Photographer Gina Soden makes her mark at the Groucho ClubBy Caroline Cook
March 30, 2012
As a gaggle of young British actors sip rich black coffee in one of London’s most exclusive private members clubs, on the wall behind them hangs the work of a Wokingham based photographer.
With the likes of Sienna Miller, Lily Allen and Liam Gallagher among its members, The Groucho Club is the most highly sought-after private hang-out in London.
And photographer Gina Soden has managed to get her foot in the door – and her photos on the wall.
The 26-year-old Finchampstead photographer has been capturing people and scenes since she was 13 and embarked on a professional photography career five years ago by assisting at weddings and working on cruise ships.
But it was a meeting with the head of contemporary arts at The Fine Arts Society which led to a nervous lunch at the club based in Soho.
“I met Kate Bryan from The Fine Arts Society and she suggested I take my work into The Groucho and meet Rob and Nick Carter, who are the curators there and also fantastic artists themselves,” says Gina.
“I met them, and whilst very nervous, showed them my work on my laptop over a gin and tonic at lunch.
“They chose one image to be displayed and then they contacted me asking if they could exhibit a second image next to it.”
One of the photographs chosen for the club was taken in West Park Asylum in Epsom, a building which used to house 2,000 patients but which is now being turned into flats. With its crumbling walls and peeling paintwork the image is haunting, but Gina uses her lens to capture the lightness and colours behind the dark history.
“In recent years I have begun to develop a fine art career in the field of urban exploring,” explains Gina.
“I have photographed a large range of sites, breathing life into the neglected and finding beauty in decay.”
The other photo, chosen to hang in the club where bright young things from the arts, publishing, music and film chose to spend their spare time, was taken in Antwerp less than a month ago.
“The image was taken in a building that was originally constructed in the early 1500s,” says Gina. “It was the first of its kind in the entire world.
“The whole complex burnt down in 1858 and this is the remodelled 19th century building – very neo-gothic in its character.”
With dusty postcards, abandoned suitcases and cobweb-covered Victorian prams, Gina’s work captures a forgotten world, leaving those looking at her paintings wondering about the story left behind by the objects.
“I photograph these empty, decayed, ruined buildings with a huge passion and I am so pleased my work is now in this club,” says Gina, who was also awarded first place in the European Hitachi Driven Creativity competition last year.
The photographer, who runs her own wedding and portrait business, is also set to host an exhibition at the club – named after Groucho Marx who said he would not wish to join any club that would have him as a member – later this year.
Although the eyes of the famous and trendy may be casting over her work in Soho, Gina is also keen to bring her work home to Wokingham and is eager for anyone interested in her artwork to get in touch.
While Groucho Marx may not have wanted to be a member of the hottest club in London, the creative industry’s high fliers are eager to get inside.
And if they finally get their hands on the golden key to the door they will be sitting on plush sofas sipping cocktails beneath the captivating work of Wokingham’s own rising star.
- To see more of Gina’s work visit www.ginasoden.co.uk