Jakarta Events: Martin Westlake Photo Exhibit

  • Phu Quoc Island's Bai Sao beach in Vietnam, by Martin Westlake.

    Phu Quoc Island's Bai Sao beach in Vietnam, by Martin Westlake.

Click image to view full size

Above: A windy day on Phu Quoc Island’s palm-fringed Bai Sao beach, in Vietnam.

An upcoming photo exhibition in Jakarta presents a portfolio of evocative Asian images

Since 1991, British photographer Martin Westlake, a long-standing contributor to the pages of DestinAsian, has traveled throughout Asia on magazine assignments and personal projects. To celebrate 20 years of his work in the region, Jakarta’s Dia.lo.gue Artspace is hosting a retrospective exhibition of his images entitled “Eastward: Photographs 1991–2011” (Oct. 20–Nov. 20; Jl. Kemang Selatan 99A; 62-21/719-9671; dialogue-artspace.com).

From Beijing’s Forbidden City to the volcanic terrain of Westlake’s home base of Java, the selected photographs document people and places in a part of the world that has changed rapidly over the last two decades. Rendered in muted, painterly tones, many of the pictures have a strong hint of nostalgia to them—a yearning for an Asia that is fast disappearing, and a longing for a return to the photographic techniques of the past. The use of black-and-white Polaroid film and lith-printing darkroom processes is reminiscent of an earlier era of image-making, recalling the craft and aesthetic of the Victorian pioneers of travel photography.

Similar to those 19th-century lensmen, Westlake opted to carry a large-format plate camera on most of his journeys. The ungainly device, more suited to the studio than the field, calls for a slow and meticulous approach to image-making. “This style of shooting gives me more time to observe and to get to know the people I photograph; I’m not just snapping away,” Westlake says. “It also gives my subjects a chance to participate more in the photography process itself.”

Surprisingly in today’s digital era, all of the photographs on exhibition, including the most recent materials, have been shot on film, and have been unaltered in Photoshop. “Though I’ve used digital cameras more and more in recent years—it’s an inescapable evolution of the craft—I still prefer the look and feel of film,” Westlake adds. “Pixels have their place, but there’s nothing quite like an old-school print.” —David Tse

Originally appeared in the October/November 2011 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Eastern Promise”)

Share this Article

Related Posts

August is the Jakarta Restaurant You Need to Visit

The laidback fine-diner reexamines Indonesian flavors and local produce from a global perspective.

“Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” Comes to Singapore

Opening this March at Resorts World Sentosa, the exhibition uses large-scale projections and VR for ...

Hot New Hotel: The St. Regis Jakarta

This ultra-luxe retreat opened its doors just the other week within a building once occupied by an o...

A Comprehensive Guide to Bali’s Desa Potato Head

Dreams of going zero waste and collaborations with world-class artists, designers, and musicians giv...

Checking In: Ayana Segara Bali

Serene guest quarters and two freeform pools await at the highest point of Jimbaran’s 90-hectare A...

Indonesian Flavors Take Center Stage at John Hardy Kitchen

Visitors to the brand’s Seminyak boutique and gallery can feast on a lip-smacking array of traditi...