With its intricate steelwork, suspended in mid-air, it could be a Constructivist fantasy from the V&A’s current Modernism show, but it’s for real. Pictured above is part of the Arecibo Space Telescope in the jungles of Puerto Rico, which Dan Holdsworth has photographed for his exhibition at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, entitled At the Edge of Space. Captured in long exposures at different times of day, the telescope recurs in one of three series of images, the others devoted to the European Space Agency spaceport in French Guiana (from where Ariane rockets are launched) and the spectacular Northern Lights, glowing green above the snowbound landscapes of Iceland and Norway.
Whether singly or en masse, Holdsworth’s large colour prints are striking. Though they focus partly on human constructions ‘at the edge of space’, what they mostly convey is awe in the face of natural phenomena and cosmic distances.
In this, Holdsworth’s sensibility is not so different from that of the Romantics a couple of centuries ago - he’s the Caspar David Friedrich of our high-tech age. The show continues until 7 January 2007 and there are several related events, among them a panel discussion with architect Paul Shepheard as a contributor ( www. nmm. ac. uk/newvisions). A rewarding monograph on Holdsworth was published last year (Steidl, 19.99), which includes an earlier series of photos he took of Bluewater shopping centre. Ablaze with light beneath a lurid sky, it’s straight out of one of J G Ballard’s dystopian fictions.
Bluewater is hardly the most auspicious omen for the future development of the Thames Gateway, which is the subject of Turning the Tide - the latest New London Architecture exhibition at the Building Centre, 26 Store Street, London WC1, until 2 September. ‘It will show who’s involved, what they are doing and where, as well as what they ought to be doing, ’ it explains ( www. newlondonarchitecture. org).
At 8.30am each Wednesday during the exhibition’s run, there will be a talk at the Building Centre featuring key players in the Gateway, including Terry Farrell (12 July), the GLA’s David Lunts (16 August), and chief executive of the Thames Gateway London Partnership, Eric Sorensen (30 August).