An idea began to bounce around BBG headquarters as we planned the release of our latest issue “The Truth About Boys”. We didn’t want to have a run of the mill magazine launch party, we wanted to bring you more. We wanted more. And that meant more boys, more clothes and more pictures from our talented female photographers. We decided to have our first photography exhibition "Boys At Home"!
As most of you know, the lead up to London Collections: Men can be manic, this we wouldn’t have any other way; but as the tickets began to arrive and our schedules filled up, we realised there was no better time to bring you a little oasis of calm, a bubble of BBG for you to soak up at your leisure in-between the truly stunning shows that was this year's LCM SS15.
It all began with “Boys In Their Bedrooms”, a unique feature from our latest print edition where we challenged female photographers to capture a boy in their most personal environment, a space that showed us something about who ‘the boy’ was in a simple but beautiful way. And nothing is more personal than the bedroom. It all made sense, as since issue 2, capturing our models in their home environment, has been part of all our issues. It's a thing we have become quite passionate about, and has become an important part of our storytelling. With this in mind, and the need to start sharing this story and our documentations on a bigger scale, there it was - the start of our exhibition mission.
We set off on our mission knowing only what we wanted to give you (beautiful images) and began to hunt for a suitable venue. Luckily we didn’t have to travel too far, as we were welcomed in to the spectacular Edwardian The Library Space on Battersea Park Road. We instantly fell in love with the solid wood panelling, high ceiling and those stunning windows. The Library Space envelops you, wraps itself around you, and we knew this was our venue. We couldn’t have asked for a more stunning place to hang the equally stunning pictures of our artists.
But the pictures? With our photographers from all over the place, we couldn’t just ask them to pop by BBG headquarters and drop them off. Here came our next challenge, getting the images. This we could not have done without the help of Metro Imaging who shared and supported our vision and helped us in bringing those beautiful images out of the magazine and into the frame. At Metro we met Tony, Tony who we will always love. If it wasn’t for him, there would be no “Boys At Home”, he was there when we needed him, and we hope we are as much his favourite person as he is ours.
With the London Collections approaching so began the hanging of “Boys At Home”. We wanted a different experience, no hushed, whispered voices. No stuffy, uninviting gallery. No. This was a Boys by Girls exhibition. We wanted to bring the living room to the gallery. For you to sit back and relax with soulful tunes and a comfy sofa to lounge in as you absorbed the photographs that hung around you, and we offered you fresh orange juice and doughnuts. And hang they did, suspended from copper poles which were carried to The Library Space by our wonderful team, by train and foot, (we’ll let them tell you about the looks of disbelief by the train instructor and B&Q employee alike) - to the unique suspension wall, which hung the images from different distances and levels, so that from every way you looked you discovered something new. There were dark wooden wall panels and stunning church like glass stained windows, all working together to give the exhibition depth and a unique environment.
At the heart of “Boys At Home” was the continued Boys by Girls exploration and documentation of the contemporary young man of today - who he is, how he lives and what he is passionate about. We invited our female artists to share what they had discovered while photographing their models, from New York to London to Norway. The exhibition revealed how the boys presented themselves to the world within their own private space, how this expression was revealed on bare walls, to art work hidden under their bed or the teddy bear they were given as a child that they can’t quite throw away.
Mixing in the photography of Toyin Ibidapo, for us one of the legends in the world of male portraiture photography and a continuous inspiration, saw a unique combination of works from ten years ago, to how our photographers are capturing boys today. This became an interesting talking point to exhibition visitors, as they watched the tears of one of Toyin's boys and looked at the peaceful state of mind most of the boys had been captured in. Although the photography and approach was different between artists, the overall capture was the same - boys in their personal world and their intimate expressions.
As we say farewell to LCM so we must also say goodbye to “Boys At Home”. It was wonderful to see the work of our photographers, presented in such a unique venue like The Library Space. As we sat on the sofa pretending we were in our very own living room, seeing some of our favourite pieces from issue 6 hanging next to exclusive never before seen images - it was amazing to see, to rediscover and to experience. We cannot thank you all enough for coming by and experiencing this with us.
For those of you who couldn't make it we share with you these images, which we know you'll get stuck into and lost in, exploring each story, the raw truthfulness and the beauty just as much as we did. Some of the images are in issue 6, which is still in shops or can be ordered internationally online.
We can’t wait to see you at the next one, we have so many more hidden gems waiting to be discovered by you.
A special thanks to: all of our photographers Cecilie Harris, Georgie Wileman, Alina Negoita, Amber Grace Dixon, Kate Elliott, Paola Vivas, Sam Copeland and Sara Gilmer who contributed to "Boys At Home", the legend that is Toyin Ibidapo, Emma at The Library Space and to Kate, Katie and Tony at Metro Imaging. We love you all.
Words by Cat Wilding.
Images by Emma De Clercq at The Library Space and Cat Wilding at Boys by Girls.