Leigh Harrison

University: University of Derby & Goldsmiths University of London

Graduation: 2015 & 2018

Genre: Social Documentary, Research Based Documentary

Website: www.notluxurynotecstasy.tumblr.com

Artist Statement: Through the medium of photography, the notions of everyday banalities present themselves as salient figures of human normality. Although the subjective rhetoric is neither satirical nor informative, Leigh’s observations provide the stimuli for social cognition and semiotic thought. 

 Image from the series  Spare Time & The City

Image from the series Spare Time & The City

What are some standout moments from your time at university? A lot of the standout moments at university occurred through the departments affiliation with FORMAT International Photography Festival. That brings together a collection of acclaimed and inspirational photographers forward for conferences and exhibitions. It was also a treat to be frequented by printing masterclasses from John Blakemore and portrait workshops from Peter Griffin.  

Which photographic genre do you consider your work to fall into? My photographic practice would fall into Social Documentary & Research Based Documentary, (a rather subjective topic of conversation.)

 Image from the series  Spare Time & The City

Image from the series Spare Time & The City

What themes do you find yourself exploring? I like to explore and indulge in themes that incorporate a social commentary of urban life; namely incorporating influences from sociological based research. I have utilised a broad set of themes from the self and identity within the city through to aspects and use of spare-time and recreation.

How did this series come to the surface? What initially inspired you? This series Spare Time & The City, surfaced from a reflection of frequent trips to public museums, urban green spaces, recreational grounds and the realisation of how myself and other city inhabitants choose to spend their spare time. Rather than focusing on the discourses surrounding leisure/tourism, my research investigates into the micro-politics of space and the socio-economic capitalist agendas of the marketable lifestyles of spare-time.

What do you enjoy most about photography? I enjoy the fact that Photography, as a subject is an incredible source and gateway into broader sociological discourse as well as being a flexible creative art form.

 Image from the series  Spare Time & The City

Image from the series Spare Time & The City

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What encouraged you to want to study for an MA? Can you share your experience so far? I wanted to expand my subject knowledge and working practice to a higher level. The MA Photography & Urban Cultures program at Goldsmiths University is great interdisciplinary course that enables research into all aspects of photography and urban sociology. 

What interests you about your everyday? The everyday is the space of unrelenting routine and overlooks rituals. Its part of urban society that everyone endures in there own unique way which displays an enriching insight into cultural backgrounds and ideologies. The everyday is a passive revolution of silent protest, a space where we encounter our struggles against modern capitalism and the spatial politics of the city.

 Image from the series  Spare Time & The City

Image from the series Spare Time & The City

Name some photographers who always inspire you and your work. Photographers that initially and continually influence my practice are the likes of Paul Graham, Nick Waplington, Paul Reas and Martin Parr. Namely the 80's New colour movement and related social documentary photographers. 

Tell us about the two genres you've placed your work under. What are your reasonings? Social documentary practise is a genre of photography I have always favoured, it is the raw humanist aesthetics that really draws my attention to the medium that pushes social change and evokes awareness of inequalities. Secondly, research based documentary is a more suitable term for my recent practise & research for my MA studies in urban theory and discourses.

Has any theory influenced this series of work? My work is heavily influenced by social theorists such as Zygmunt Bauman, Henri Lefebvre, Ervin Goffman etc. The inter-relations of such theorists has engrained discourses of postmodernity, space/place and social interaction into the foregrounds of my ways of seeing photographically and also how  I navigate urban life.

 Image from the series  Spare Time & The City

Image from the series Spare Time & The City

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What interests you most about spare time, yours and other peoples? How does spare time correlate with space? Spare time and public space are a correlating phenomena of city planners and urban policy makers for the efficiencies and functionality of inner city spaces of consumption, entertainment and recreation. What interests me most about spare time and space is how homogenous they have both become together, how consumption rituals and space governance is central to the growth of global capital rather than any beneficial locality. 

What are your plans for after you've completed your MA? After completion of the MA studies I plan to embark upon an extensive photographic study of my home town, Grimsby. Documenting the extents of its regeneration developments and local community projects.