A Q&A with Arts University Bournemouth 2019 graduate Ellen Stewart

We recently called for work from both BA and MA photographers who are graduating from a UK university course this year. We’ve made selections and are in the process of conducting interviews and uploading new work to Photograd which you can find here.

We selected Arts University Bournemouth BA (Hons) Photography 2019 graduate Ellen Stewart to support for the next year. You can find here an informal Q&A with Ellen to find out more about her work and plans moving forward.


Ellen Stewart PG 01.jpg
Ellen Stewart PG 02.jpg

Hi Ellen, your work really stood out to Photograd due to its unique subject matter and well presented scenarios. Before we begin to support your work over the next few months we would love to find out more about what your goals are. Can you start by telling us about your university and Free Range experience? Hello, I’ve just graduated from the Arts University Bournemouth. The university itself has supplied me with the most valuable mentorship throughout my three years and has great inter-disciplinary links with other subjects. Coming from a painting background the course has given me such an expansive view of photography and its relationship to wider culture. Free Range was a great experience to collectively fund and organise our course to participate. Participating as an exhibitor opened up so many options for my work to be seen by industry professionals not only through the exhibition itself but through their social media handles, it’s been a really exciting time. One of the most educational parts of Free Range was understanding how putting a large scale exhibition works; the packaging of work, transportation, curation, advertising etc. 

Although you aim to confuse and question associations with private space, I think we can all relate to a few images in your series especially. Where did your inspiration come from and how do you plan to move forward to further play with your viewer? I really like this idea of creating confusion within subjects and objects that are familiar. I feel the inspiration came from that prior to this series I was creating work away from the home trying to photograph subject matter that I didn’t understand in a way to understand. I started to think more about mediating on the concept of playing with imagery that I seemingly do understand and physically pushing it to an extent where it is no longer familiar to me but it was important to me not to include any ‘strange’ objects or people. The strangeness had to come from removing, placing or collaging as such, mundane everyday items and family members to try and explore the bizarre in the normal. Joanna Piotrowska has been a big inspiration on my work especially going to her exhibition at the Tate was really intriguing and has a lasting effect on me. Moving forward I’ve become more interested in how little I can change to make the photo strange and vice versa in how much I can change by still using familiar imagery. 

Ellen Stewart PG 06.jpg

What does the everyday and the epic mean to you? The statement comes from the publication that accompanied the South Bank Centre’s exhibition The Epic and the Everyday in 1994. The catalogue presents one of Andreas Gursky’s photograph View over Cairo comparing the epic scene of the vastness of the metropolis with clothing lines of the everyday realities of the people that live there. This juxtaposition of how we perceive the epic photo with the underlying markers of banality began to shape how I started to see the everyday and epic in photographic terms. From creating my own series my relationship with ‘The Everyday and the Epic’ started to change and it began to mean if we can see every day as epic and how far or little do you have to change the everyday to make it epic. It’s still a statement which interests me and I’m constantly changing what it means to me and how to explore it.

Ellen Stewart PG 07.jpg

In your submission you mentioned that you'd like to make new images to expand this series. Have you got any particular scenarios in mind that you're hoping to shoot? Yes, I feel very lucky in the place that I am with my series as I’m only just beginning to piece it together and have a lot more to experiment and work with. I’ve begun to start spending days in my childhood house noting down the general day to day workings of the mundane routine of the people and objects within it. I have some specific scenarios in mind in the experimental stages to start working more in the night and how this can have differing effects to the day scenarios presented. I’ve also begun thinking more about the tiniest change, that I began to mention earlier, that I can do to scenario compared with the largest which is also another initial stage I’m going to begin with. 

Ellen Stewart PG 03 (1).jpg
Ellen Stewart PG 08.jpg

You also mentioned that you'd like to study for an MA in the future, how and why have you come to this decision? Have you got a university in mind that you'd like to study at? My plan on studying an MA in the next few years came from some of the lectures we had from MA students at my University exploring how their work has changed and grown since studying at post-graduate level. Although reading Lucy Soutter’s article in Source magazine a few years ago comparing the advantages and disadvantages of studying an MA in Photography, ultimately concluding you don’t need an MA to become a successful Fine Art Photographer. I feel as an individual I’ve really loved the network of mentoring I’ve received as a BA student trying to define my practice. Comparing to having mentorship in a few years when I’ve come to terms and distinguished my practice more, really excites me to see how it can be pushed even further. I’ve gone to the RCA shows for many years and the level of photography is so inspiring as well as Westminster and Brighton.

All images from the series  In My Fence Wall

All images from the series In My Fence Wall

As Photograd works as a supporter, advice giver, feedback provider, and whatever else you might require over the next year or so, where do you see your work taking you? What is your ultimate outcome? My first idea is to create a photobook of the series which really excites me as I haven’t created a project which I thought was suitable for the book form yet. The photobook being a new aspect of my work has been the only way so far I can see some kind of resolution for In My Fence Wall. I suppose my ultimate outcome is to keep trying to visually work out and explore the relationship with the everyday and the epic to a stage where I can feel somewhat finished with the questions I’m exploring. 

Photograd interviews Alex Jones

To accompany the new edition of PGZ, we have interviewed some photography graduates from the submissions received for the Photograd blog. Here we have an interview with Arts University Bournemouth graduate Alex Jones.


Tell us about your time at university. Have you got any stand out moments you can tell us about? I’d been taking pictures for a long time before Uni and wasn’t sure if it was something I needed to study, I was trying to think what my life would look like if I went to uni and wasn’t sure if I would like it. I was sitting there in my room looking at apprenticeships for jobs I wouldn’t mind working, carpentry, arboriculture; outdoor work mostly. But all the people I went to school with were getting married or having babies so I really saw it as an escape before the walls closed in. I was really happy I applied in the end. I felt lucky to be where I was; it really expanded my mind to entirely new ways of thinking about photography and culture. The staff were constantly supportive and the course really challenged me to reconsider conventional narratives in contemporary photography. Beyond the curriculum, my tutors and classmates fostered a great community that I felt was pretty special to be a part of, just looking at our grad show proved that. Most of all I made life-long friendships with incredibly talented people who constantly inspire me and whose support for one another runs contra to the neo-liberal competitive bullshit that pervades the creative industries. 

Image from the series  바람/Wind

Image from the series 바람/Wind

Tell us about your selection of images. What themes do you explore in your work? The photographs I have selected are a small part of a large series I produced in 2017-2018 titled 바람/Wind

The project is a narrative of two bodies meeting in time and space despite incredibly distant beginnings. Through observational snapshot photography the project forms a journal of my relationship with my girlfriend, Nasung, and a journey we made together to her homeland and beyond. The photographs explore distance, connection, time and love.

What initially inspired you to make this series about your relationship with your girlfriend? I wasn’t really making personal work throughout university; I was more interested in exploring other ideas. I suppose an overarching theme of my work is escapism. I had been making a lot of travel projects: I walked across Cornwall, hitchhiked around Iceland and drove to Wales and Northern Spain, I even made an entire road trip series in a video game. I was interested in boredom, time, meditative states, distance; all the kinds of things you think about on a long drive or a rhythmic hike in open spaces.

Image from the series  바람/Wind

Image from the series 바람/Wind

I was thinking about photography’s failure to convey lived experience, I wondered why I should bother making photographs while travelling if there was already 1000s of images like it on the internet, I wanted to figure out how I could overcome this. I wrote a kind of manifesto for my dissertation that attempted to overcome my concerns. I was looking at the photographs of Kawauchi Rinko, Asako Narahashi and Bertien Van Manen, among others; their work was closest to the idea of separating oneself from the act of photographing but still capturing a lived experience. I was reading up on cognitive science and phenomenology. Part of my conclusion - the photographer that is active in their engagement of the world will not only photograph phenomenological experiences well, but they will experience life well.

And so I took the travel work I had been attempting and pulled it deeper into the personal experience; I opened my diary and threw it out there for anyone to look at, whether it was unique or not didn’t really bother me, it was (and continues to be) a beautiful part of my life, shared with someone who I love.

Image from the series  바람/Wind

Image from the series 바람/Wind

Depending on the outcome of Brexit and the future of the UK, where do you picture your photography taking you in the future? Do you think you will continue to make work around this subject? The isolationist, xenophobic bullshit of Brexit is utterly demoralising but not surprising. I’m not sure how well photography can combat these issues, and I personally struggle to find the energy for it. I’m from Cornwall and I had never felt so disappointed in my entire life the day the results came in, 56% of my people had been totally fooled. The cynical, more privileged, part of me wants to give up; how could they have fallen for the lies so easily, why, when Cornwall is one of the areas that receive the most EU support in all of Europe had they voted to reject that. I doubt the solution to these problems lie in photography, it would be much more worthwhile for me to leave the camera at home and go chat to my neighbours, start an action group etc. I love Cornwall, and the Cornish, and I see hope in the younger generations, but with deeper problems such as a seasonal economy, low wages, second homes and so on; young people will continue to leave and old white people will continue to vote to keep things the same. I’m in two minds about the whole thing, give up and leave, or stay and fight. ‘Fighting’ for me would inevitably lead back to photography, since it’s my tool; I have ideas, it’s just finding the energy. I could become very political in my work or I could retreat. 바람/Wind is about connection; the word for Wind in Korean has a similar meaning to hopeful aspiration, which I felt encapsulated love in a way. I was also thinking about the feelings love and connection brings, and photographing things that I related to these feelings: warm ocean water, a summer breeze, clear blue sky; these elemental, natural phenomena that are sensorial and for me, therapeutic. No matter how fucked up this country becomes I think there is hope for connection to prevail.           

 
Image from the series  바람/Wind

Image from the series 바람/Wind

 

Do you think it's important for us to know where you girlfriend is from and where you made these images? It might be, for the audience. But it’s a universal narrative that I believe a lot of people can relate to. What I do believe is important is that the audience understands the significance of the journey and being invited into someone’s life; to see their world and the way they see it.

With regards to Brexit, our country is becoming a much more insular place. Our future has always seemed fragile, having homes 5000 miles apart, but Brexit has only made it seem even more so. Harsher and more hostile rules on Visas and immigration have brought even more uncertainty to our relationship. Despite this we continue to love and be loved, knowing that it may become difficult or even unfeasible in the future. This project celebrates the joy of sharing your life with someone regardless of politics, nationality or distance.

The images here aren't specifically of your girlfriend, but of the landscape and sometimes include a few other people who we don't know. Why have you edited your series in this way? This is just a small part of the much larger body of work. The project itself actually exists as a publication consisting of 5 books (each for a different chapter and location of our journey) and a 14-meter long scroll print with over 100 images displayed along it. The photographs depict my observations on this journey but interspersed throughout there are a large number of portraits of Nasung and our shared experiences. Despite her not being in many of the photographs you can feel her presence in nearly all of the images, whether she was just waiting for me or occupied by her own curiosity, there is a presence of companionship throughout the series. Nasung was also my guide on this trip and so the things we did and subsequently the things I photographed were directly influenced by her. The structure of the project became clear to me suddenly one day. By chance I was listening to a Sun Kil Moon/Jesu album in which Mark Kozelek reads his diary to the experimental accompaniment of Jesu. In the song Beautiful You, Kozelek nonchalantly describes his day; walking down to the beach, reading some emails, watching a documentary on tv, but interspersed through the quotidian lyrics is the chorus of ‘Beautiful You’ repeated in an almost angelic voice in appreciation of his partner; I thought this really captured the way that being with someone can elevate your day the monotony of the everyday. 바람/Wind is part of my diary but it is elevated by periods of appreciation, admiration and thankfulness for sharing my experiences with my best friend.

Image from the series  바람/Wind

Image from the series 바람/Wind

What does your girlfriend think of you making these images? We enjoy making photographs of one another, all my favourite photographs I’ve taken are of her, and she takes all my favourite photographs of myself. Sometimes it feels like if you care about someone then you will make a nicer photograph of them. As for this project Nasung was my collaborator from the beginning, we made the photographs together, made the final selection together and edited the books together. I tried my best to shirk the authority of representation, but at the end of the day this is my best friend, she makes me happy so I want to document that. I was well aware of similar male-gazey works. I wanted her to have a voice, not just in her editing and self-representation, so I asked her to write the introductions to each book. We put a lot of work in to the project together and it’s great to see both our names together on the front cover. It means a lot to me that the project was a collaboration. Of course there I lots of images that didn’t make the cut, and many moments that were never photographed, I think its nice that no matter how much people see in this project they will never no the full story, Nasung and I will always have the moments that only we share.

 
Image from the series  바람/Wind

Image from the series 바람/Wind

 

What would you like for viewers to learn from your work? There’s a lot that could be said about these photographs and the narrative they depict. But all I really want to say is that I hope in some way they come even within a mile of describing what it’s like to love and be loved.

Have you got any exciting future plans? In June I will be exhibiting the original scroll and launching 바람/Wind as a self-published photobook in Falmouth (dates announcing soon) and maybe London too.

In September Nasung will have one year left on her student visa, I will make lots of photographs just like always and maybe this will become an epilogue to 바람/Wind

Long-term I’m not sure, see how Brexit plays out, move away, maybe to Korea or a more enlightened European country.

Alex Ingram interviews Luke Archer

To accompany the new edition of PGZ, we approached industry experts to select from submissions received a photography graduate they would like to interview for Photograd. Here we have Alex Ingram interviewing Arts University Bournemouth graduate Luke Archer.


Tell me a bit about yourself. Where are you from? How did you get into photography? I’m originally from North West London, end of the Jubilee Line, Zone 5, deep suburbs! After a few years in Bristol I’ve crossed the river and now call South London home. Photography has always been a part of my life in some form or another, my granddad worked for Kodak all his life and predictably gave me my first film and digital cameras, both Kodak obviously! My other grandad died before I was born but he was a working photographer -  I like to think it’s in the blood!

Image from the series  The Rock

Image from the series The Rock

I didn’t become that engaged with photography until studying A level art, at that stage I was using photography as a starting point, painting over photos, collaging, all sorts. At that time, I went to see a big Diane Arbus retrospective at the V&A, it was a pivotal moment because I realised that photography can be so powerful on its own you don’t need to mess around with it. From that point on its been a love hate relationship where I have studied photography, given up on it and then gone back to it. I finished an MA last year and I’m currently trying to pursue assisting while running Loupe magazine.

What is your relationship with Gibraltar? I have family who have lived there for about 10 years so it’s a country I have always been aware of but in reality I had not spent that much time exploring it. I would visit my family in summer holidays and despite flying in and out of Gibraltar most of the time was spent across the border in Spain. The project has enabled me to establish a much better understanding of Gibraltar.

Image from the series  The Rock

Image from the series The Rock

Talk us through your new project. What is it about Gibraltar that interested you and made you want to produce your work there? I had always thought Gibraltar would make a good subject for a project. I think any location that a wider audience knows little about is going to peak a photographer’s interest. I wasn’t aware of any other photographer’s projects based on Gibraltar so it gave me the chance to get stuck in and not be swayed by any existing imagery.  I knew with Brexit looming that Gibraltar would be a place of interest but also that the media coverage might be one dimensional. I felt it would be a good time to shoot a project that went beyond some of the more alarmist headlines.

Gibraltar has a very high number of Spanish workers who migrate into the country every day for work. How do you think Gibraltar will be effected when the UK eventually leaves the EU? Yes as far as I know it’s around 10,000 Spanish workers who cross the border, not to mention Gibraltarians living in Spain and other nationalities who have decided to live on the Spanish side, normally due to cost. It’s very hard to tell because of the general uncertainty that surrounds all of Brexit. There are some scary worst case scenarios. In regards to the workers it could impact on their jobs but this seems unlikely, it’s in everyone’s interest to keep the border open and flowing as normal, anything that hampers this will likely see protests on both sides. One worry for people living in Gibraltar is lack of food. After Brexit  food that would normally cross the border is will now be going out of the EU and it will be subject to a different level of inspection. Apparently, the Spanish border town does not have the facilities to do this and the food would have to go to another nearby port town and perhaps be shipped across to Gib. The very worst case scenario is Gibraltar could run out of food. I’m hoping that doesn’t happen and I think most people expect a rocky first month or so but that some form of normality will return. 

Image from the series  The Rock

Image from the series The Rock

You described Gibraltar as being "more British than the Brits". Can you elaborate on this? What similarities or differences do you see between life in Gibraltar and life in the UK? It’s not a phrase that I have come up with, it’s something that is often said about Gibraltar and I’m not sure I agree with it now. I think because it’s a major tourist destination, sometimes the Britishness is played up for that crowd, thousands of people get off a cruise ship and want to see the red telephone boxes, eat some fish and chips etc.  Whereas day to day life is more Gibraltarian and by that, I mean infused with its own unique culture and identity, which has more of a Spanish influence than most people realise. For example, a lot of casual conversations on the street will be in the local dialect of Yanito which is predominantly Spanish with phrases and words from other languages thrown in. 

There are of course similarities, in the digital age with TV and internet its easier for UK music and fashion to reach Gibraltar, whereas perhaps in the past there might have been a time delay or a disparity. 

Just like the UK It’s also a country of dog lovers and despite the lack of space there are lot of dogs! 

Did you go to Gibraltar with a preconceived idea of what life will be like there? Did that perception change? It’s hard for me to look back because I’ve spent so much time there over the last couple of years. I suppose at first I was guilty of thinking it would be very British and thus easy to get my head around. I underestimated the Spanish influence: it’s worth noting that often Gibraltarian families have one side Spanish and one side British so of course that is going to come together to make something new. That cultural fusion can make understanding the country and its culture very tricky.

Image from the series  The Rock

Image from the series The Rock

Now I see Gibraltar as a distinct country, it’s just like Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland they are all British but each with their own identity and culture.

Were there any stand out moments during your visit? I got back from a visit earlier this year, and during the trip I spent a day with the police force and went out in really rough weather on one of their fast patrol boats. It was crazy the boat was literally leaping out of the water and then slamming back down. I can’t imagine having to chase and stop another boat using one those, I could barely stay in my seat! I don’t think the images will be any good but it was an experience!

What is your favourite image from the series? That’s a tricky one – I’m not always that confident in my individual images I feel the strength comes from how the images come together as a series.  however, I really like the image of the Iman at the Moroccan mosque.

I always find mosques very calm places and it was a low stress sitting, I had plenty of time and he was a great sitter. I’m pleased that I was able show him in context. Portraits are always the hardest but most rewarding aspect for me!

Image from the series  The Rock

Image from the series The Rock

Do you plan on returning to Gibraltar after the UK leaves to continue working on the project? Yes definitely, I have portrait sittings I still need to complete and a few locations I’m in the process of securing access to. I’m very lucky that I can stay with family so going out is not too much of a challenge financially. A lot does depend on Brexit, now it’s great excuse to get the project out there and bring attention to Gibraltar. If Brexit is disastrous then I might be out there photographing the impact. However, I hope that whatever happens  is minor, as a country its survived sieges so I’m sure it will cope with whatever Brexit throws at it!  In the long run, I hope the project will be framed more around Gibraltar’s unique landscape and identity and Brexit will be more of a footnote.

What's next for you? Are you currently working on any other projects? I have a long list of projects I would love to shoot but it’s going to take several lifetimes to get through them all! I have previously been bad at finishing projects so I would be nice to see this one in print before moving on. I do have one project idea that is more focused around technology I just need to research it to make sure no one else has shot it already! 

Catch-Up Feature: Chloe Alice Hayes travels South America

Throughout the last few months of 2016, Arts University Bournemouth graduate Chloe Alice Hayes travelled South America and took over the Photograd Instagram every weekend. We caught up with her in a previous blog post where she informed us of her plans and Chloe has since recapped her journey and selected some of her favourite images.


As a person who has never travelled outside Europe before and even then the longest was a 3 week holiday in France bashing down walls and painting rooms, I strangely found it much easier, much less frightening and much more similar to the familiar than I had first expected. I travelled to Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina and almost everyone I have spoken to, both there and back home have said ‘wow you’re brave’. I however, really don’t think I am, I think naïve is more the correct terminology. Coming from a little village I am pretty trustworthy and of the mindset that everyone is a nice person and ‘why would anybody do a thing like that?’ Yes I was a bit scared going to South America; as my first time travelling, as a woman, on my own, thinking I was going to get involved in drug gangs or get kidnapped in La Paz but it really truly isn’t like that and if I can do it, anyone can.

I did so many amazing things it is hard to mention just one. I think the most incredible journey and sense of achievement I experienced was doing the Inca Trail in Peru. Four days of astounding views, awesome people and amazing experiences was something definitely once in a lifetime and unforgettable, I would advise anyone to do it if they can. However the most magnificent, out of this world thing I saw was the Uyuni Salt Flats. We managed to squeeze so many things into three days; geysers, lagoons, the best sunset I have ever seen and of course the salt flats themselves. It was like driving around on another planet in our Jeeps, crossing huge expanses of nothingness. All of the countries are so different you aren't able to compare or say which place is the best. The Glacier in Patagonia, the Iguazu Falls in Brazil and Argentina, the WINE in Mendoza, all ‘The Best’ ‘Most Favourite’ parts of my travels. 

With regards to photography I found myself shooting anything and everything, I just wanted to absorb and capture as much as I possibly could before it ended. I have always had a sneaky love for photographing shop fronts and windows, and I definitely took every opportunity I saw in that respect. There were some fascinating shop fronts with great, vibrant paintwork that caught my eye, many in the same street. It is again, really difficult to choose favourite images as there are so many but there are a few I've included with this post that have stood out to me. 

 
 

This is one of the first images I took actually, it was on the third day of the Inca Trail and we had stopped and a dangerous part where the rock was wet and slippery. As we waited for the people in front to slowly descend down, I realised we were stood where a river/waterfall would flow downwards when the rainy season came. It was like a vertical riverbed, I followed it down to see a mysterious, otherworldly view that I could not resist risking my life for (literally) so I whipped my phone out and snapped before we moved on.

 
 

The second was when I was back in Lima. I wanted to feel as if I had seen a bit more of the place than the tourist spots so I spent a lot of time walking around the residential streets, becoming a flaneur, although I was snapping a lot and actually, this is where most of my favourite images come from, this particular composition caught my eye. The bright pink of the paint and the little yellow poker of the flower coming right through the middle really talked to me. I actually walked past it initially, then had to turn back because I knew I would regret it if I didn’t. 

 
 

The third one I have chosen is from the Isla del Sol, Bolivia. In almost every government office or boarder control there was an image of the president which really cracked me up. The style in which they were all shot was so old-fashioned and it really made me laugh that they were usually printed on really cheap poster paper. As soon as I stepped into the office I had to whip my phone out before the guy moved. The colours and placement of frames on the wall was perfect.

An Extended Instagram Takeover: Chloe Alice Hayes in South America

Photograd featured photographer, Chloe Alice Hayes, is currently travelling South America and has committed to an extended Instagram takeover! Until she comes back to the UK in December, Chloe will be sharing her journey every weekend through the Photograd Instagram account. We're really excited to follow the final leg of her journey.

We recently caught up with Chloe when she told us all about her travels. We'll let her introduce herself...

 
Inca Trail Day 3, Cloud Forest    - Instagram image from Chloe's trip

Inca Trail Day 3, Cloud Forest - Instagram image from Chloe's trip

 

Hola chicos! Chloe Alice Hayes ready to feature my work from the far flung land of South America where I am currently travelling for the next few months. Photographer and artist, I studied an Art and Design Foundation and BA (Hons) Photography at the Arts University Bournemouth and loved every second of both. I have spent the last few years as Artist in Residence at The Purcell School where I taught art and photography, worked in the boarding house and made my own work such as documenting The Purcell School that researched into the history of the 5 locations that the school has been situated, Day, focuses on the movement of natural light within the buildings and The Lead studied actors the moment before they go on stage, inspired by watching the pupils before they began a concert or recital. 

Image from the series  Day , 2016

Image from the series Day, 2016

Conway Hall, The Purcell School , 2015

Conway Hall, The Purcell School, 2015

During these two years I managed to save up to travel South America, I have always wanted to do this but never had the time or the money, as so many of us don't. As this was a natural end to the job and I was able to save, I took it as the perfect opportunity to explore before getting bogged down into a permanent job, buying a house and all the other things that we are 'expected' to be doing quite soon although, now I am here, I feel I may have caught the bug and won't be settling down for a while!

 
Magdalena, Lima - Instagram image from Chloe's trip

Magdalena, Lima - Instagram image from Chloe's trip

 

During my adventure I am visiting Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina travelling through desert, rainforest and cities along the way. So far I have seen many amazing wonders including a homestay on Lake Titicaca and the Floating Islands of Uros, the Inca Trail, Machu Picchu, the Amazon Rainforest, the Nasca Lines and The Cañon del Colca with loads of other incredible stuff thrown in as well. My next stop, Cusco AGAIN, it was any arty persons dream.

 
Grace Chilton, Verge, The Lead,  2016

Grace Chilton, Verge, The Lead, 2016

 

Unconstrained by the limits of genre and fascinated by the processes of film photography, the work is always informed from a need to learn. The research is an essential step and the diverse range of final pieces and titles are always drawn from theoretical notions. The exploration of unconventional techniques are applied to produce peculiar and unique images. The discovery of both the iPhone and Instagram have been a vital tool in creating and sharing my visual travel diary.'

Find out more about Chloe via her website and see more of her trip via her Instagram account.

Photograd Experience: Caitlin Chescoe

As promised, we caught up with Caitlin Chescoe after the launch of her exhibition Kings House: In Transition at Brighton Photo Fringe! Read on to find out what Caitlin has learned from the exhibition, how she got the commission (hint - it involves Photograd!), and what advice she has to give on exhibiting post university...

 
Image from the series  Kings House: In Transition

Image from the series Kings House: In Transition

 

Introduction

My name is Caitlin Chescoe and I am a social documentary and portrait photographer and freelance photo assistant who lives and works in London. I graduated from The Arts University Bournemouth with a BA (Hons) in Photography last year in 2015.

The Exhibition

The Brighton Photo Fringe festival is a registered charity that gives the opportunity to over 100 different lens based, up and coming artists to exhibit their work from the 1st - 30th October. My series is currently on show at Kings House Thurs–Fri 12:00–18:30 Sat–Sun 11:00–18:30 alongside many other artists.

 
Image from the series   Kings House: In Transition

Image from the series Kings House: In Transition

 
 
Image from the series   Kings House: In Transition

Image from the series Kings House: In Transition

 

Planning

My exhibition Kings House: In Transition is a new piece of work that Brighton Photo Fringe commissioned me to do alongside three trainee curators; Sarah French, Jamila Prowse and Ruby Rees Sheridan who contacted me after viewing some of my work on the Photograd website. They sent me their concept, which suited me down to the ground, so I accepted. Fortunately the organisers and the curators of The Fringe had already organised a space for the project to be exhibited in and we were given free reign to do whatever we wished with it.

We were very lucky and managed to get access to Kings House straight away as the people who worked there were very enthusiastic about the project. Myself and the curators went around the building into different departments to speak to individuals about their experiences of working there and then I would photograph the individual. For me it was a chance to put into practice different tips and tricks I have been learning from assisting regarding subjects and clients. 

We only had a few days to confirm the edit so that I could start the post production process. The series went back and forth between myself and the curators a few times but we managed to make a final decision quite quickly that ended up being within budget.

 
Image from the series   Kings House: In Transition

Image from the series Kings House: In Transition

 

Some of the lessons that I have learnt from putting on a show at university are to expect things to go wrong and therefore give yourself enough time to rectify this if it happens. We were really lucky and things from the start ran pretty smoothly, amazingly! The only thing that went slightly wrong was the selected printers we were originally printing with told us their turn around time would be a week and when the time came, it was in fact two weeks, which would mean we would not meet the opening date of the festival. We ended up printing at The Printspace whose turn around time is two days and this meant we were able to test print. We also made sure there were extra options print wise for install because when you are actually in a space, everything can change.

The Fringe is in its seventh year now so we were really lucky as most of the promotion for the show had been done for us as it is very well known. The exhibition is online on the Fringe’s website and is also in a printed format. The footfall on the opening evening was great which is why taking part in group exhibitions is so exciting!

 
Image from the series   Kings House: In Transition

Image from the series Kings House: In Transition

 

Advice

My advice to other graduates is as soon as you have left university to start showing some of your work online so that you gain exposure. I know people who have been assisting for years but still have not got round to making their websites and that is what is going to make you stand out among the others, there is so much competition. I am so glad I designed my website before I left as I had so many other things to be getting on with, mainly financially, after leaving university that it just gets put on hold.

 
Image from the series   Kings House: In Transition

Image from the series Kings House: In Transition

 

Final thoughts

It has been great to be given the opportunity to make work again and I really hope that this leads to more commissions. It has been lovely to hear all of the positive feedback from people around me about my images and work ethic. Thank you so much to the trainee curators who put on the exhibition. They have been so organised throughout, have been there to sort out any problems at the click of a finger and really positive about the project. Also thank you to the event organisers for giving me the opportunity to make some new work and also for supporting me from beginning to end. The festival is an amazing event and I hope to be part of it again in the near future!

Photograd Experience: Holly Hennessy - MA Fine Art at Arts University Bournemouth

We recently caught up with launch Photograd Holly Hennessy who went on to complete an MA in Fine Art after her degree in Photography. We really wanted to find out more and share her thoughts and final work with you!

Introduction: I’m Holly Hennessy and I recently completed my MA in Fine Art at Arts University Bournemouth. My work is predominantly moving image and often arises from visual observations. My films interweave documentary and fictional elements and often show the relationships developed between the subjects and myself. My work can often be uncomfortable to watch. It can sometimes force the audience to stare directly at people who are seemingly staring right back at them, which is something that we as people often don’t do.

From the series   Face Off

From the series Face Off

Experience: I continued my studies immediately after I had completed my BA. I studied my BA in Photography at Arts University Bournemouth and felt as though my work wasn’t resolved. I wanted to continue studying and carry on making work. I chose to study Fine Art as I always considered my work closer to art than to photography; this also allowed me to be less limited when making work.

My MA was much more self motivated than my BA, which I massively struggled with at first. It was such a different style of studying, as I had to get on with it myself and motivate myself at every stage. In the end I loved it. The 3 modules were each 15 weeks long meaning I had such a long time to work on each project. The work never needed to be resolved which was an element I enjoyed as the work could always continue. I was encouraged from the start to constantly ask myself questions about the work being made. Why am I doing it? What is the intention of the work? What is the reason for a particular edit?

From the series   Face Off

From the series Face Off

Work and Outcome: My MA final piece, Face Off, was something that I had wanted to do for a long time. I read a quote years ago about how police helmets were psychologically designed to cover the eyebrows, as the eyebrows are the most expressive part of the face.  They indicate a lot of emotion and they have to be covered in order for the police to appear more authoritative. I wanted to make a moving image piece though didn’t know how to approach the police to get them involved. Luckily throughout my MA I worked at a police social club and approached some officers and they were so willing to help me. The audience are encouraged to stare at police officers, something that we never normally do. Gillian Wearing’s 60 Minute Silence influenced this piece as well as a lot of scientific research about facial expressions. I want to continue working with this project, as I think there is lots more to explore. 

From the series   Face Off

From the series Face Off

Artist Statement:

Face Off is a video installation representing the iconic and symbolic nature of the Police uniform. Designed specifically to evoke power and authority, the uniform is psychologically intended to appear authoritative and to have a profound psychological impact on those who view it.

The male Police officers were each recorded in their uniform for one minute in a private social environment. As the camera lens interrogates them, their power and authority increasingly becomes ruptured creating unease and vulnerability. The work evokes historic references from the mug shot to Warhol's Screen Tests. The subjects wear different uniforms, one formal and one casual. The work is not intended as a critique or deconstruction of the Police but represents the veneer of authority the uniform shows and how the lens is able to penetrate it. 

From the series  Face Off

From the series Face Off

Future: At the moment I am currently looking for jobs in London. I am also in the very early stages of a new project, which I am really excited to begin. Lecturing is definitely something that I would like to pursue in the future. Over the year there were so many occasions where I was close to leaving my MA, as I didn’t think that I was ready and I was completing it too soon. I am so glad that I did it and I was really pleased with the final work.

Find out more about Holly's work via her website and Vimeo channel.

Future Photograd: Caitlin Chescoe

 

Images from the series Kings House: In Transition

 

Launch Photograd Caitlin Chescoe will be a part of this years Brighton Photo Fringe! Commissioned for new site-specific work to be made and organised by Brighton Photo Fringe’s three emerging curators Sarah French, Ruby Rees-Sheridan and Jamila Prowse, the launch of the exhibition will take place this Saturday (1st October) at the King's House, Grand Avenue, Hove. 

Caitlin has provided us with a short introduction of the project to give you something to get excited about!

"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."

Caitlin was selected for this commission due to the "strength of her graduate work as a social documentary photographer", as stated on the BPF's press release. 

BPF’s trainee curatorial programme provides opportunities for early career practitioners, offering invaluable hands-on experience in the development and realisation of a photography exhibition. The show responds more widely to BPF16’s theme of Experiments in the Common.

As well as the exhibition, Caitlin will also be involved in an event at Kings House: Caitlin Chescoe and Cat Fletcher in Conversation with BPF16 Emerging Curators on the 8th October at 3 o'clock. The talk will explore King's House as a transitional space, discussing the many journeys that have occurred throughout the building. 

Brighton Photo Fringe is a month long photography festival taking place throughout Brighton, which provides opportunities for emerging photographers, moving image artists and curators. The festival utilises venues across the city, presenting innovative approaches to art display. 

We'll be catching up with Caitlin again soon to find out how she gets on with each event, which we're very much looking forward to!