Photograd interviews Nicholas Priest

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 Birmingham City University graduate and current MA student at the University of Gloucestershire Nicholas Priest.


Where did you attend university and what year did you graduate? I attended BCU and graduated in 2009 and I am currently undergoing my first year of my MA at the University of Gloucestershire.

Image from the series  A46

Image from the series A46

Tell us about your time at university. Have you got any stand out moments you can tell us about? I loved the freedom of university and was able to look at a few and mediums in the visual communication course before continuing with my love for photography. I actually transferred from the LCC in London to BCU and from marketing and advertising to visual communication as I found myself bored in lectures and bored of writing essays and all I wanted to do is to take my camera out (and that’s all I did do).

In my second year we were given a documentary photography brief and at this time I was unsure about man area or my area of photography, field and overall real identity in photography. This module and my introduction in to William Eggleston and Stephen Shore through the lectures and tutorial taught me to think about visual story telling. This project really gave me my indemnity and I want to know everything and anything to do with documentary photography and where ideas and thought process are communicate from ideas and research in to visual communication through documentary photography. 

Image from the series  A46

Image from the series A46

What themes do you explore in your work? I really enjoy just getting lost. I have always dropped myself in a location and walked. This use to be with headphones and the latest indie band on but it is now without headphones and listening to the area and the environment and having some sort of guidance through sense of place.

I like to think about a story and narrative before I go and give myself some background knowledge of an area to then try to depict and communicate without the viewer ever being there. This has developed into adding people and trying to portray the person again without the person meeting them and getting some thought process of communication through my photographs. 

I want to try and give the viewer new knowledge through the obvious and documentation of the everyday and through the ideology of sense of place and geographically location of time and space. 

Image from the series  A46

Image from the series A46

Tell us about your series. What's important to you about the A46? Who inspired you? How did you feel when revisiting locations from such significant times in your life? I have seen a lot of the A46 within my 31 years; Burton Farm tip, where myself and my Dad would take trips at the weekend with hedge cuttings and unwanted trinkets to dispose of and give to the Hospice shop. Alcester to Coventry is where my Dad would drive me to football games and I now drive myself up and down this part of the A46 to in and around Stratford and still playing football. My Dad drove up and down the A46 as a national sales man for different companies and I will never forget the orange lollies from Little Chefs that he would bring home and the small BP albums that we used to collect. Towards Coventry, I remember taking a bus with my Mum as a young boy to get a cyst removed as my Dad was working away and we only had one car. Warwick Hospital is just off the A46, where I have visited for twisted ankles, getting wisdom teeth removed and more recently with my Mums Mum passing away.

About 8 years ago, my parents moved from Stratford upon Avon, where I had grown up with my sister and moved down the A46 to Bidford on Avon, we helped them move and I have lived in the house a few times; after university and after a break up with a girlfriend. 

Image from the series  A46

Image from the series A46

I remember working with adults with learning disabilities and I was driving with my ex-girlfriend in the car and was in a consistent mood and mind set of overthinking, which let me to overthinking while driving and I pulled out of a junction at Longbridge Island. Myself and my girlfriend at the time where fine, but this lead me take a step back within my life and leave that job to seek and get help for this over thinking. I got counselling and went on anti-depressants and close to a year later, I had pushed and made myself the person I am now.

I teach photography at the College in Stratford where I was first taught and grew my love for photography, I live in a house in Broadway with my girlfriend and my overthinking is near but gone. I now drive to just see my Mum in Bidford more today as we lost my Dad a few years ago in a freak accident, were we also lost our family Dog. I visit my Mum and her new dog regularly and my Mum comes to watch my play football for a local village team; Welford that my Uncle helps to run.

Sense of place and relationships are journeys, where it is good or bad memories, we change, places and landscapes change, family and friends, live changes. Visiting the A46; I took these memories to where I knew, stopping and walking and documenting what I remember to what has changed. This went up to and just passed Coventry. I then drove and walked where I didn’t know and that was from Coventry to Grimsby and Cleethorpes visting the centre and the outskirts alongside the A46 road. Documenting other memories and what could have been mine if I lived close to that area of the A46. 

As you move from Twkesbury all the way up to Grimsby and Cleethorpes more of the nation voted out in the recent Brexit vote. I wanted to try to show this, and document changes from place to place; documenting the change and giving the viewer a sense of place and idea of change from; little chefs to Starbucks and McDonalds and to portray a portrait of Britain and the real people and the roads and journeys we take.

Image from the series  A46

Image from the series A46

Depending on the outcome of Brexit and the future of the UK, where do you see your photography taking you in the future? Brexit has become an absolute farce. Whether you voted remain or leave. The notion that the people that ‘run’ this country would rather lie than govern the country, for the people is absurd. 

With the arts world this is already no funding and galleries have to charge more than I believe that they would want to as there is no backing and cuts are being made left, right and centre within the arts. 

This filters down to artists and graduates trying to get their work into galleries, exhibitions and enter them in to paying competitions, but there are platforms like Photograd that can use their platform and social media to help photographers be seen and keep them enthusiastic and motivated to continue with work and create new work. 

Image from the series  A46

Image from the series A46

My time with photography has been up to and down and projects have come and gone and some have been finished. With the Brexit outcome I can see myself carrying on with expressing narrative through my documentary photography and this may with the outcome of Brexit and documenting people and places; like my new project the A46 and what, who, and or might be affected by Brexit.

How do you feel your series communicates the current state of the UK? What would you like your viewer to learn? I think my series gives an idea of sense of place, change of landscape and the idea of psychogeography of urban and rural environments. I want to show the viewer the nostalgia of a road and relation to myself.  To show a journey and the change of the how far the a service station has come, to observe buildings and infrastructure, cafes, signs and overall semiotics, and be hopeful that the viewer can resonate with the series and the journey and see different landscapes from west to east of the A46 through; edgelands and into environments where different people voted remain and out.

Image from the series  A46

Image from the series A46

Have you got any exciting future plans? I am about half way through the A46 and starting to get a good vocabulary and looking more in to the contextual side as the project grows. I have been looking in to the road trip through David Company’s The Open Road alongside looking into work after Robert Franks Americans. The main homage has been to Paul Grahams  A1; The Great North Road and the nostalgia of Grahams journey on an ‘A’ road. These photographers, their visual communication, and my thinking through my MA so far has lead down a path of psychogeography; before and psychogeography today and the idea of walking. This has come from readings in to Merlin Coverley, Patrick Keillers Robison series, Doreen Massey’s For Space and Paul Farley and Micheal Roberts Edgelands which are helping my understanding the idea of walking, place, representation, awareness and a vocabulary to go and continue to shoot for my essay into the ‘A46’. 

I have also begun to plan a project around villages in Britain and abroad with the idea of Brexit being a very narrative throughout. 

Pagy Wicks interviews Ben Milne

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 Semi Magazine founder Pagy Wicks interviewing University of Gloucestershire graduate Ben Milne.


Image from the series  Over the Water

Image from the series Over the Water

Pagy Wicks: Really loved Over the Water. How did you come about deciding to document the differences in economic wealth in Liverpool and Birkenhead? What fueled you to create the photobook?

Ben Milne: Thank you. Well technically I was fuelled by my university deadline, haha, but really I wanted to make a piece of work that had some familiarity and discoverability to it. I was born in Birkenhead then lived within ten miles of it growing up so it just felt right to learn more about an area that is close to home rather than try and tell a story about wealth in a community that hasn’t really got a place in my soul.

PW: Ah right, so this was for university initially? I really like that last line, deciding to document a place that has a relationship with you the photographer. What is your relationship with Liverpool? Did your inside perspective reveal any new insights into the wealth divide, or even Birkenhead in general, you maybe hadn't noticed before?

Image from the series  Over the Water

Image from the series Over the Water

BM: Yeah I made the work for my final major project. My relationship with Liverpool is quite simple, it’s just a place that is fun to visit but in terms of the project it’s got a very visible contrast within such a short space, that being the river Mersey. That contrast is down to a few things, job opportunities, scale, the city status itself but EU funding plays a huge role. Liverpool’s waterfront (as viewed from Birkenhead) was hugely funded by the European Union, while Birkenhead gets some funding it just doesn’t carry the same weight. 

Having a little inside perspective was revealing in the sense that it seemed to allow people to talk more openly with me, not so much about their own current opinion on Birkenhead but more of the pathos they have towards the past. The lady pictured behind the bar is 72 years old and she recounted with a sense of joy about “the good old days” when the streets were full and the Mersey ferry was not just a tourist vessel but a business commute, for many. Things move on, that’s a given, but it feels as if a replacement never came for Birkenhead. It’s almost been forgotten.

Image from the series  Over the Water

Image from the series Over the Water

PW: The image of the old woman behind the bar is almost poetic, it's one of the very memorable images from the book for me. What sort of questions do you hope arise from a reader about the distribution of wealth illustrated by the juxtaposition of Birkenhead and Liverpool? Particularly in relation to the UK leaving the EU?

BM: Thanks very much, I like that one too. She was cool. 

I hope it raises questions about the importance of communities that experience loss and the need for them to be rebuilt in some sort of beneficial way. The model is literally there, 1000 metres away in Liverpool. Not to say that Liverpool doesn’t have its own issues with community neglect but in terms of two waterfronts the importance of European funding is there in the Albert Dock, not only to see but to enjoy. The fact that Birkenhead voted to Leave is no surprise as it’s not really benefited from the crop. It does however highlight a possible future for the UK without the EU. Investment will have to come from alternate means and the question is will those means come? And will they ever see an interest in Birkenhead the same way the EU saw an interest in Liverpool?

Image from the series  Over the Water

Image from the series Over the Water

PW: Thanks so much Ben, really excited to see the work develop in the future. The UK feels very divided at the moment, hopefully our conversation, between two people from either side of the coin, will spark something.

BM: Thanks very much, that was fun. It’s great what you’re doing. I look forward to reading the other interviews, especially the leave side ones, they should be interesting... 

#PHOTOGRAPHY Magazine’s Genea Bailey interviews Jordan Turnbull

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 #PHOTOGRAPHY Magazine’s Genea Bailey interviewing University of Gloucestershire graduate Jordan Turnbull.


Curating #PHOTOGRAPHY Magazine has introduced me to many fascinating bodies of work, those that resonate most are projects with a compelling narrative, which is essential when it comes to issues of importance such as Brexit. Jordan Turnball’s series A Rock and a Hard Place explores beneath the surface of Gibraltar, revealing the troubling core of a British territory in political limbo and shedding a light on an overlooked community. 

Image from the series  A Rock and a Hard Place

Image from the series A Rock and a Hard Place

What was it about Gibraltar specifically that moved you to make this body of work opposed to other territories within British jurisdiction? I was researching possible ideas for my Final Major project knowing that I wanted to focus on something Brexit related because this was the biggest change to happen to the country in decades and it would affect how Britain interacted both internally and with the rest of the of the world.

I was reading a ‘Financial Times’ piece detailing the issues surrounding the “Irish Backstop” and after finishing the piece there was a related article on Gibraltar and how Brexit would affect the tiny overseas territory. I did look into other territories such as Helena and Ascension but Gibraltar’s ease of access and the way the inhabitants had showed their loyalty to Britain in the past only reinforced my vision that the work would hold greater resonance there.

Gibraltar appears to be a haven caught among generations of consistent turmoil between irreconcilable governments. Having explored and documented the culture, in what way do you think this has affected Gibraltarian people and everyday life? I think, to a degree, this has affected the Gibraltarians. I have heard about fisherman being hassled after the Brexit vote went through and threats regarding the border have been made before although nothing too concrete has been put in place as of yet. It does seem to me that each generation of Gibraltarian has got to prove where their loyalties lie, as if those who had voted in 2002 would feel any less British than the generation who voted in 1967, with both outcomes resulting in resounding favour of British sovereignty. 

Image from the series  A Rock and a Hard Place

Image from the series A Rock and a Hard Place

I can completely understand why they would feel very frustrated and a little bit apprehensive that any movement politically that Britain or Spain makes could unearth this issue again and go to a peoples vote, which having spoken to Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Garcia, would no doubt result in the same outcome of the previous two. Gibraltarians are British, although territorially not part of the mainland, which means that Gibraltar has a balancing act on its hands in keeping both Spain, its neighbour, happy while continuing with a proud British identity. 

Your work shows an unwavering loyalty to the UK despite the Gibraltarian people having overwhelming voted to remain. Do you think this support will falter once exit negotiations have come into full effect, especially with Gibraltarian economy relying heavily on Spanish trade and open borders? I think this would be more difficult to foresee because things can change so quickly and go in the opposite direction to what was predicted. There are a couple of things that make Gibraltar such a unique place. One being that they are almost entirely self-governing and completely self-financing which allows them to create their own budgets which in turn has shown economic growth possibly when other EU members have not. While I was there I noticed just how much construction was happening in the area, owing to the high demand for development of properties within an area which is still seen as very attractive to businesses establishing themselves. Gibraltar does rely on Spain for construction and other materials so hypothetically if they chose to cut off these links by a hard border it could have detrimental affects on Gibraltars economy. On the other hand Gibraltar single handedly accounts for 25% GDP of the overall southern region of Andalucía through employment and purchasing of these aforementioned materials so Spain would have to determine whether to lose such a positive partner and think about the social and economic implications of those actions. 

Image from the series  A Rock and a Hard Place

Image from the series A Rock and a Hard Place

Has creating this work shifted your viewpoint on Brexit and what it means to be British? In short regarding whether my viewpoint has been changed, no, it has not due to the fact that there have been no positive steps to come out of the whole process. We have gone through the initial transfer talks, parliamentary meetings to summits and thus far are no closer to agreeing a deal with the EU than when we started in June 2017. 

To be British, for me, is to be proud of my country, respectful and have a sense of belonging. It's also a privilege especially when you turn on the news and see some of the other events that are happening in other parts of the world and I do think this is disregarded a lot of the time. Making the work certainly reinforced my pride in Britain as there’s a real neighbourly atmosphere within Gibraltar shown through the decorative Union Jacks on almost every street as a way of reminding people of their history, back in the UK we only get that robust togetherness feeling when a World Cup is on or its one of the Royals birthdays, but when it happens its certainly a great feeling. 

Image from the series  A Rock and a Hard Place

Image from the series A Rock and a Hard Place

Do you have any plans to continue the project or any other Brexit based work? I do have plans to go back to Gibraltar and continue the project, there’s a few other photographers making work over in that corner which is good because its got a lot to say for itself and the people are really interesting. Brexit is an absolute goldmine for photographic work not just politically but on a social level too as something will always be shifting further down the line so its good to see other creatives exploring these changes. 

I have certainly been taking notes on other potential situations that are developing or will develop when and indeed if we do eventually leave. Theres an argument that if we leave we could capitalise on greater trading with India, The UAE and Japan which could throw up some interesting narratives with opportunities to travel. We will also more than likely feel the effects of Brexit for years to come so there will constantly be new opportunities for work arising closer to home.

Grace Jackson - A Brand New Darkroom and Studio Space in Gloucestershire

University of the Arts London graduate, Grace Jackson, has set up her very own darkroom and studio space for personal use and hire! We recently asked Grace why she set up the space and this is what she had to say...

I set up my own studio and darkroom after leaving London. I looked into what was in the area and I found two in Bristol which isn't too far from me, but one was fully booked and not accepting new members, and the other wasn't open as much as I needed it.

As I am sure all creative people find, I have a sudden flood of creativity at the most random times and if I don't take advantage it is gone. I was constantly shooting work but just scanning it as I had no access to a darkroom, I had an exhibition and a publication in a magazine but no way to print my work unless I sent it off digitally. I felt like this was a waste; I was spending lots of money on film and developing but I was just going to have to print it digitally. I decided that I could rent out a small studio and convert it into a darkroom and studio for myself to use, but also for others to use as it is the only public one in the county (Gloucestershire).

It was vital for me and for my own work because as much as the final image is important to me, it is the process of getting there; it's developing the work from being on location or in the studio to finally presenting it. My darkroom has one enlarger and the space is just for one person to use, which is unlike so many darkrooms, but I've set it up in this way because I think it's important to be able to flow creatively without disruption, but also allow the space to be open and give the opportunity to experiment. I think that is so important in art to constantly push yourself to try new things. Also, for anyone wanting to get back into analogue, they don't have to worry about making any accidents because they are the only one in there at any one time.

My own work is so personal that this environment has given me the space to create it from taking the image through developing and printing, and then hand making my own frames. I will offering workshops in the new year which will be held on a one to one basis.

Please direct any queries or bookings directly to Grace via her email address: info@gracejackson.co.uk

Grace will soon be featured on the Photograd platform and we can't wait to introduce you all to her work!

Zine review: Gloucestershire by Ted Homer

We recently interviewed University of the West of England graduate, Ted Homer, about his work. Ted kindly sent us a copy of his brand new zine, Gloucestershire, and so we've decided to create a short review. If you'd like to create your own review about a favourite photobook or zine, get in touch photogradsub@gmail.com.

Photographer and Title: Gloucestershire, Ted Homer

Genre: Landscape

Rating: 4.5/5

Website: www.tedhomer.co.uk

Presented in the form of a flexible paperback, and A4 in size, this zine has a good amount of information and images inside it. The text and images flow well, and the introductory paragraph is a must. The zine takes us on a journey, seemingly allowing us to follow Ted around and find out more about Gloucestershire where he currently resides. 

 
Introduction

Introduction

 
 
Ruardean Hill, Forest of Dean 2016

Ruardean Hill, Forest of Dean 2016

 

The layout of the zine is what works so well. Single images to a page are printed as big as they can be for the overall size of the zine, presenting us with detail and clarity. Other pages show us two images together, giving the opportunity to contemplate and perceive different spots next to one another. On the odd occasion larger images are presented next to each other without text, and I think these are visually my favourite. 

 
 

I've given Gloucestershire a 4.5/5 rating as I usually much prefer a more stable book that I'm able to leave open and look back at when I feel the need to. This is of course very much a personal preference, and is probably due to the fact this is the first zine I've ever owned.

 
Charlton Hayes, South Gloucestershire 2015

Charlton Hayes, South Gloucestershire 2015

 

Overall the sequence and selection of images work well; a quick flick through the zine gives an obvious insight into Ted’s photographic style and the sorts of locations he likes to work in. This is a very simple layout nonetheless, a great flick through zine when you need some inspiration!

Images and text by Melissa, Photograd co-creator.

Future Photograd: Ted Homer

University of the West of England graduate, Ted Homer, spoke to us about his new body of work titled Gloucestershire which will be exhibited in August alongside an accompanying zine. We can't wait to get our hands on one!

We also have a Photograd Feature coming soon where we spoke with Ted even more about his practise and previous body of work, Suburb.

 
 

Above images from the series Gloucestershire

Series length
The idea for this project was underlying when I left university in 2013, but I couldn’t act on it due to funding a project on this scale. A year later I acquired funding for the project from English Arts Council and after a couple of months of planning, I started to shoot. I was taking photographs for the next year and a half. Then I started scanning and creating an edit I was happy with to be used in an exhibition and a publication, this has taken up the last 3 months.

Series influences
The original idea of focusing solely on a county partly came from the county-by-county architectural guides authored by Nikolaus Pevsner. Once I started the project I tried to read and watch anything about Gloucestershire that I could find. My work is also influenced by traditional landscape painters, such as Gainsborough and Constable. 

Future aims for the work
I’m planning a exhibition for the work to take place in August, which is going to be in Gloucester. As part of the project there will be a zine that, for the first run will be free at the exhibition and then free via my website. I would like to show the work to as many communities across the county as possible, so I’ll try to exhibit the work at least a couple more times within Gloucestershire. One other thing I would like to achieve with the project would be some form of archive for the images that didn’t make the edit, I have nearly 3,000 images on a hard drive, and even though they didn’t make the cut they would offer something if shown.  

Is the series finished?
It's nearly there. The edit is done, the zine is finally being printed. Currently I'm in the early stages of organising the exhibition in Gloucester, with images already at the printers and framers.

Find out more about Ted and his work here.