Photograd at PhotoEast 2018

A Photograd exhibition | Opening Thursday 24th May 2018 as part of PhotoEast

A selection of the Photograd community come together for PhotoEast 2018 to present work around the festival’s theme of Belonging | On display in the University of Suffolk’s Waterfront Building from 6pm Thursday 24th May - 6pm Sunday 24th June.

The Ipswich waterfront will be home to photographers who explore the theme of belonging in their work and Photograd featured graduates have come together to join in with the celebrations.

A collective of 12 photographers are representing Photograd and honouring the theme of Belonging at PhotoEast's second festival. Having been given one long wall in the universities Waterfront Building, Photograd have curated a varying sequence of work that is bound by these similar themes and attitudes. Differing print sizes entice the viewer to migrate through the space to view work at their own pace.

Digital copies of the full catalogue accompanying the Photograd exhibition can be found in our shop.

Each of the photographers in this exhibition have defined and secured the theme of Belonging in distinctive ways.

Norwich University of the Arts graduate Karim Skalli explores his identity and mixed cultural heritage though a series of photographs from which this image belongs. “As the son of an English mother and Moroccan father, the project attempts to show the coming together of cultures, the conflicts and juxtaposition created through merging English and Moroccan culture and the influence of this on my identity. The work ponders my western outsider gaze, my ‘cast on’ view of my father’s homeland whilst at the same time acknowledging my own sense of never being fully British.”

Image from the series  Third Space  by  Karim Skalli

Image from the series Third Space by Karim Skalli

Newport University graduate Declan Connolly was part of the first Photograd exhibition in 2017 and continues to support, and be supported by, our community. “Becoming an Island addresses the themes of an isolated United Kingdom in the form of manipulated pebbles collected from its shores. Each image is a composite of a pebble photographed and re-photographed in various stages of physical erasure. Reflecting the audience's relationship with current Brexit negotiations, the work can be viewed as a series of coexisting and united objects or the immediate decline of a singular entity.”

Image from the series  Becoming an Island  by  Declan Connolly

Image from the series Becoming an Island by Declan Connolly

Tom Owens studied at the University of Suffolk itself and graduated in 2014. Tom has continued to push his work since finishing his studies and presents here a new series, Estuarine Mud.

"This series is an extension of my successful Edgelands series. I repeatedly visit the same locations when making my work and it was a return visit to the source of my Edgelands project brought about by radical reshaping of the derelict factories at Cattawade to ready the site for a new railway depot that brought the creek at Cattawade into sharp focus. The series is shot from both sides of the Stour Estuary but only at dead low water on spring tides and with little or no wind. Most of the images are very early morning or just before sundown."

Cattawade Creek  from the series  Estuarine Mud  by  Tom Owens

Cattawade Creek from the series Estuarine Mud by Tom Owens

The exhibition can be seen at the University of Suffolk’s Waterfront Building until Sunday 24th June before it makes its way to Norwich.
University of Suffolk, Waterfront Building.

Photograd Experience: Laurence Stearn at PhotoEast

We spoke to Laurence Stearn, Film graduate from Kingston University, London, and assistant at this years PhotoEast festival. Laurence told us all about his education, experience with making films, and the outcome of the project he worked on with Tim Mitchell at PhotoEast. We set out to discover how Laurence ended up working at the festival with a degree in Film, and we hope you enjoy reading about his experience!

Education: I studied Film at Kingston and started in 2010. The course was split 75% theory and 25% practical, which I later realised wasn't really what I wanted. I spent more of my second year experimenting in the darkroom than in the film department. I did find my dissertation work very rewarding because I could really narrow down my research and focus on areas in cinema that really interested me. I settled on exploring a pre-existing argument about horror films in the 1970's; a time where a barrage of revolutionary films from the United States (sometimes referred to as the 'American Nightmare') blew the cobwebs off the stagnant Hammer horror of the UK. 

After I finished my degree in Film at Kingston University I tried pretty hard to get work in the industry in London and ended up doing a couple of brief internship trials and some runner work. I was offered an internship at a production company but it wasn't paid and was more or less full time. Having already moved out from Kingston and with next to no money to live on, let alone start renting again, I had to decline and come home to Suffolk.

I went to university with the intention to write about films but quickly realised this idea didn't allow a lot of room for creative freedom, so I started making short films instead which gave me the opportunity to experiment and make the work that I was doing much more personal. As with photography, film making seems to give you a much better sense of authorship over the work you do which seems to let people become more passionate about their work, I think. 

The two short documentaries that I produced were made as a kind of fly on the wall look at farming life in Suffolk. I initially made a film about my Grandpa, a retired farmer who was reluctantly forced to sell his land and house after it having been at the heart of the family for generations. The way that I looked at the farmers in these films was with great admiration. Two typical ways in which rural life in the 21st century has been portrayed are either as an idyllic, lush green close knit community or as a decaying environment where abandoned farms litter swathes of enormous fields. I had typically been of the latter view but made a conscious effort to let the interviews, and whatever else I could find out during the project, dictate the direction of the film. 

Learning to simply let a project evolve naturally and organically rather than approach it with a set agenda was the most important thing that I took from the practical portion of my degree. I made both films with one co-creator and close friend, Claire, who was invaluable because she brought a much wider perspective to the whole project. Coming from a city, her knowledge of agriculture more or less began with the project so she picked up on a lot of things that I really wouldn't have noticed. That said, working in groups ended up being quite problematic for most people on the course because being young and enthusiastic, people were very keen to explore their own unique style and approach to film making. The lesson we were supposed to learn was that the vast majority of film is a cumulative effort between dozens, even hundreds of individuals. What I have noticed since, however, is that more and more people can get their hands on good quality video cameras, editing software, and training via youtube, and more and more people are becoming solo film makers.   

Involvement: I made contact with Jo Bexley who was joint orchestrator of PhotoEast. This must have been sometime last summer, so almost a year in advance of the actual festival. We chatted via email about ways that I could potentially help with featured projects. I took a back seat whist the logistics of the festival were being sorted out and later in the year I had a meeting with Jo, her husband and co-creator of the project, Adrian, and photographer Tim Mitchell, where we discussed project ideas and decided that I would be of best use working with Tim on a project which would become Welcome To The Waterfront.

Welcome to the Waterfront  - Ipswich Marina

Welcome to the Waterfront - Ipswich Marina


Working with Tim was brilliant because he shared my enthusiasm for representing and addressing subjects in an organic way. Welcome To The Waterfront was based on a formula of Tim's where a group of participants make pinhole cameras and a darkroom and learn a bit about the history of photography and also get to see and understand the basic mechanics. What we attempted to do was let the project evolve naturally and discover truths about different subjects without going into it with any particular bias or agenda.

Project: The basis of this project was for a group of people from the new developments at Stoke Quay to build some pinhole cameras, then go around the marina taking photographs and engage with the social history and wider community. We primarily worked with the residents from Genesis; a social housing group responsible for the care of people with learning disabilities. With the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Ipswich Maritime Trust we set out to try and recreate some of the fantastic images that the IMT has just come into from an enormous archive of photographs of Ipswich, some of which date back over 120 years. The pinhole cameras, having an incredibly deep depth of field and used with very low sensitivity photographic paper, gave the images a really lovely aesthetic, reminiscent of the large format, glass plate images from the archive. Looking through some of the archive photographs then exploring the marina, the participants along with Tim and myself, ended up learning a lot about the rapidly changing history of Ipswich docks. 

Tim and Joel setting up the plate camera

Tim and Joel setting up the plate camera

Tim and one of the star participants, Joel, taking a photo of a square rig on the marina

Tim and one of the star participants, Joel, taking a photo of a square rig on the marina

The best development in the project for me was when Stuart Grimwade, photographer and head of the IMT, brought his old 6/8 plate camera along which he was given over 50 years ago. We cleaned it up and checked for light leaks and fungus, but everything seemed beautifully preserved. People were obviously fascinated when they saw us wandering about the marina with this beautiful bit of history and seemed to get a lot of people interested in the festival as a result. The images we got out of the plate camera were sharper and more precise than the pinhole cameras we had previous made; due to having a viewfinder of sorts, but we were also able to take better photographs with people in frame as the exposure times, though not short, were short enough so there was little to no blurring as people moved.

I got a chance to use the plate camera a few times in between sessions and decided to get a couple of family portraits, particularly one of my Grandpa.

Laurence's grandpa, shot using 35mm film

Laurence's grandpa, shot using 35mm film

Laurence's grandpa, shot using Stuart's plate camera

Laurence's grandpa, shot using Stuart's plate camera

Outcome: When it came to the actual festival and exhibition, things remained very hands on. One of our group was a local hero, Blue King, who worked her fingers to the bone organising and pasting up the final images on the waterfront.

Seeing some of the residents from Genesis on the Saturday of PhotoEast was brilliant, the group aren't usually out and about in large crowds, let alone able to see people enjoy photographs made by themselves.

Future: At the moment I have a couple of projects that I'm mapping out, again to do with the rural community. I've created a collection of 35mm photos that I took of my grandpa prior to the documentary I made about him. They represent the style in which I hoped to make the documentary.

Event Report: Photograd At PhotoEast

What's better than a photography festival based in a local town, learning more about what you enjoy, and a fantastic new event. Oh and some great weather.. Nothing!

PhotoEast has been very warmly welcomed by East Anglia this past weekend and we hope it's just the beginning for even more exciting things to come in 2018.

We hope you enjoy reading through our day and finding out about PhotoEast.


Above images taken by Henry Huxtable.


The Face of The Century, Julian Germain and The Family, Zed Nelson, are on display at the UCS Waterfront Gallery until 25th June 2016. The small gallery space at UCS has been transformed for the use of PhotoEast and this combination of exhibitions. On show is Julian's 101 portraits with sitters birth dates spanning every year of the 20th century. It's interesting to see this timeline of people span from a 100 year old and ending with a tiny baby. Also making a connection between the old and the young is Zed Nelson's work; very simple portraits of one family photographed every year, on the same day, at the same time, for over a quarter of a century.

Above images, Julian Germain and Zed Nelson. Images taken by  Henry Huxtable .

Above images, Julian Germain and Zed Nelson. Images taken by Henry Huxtable.

Also at home in the UCS Waterfront Building is the current final year Photography Degree Show, Anywhere and Everywhere, before they make their way to Hoxton Arches, London, on the 13th June. It really is a must see show this year with a strong variety of work all presented perfectly. Stand out work and presentation for us included Rachel Dockerill, David Bull, Amanda Hook, and Natalie Wall.

Adrian Manning ,  Cars of England . Image by  Henry Huxtable .

Adrian ManningCars of England. Image by Henry Huxtable.

David Bull,  The Grateful Escape.  Image by  Henry Huxtable  .

David Bull, The Grateful Escape. Image by Henry Huxtable.


Above images George Georgiou Omnibus taken by Henry Huxtable.


Shot from the top of a double decker bus, photographer George Georgiou aims to explore towns and cities from a new perspective. The work, shot in both London and Ipswich, looks at migrations and diversity in built up areas. The movement of people continues to change both the landscape and community within it. This work is fun and really unique; being presented along a busy path between the university and halls of residence gives the viewer a chance to step back, and take in even further the surroundings of the images, and those presented in the images. This is another must see part of PhotoEast!


PhotoEast Talks and Events

A small selection of photographers filled the schedule on Saturday and we chose a few of the talks to go to. Firstly was Fiona Shields, Picture Editor at The Guardian, then photographer Chloe Dewe-Mathews in conversation with curator Katy Barron, UCS Photography course leader Mark Edwards, and finally, one of the exhibiting photographers at this year's event, Julian Germain. 

Fiona ShieldsSifting through a whopping 25,000 pictures a day, the Guardian Picture Editor Fiona Shields discussed what kind of imagery is selected for publication and why. With a rough idea of what kind of stories will be highlighted each day, she looks for strong graphic images that stand out. When talking about portraiture, Fiona announced that “animation” is something they look for rather than something “dry and formal”. For the Eyewitness spread in the Guardian, the audience found out that if a group of images are printed, this means that no solo image was strong enough that day. Fiona’s preference is to print a single photograph as she finds this more effective. 

Above images taken during Fiona Shields' talk. 

Above images taken during Fiona Shields' talk. 

The Guardian has a no editing rule for imagery submitted. Darkroom processes are allowed such as the changing of contrast but nothing else would be accepted that could compromise the truthfulness of a photograph, otherwise this would encourage the readers to question the validity of the material published, in effect causing a loss of trust. Even if an image doesn’t look technically great, there is no room for manoeuvre on their no editing policy.

Something that many of us may not have considered before is that these editors have to look at all the imagery submitted, and when there’s a catastrophic event such as a terror attack, they have to sift through masses of imagery all of a graphic nature, and this overexposure can leave them emotional by the end of the day. 

Katy Barron meets Chloe Dewe-Mathews: Unlike the other talks we attended during the day, this one was much more intimate in style as it was a conversation. The talk focused solely on one body of work called Shot at Dawn produced by Chloe Dewe-Mathews over a two-year period. The project centres on the places of executions of British, French and Belgian soldiers accused of cowardice and desertion during 1914 – 1918. Each image was taken at a similar time the executions took place, and the name of the project reflects this.

Above image taken during Katy Barron and   Chloe Dewe-Mat  hews' talk.

Above image taken during Katy Barron and Chloe Dewe-Mathews' talk.

Coinciding with the centenary of the First World War, this project proposed many questions about how to photograph something that happened such a long time ago, and Chloe found this an exciting prospect to consider. After researching each case in detail it was difficult to not feel an emotional connection to the stories. So when it came to showing the work, Chloe decided to only display names and dates with each image to make it more of an objective and equalising approach to seeing the work. As Katy Barron said, this allows the viewer to project onto the imagery with their own thoughts about it, making it an active process of looking rather than a passive one, Chloe added. The project allows for the people that were swept under the carpet and kept out of the history books to become remembered, and excluding the stories has let each person be as important as the other. 

Mark EdwardsMark spoke a lot about his childhood and influences he's carried with him into the work he makes today. His earliest memories of the landscape are spending time with his Grandfather at his allotment, learning of ways we utilise and shape the land. Mark later moved to Norfolk as an outsider from Liverpool and for a time, found it difficult to make work here.

Mark photographs spaces he is fond of, those he feels a connection to and where he finds beauty. As a photographer he works very slowly, almost like a painter; he takes his time to find a location and can be thinking about a spot for over a year as he runs or cycles past, before making an image. His words were "a picture will reveal itself to me”. Mark accepts that anybody can make the images he does technically, but in fact wouldn’t because of his own personal relationship with the area.

What's interesting about Mark's work is that all areas of his images are of equal importance and everything is always in focus. There's no enjoyment in creating a hierarchy of elements within the frame which is why he works on very still, calm, overcast days to avoid any movement or fleeting moments of light. He also shoots from a height to exclude any foreground and always includes small aspects of the landscape beyond.

Julian GermainOne of the talks I found the most inspiring personally was by one of the exhibiting photographers at the inaugural PhotoEast festival, Julian Germain. Photography, according to Julian, is “a great way to discover the world”.  Areas of particular interest for him are family and amateur photography because they contain emotionally stronger stories. Discussing his projects and their conception, many stemmed from one to the other; Generations grew from The Face of The Century, for example.

As family photographs are a prominent theme to Julian's projects, he stated his concern and upset that our own personal memories are being ditched at this current time for more digital modes of preservation rather than the traditional printed material. Although he believes that some will survive, he said he’s yet to see something on a computer screen that moves him in such a way that something printed in your hands can. A particularly poignant moment during the talk was a video shown of a woman looking at family photographs. The room was so quiet as we watched the subject slowly open up emotionally, from a rather deadpan expression, to a smile donning her face, to tears in her eyes. This video perfectly illustrates the emotional quality that can be felt through family photographs that Julian discussed.

When asked what is more important, technique or content, Julian answered by saying that it’s more important to say something about life and that the camera doesn’t matter, the picture does.

Fiona Shields, Chloe Dewe-Mathews and Julian Germain talk summary by Lauren Carter.
Festival summary and Mark Edwards talk summary by Melissa Belton.


24th May - 25th June, 2016

Julian Germain, 'Face of the Century'

Julian Germain, 'Face of the Century'

PhotoEast is a new photography festival for East Anglia. Organised with support from University Campus Suffolk (soon to be the University of Suffolk), the festival will be the place to be for photography enthusiasts over the month of exhibitions, talks, activities and many other events.

The main location for the festival will be the Ipswich Waterfront along with other spots along the East Suffolk Railway line. All of the PhotoEast events are free which we think is amazing! Book yourself onto the day of talks (Saturday 28th May) via this link.

The theme this year is ‘Of Time and Place’. The UCS Waterfront Gallery will be home to two reflecting exhibitions; Julian Germain with Face of the Century, and Zed Nelson's The Family.

Image by Zed Nelson, from the series 'The Family'

Image by Zed Nelson, from the series 'The Family'

What the Photograd team are most excited about are the talks at UCS on Saturday 28th May led by world-renowned photographers and industry professionals. UCS Photography course-leader Mark Edwards will be talking about his work that he makes in East Anglia, and George Georgiou will also talk about his work made in both London and Ipswich itself which was commissioned by PhotoEast; this work will also be on display during the festival.


Throughout the day of talks in Ipswich we will be working on making some blog content based around our visit and filling our Instagram page with related images. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram to find out what we're up to.

A big congratulations to the team behind PhotoEast, we can't wait to see it all take place!