Night at the Movies
For her new series, Soo Burnell found the perfect cinema in her hometown of Edinburgh. The Scotsman Picture House is located downtown within the Scotsman Hotel, an impressive building dating back to the time of Edward VII. Guests are able to enjoy a stylish night at the movies in the heart of the Scottish capital. This space is also home to the artist’s latest series of works, which captures the ambience of the classic building and brings it to life.
Soo Burnell takes her audience on a romantic journey through time. Her Night at the Movies series captures the allure of cinema as well as the nostalgic charm reminiscent of films by iconic director Wes Anderson. To achieve this aesthetic, she blends classic interior design – that typical of old theaters – with simply dressed characters. The velvety red armchairs, elaborately decorated walls, and beautiful ceilings are reminiscent of a time when a trip to the cinema was an extraordinary, almost festive affair; A time when motion pictures were not an ordinary occurrence, but rather a glamorous show. The figures dressed in soft gray complement the environment, whose uniqueness is only fully realized through their presence. Through the stillness of the figures, the intensity commonly felt in a cinema auditorium - generated by film and audience alike – is transformed into a moment of pause. Consequently, the elegant interiors fully envelop the viewer.
Growing up among the historic beauty of Edinburgh, Soo Burnell was always fascinated by its majestic architecture. In particular, she fell in love with the Victorian swimming pools of her childhood. There, she found her unique style as a photo artist and developed her own aesthetic. Since the opening of her first Poolside exhibition in 2018, Burnell has captured the inside of swimming halls all across Europe, accentuating their eye-catching geometry, dramatic proportions, and dreamy color palettes. Her focus is on meticulous composition that incorporates swimmers to provide a sense of scale. The effect is minimal and reserved, yet dynamic in its proportions and details. Burnell’s work offers a hypnotic and nostalgic look at these old places, giving them a fresh, new look.
With inspiration from many art forms, architecture, painting, film, and fashion, Burnell’s stylized works have drawn comparisons to a Wes Anderson film. To achieve this style, she uses muted, pastel hues to capture the pools’ architectural highlights. “I wanted to photograph Edinburgh’s swimming baths to show the beauty of the architecture while minimizing all of the modern elements. I love the geometry of the tiles, the lines on the bottom of the pool, and the typography including the ‘Deep End’ signs. Since my first Poolside exhibition, I have traveled to London, Paris, Manchester and Glasgow to add to my collection. I have been really inspired by the idea of having a slightly quirky Wes Anderson feel to them, especially with the pastel color palette, and with the swimmers adding both a human element to each scene along with a dreamlike quality. We are so lucky to have these beautiful pools still in use in our city and maybe the photographs will remind people how lovely they are.”