Photograd Experience: James Dobson

University of Brighton photography graduate and soon to be featured Photograd, James Dobson, has written a piece for the Photograd blog about the group exhibition he was recently a part of at the Brighton Photo Fringe entitled, Lie of the Land. Continue reading to find out more about this group of graduates that have remained connected post university. 

Lie of the Land installation shot

Lie of the Land installation shot

Introduction

We are four photographers James Dobson, Rachel Maloney, Annalaura Palma and Noora Pelkonen, who met four years ago on the MA Photography course at the University of Brighton, graduating in 2014 and 2015.

Since beginning our studies together we have had an ongoing dialogue, all being interested in different aspects of landscape and place. After we graduated we stayed in touch and continued our conversation beyond University and eventually decided to make a collaborative exhibition when BPF was on the horizon. The exhibition is called Lie of the Land and it is about the ways in which the past, the unperceived and the forgotten fold themselves into our current experience and reading of landscape.

Image from the series Karelia by Noora Pelkonen

Image from the series Karelia by Noora Pelkonen

Image from the series The Forest by Rachel Maloney

Image from the series The Forest by Rachel Maloney

Planning

We were all at a stage where we felt ready to show our work, be that a different manifestation of older, ongoing work or completely new work and BPF seemed a good opportunity to do this. As a platform it gives you a framework within which your exhibition can be made visible - there are more people engaging with photography and potential visitors in Brighton during the Biennial/Fringe month and you are given support by the fringe in terms of promotion.

We knew that we wanted to show our work in a neutral space (which are quite hard to find in Brighton) such as a gallery, as we wanted full attention from the visitors, so we looked for a suitable space in Brighton and booked it early in 2016. As the gallery is limited in space, the challenge was to make sure that each work had its own breathing space but also make sure that the visitor could enjoy the journey, however small, through the exhibition– so the connections between works was very important. We were limited in the amount of pictures we could hang so we started to think of the exhibition as a collaborative development of an idea, rather than a chance for each of us to have our own individual exhibition. Smaller, low-budget shows often work better with this approach, and I think we all enjoyed discovering new aspects about our work and making new associations between pictures during the curation process. 

Lie of the Land installation shot: images form the series Churches by James Dobson

Lie of the Land installation shot: images form the series Churches by James Dobson

Image form the series Churches by James Dobson

Image form the series Churches by James Dobson

In terms of promotion, BPF produce a newsprint brochure with a map and website to navigate the exhibitions, so we decided to not make any flyers but instead built an internet presence via twitter, which you can find here @Lie_of_the_land.

Experience and reflection

The exhibition has had a positive response from visitors. For us it was very good to have a space to see how our new work operated in a gallery context and also to be able to open up dialogues and new relationships. When you’re in this kind of festival environment it is good to be involved in every aspect of making an exhibition – so invigilating, which can sometimes be tedious, was actually at times very rewarding, giving us the opportunity to be surrounded by our work and think about photography. Exhibitions can be great spaces for the development of ideas, in a different way to being out in the world.

Image from the series Virginia Woolf: Virginia’s path by Annalaura Palma

Image from the series Virginia Woolf: Virginia’s path by Annalaura Palma

Advice

In regards to advice, look at festivals like BPF that not only support the promotion of your work to a wider audience but give opportunities for photographers to submit their work for exhibitions and prizes; BPF has the Danny Wilson Memorial Prize, the Open Solo Show, the group show at the Regency Town House and also the Collectives Hub.