ONE common factor linking the artists in Salisbury Arts Centre’s show Lost is that they are all older, maybe wiser, than when they made their exhibits.

The time that has since passed, anything from 15 to 50 years, is certainly lost forever.

The idea, which originated with curator Michele Whiting was to bring to light art that had either been forgotten, mislaid or simply stowed away in the attic.

Any art made before 2000 was eligible, with the story behind the work seen as the most important factor, resulting in a wide mix of media and styles.

It’s a thought-provoking show.

I liked the idea so much I contributed a photograph taken in London Docklands before redevelopment in 1980.

It was never printed so nobody else ever saw the picture.

It was just a casual snap, to be honest, but luckily photography has a quality opposite to obsolescence: the older they get, the more interesting they become.

Having that piece of history also inspired me to revisit the Isle of Dogs and take new pictures.

The most courageous exhibitor must be David O’Connor, today a Wiltshire-based commercial landscape artist and sculptor.

In 1979, however, he was at the outer edge of the avant garde, creating performance art at Sunderland Art School.

He treated the opening night audience to a recreation of one of those performances, conceived by a 20-year-old for a young man’s physique.

It demanded a lot of energy and he did pretty well.

Looking in my own ‘attic’ (files of tens of thousands of negatives and transparencies) I was struck by the changes in the way the world has been depicted over time.

I looked at pictures taken in the 1990s. They were still too familiar, insufficiently ‘other’.

But every image from before 1982 did seem to belong to quite a different age; in fact some images from the late 1970s look like life in the 50s.

By 1988 the pictures already show a world that looked pretty much as it does today.

This isn’t a technical thing; professional film was already excellent in the mid-1970s. It’s as if a new veneer had been applied.

Political changes after 1979 ran quite deep, of course, but I was surprised to think these alone could have such a visual or aesthetic impact.

My conclusion is that computer technology brought fundamental changes to design, to society and to the way we see ourselves.

Martin Urmson

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