Illuminate, a photography organisation aimed at providing a network and a platform to quality photographic practice in Hull.
Who are you, what's your motto? Illuminate is a photography network based in Hull and East Yorkshire where I am from. It was founded by myself, Verity Adriana, and fellow Hull artist Anna Bean back in 2014 after each of us had spoken at Redeye in Manchester. We agreed that Hull needed a network for the photographic talent that exists there to find support and opportunities. There are photography galleries and clubs in Hull but we felt there was a gap that Illuminate could help with, given our experience in the art world and our teaching experience.
Have you studied photography? What are your thoughts? I have studied photography at Leeds Arts University at postgraduate level, which was a fantastic experience not only at allowing me to develop my own practice but to seek out opportunities and commissions. It wasn't until I was putting my work in front of people that I became more confident and developed further as an artist. I consider my self a photographic artist and focus on the artistic practice of photography. I have had pieces exhibited in America, Italy, London and Hull and have been published in Lungs, Art Reveal, Yorkshire Art Journal and Guardian Online. I currently work at Coventry University on the Guardian ranked no1 Photography degree in the country as Assistant Lecturer, a job I love!
What is Illuminate? Where did the idea arise from? What has the group achieved so far? Illuminate is a photography network based in Hull that is run by myself, Verity Adriana and was co founded with Anna Bean. We knew there was a gap in the photography scene in Hull for local artists to showcase their talent and provide them with opportunities. Having both worked as lecturers for many years we knew how to nurture talent and help people develop. Once you have learned how to use a camera, what can you do with it? How can you express your ideas or document what you are interested in? We began by putting out a call out in Hull and surrounding areas for people to come and speak at our first event, Illuminate: Speak. We were overwhelmed with applications of all kinds of levels of experience and genre. We ran our first presentation event, where eight Hull based photographer each spoke about their work to a room full of the Illuminate audience. This was so popular that we ran two more events and featured artists such as Graeme Oxby, Rich Wiles, Saskia Blacker and Les Monaghan to name but a handful. Illuminate has showcased the work of various photographic practitioners of international acclaim and hobbyists alike; we are particularly interested in artists that show a sophistication of ideas and development as well as technical ability.
Tell us more about Project Legacy 2018 and your successful funding bid. From there I wrote a project based on an idea Anna had seen work for another organisation, where we would commission two artists as well as ourselves, to produce a body of work that investigates the legacy of the City of Culture post 2017 in Hull. We put another call out in on social media and selected two artists called Anete Soda and Karim Skalli, (both Hull based and photography graduates), whose proposals we felt were the most interesting in how they would explore the idea of the impact of the city of culture in Hull's makers, public, artists, venues, spaces and places, businesses and developments. It is obviously very early to really understand the full potential of the legacy however this project will be interesting in how it can explore the early days, and in a way is becoming part of the legacy itself, by continuing to explore and produce art in Hull that is about the city.
We are passionate about paying artists, rather than expecting that they work for free or for 'exposure'. So I put together a successful funding bid sent to Hull City Council, and we can now pay each artist a small fee to make the work. I will be looking at other sources of funding also, as we will need further resources when it comes to production and exhibition time!
Can people get involved with what you are doing? If so, how? Absolutely, we plan on having public events, discussions and engagement. So far the project is in its infancy, or development phase, so as we build and progress what we are doing we are putting out a series of posts online across the website and social media, introducing each artist and their ideas and practice. I would encourage everyone to follow us, not only to see who we are and what we are doing, but how they can engage with future events and contribute to the project.
What does the group have planned for the future? For the immediate future we plan on each artist developing our projects, researching and making images. I am deep in the research stages, and have been lucky enough to speak to city planners, historians, artists and even the mayor in Londonderry, the previous hosts of City of Culture - as well as reading up on culture, arts and photographic practice in culture. As a group we will be producing resolved works by December and plan to exhibit in spring 2019 in Hull. I have also contacted the Culture team in Coventry so that potentially the exhibition could travel. I also want to find further funding for us to help us produce and exhibit. We have further plans for exhibition time, but for now they are secret and will be announced nearer the time!