Featured Photograd Caitlin Chescoe was commissioned by Brighton Photo Fringe this year to make a new body of work alongside their three emerging curators. We caught up with Caitlin recently to find out about her plans for the festival and then her experience of accepting a commission and being a part of this years event. Caitlin has since informed us of more about Kings House: In Transition and some of her influences when making the work. Continue reading to find out more...
As the offices of Brighton and Hove City Council since 1996, activity inside Kings House has shaped the face of the city. The imminent sale of the building and relocation of the Council offices has received much local press coverage, but less attention has been paid to the social histories of the site. Kings House: In Transition celebrates the people and stories that have shaped the life of the building by inviting members of staff to share their experiences. The exhibition features portraits and oral histories collected as the Council staff begin the process of relocating.
I really love the work of portrait and documentary photographers such as Alec Soth, Stephen Shore, Nick Ballon, Jo Metson Scott and Kalpesh Lathigra who all use photographic film. I use social media a lot to look at imagery and also take from my own experiences assisting to try to progress with my work.
Kings House: In Transition was my first commission out of university. I was sent the brief after Sarah French, one of the selected Fringe emerging curators, messaged me to ask if I was available to do it. I felt the brief really suited my work and so agreed to start the following Tuesday. I was told that I could do whatever I wanted, which was great! However, it all came down to how receptive the staff at Kings House were going to be towards us to what we would be able to photograph. We were fortunate enough to have full access to the building with the help of Cat Fletcher, re-use manager, and Martin Hedgecock, facility and building services manager. The curators assisted me in contacting members in the building, arranging meeting times and having brief interviews whilst I photographed the staff which I really enjoyed as I am used to working on my own in these types of situations but this meant I could concentrate on taking great photos. I decided to shoot film because I knew I would be happy with the end result and this could potentially be another project to add to my portfolio once we had finished.
The organisers of the Fringe had given the trainee curators, Sarah French, Jamila Prowse and Ruby Rees Sheridan, the original space in Kings House reception. Time was of the essence so we had to shoot and complete the edit in a very short period of time. We only had a few days to complete the edit and through assisting I was able to receive advice from a couple of photographers who I have worked with which was really helpful. We agreed on what materials would work within the budget and would be to a high photographic standard. Our space also changed from in the reception area to in the first floor hallway which meant we had more space for the installation.
Work and Outcomes
We decided to re-use chains that were from an adult day care centre in Brighton that had been funded by the council however the centre had to close because of cuts which Cat Fletcher found for us. We also decided to re-use bulldog clips from the building so this was all in keeping with the concept of re-using and recycling. We had to prepare the space a small amount by cleaning the windows and painting the walls to white as they were scuffed and decorated in a lovely lilac colour.
During the exhibition we put on a talk; Caitlin Chescoe and Cat Fletcher in conversation with Sarah French, Ruby Rees Sheridan and Jamila Prowse, which was us discussing our roles within the project and our journey towards the final exhibition. It was great to have a chance to debrief altogether about the project as we had not had the chance to previously. In hindsight I am glad our tutors made us talk in public at University because I new I would have been really nervous otherwise, however I really enjoyed it.
Experience and Future Plans
We are hoping for the exhibition to be moved to the Town Hall which is where the workers from the council have moved to. However, we are also looking to potentially show the work at other galleries in the near future.
Overall my experience has been a positive one. I can trust myself to handle the pressure of shooting with the expectation of a good outcome and working within tough time constrains which I found made all of us more proactive as we used our time wisely. It has been different to work with other people on my projects as normally I work alone but it has been really good working as a team making creative decisions. I have really enjoyed meeting everyone involved in the Fringe, have had great exposure and made great contacts. Thank you to everyone.
Find out more about Caitlin and her work via her website.