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.
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.”
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.”
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."
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.
18th May – 30th June 2018
Opening: Thursday 17th May, 6-8pm
Comprising a series of black and white still life photographs, Confessionals is based on specific childhood experiences. Guided by Annette Kuhn’s process of ‘memory work’, a method and practice of unearthing and making public untold stories, Tanriöver’s personal memories are made tangible through the photograph. Each experience is first presented as a written confession from which an image is then constructed and the combination of image and text weaves a poignant autobiographical narrative.
This singularity of intent about the work, the public exposure of private experiences, is shown through the use of black and white. By removing the potential distraction of colour, Tanriöver has created images that are the embodiment of contrary forces. Black, being visually heavy and associated with power, authority and evil, is starkly contrasted with white, a colour that projects purity and salvation and is synonymous with new beginnings. Working with analogue, the studio and the darkroom are the physical space where Tanriöver’s meditative state acts as a form of autotherapy. This process has allowed him to produce images where these opposing forces of black and white don’t compete, but rather complement each other to communicate more effectively ideas of opposition and comparison, association and acceptance.
By offering his own emotional and psychological life as art, Tanriöver invites the viewer to share in his meditations on sorrow and remembrance.
Gokhan Tanriover is a Turkish-born photographic artist living in London. Following a brief medical career, he realised his vocation lay in visual culture. Drawing on his training as a junior psychiatrist his work consists of constructed imagery that focuses on personal and cultural identity informed by personal experience and memory.
After completing his BA (Hons) Photographic Art (2017) from the University of Westminster he has been shortlisted for the Peaches and Cream photography competition (2017) and selected as a finalist in the Royal Photographic Society International Photography Exhibition 160. His work has been included in 18 group exhibitions including Separation and Belonging that he co-curated as part of the Whitechapel Gallery’s First Thursday tour in May 2016. In 2017 he was chosen to participate in the Travers Smith CSR Art programme.
For the duration of March we were seeking work from photography graduates alongside Loupe Magazine to reward with a collection of prizes and interviews. A lot of time was spent looking through the submissions and decisions were finally made. Here we present you with our final runner-up!
Fiona Filipidis was born in Paris and later studied for a BA in Photography in France before moving to study for an MA at London College of Communication. We've interviewed Fiona here about the series To make a prairie.
To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee,
The revery alone will do,
If bees are few.
Will revery alone really do if bees are few? As much as I love to daydream, I’m afraid the answer is a resounding, gut-wrenching ‘NO’. Bees are crucial to the continuation of human life. But our impact on the environment through the misuse of insecticides, added to the proliferation of pests and diseases and loss of habitat, is threatening the survival of this mighty insect. When bees have access to good nutrition, so do we – you can thank them for one in three bites of food you eat – and yet every batch of pollen has at least six pesticides in it.
From poetry to politics, religion to architecture, the honey bee has managed to waggle-dance itself into every nook and cranny of the human world. Our relationship with the bee is one that spans thousands of years, and I have attempted to synthesise it in one single book.
I divided this book into 6 chapters, each one edited in a specific way: a piece of writing is preceded by a full-page image and followed by a selection of images in relation to the text. The full-page images are of the stormy skies that descended over London on 16th October 2017, when hurricane Ophelia made her way to our shores. All I could hear and read at the time was “It’s the end of the world!” and I couldn’t help but find a parallel with what could potentially happen if bees were to become extinct. The texts are a mix of personal life experiences and detailed knowledge about the honey bee and its history in relation to us.
The imagery is a mix of found artefacts and my own photographs. Mingling the past with the present is my way of showing our constant and ever-growing relationship with the honey bee. My hope is that there is something for everyone in this book; if a teenager were to pick it up and see a photo of Beyoncé, I would love for it to peak their curiosity and push them to do a little bit of digging.
This project is more relevant now than ever. Every day, news articles emerge with ever-growing alarming headlines about bees and insects in general. We humans hold the fate of the wee honey bee in our millions of hands. By some unimaginable, intangible natural power, we have been given the gift of life, and it is our duty to make sure all living entities that share our cosmos continue on the path they were meant to take.
Can you introduce yourself? What and where did you study? What's your motto? I am a 28 year-old multicultural photographer who grew up in the leafy suburbs of Paris, France. My dad is half-French, half-Greek and my mum is half-English, half-Scottish. I have Portuguese relatives and grew up surrounded by friends from all over the globe, which I feel all greatly contributed to my openness and curiosity for the world.
I studied for a BA in Photography in Paris before moving to the UK to pursue an MA in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at London College of Communication, from which I graduated this past January.
I have never had to think about a motto before, but maybe “laughter is the best medicine”! I love a good chuckle.
Give us an overview of your work. What themes do you like to explore? My most recent projects are all related to nature and the environment in one way or another. Prior to To make a prairie, I was working on an image/text concept book called El Dorado which deals with the notion of gold in its broadest of meanings, whether it be physical or purely metaphorical, and What do you want to be when you grow up? which portrays our desire to reconnect with nature through a humorous, albeit slightly strange, depiction of my fantasized mother/daughter relationship with Phoebe, my favourite houseplant.
I always try to add an element of humour or levity to my projects and my writing, as I have come to realise that it helps people react to and interact with my work on a different level. I believe that you don’t always have to show the negative aspects of any given situation in order to bring awareness to it. I find the idea of talking about important issues contrasted with an underlying light-hearted tone to be a very interesting one that I would love to push further.
I recently came across an article written by Tim Davis on photogeliophobia, or the fear of funny photography, in which he states that, “The history of photography’s overall overseriousness starts to feel like a first date that can’t laugh at the ketchup he’s spilled in his lap.” And the combination of spilt ketchup and the noise the bottle makes while doing so is more often than not quite amusing.
What encouraged you to submit to the Loupe Magazine and Photograd call for work? Have you got any tips for photographers submitting work for similar opportunities? Getting your work out there is the tricky part upon graduating, as you want to use the momentum you’ve gathered throughout the year to propel you and keep pushing for your work to be seen. Photograd is the ideal platform to start, as you’re only a graduate once (or twice). I have been following the website for years now and have always been amazed by the quality of the photographic projects you choose to publish, and feel humbled to be in such great company. I am also excited whenever I come across new platforms such as Loupe Magazine, as I believe there can never be enough websites and magazines to showcase emerging talent. So the combination of both seemed perfect!
My main piece of advice would be to keep applying to calls and competitions, even if the constant rejections can cause you to lose hope (which I have lost on many occasions, but keeps returning again and again). I find being organised to also be very useful; I have monthly lists organised by closing dates on my desktop so that I know when I need to apply for calls, residencies, competitions, grants, and what to send.
How did this series come to the surface? Why did you decide to make work around our relationship with bees? It was all very coincidental, really, as most projects usually are! I was chatting with one of my tutors from LCC, Morag Livingstone, about what I could work on next when she, quite bluntly, asked me, “What pisses you off and what brings you joy?”. I realised there and then that a natural theme underlined all of my answers, and she saw my eyes light up when I told her about hives being kept on rooftops in the middle of Paris. I had also, like many other people, received dozens of email petitions to “Save the Bees” but had never given them much thought. And I had been struck by a photograph that was doing the rounds on Facebook at the time, showing what the fruit and veg aisle of a supermarket would look like if bees were to become extinct. So I started my research and within a couple of days that was it, I was hooked, all I could think of were bees, bees, bees. In my book, I quote British beekeeper R. O. B. Manley who defines bee fever as “a form of insanity from which you never really recover”, and to my great delight I think I’ve caught the bug, too.
The outcome of To make a prairie is a photobook. Describe your book and particular layout of images. I divided To make a prairie into 6 chapters, each edited in a specific way: a piece of writing is preceded by a full-page image and followed by a selection of images in relation to the text. The full-page images are of the stormy skies that descended over London last October, when hurricane Ophelia made her way over here and people kept saying that it felt like the end of the world; I couldn’t help but find a parallel with what could potentially happen if bees were to become extinct. The texts are a mix of personal life experiences and detailed knowledge about the honey bee and its history in relation to us. And the pictures are a mix of found archival imagery and my own photographs. The image pairings are often comical and bounce off one another as I wanted to constantly excite the reader’s eye and not let it become accustomed to one type of image. My hope is that there is something for everyone in this book; if a teenager were to pick it up and see a photo of Beyoncé, I would love for it to pique their curiosity and push them to do a little bit of digging. As for the cover, the bee drawing was created by my cousin’s 5-year-old daughter, Caitlin.
Was it important that you executed this work in the form of a photobook? Yes, I knew from the start that the final form of this project would be a book. I am an avid photobook reader, collector and admirer. I spend a good amount of time looking at sequencing, layouts, papers, binding techniques and feel genuine joy when I come across a book which excites both my eyes and my fingers! I had always wanted to make a book from start to finish, from the image making to the editing to the design of it, and saw this project as the perfect opportunity to do so.
What are your future plans? I am currently trying to publish, or self-publish, To make a prairie, as well as working on a zine about a trip I took to California in February. In about a month’s time I will be doing a 3-week artist residency in northern Italy with Ardesia Projects and Jest, a photography gallery in Turin, which I am very excited about. And I will forever be working on researching bees in order to fully live up to my “bee-lady” image!
Norwich University of the Arts photography graduate Millie Battershill recently got in touch to tell us about her route into curation. Millie has had the opportunity to curate one show so far and below she tells us more.
Who are you? What and where did you study? My name is Millie Battershill and I graduated in 2016 with a degree in photography from Norwich University of the Arts.
What’s your photographic work typically about? What themes do you like to explore? My work tends to be fairly abstract; I work with a macro lens the majority of the time if I’m shooting what I would call a ‘proper project’ – that’s one which has a more considered concept. I like to photograph textures, mostly from natural subjects that I find outside. Before this approach developed, I enjoyed photographing landscapes so it makes sense that I’m still interested in nature. The projects often have concepts that I would say are loosely based on time, existence, thoughts, emotions and possibly memory in some cases.
I also photograph on film, however these images make up projects that have less of a concept, and are more related to documenting. That being said, I think that my work has an overarching theme running through it, which is exploring life, the notion of living and existing.
You’ve been gaining experience of curating exhibitions. Tell us how you’ve gone about this? I always thought that if I did any kind of further education after my degree, I would probably study curating. This is what I ended up doing. Mostly, I’ve been learning how things are done rather than actually doing them, but I’m now working on a show with an artist, Charlotte Powell, which will go on show in May.
What do you enjoy most about the curating process? Curating a show involves a lot of admin work for the curator. This is something that sounds boring but I enjoy making contact with various people and pulling together resources to create something. I also like the process of learning about the artist’s work and discussing how it can best be displayed.
What initially encouraged you, after studying photography, to learn how to curate? If I’m honest I think I got what I needed from my photography degree. That’s not to say that no one would benefit from studying it more, or that I will never benefit from it, it’s that at the current time I didn’t feel I could gain more from studying it further. I still love to take photographs and I’m currently working on my own projects, I’ve simply found a way into the art industry through a different route. Also, it means that when I see photographs that have shot work that I wish I’d shot, I can work with them, if they need a curator that is.
Have you got nay tips, advice or resources to share with new graduates? The first thing I would say is that I still have no idea how I passed my degree, it’s not that I think I’m bad at photography, it’s that the grading matrix used to mark our work is definitely not written for us. Therefore, it’s really difficult to fully understand how exactly you can hit all of the right things you need to get a decent grade. So bare that in mind.
My advice to graduates would be things that I didn’t realise upon leaving university. Firstly, if you set yourself a goal to have a specific type of job or to live in a specific place within a year or any amount of time, don’t be disappointed if that doesn’t happen. This doesn’t mean don’t aim for things, just remember there’s no time limit apart from the ones you set yourself. Success really doesn’t happen overnight.
Secondly, do what you love, not what you think someone else will love. People can tell if there’s no passion in your work.
And my last piece of advice would be this: don’t stop making things.
What are your aspirations as a curator? I’d love to curate an exhibition which lasts a few weeks and involves audience engagement or includes events of some kind, that’s the aim but I’m mostly just happy working on exhibitions and learning more about my individual process. I’m working on my first curatorial show currently, so my main aim at the moment is ensuring that is a successful as it can be.
For the duration of March we were seeking work from photography graduates alongside Loupe Magazine to reward with a collection of prizes and interviews. A lot of time was spent looking through the submissions and decisions were finally made. Here we present you with our second runner-up!
Sophie Barbasch is based in New York and studied for a MFA in photography at the Rhode Island School of Design and a BA in Art and Art History at Brown University. We've interviewed Sophie here about the series Fault Line.
Fault Line is a project I am doing in the small coastal town of Brooklin, Maine. The protagonist is my younger cousin Adam, who lives there. I also photograph my brother, father, and other cousins. I chose the title because a fault line alludes to where the earth splits in an earthquake (a metaphor for a divided family with a complicated history) and also alludes to fault, or blame (I wonder, how does a family support each other, even when things aren't perfect?) My goal is to show the weight we all carry and how we are both connected and isolated from each other.
Can you introduce yourself? What and where did you study? What's your motto? I’m a New York based photographer. I grew up here, and I also lived in Providence where I got my BA at Brown and my MFA at RISD. I don’t know if I have a motto per se, but I think it’s important to laugh as much as possible. In terms of work, I think a lot about how you just have to keep going, always, no matter what!
Give us an overview of your work. What themes do you like to explore? Regardless of the project I have a preoccupation with the dissolution of structure. In my work, there is usually tension between a desired/expected outcome and an actual/different outcome. I like images because they elude the structure and clarity of language—but even in my text-based projects, I emphasise words that have multiple connotations. I make collections of writing with pieces that undo, or undermine, the other component parts (i.e. there is a building up of meaning, or an argument being made, that is then undone). This undermining of expectation, or structure, is not always negative/nihilistic. It’s just my way of addressing life’s ambiguity.
What encouraged you to submit to the Loupe Magazine and Photograd call for work? Have you got any tips for photographers submitting work for similar opportunities? I really like both Loupe and Photograd so when I saw the call for work I was immediately interested. In terms of tips, I don’t think I’m the right person to ask! I submit to a lot of things, and rejection is almost a daily occurrence. I guess the key is just persistence, as with most things.
How did this series come to the surface? What initially drew you to the coastal town of Brooklin? I have family there so it has always been important to me. I started the project for a few different reasons. I was finishing up grad school with a lot of questions and issues that I felt like I needed to address in my work, and this project seemed to be a good fit. I was getting to know my cousin better as both a person and a photo collaborator and wanted to work more with him. And I had been traveling and moving around a lot in the years prior, which left me wanting to return to a home base of sorts.
Is it important you use your family as characters in your work? What were their thoughts on your ideas? For a while I was trying to address elements of my childhood in my work but the connection wasn’t direct enough. I decided to use my family members and to think of them as characters that inhabit this place and develop over time. It started with a few images that seemed to get at what I was feeling, and then I realised that my cousin Adam was a good protagonist for the project because he seemed to share my experience and outlook. I speak the most to him and my other cousins about the project. Although they are not photographers, they are all artistic (musicians, writers, performers) so it is intuitive to them. I usually have the initial idea, but they help me develop it by improvising in the moment and suggesting other things. They motivate me and collaborate with me.
Where did you final visual influence for Fault Line? Jo Ann Callis, Andrea Modica, Viviane Sassen, Ingmar Bergman, Collier Schorr, Jo Ann Walters.
As family and relationships continue to evolve, do you think you can ever call this series complete? I don’t think it will ever be complete. I think the longer you work on a project, the harder it gets—the more complex things get. This mirrors reality and relationships. You have to examine more of yourself and show more of others. I think of this series in chapters. Even when one chapter ends, there is another beginning.
What are your future plans? I’m currently working on a project about the construction of a railroad in Brazil. As for the future future—I’m not sure! Projects tend to lead into each other, but sometimes it’s hard to know what it is until it’s almost finished.
For the duration of March we were seeking work from photography graduates alongside Loupe Magazine to reward with a collection of prizes and interviews. A lot of time was spent looking through the submissions and decisions were finally made. We're really pleased to present here the first runners-up interview.
Lorenza Demata is a photographer and visual artist originally from Italy who studied for an MA in Photography at London College of Communication. We've interviewed Lorenza here about the series It all started when some of us left the country.
It is estimated that expatriates constitute approximately 40% of London population.
At the same time, almost 50% of the total consumption of food resources relies on the importation of fruit and vegetables from other countries.
This project is an investigation of the notion of identity in the contemporary migratory context.
The displacement of human resources is explored through a visual analogy with imported fruit and vegetables. By creating this parallel relation between people and food commodities, Lorenza aims to unveil the process of redefining individual identity that often takes place in the experience of expatriates.
The photographic series and the book ask the viewer to critically reflect on the role of the human workforce in the political context of global migration.
Can you introduce yourself? What and where did you study? My name is Lorenza (Lori) and I am a photographer and visual artist based in London. I come from Florence, Italy, where I first graduated in International Cooperation and Conflict Management. After my first BA, I studied Photography for three years at Fondazione Studio Marangoni in Florence, until September 2016. Then I moved to London to attend the MA in Photography at London College of Communication. I recently graduated and I am now working as a freelance photographer in London.
Give us an overview of your work. What themes do you like to explore? Because of my multidisciplinary background, the content of my works is somehow always linked to social and political issues and it investigates themes related to the ideas of identity and culture. In my latest works, I have been particularly interested in the processes that influence and change the concept of cultural identity in the contemporary globalised context.
I usually address these concepts through portrait and staged photography, by subverting and experimenting different approaches. As a result, I would say that my practice sits between documentary and conceptual photography.
What encouraged you to submit to the Loupe Magazine and Photograd call for work? Have you got any tips for photographers submitting work for similar opportunities? I usually try to apply to as many open calls as I can. I think these kind of calls are a good opportunity to show work, as well as to get feedback and responses. It is useful to always challenge ourselves and to confront our work with others. Accepting feedback and criticism is not always easy. But taking into account constructive suggestions can make you understand how complete your work is and it can contribute to make positive improvements.
How did this series come to the surface? Why did you decide to investigate identity in the contemporary migratory context through the use of photography? When I started my MA in London I wanted to investigate a theme that could be somehow close to my personal experience. I started wondering to what extent cultural identity changes when we move from our country of origin to another. I have also been interested in the process of commodification of the foreign human workforce in general and in particular in London.
I think it is important to reflect on identity and cultural issues in this place and in this historical moment.
Almost half of the population of London is constituted by people from other countries. While gathering data for my theoretical research process, I also found out that a large amount - approximately 50% - of the food commodities we consume in the UK is imported from somewhere else. By visually connecting expatriates to imported vegetables and fruit, I want people to reflect on how much a country relies on the global importation and migration, as well as on the role of foreign people in this context.
The outcome of It all started when some of us left the country is a photobook. Describe your book and explain why you executed your work in this way. The diptychs are usually installed in exhibitions as a series of booklets, which aim to recall the scale of a passport.
The other part of the project It all started when some of us left the country - I is in the form of a book. In this section, I am investigating the concept of cultural adaptation by confronting a specific fruit with a personal story. As a result, the book mixes different visual inputs, such as screenshots, graphics, manipulated archival material and photographs.
Why have you cut out the faces in your portraits? The face is one of the main elements which defines the identity of a person. It is, I would say, indexical of the existence of the subject, and this is particularly evident in identity documents.
I chose not to show the face to reflect on the concepts of displaced identity and of absence. The size of the white square also recalls the photos that are used for official documents.
I think my aim is to underline how it is challenging to define ourselves culturally and individually.
Tell us about the accompanying pieces of fruit in your images. How have you linked fruit and portraits together? For the still life photos I gathered data about the most imported fruit and vegetables. Every piece is paired with the portrait according to the colours. I did not want to link the food with the subject on the basis of the same nationality. This way I want to enhance the concept of displacement and of distance of commodities and people. Furthermore, I mean to underline how the movement of goods and human migrations are global, by going beyond national borders.
What are your future plans? At the moment, I am going on with this project and with the specific fruits and stories. In the future, I would like to investigate the social and cultural relationship between expatriates and locals. I also want to analyse some form of local cultural ‘resistance’ in the economic context, either in London or somewhere else.
Introducing the first edition of the brand new zine from Photograd | PGZ129 celebrates the first 2 years of the platform. Available to purchase from the Photograd online shop, PGZ129 comes together to celebrate 129 featured graduates.
PGZ129 is the first self-published zine from Photograd and presents readers with 12 photography graduates from UK based courses who continue to receive support.
In April 2018 Photograd reached the grand old age of 2. In celebration of this PGZ is the brand new self-published zine from Photograd, bringing you a selection of some of our very best.
“129”, the title for this edition, represents the number of graduates we’ve had the privilege to feature on the site at some point during our first 2 years. In total, we’re supporting over 400 photographers in many different ways.
PGZ129 showcases work from photographers who studied at Plymouth College of Art, Falmouth University, and University of Brighton.
The University of the West of England, Bristol graduate Alex Ingram presents a new body of work titled The Gatekeepers.
“Scattered across the small islands surrounding the UK live loan rangers, spending their lives in quiet solidarity, away from the crowded, overpopulated landscapes of our urban world. Their role: to maintain and manage the preservation of their islands natural beauty and wildlife for future generations, whilst conducting research into these incredibly delicate ecosystems.
With limited access to the mainland during the winter months, no fresh running water, and under constant attack from harsh storms and perilous currents that can see them marooned for weeks at a time, it is not a role many are suited for.
What is it like living so close to the mainland, but yet so far removed from social norms? How do they cope when the currents are too strong to make it back over for fresh food and supplies? What is it like living without the modern day technologies that we take for granted? And how do they adapt and overcome these daily obstacles with limited human contact?
Over the next two years, these are the questions I want to explore. I will be visiting these remote islands and spending time with the rangers that have chosen to spend their lives there, in the hopes of better understanding what life is like living in some of the most beautiful, yet inhospitable landscapes in the UK.
In a world that is changing at a rapid pace, I want to question how this simplistic way of life fits within our modern world.”
Andreea Teleaga who studied at the University of Sunderland also presents a new body of work titled Violence Is A New Kind of Instinct; Between Light and Darkness.
A series of five 12in x16in black and white silver prints created from negatives destroyed with a nail and a hammer. Being an artist originally from a former-communist country, Romania, I am constantly looking at what it means to have gaps in the historical truth, reason why this series depicts the battle between knowing and not knowing, the light and the dark.
'I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguish'd, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;'
Lord Byron - Darkness (1816)
A Photography Exhibition by University of Sunderland graduate Kevin Casey.
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.
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
A book of the project will also be launched on Thursday 3rd May and will be available to purchase at the exhibition and online.
Sadly this is my last blog post which means my trip has come to an end. For the final few days I spent time in the chaotic capital of Vietnam, Hanoi.
I felt at home in the city and enjoyed wandering the streets and capturing life going on around me. Hanoi is a busy and exciting place. The old quarter is a warren of narrow streets lined with shops, restaurants and cafes. So much of daily life takes place on the streets and that makes it great for street photography.
Vietnam is the third largest exporter of coffee in the world and there are cafes everywhere. Iced coffee with condensed milk is their specialty, perfect for hot days when you've been pounding the pavements. Hanoi also has some excellent street food. Bun Cha was my favourite; it’s a tasty combo of grilled pork slices and meatballs, broth, herbs and noodles.
I spent a little time doing touristy things, but I was really there to enjoy and capture the atmosphere of the city. The city has a great vibe, it feels hectic and relaxed at the same time. Even just crossing the street through streams of scooters feels like a challenge and you feel happy to be alive when you reach the other side.
The Train Street was interesting to see. People going about their lives right beside the tracks. The train comes through about twice a day and when it's due everyone clears off the tracks and disappears into their homes. Unfortunately the arrival of the train brings a lot of tourists which does slightly ruin the magic of the moment, but hey I was one of them.
Hoan Kiem Lake is a great area for people watching and street photography. This is the main hub for people to get together. In the mornings people jog, do Tai Chi and dance in big groups. On Friday and Saturday evenings all the roads around the lake are closed and the place fills with thousands of people, playing games, watching street entertainers, singing ad hoc karaoke, and walking their fancy dogs.
Apart from all the interesting sights and scenes, the main thing that made shooting in Vietnam a pleasure was how friendly and accommodating the people are. As long as I was respectful and flashed a smile most people were happy to be photographed. I would definitely have liked a bit more time to get to know Hanoi and dig a bit deeper. I was there for 3 full days but a month would be ideal to really get beneath the surface. I’d also like to spend more time in the newer parts of the city.
Overall the trip was an excellent experience and I have some solid work to go towards my MA portfolio. Now I just have to go through the thousands of images, edit them down and relive the memories.
I would recommend Vietnam, particularly Hanoi, for any photographer. The mix of dramatic landscapes and buzzing street scenes will test all aspects of your practice.
Thank you for reading and thanks to Photograd for asking me to blog during my trip. Any questions about travelling in Vietnam or my work then get in touch via my website or on one of my social media channels. Bye for now.
Foundation Exhibition is a celebration of the best photographic talent nurtured in the South West. Featuring work from graduates, and current undergraduates, the exhibition showcases a variety of work and styles, all rooted in the South West where the photographers studied.
Accompanying the exhibition, artist talks held by Sian Davey and Oliver Udy will begin at 4pm on Saturday 28th April. Sian will be discussing her new book Martha, and talking about her experience of publishing and working with galleries. After Sian, Oliver will be talking about his project Anthology of Rural Life and his processes on creating the expansive body of work.
The Road from Lao Cai to Sapa winds its way steeply through the mountains. The hairpin corners are tight and the traffic is chaotic. Huge trucks trek up the mountains delivering supplies to the villages and resources for the construction boom currently overtaking Sapa. On more than one occasion our driver attempted to overtake a lorry that was overtaking another lorry, whilst dodging vehicles and/or buffalo coming the other way.
After 5 hours in the minibus we arrived in Sapa. On first impressions the town itself appears a strange mix of Vietnamese town and a European alpine resort. There is even an old alpine-style church in the main square. We didn't hang about as we grabbed a taxi to take us 10km to the village of Ta Van.
Roads, distances and timings are a loose concept in this part of Vietnam, especially when you are using google maps to find your home stay. Some of the roads marked on the map are little more than paths wide enough for a motorbike (definitely the best way to get around). As such our taxi driver kindly drove around in circles trying to find our accommodation before realising that the road shown on the map was a footpath. After a couple of phone calls to our host we were dropped off and they came to meet us and showed us the rest of the way.
If traveling in this area I would recommend staying at least one night in a home stay in one of the villages. There are quite a few in Ta Van village. The principle is that you stay with a local family in their home, although some of them operate more like b&bs. They are a good additional source of income alongside growing rice, rearing livestock and making handicrafts. Our home stay, Lazy Crazy Homestay, run by John and his friends, was a quirky place, with great views over Ta Van, rice fields and bamboo forests. It was a great place to begin exploring the local villages and countryside.
In Ta Van there are plenty of local guides that will take you on a hike, and most homestays and hotels will organise them too. We decided to walk without a guide to the next village and explore the small paths that led through the rice fields and village outskirts. The H’Mong tribes that live in this area are really friendly and as long as you are respectful, no area is off limits. Some of the tracks we followed led directly to people's homes but nobody bothered that we were there and there would always be a friendly face to point us in the right direction.
Whilst in Ta Van I worked on a project exploring the Vietnamese legend “Why Ducks Sleep Standing on One Leg”. The legend goes that in the beginning there were four ducks who only had one leg. They were jealous of the other animals with two legs so reasoned with the creator to give them a precious extra leg. To prevent their new legs from being stolen they hid them from view at night and all the other ducks followed this believing it to be the way it should be. The legend speaks of the Vietnamese attitudes to the land and agriculture, which I am hoping the project will also reflect.
After Ta Van we spent a couple of days in and around Sapa town. The town is often covered in cloud and mist which makes for some interesting images. At night the fog, the building work and the neon lit signage lends the town an eerie feel.
I have one more post to come in this series, when I will be exploring the streets of Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. After my brief encounters earlier in the trip I am really looking forward to it…...
We recently interviewed London College of Communication graduate and Photo Scratch co-founder Hanna-Katrina Jędrosz about the Environmental Bursary grant she received from The Royal Photographic Society. She also introduces us to the first chapter of her resulting body of work.
We hope you enjoy reading through Hanna-Katrina's thoughts on applying for opportunities like those from The Royal Photographic Society.
Tell us about the bursary you received from The Royal Photographic Society. In 2016 I received the Environmental Bursary awarded by The Royal Photographic Society and The Photographic Angle. I won in the Under 30 category, and I was awarded jointly with Carl Bigmore who I collaborated with on the first chapter of the project.
Tell us about the work it allowed you to make. What's the work about? Is it complete? The bursary enabled us to make a major body of work about the Fennoscandian section of the European Green Belt. The European Green Belt is an area of land that spans the breadth of Europe from the Barents Sea to the Black and Adriatic Seas. It traces the boundary of the former Iron Curtain from north to south. For nearly five decades, this space was an out-of-bounds no-man’s land dividing east from west. This corridor enabled wildlife to flourish. Today much of the route is connected through national parks, biospheres and nature reserves. The project aims to explore and document the interplay between human activity and wildlife on a specific but vast stretch of land that comprise the European Green Belt, and in turn, how nature has reclaimed the land during and since the Cold War era.
The first chapter of the project is complete and I have just returned from making the next phase in Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic. There will be another trip later this year across the Balkans and Turkey which will comprise the final chapter.
What did winning the grant mean to you and your work? Winning the grant from The RPS was such an honour. It’s an organisation with a long and established history and they have supported thousands of photographers over many years. It felt like a vote of confidence in my work and in the idea.
Though it wasn’t publicly announced until the award ceremony in September 2016, it was shortly after the EU Referendum that we received news that we had won the backing to make this project. It felt very timely. On a personal level I felt disturbed by the results of the referendum. Receiving news of the bursary at that particular juncture provided a genuine sense of hope. It felt like an opportunity to channel some of the feeling of chaos I was experiencing into making work that would involve traversing the European continent, crossing many borders, encountering different people and places, and being given an opportunity to create something hopeful.
What encouraged you to apply for the Environmental Bursary in particular? It was the idea more than anything that lead to this application. It was Carl who suggested applying for this particular bursary when I told him about the idea. The Environmental Bursary seemed like a good fit for the project. I had never particularly considered myself to be a landscape or environmental photographer. I’m interested in connections between people and places, histories of the land and environment, the presence of history and the impact of a place on human experience.
What support did you receive? I received the financial backing to bring the project into being. We pitched the first chapter of the work which would see us travelling from Norway, through Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - the Fennoscandian and Baltic sections of the Green Belt. The support meant we could buy the film stock, book the flights, make the trip and get back in once piece. It simply would not have been possible without this kind of grant.
On top of this practical financial support, I have felt very supported by The RPS and, in particular by the Education Manager Liz Williams. She has provided letters of endorsement, helped me to connect with people in the industry and has been a really positive influence throughout the process of making the work.
Give one positive and one negative in regards to applying for opportunities like these. There is no negative to applying for opportunities like these! What’s the worst that could happen? If you aren’t successful, you will have gone through a process which hopefully has helped to clarify your intentions and thoughts, and will make your next application even stronger. It can help to identify gaps in your knowledge too. If you are lucky enough to receive funding then that is of course wonderful and a huge opportunity to get on and make your work. The RPS application form itself, at the time that I applied, was reassuringly straightforward.
Every grant comes with a sense of responsibility to do the work justice and seize the opportunity. It’s a good idea to have an awareness of the organisation or funder’s motivation for offering the funding. Be prepared to fulfil obligations to your backers, like supplying images when the project is completed within a specific time frame.
Writing a budget can be challenging because sometimes you might not know exactly how much you would need, or there are variables. My advice would be to keep it simple and include a contingency of 10-15%. Be prepared to save up some of your own money to cover unexpected costs. I have never made a project without working really hard to save up for it first, even with external funding. Before going away to make the first part of this project last year, I worked six day weeks for six months (a combination of freelance photography jobs and picture editing shifts at two different organisations) just so that I wouldn’t come back and be completely overdrawn. More established photographers may not require this, but with relatively few years (five) working professionally, as well as the costs associated with living in London, and photographing on film, this is how I have managed.
With any endeavour, ultimately it’s your decision to be committed to a project and then do whatever you need to do to make it happen. Having external funding is a huge initial enabler that paves the way for you to then fulfil the opportunity to its full potential.
Can you give any advice to those considering a submission to any of The Royal Photographic Society opportunities?
When applying for funding, and in no particular order…
Ask for help if you need it.
Look at what has been funded in recent years and don’t repeat an idea.
Be clear. Don’t be ambiguous or try to sound academic or mysterious for the sake of it.
Trust your own voice.
Be honest about your idea - what are the challenges? What are your strengths?
And most of all: apply! Someone once told me they allocated a day a month to apply for funding, residencies and other opportunities. I don’t manage to be as organised as this but I do allow myself time to do applications, time to discover and articulate ideas, and cast the net.
I am sitting at a local home stay in the village of Tavan, looking out over the rice terraces of Northern Vietnam. It is a magical and tranquil environment to be writing this post in.
I will write about my experience of Tavan later, but for now this is a short post about my trip to Ha Long Bay. Located 3 hours drive North East of Hanoi, the bay consists of around 2,500 limestone islands protruding from the ocean. I will confess that I organised this trip through a tour company (Indochina Junk) and it was all about rest and relaxation. I don’t usually book onto tours as I prefer to do my own thing but it is the easiest way to visit the bay. It felt strange to have everything looked after, from pick up from the hotel to boarding the boat with eight strangers, but it definitely met the relaxing brief.
Ha Long Bay is incredible, beautiful and breathtaking. It is also incredibly touristy. Our tour tried to find the less touristy areas, but that means you are surrounded by 15 other boats rather than 50. The tour included kayaking, beaches, caves and lots of food and beer!
Photographically it didn't do much for me, I am not a landscape photographer and it is often hazy at sunrise and sunset. I would love to do a project on the local fishing vessels and how the fishing trade and environment is changing, but that would need more organisation.
I didn't make much work that will feature in my MA project, but that didn't stop me having a good time.
Now I am working on a small project whilst in Tavan and Sapa. I have also already spent a couple of nights in Hanoi, either side of the boat trip, and all I can say is that I am looking forward to spending time exploring the streets in that buzzing city later in the trip. Until next time…..