Joanne Coates: Hothouse Birmingham

Back in November we selected a few stand out speakers from the line up at Hothouse Birmingham who we wanted to find out more about. Since then, we've caught up with some of them to find out more about their practice, working methods, and experience of giving a talk. We hope you'll find this series of blog posts interesting and inspiring.


First up we're bringing you London College of Communication graduate Joanne Coates and her brand new series of work We Live by Tha' Water. You can read more about Joanne and her work through her Photograd Feature.

Series Statement: I presented work from the series We Live by Tha' Water which I'm currently in the middle of working on. Stories are the foundations of societies and make up who we are. This work is both about the story teller and the story. Islands are often known as places beyond what is visible and beyond what is known. 

 
From the series We Live by Tha' Water

From the series We Live by Tha' Water

 

It's about exploring my mind in the midst of a breakdown, looking at mental erosion and personal anxieties.

It's about remoteness and escapism. 

It's about being drawn to the edge, to the hinterlands of the mind and the land. 

It's the poetic appreciation of island life and a community becoming lost. 

You and Your Work: My name is Joanne Coates and this body of work is called We Live By Tha' Water. My work came from a very documentary canon but I soon found that defining it in such a way held me back. The boundaries we create within photography and the ability of those boundaries to merge are something I'm increasingly interested in. I studied in London and found the experience a little jarring to say the least. I left my home of the Yorkshire moors as soon as I possibly could. However, I found that the main strand running through my work was a connection to place, an appreciation of remoteness and being within a landscape. After graduating I took the somewhat hard decision to remove myself from the centre of the creative industries and make work in those places. I haven't looked back since. My equipment is an aid in storytelling, I'm not overly concerned about my camera, in my personal work I do use film but that's mainly to increase my connection and a fascination with the process. I like using a Rolleiflex as I'm incredibly shy it's helped me interact with my subjects more than any other camera I'd ever used.

 
From the series We Live by Tha' Water

From the series We Live by Tha' Water

 

The Talk: Redeye and GRAIN are incredibly important to me. Both of the networks exist outside of London and are doing really impressive events, providing a space for creatives to meet, to listen, to be heard, to learn and to engage. A platform that was previously missing in the Midlands and the North. To me it's vital to have these networks and for the creative industries to recognise the importance of other places within the UK. Great work is being made all over the UK by people in the North, in the South, in Wales, in Scotland, in Northern Ireland. I'm really sick of seeing people have a dismissive attitude to it. It's something I feel strongly about. If photography is to have a voice it can't just be in London.

 
From the series We Live by Tha' Water

From the series We Live by Tha' Water

 

I'm very aware that public speaking isn't my strong point so opportunities to present and push myself are especially important to me.  I have this strange view about artists talks. I really want people to connect to the work, for it to have a chance to breathe but also I don't want to stand and tell someone what to think and feel. The point of the work is that it's quite dark, poetic, mysterious and unnerving. Which can be quite hard to put across into words. I don't want to under estimate the audience. I know they are smart. It's more a chance to speak about this duality and I'm thankful for those platforms for providing this opportunity. 

 
From the series We Live by Tha' Water

From the series We Live by Tha' Water

 

Future Plans: I'm currently working on series in Orkney and will continue to do so through 2017. I'm currently working on a commissioned body of work in hull alongside doing workshops for the Warren, which again will continue throughout 2017. I'm looking forward to there being more interest in Yorkshire and Hull due to capital of culture, however I hope this continues well into the future.