‘To walk in Rome is to walk among what Goethe called familiar objects in an unfamiliar world,’ writes the artist John Riddy of the series of photographs he took in the Italian capital in 1999.

We recognise the landmarks from numerous reproductions in paintings and photographs, but what do they really mean for us today? Riddy’s poetic pictures of the city’s sights demand that we slow down and consider them afresh. In Rome (Colosseum) he shows the remains of the great amphitheatre from an unexpected angle, its antique bulk appearing less formidable behind the delicate forms of winter trees. There are no signs of modern urban life and we are able to contemplate the building as a peaceful ruin. In a city of noise and activity, Riddy says he was able to discover ‘moments of silence and spaces that are still’. As well as joining Southampton City Art Gallery’s impressive collection of contemporary art, Riddy’s picture will now become a thought-provoking companion piece for The Coliseum at Rome by Moonlight (1859), a painting by the Southampton-born artist Frederick Lee Bridell (1830-63), which is a favourite among many of the gallery’s visitors.


Frith Street Gallery and the artist.

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