Shouldn’t Throw Stones – The View of a Night Watchman

A Photography Exhibition by University of Sunderland graduate Kevin Casey.

From the series  Shouldn't Throw Stones

From the series Shouldn't Throw Stones

SHOULDN’T THROW STONES – The view of a Night Watchman, is the culmination of a two-year project undertaken by artist Kevin Casey. Part documentary photography, part archival re-presentation and part making ends meet, as Casey’s ‘night job’ as an on-site security guard at the former Pilkington Glass Headquarters became his ‘day job’ as an artist, the work presented tells the story of an uncertain future, tense present and captivating past. 

The collection, including C-Type prints, archive film, projections and uncovered artefacts also testifies to the situation that Casey found himself in - part voyeur and part guardian - whilst drawing the viewers’ attention to the vicissitudes of contemporary capitalism and its contested relationship to our recent industrial and manufacturing past. 

Further to the works on display at Alexandra Park, visitors to the exhibition will have the opportunity to visit selected spaces within the former Pilkington Glass complex, designed by the mid-20th Century Architect, Edwin Maxwell Fry, of Fry and Drew. A short tour will include a visit to the modernist Tower whose Armourclad panels have dominated the skyline of St. Helen’s since the complexes construction in the late 1950s. Avinash Chandra’s back-lit, abstract relief panel of stained, fused glass and Jon Humphrey Spender’s artwork can also be viewed, as well as the panelled lift lobby, former canteen and elements of the landscaped grounds, including the north lake and concrete bridge. 

As much of the site is not normally publicly accessible, the exhibition and short tour provides a rare opportunity to view a Modernist landmark and exhibited materials that possess a deep local and global significance. 

Watch the promotional video here

Images from the series  Shouldn't Throw Stones

Images from the series Shouldn't Throw Stones

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Exhibition Dates: Friday 4 May – Thursday 7 June 

Site Tours are available every Saturday and Sunday for the duration of the exhibition. Additional tours are available on the opening day of the exhibition. 

Free tickets available through Eventbrite

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A book of the project will also be launched on Thursday 3rd May and will be available to purchase at the exhibition and online.

www.shouldntthrowstones.co.uk
#shouldntthrowstones
#theviewofanightwatchman 

Chris Mear: The Final Video From Coalville Photographed

Coalville Photographed, By Graham Ellis
A Series of Short Films By Christopher Mear

Unfortunately Chris' video series has come to an end. We've really enjoyed sharing the new episode every fortnight and we're now really excited to get to work creating a Spotlight to showcase his accompanying zine. In case you've missed the series or would like to catch up, you can find all the videos here. A massive thank you to Chris for sticking with us and allowing us to share his journey through the creation of this body of work. You can also find out more about Chris in our interview with him here.

The Charnwood Hills are too striking a feature to be passed over without especial notice. When seen obscurely they appear like an extensive range of mountains, much larger than they really are. When approached, the mountain style is still preserved, the prominences are sharp, distinct, and most of them pointed with rugged rocks. One of these prominences, Bardon Hill, rises above the rest: and though far from an elevated situation, it probably commands a greater extent of surface than any other point of view on the island. It is entirely insulated, standing, in every way, at a considerable distance from lands equally high. The horizon appears to rise almost equally on every side: it is quite an ocean view, from a ship out of sight of land. The midland district, almost every acre of it, is seen lying at its feet. The Sugar Loaf, in South Wales—the mountains of Shropshire and North Wales are distinctly in view—and the Derbyshire hills, to the highest peak, appear at hand. An outline, described from the extremity of this view, would include nearly one-fourth of England and Wales. It may be deemed one of the most extraordinary points of view in nature.

- T.R. Potter, The History and Antiquities of Charnwood Forest: With an Appendix On the Geology, Botany and Ornithology of the District, 1842

In the days before this shoot Graham and Liz had a series of disagreements, leading to some tension at home. Come Thursday morning Graham was told he can’t use the ‘chariot’ to go and take photographs. This left Graham with the choice of either abandoning the shoot and staying at home, or shooting somewhere within an hours walking distance.

Bardon Hill is the highest point in Leicestershire, standing at 912 feet (278 m) above sea level, but in comparison to the nearby Beacon Hill it seems to gain little attention or interest.

The presence of Bardon Hill was consistent during our journeys around North West Leicestershire. No matter where we ventured the radio mast at its summit always found a way to reveal itself and the hills heavily scarred (by a “Super-Quarry”) west face. Graham has wanted to walk to the summit ever since he arrived in Coalville in 1988. He’s lived, for most of the last twenty-seven years, at the foot of it, but due to the inevitable distraction of daily life, he never quite found the time to make the climb. He currently lives just around the corner from one of several public footpaths leading to the summit, it was really the only viable option for a shoot of any interest this week. So Graham would therefore finally realise one of his ultimate long-standing ambitions. 

This would be the last Coalville Photographed shoot I would film. Although I continued to join Graham for several more shoots, though it was becoming increasingly difficult for him to negotiate the time away, I only made photographs. But eventually, due to the increasing strain of caring for Liz, and finally, the loss of his temporary respite each Thursday morning, Graham was forced into publishing the last Coalville Photographed post, in June 2016. He has however vowed to maintain the page with occasional photographs taken as he goes about his daily chores. 

Dedication, Coalville Photographed via YouTube.

Chris Mear: The Penultimate Video From Coalville Photographed

Coalville Photographed, By Graham Ellis
A Series of Short Films By Christopher Mear

In the weeks leading up to this particular Coalville Photographed shoot, which happened to be on the estate Graham has lived for the majority of his time in the town, he had become increasingly interested, excited and vocal about the online photographic guru, Mike Browne. Graham passionately suggested that I watch one particular youtube video of Browne’s above any other. Entitled How dedicated to photography are you?, this particular video was made following a letter Mike received from a man named Peter:

Hi Mike, 

Does it happen with photography like with music, that you could be a professional and/or great photographer if you start at an early age? Does age matter when it comes to becoming an excellent photographer?

To which Mike delivered a 6 and a half minute monologue about the importance of dedication:

Well the thing is, how much do you want to be an ‘excellent photographer’? Is it something you want to do or is it something you’re going to do? But what’s the difference? Well, I’ve been running my photography business for a long time, and many years ago I chose to turn my hobby, which was photography, into my income, and that’s a whole other story. But part of that was that I wanted to be able to travel and see some more of the world, to sort of experience some of the amazing things that go on out there in the world. But it was always ‘something I’d like to do’, and time passed and the business started to grow and I was having a pretty good time, and I didn’t have to work terribly hard to cover my expenses, and I could go and play on my motorbike. But it was always ‘something I’d like to do’. Then, last year, something happened. My brilliant, awesome, inspiring, funny, witty and incredible Mum, died, in September last year. And it was very devastating, despite the fact I knew it was coming. But something in me changed then, I kind of realised how old I was, I kind of realised that ‘hey, you’re in you fifties now and you’ve always wanted to go off and see some more of the world’. But that’s all it was, ‘I wanted to’. And when my Mum died it changed from ‘I want to’, to ‘I’m going to’… I got dedicated to doing whatever it takes to make that happen.

Last year, I was teaching at a local night school, I was just teaching adult education to a bunch of people who were paying a fairly reasonable fee to come on a photography course… but something that really amazed me was that I would give people some homework to do, which was associated with the lesson that we’d just done, and then the following week, quite a large percentage of people would say ‘I didn’t have time this week’, or, I could see that they’d sort of come home and they’d sort of got half an hour before they’d got to jump in the car because they’ve got to go, and they’d sort of done their homework because ‘Mike might grizzle at them’. Well I don’t care if they do the homework or not, and I don’t mind if you guys do the homework or not. I don’t mind what you do, so long as you’re happy. But here’s the key; if you want to take ‘excellent photographs’ or maybe become a professional photographer you’ve got to do the homework, you’ve got to put in the hours, you’ve got to dedicate some time to doing stuff, you have to get out there and practice and get experience.

Photography’s experiential learning - most things in life are. You have to experience it and get the experience so that you know what to do in a given situation. Much as I would love to be able to put my hand up here and go ‘clip’ and unplug knowledge and then insert it into your head for you - for a fee, of course. Then it would be awesome, but I can’t do that. Wouldn’t that be easy? I wouldn’t have to webmaster the site. I wouldn’t have to keep thinking up new ideas for films, shooting stuff and having poor old Lorna standing out in the cold and rain and all that kind of stuff while we’re making films. The thing is, it’s a dedication thing. So, whatever that means for you…

Watch Mike Browne’s full monologue here.

The camera doesn't do anythingCoalville Photographed via YouTube.

Chris Mear: The Sixth Video From Coalville Photographed

Coalville Photographed, By Graham Ellis
A Series of Short Films By Christopher Mear

We're back again with Chris' sixth video!

Showcasing Chris' fortnightly videos for his series is almost at an end, but he's been working on the magazine that will be released and subsequently featured on our Spotlight in the coming months. We can't wait to see the outcome.

Watch the next video in the series to continue the journey with Graham.

I just capture images, Coalville Photographed via YouTube.

Chris Mear: The Fifth Video From Coalville Photographed

Coalville Photographed, By Graham Ellis
A Series of Short Films By Christopher Mear

Somehow it's been another two weeks since Chris' last video, so we're now presenting you with number 5!

There are more questions than answers
Pictures in my mind that will not show
There are more questions than answers
And the more I find out the less I know
Yeah, the more I find out the less I know

I've asked the question time and time again
Why is there so little of a moment
Oh, what is life, how do we live
What should we take and how much should we give

- There Are More Questions Than Answers, Johnny Nash

There Are More Questions Than Answers, Coalville Photographed via YouTube.

Chris Mear: The Fourth Video From Coalville Photographed

Coalville Photographed, By Graham Ellis
A Series of Short Films By Christopher Mear

Chris is back again with his fourth video in the Coalville Photographed series and he's written a little more this time which allows us to get to know him even further. Have a read of the text below and find out about Chris' thoughts and influences before watching the new video!

It’s funny. You ask me what I do and I’ll tell you pretty confidently that ‘I’m a photographer’. You ask me what I photograph however, and I might stumble, before eventually replying with a short, simple and significantly less certain, ‘I just photograph everything really’. I don’t photograph everything. I never have and I never will. I just photograph what interests me at a particular moment. But I don’t like the idea of narrowing my options in an ocean of possibilities. I’ve never been particularly attracted to ‘pretty pictures’ though. Don’t get me wrong, I love looking at a beautiful sunset as much as the next man, maybe more so. It’s just that my first inclination when confronted by this kind of universally accepted beauty isn’t to reach for my camera. I prefer, maybe a little selfishly, to simply experience it. 

Walking through the village of Belton, Graham began to talk about a series of articles he’d been reading online, over the previous fortnight, that collectively posed the question ‘how far should you go with photography?’ This is an important question for every photographer to ask themselves. But I think it needs to be asked privately, by the individual to the individual, and it needs to be answered with honesty. And at the time Graham raised this question I had my own set of questions racing through my head. The foremost being, “do we (I) really need photography?” 

“There are too many images, too many cameras now. We're all being watched. It gets sillier and sillier. As if all action is meaningful. Nothing is really all that special. It's just life. If all moments are recorded, then nothing is beautiful and maybe photography isn't an art anymore. Maybe it never was.”
Robert Frank, Vanity Fair magazine, 2008

I might be a little late to the whole ‘there are too many photographs now’ grumble, but we are drowning in them. And I think we’re drowning in our desire to photograph too. It’s not a unique observation to notice the rising tide of phones at the slightest hint of something noteworthy, humorous or beautiful. But what happens to the majority of these photographs? More often than not they’re destined to reside in social media, where suddenly the importance of the moment captured seems to become overshadowed by the number of views, likes and comments the photographer receives. It becomes a popularity contest. A race for affirmation. A marketing ploy. Are we even still looking at the photograph anymore?

Everyone’s a photographer now. So if my response to ‘what do you do’ is that ‘I’m a photographer’ it just feels like I might as well say ‘I’m a human being. But nothing special’. Because that would be true. I am a human being, and I am nothing special - there’s 7.5 billion of us. But as a human being I do have an incredibly privileged position in the world, in the universe, and beyond. Maybe. Whilst some may be significantly more privileged than others, the sheer existence of ourselves as human beings is a huge privilege in itself. So why do I need to be something special?

As we’re regularly reminded, ‘we are all unique’. I had a very specific upbringing, by very specific people, at a very specific time, in a very specific part of the world, with a very specific language and culture. And all of those things have quietly conspired to guide me and begin to form my opinions, beliefs and perception of the world around me. We all have a unique perspective to share. To record. Some people write. Some people sing. Some people paint. Some people talk. Some people fight. Some people fall trapped in silence and don’t share their perspective at all. But the vast majority of people, who share their perspective, share it only with a small, carefully selected group of fellow human beings, through banal conversation, humour and shared experience. What's increasingly obvious now though is that almost all of these types of people do share, or at least preserve, significant aspects of their perspective through the medium of photography.

“The world now contains more photographs than bricks, and they are, astonishingly, all different.”
John Szarkowski, William Eggleston’s Guide, 1976

‘How far should you go with photography?’ Well I’d suggest you should go far as you need to go, to say what you want to say. But we can only, truthfully, answer that question in relation to ourselves. ‘Do we (I) really need photography?’ Well, to tell you that ‘I’m a photographer’ now I might have to acknowledge my insignificance in an ever expanding ocean. But, at the very least our photography will be a record of our subjective perspective of our time. But more than this, if you slow down, and consider it, photography has a unique ability, to teach us how to see, listen and understand. And to pursue an education from our primary senses, seems, to me, to be a more than worthwhile pastime, for any small fish.

How far should you go with photography? Coalville Photographed via YouTube.

Chris Mear: The Third Video From Coalville Photographed

Coalville Photographed By Graham Ellis
A Series Of Short Films By Christopher Mear

It's already time for us to share Chris' third video in his series. Let us know what you think!

How would I have found any of this? Coalville Photographed video via YouTube.

Follow an easily missable path just off the main road which runs through a very small village called Griffydam and you will find a small chalybeate well from which this little village found its name. 

The story goes that ‘Griffydam’ derives from a combination of the terms for an ancient mythical beast with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle, and a contained water source. Because a Griffin once zealously guarded the well, forcing villagers to walk several miles for their water, until one day the griffin was slain by a passing knight.

An alternative explanation suggests that ‘Griffydam’ derives from ‘Griffith’s-Dam’ - a man-made pond, for which remnants of its bank can still be seen at the end of that easily missable path just off the main road. Several nineteenth century trade directories also refer to the settlement as ‘Griffth’s-Dam’ before the name 'Griffydam' occurred sometime around 1764, when it was referred to as being noted for its mineral water, as a place near Ashby-de-la-Zouch.

Chris Mear: The Second Video From Coalville Photographed

Coalville Photographed, By Graham Ellis
A Series of Short Films By Christopher Mear

We introduced Chris and his new project in a previous blog post and it's now time for us to showcase the second video in the series. Chris has written another piece for the post this week which gives some more context to the work.

Because of something that you've started Coalville Photographed video via YouTube.

The exploitation of the famous ‘black diamond’ was central to the economy and communities of Coalville and its surrounding parts of Leicestershire for centuries. Not only did the coalfield play a significant role in the history of British mining, but the communities that were built in and around it have shaped both the local landscape and the heritage of the people who live and work here today. Every aspect of the areas cultural identity was centred around the pits, so with the infamous demise of the coal mining industry, in the 80's and 90's, came a long period of unsettledness and uncertainty for this young and small mining town.

In a positive move, soon after the last coal mine was closed, Leicestershire County Council unveiled Snibston Discovery Museum. Situated on the site of Coalville’s former Snibston Colliery, the museum offered both a hub for the community and a national attraction. A place to enjoy and celebrate, but most importantly, to learn from the history which has made Coalville, and its near and far surroundings, what it is today. Less than a decade after the loss of the industry that both gave birth and supported the town through thick and thin, peace and war, a significant element of it was reborn. Offering a glimpse into the future through the regeneration of its old and trusty heart.

Coincidentally, as I was commissioned by Snibston to produce my project Just Passing By (2014), and as I began to work with Graham on Coalville Photographed. Leicestershire County Council publicly announced that they are facing their ‘biggest ever financial challenge’. Soon after this announcement there came a public proposal to refocus Snibston Discovery Museum into a smaller museum ‘more directly linked to the story of coal mining’. This would include demolishing the current museum and selling the land for redevelopment. 

On the day of closure, in late July, 2015, after the last admission to the museum was made, people from all over the country suddenly appeared and formed a very British showing of solidarity - #QueueForSnibston.

On the day of closure, in late July, 2015, after the last admission to the museum was made, people from all over the country suddenly appeared and formed a very British showing of solidarity - #QueueForSnibston.

Snibston Discovery Museum, Coalville, 2016.

Snibston Discovery Museum, Coalville, 2016.

Earlier this year, after several prolonged and passionate protests and legal challenges by the local community, Snibston Discovery Museum was demolished along with the County Councils public acknowledgement that the smaller museum, ‘more directly linked to the story of coal mining’, was unachievable.

 

To find out more about Chris and his series Just Passing By, see our feature with him here.

Chris Mear: An Introduction To Coalville Photographed

Coalville Photographed, By Graham Ellis
A Series of Short Films By Christopher Mear

Photograd featured photographer Chris Mear, find him here, has allowed us to be a part of his new project. On fortnightly Thursdays, for four months, we will be featuring Chris' new video on our blog, before a dedicated Spotlight will showcase the zine he will subsequently create for this body of work. This very personal work to Chris has been in the making for some time in collaboration with Graham Ellis. Chris has introduced himself, Graham, the idea, and their first video in this post, and we hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

"You can only photograph what's there." Coalville Photographed video via YouTube

 

In January 2014 I was commissioned by Snibston Discovery Museum (Leicestershire) to continue my long-term work photographing a period of post-industrial transition which has coincidentally aligned with my own lifetime. I would spend six-months photographing and initiating conversations with local people in the town of Coalville, as we passed each other by. The aim? Was reasonably simple. To piece together the current nature of the town, and it’s surroundings, and understand how it has altered over the course of its recent history.

I was keen to use individual perspectives as smaller narratives within the overall body of work. It was in thinking about this that I first came into contact with Graham Ellis. It was late one evening and I was scrolling through local websites, looking for anything that caught my imagination, when I landed on a Facebook page called ‘Coalville Photographed’. 

Crammed full of photographs of the town and it’s surroundings, neatly archived into geographic albums. I was intrigued. I got in touch with the creator of the page and following a long exchange, which trailed well into the night, we arranged to meet up in town to discuss potentially working together on my new project.

Luckily, for reasons which will later become apparent, Graham’s wife had an appointment at the hairdressers that morning, which allowed us to meet. The meet went well, we got along and Graham agreed to let me accompany him on his shoots. Thursday morning, 10am - 12pm, every two weeks.

My idea was to use Graham as a guide through the town. Making a photograph of him in each area we visited, and combining each photograph with some text, written by Graham, about each specific location.

Ultimately, the idea didn’t work out and it didn’t make the final edit. But over several shoots we did develop a friendship. And I was becoming increasingly inspired and in awe of Graham’s photographic approach. So I continued to shadow him as he made his work. But aware that it wasn’t working photographically, and as I was growing tired and frustrated with photography in general, I switched still images for moving ones, and introduced sound.

Every now then, at the end of a shoot, Graham would introduce me to one of his favourite songs: 

“… Do you mind if I make a suggestion?

Don't dig there, dig it elsewhere,

Your digging it round and it ought to be square,

The shape of it's wrong, it's much too long,

And you can't put hole where a hole don't belong….”

 

“…I just couldn't bear, to dig it elsewhere,

I'm digging it round co's I don't want it square,

And if you disagree it doesn't bother me,

That's the place where the holes gonna be…”

- ‘Hole In The Ground’, Bernard Cribbins

 

At the time that I started to work with Graham I was becoming consumed by both the dream of a “career” as a photographer, and a pursuit of “the art world”. Theoretical influences, concepts, artists statements, proposals, competitions, networking, open calls, group exhibitions, etc, etc. As a student I remember the countless visiting lecturers that would tell us that as a professional photographer, you won’t get as much time actually photographing as you might expect. Which I always found hard to believe. And yet here I was chasing that dream, realising it’s reality, and feeling frustrated, isolated, and confused.

 

There are more questions than answers,

Pictures in my mind that will not show,

There are more questions than answers,

And the more I find out the less I know…”

 

“…I’ve asked the question time and time again,

Why is there so little of a moment,

Oh, what is life, how do we live,

What should we take and how much should we give?”

‘There Are More Questions Than Answers’, Johnny Nash

 

I was attracted to Graham’s pure and simple approach to photography. An approach born out of a lifelong passion which later turned into a means of temporary escape. It reminded me of something Garry Winogrand famously said “I take photographs to see what something will look like photographed”. The approach that led me to fall in love with photography in the first place. If truth be told, I might have fallen more for the approach than the photographs themselves.

I spent 15 months shadowing Graham. The result of which will gradually appear on YouTube over the coming months. But eventually I stopped filming, and started photographing again. Not him, but with him. In his style, my old style. With innocence and enthusiasm, “to see what something will look like photographed”. A style which I’m beginning to believe in again. A style which might have taught me more than I dared believe when I was chasing those white walls, glossy pages and shiny floors. I’m hoping to share those photographs, alongside Graham’s, in print later this year once our YouTube channel is complete.

 

“…Can you imagine us,

Years from today,

Sharing a park bench quietly?

How terribly strange,

To be seventy…”

 

“…Old friends,

Memory brushes the same years,

Silently sharing the same fear…”

 

“…Preserve your memories,

They’re all that’s left you.”

- ‘Old Friends / Bookends’, Simon & Garfunkel