Chapter 1: Grid Forty Five

by Gareth Strange on 16 April 2017
Grid Forty Five is a photographic exploration of architecture and grids.

I’ve always admired architecture—there’s something about building design that I find really intriguing. I’ve taken photographs of some of the world’s most famous and beautiful buildings, but quite often I find beauty in old, more run down buildings. It’s something about the roughness and the textures that I find aesthetically interesting.

Recently, I was sat outside the Hadyn Ellis Building, which is part of Cardiff University. It’s a modern building with a bold exterior – thick, horizontal metal lines half covering the glass facade exposing the grand atrium. Without even thinking, I took a photograph of the building and naturally took it into VSCO to start editing. After playing with the filters and contrast, I started rotating the image—there was something very striking about it when it was on a 45º angle. This is when I started to experiment. This is when Grid Forty Five began.

I saved out a few versions of the same photo from VSCO to start playing with the photos within a grid using Instagram’s app, Layout. It didn’t take long until I was hooked, moving and swapping images within the grid started to give completely different shapes and patterns.

My favourite layout was when each image was rotated to a different orientation—this allowed the thick, horizontal lines of the Hadyn Ellis Building to join each point together to create a striking, diamond shape.

At this point, I had saved out many different images from VSCO and Layout. When I saw the overview of my photos in the Photos app, all the different shapes and images coming together started to make a random and dynamic pattern. I wanted to make more using the same process, but with different buildings.


For the next week, I don’t think I walked past a building without taking a photo on a 45º angle. Cinemas, hotels, terrace houses, new buildings, old buildings—it really didn’t matter. I couldn’t stop myself. Each time I brought the four images together to create a diamond, I was surprised and fascinated with the result. Once, I had about half-a-dozen, I created the Grid Forty Five Instagram account and started sharing these visual experiments.

The combinations and unique compositions that can be made are endless. I’ve been playing and experimenting with patterns and inverting colours. I want the Instagram account to remain coherent, but always remain experimental and to take it in new directions. Playing with patterns has been good fun and something I’m currently exploring.

By simply inverting the high contrast black and white images, you get a completely different look and feel. Depending on the kind of photograph, you can also get bold, clean shapes or decorative and textured surfaces. With a very similar process, changing only one component gives you a completely different result.

Playing with colour is something I haven’t explored too much just yet. I like how diverse yet uniform the collection looks at the moment. Introducing different colour palettes will completely break that consistency—which is why it’s definitely worth playing with.

At John&Jane, it’s in our nature to be experimental—always eager to learn and try new techniques. Grid Forty Five is a good example of doing something we enjoy with no real objective. Subjectively, I find it visually interesting and who knows what it might inspire or turn into in the future.

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