography, despite the fact that more photos on Flickr are taken with mobile devices than any other camera.
So we feel ya, water colorists. I wonder if the Royal Institute for iPhoneographers will ever have a building on Piccadilly with its name set in stone.
‘Giving a big middle finger to the RA across the road’ – ©Richard Gray