Close Up

8 January 2018: Guy Sherwin: Seven Films about Place


"This programme came about partly by chance. Last year I was invited by curator Federico Rossin, to present my films in a programme on landscape for a documentary festival in Lussas, France. Included were my new film Nijomasue, made in Japan, along with Connemara (Ireland) and the urban landscape Under the Freeway (USA). This prompted me to think about journeys I have made for a variety of reasons that have resulted in a film about a particular place. These films have arisen partly from the need to capture and hold onto the ephemeral qualities of a place that one is passing through and may not experience again; film is inherently very good at doing that. Those three films form the basis of this programme. I have combined them with other works that also centre on a specific place. In none of the films have I gone far out of my way to make the film, in one way or another they are all observations of the immediate location where I happened to be.

I also wanted to show a range of approaches to capturing those qualities of place: translation of the spatial depth of landscape into the flat rectangular image of the screen, structuring of time, image, sound. Thus the programme is partly a reflection on the forms of film - from the diaristic spontaneity of Road to Kayenta 1986, made on a road trip through Arizona, to the formal structures of Connemara, made on a visit to Ireland in 1980. It also reflects on film’s changing technologies, from Super 8 home movie to the now ubiquitous digital video. Overall the programme can be seen as a record in passing of those often seemingly random places on the globe that one finds oneself in - attempts to fix the present, knowing it will pass; a haphazard diary of places and of times." – Guy Sherwin

Guy Sherwin
1980 | 16 min | Colour | 16mm

“Made on a visit to Connemara in western Ireland. The film uses long fixed shots, and the sequencing of sound and image follows a formal structure. This is a shorter version of the original thirty minute film that was recently restored by Netherlands Filmmuseum – with thanks to Guy Edmonds and Simona Monizza.” – Guy Sherwin

Road to Kayenta
Guy Sherwin
1986 | 2 min | Colour | Super 8

“The first in a series of Super 8 films In Camera. The film was shot from a fixed position and composed in camera as an improvised response to incidents in the surrounding landscape. It builds sequences of short shots that weave time and space through each other. Made on the road in Arizona on a break from teaching. Thanks to Stacey Cole.” – Guy Sherwin

Salt Water
Guy Sherwin
1986/99 | 19 min | Colour | Digital

“A film that reflects on the fishtanks in the restaurants of Chinatown. Viewed from the street the fish appear superimposed on reflections of cars, buildings and people that pass by. Sound of the sea and ships’ foghorns from the bay. The film was converted to digital from the original Super 8 in 2017, thanks to LUX.” – Guy Sherwin

Filter Beds
Guy Sherwin
1990/98 | 9 min | B/W | 16mm

“Made at the site of the disused and overgrown Middlesex Filter Beds near my home in Hackney, London. Through the tangle of nature we catch glimpses of jet planes passing overhead. The film uses extreme shifts of focus in combination with visual dissolves to give an unbroken sequence of images. Shooting was made over Easter 1990 but the film wasn’t completed until 1998 – by which time I had acquired the necessary sound edit equipment. Initial film printing was made at the London Film-Makers Co-operative. Thanks to Barbara Meter.” – Guy Sherwin

Under the Freeway
Guy Sherwin
1995 | 12 min | Colour | 16mm

“On my second visit to San Francisco I found myself living practically beneath Freeway 101 that runs into the city from across the Bay. Under the freeway was a surprising degree of normal life, shops and restaurants, alongside people sleeping rough. As well as being a record of life on the streets outside my doorstep the film maps out a sequence of shots made within sight of each other, each with the freeway in view. Thanks to Rebecca Barten and David Sherman for use of their apartment. Note: I returned to San Francisco in 1998 to find the upper layer of the freeway demolished – due to fears of an earthquake. I recorded the same scenes and combined them with the original footage in the performance After the Freeway.” – Guy Sherwin

Views from Home
Guy Sherwin
1987/2003 | 11 min | Colour | Digital

“The film focuses on the views seen from rooms at the front and back of my flat in east London. It uses time-lapse photography to capture the changing sunlight entering and leaving the rooms. The film was completed in digital form in 2003 after I had familiarised myself with a computer editing programme. The virtuoso sax player Alan Wilkinson is heard on the soundtrack, rehearsing in the flat below.” – Guy Sherwin

Guy Sherwin
2016/17 | 31 min | Colour | Digital

“Made during an artist residency in the rural Nijomasue district of Fukuoka, south Japan. The film features the public information system used to alert residents of earthquakes and other possible dangers, as well as structuring the day of the local residents (and subsequently my film) through a series of chimes. Thanks to Studio Kura.” – Guy Sherwin

With thanks to Guy Sherwin and to Lynn Loo. More info: