I've accepted a place on the part-time Fine Art MFA at Manchester School of Art MMU starting this September.
At the opening of 'Shirley Baker; Women and Children and Loitering Men' at Manchester Art Gallery Thursday 18th May 2017. Images of the streets where my mum grew up, made with tenderness, spirit and patience by an artist who has greatly inspired me.
Don't Feed Exploitation Exhibition, an exhibition curated by MMU Environment Team to promote awareness in Fair-trade Fortnight, exploring the impact of modern slavery and exploitation in the supply chain. My work from the cover of Sustain : able, from the Pattern Cutting project was exhibited.
I visited London again last weekend. On Saturday I travelled back to Hampstead to re-visit Lawn Road, the Isokon Building and gallery. I took my contact sheets and started the process of selecting images from them on the train, the difficult task of narrowing the images down to about a dozen from the 9 rolls of 36 I shot at the beginning of March. My plan this time was not to shoot more film but to walk around Hampstead in areas key to the Isokon story. This included finding other Modernist buildings from the same era, such as Maxwell Fry's Sun House and the addresses of artists related who visited or had links with the Isokon such as Lee Miller and Henry Moore. I took a Polaroid camera as I find these instant images very helpful for project planning, especially on location, much more so than digital images, I think it's something to do with having to be very selective about what you shoot and having a collection of pictures you can hold in your hand, they somehow carry more weight. As I walked around I thought about the stories I have read and heard about the Isokon, about the people who's footsteps I was tracing and how I could use their stories to inform my project and the final work, where I feel text will also be key.
Earlier that day I visited the Photographers' Gallery. The Deutsche Börse Photography Prize exhibtion is currently on show there. I found some fantastic work, interestingly, predominantly analogue. One of my favourite artists - Sophie Calle - is a nominee, I found the work exhibited concerning grief very moving. Her use of text and image is always inspiring and it has made me wonder about the possibilities of weaving fact and fiction through the text I use in my own work about the Isokon. This was also an idea triggered by the watching the play 'City of Glass' based on the novel by Paul Auster (who has collaborated with Sophie Calle in the past), at HOME last month.
On Sunday we were very lucky to stumble upon a talk at Sotheby's. Terry O'Neill was being interviewed as part of the 'Made In Britain' pre-auction exhibition. He talked about using a 35mm camera, how it allowed more freedom and spontaneity for his portait work than a larger format. He also talked of his preference for Black and White and using film - especially as it's not edited on the spot, it takes time to process and as a result images that may have been disgarded initially or seemed like mistakes can turn out to be the best shots, something I have always felt about my own analogue work. I asked him if there has ever been a time when he didn't have a camera/film and wishes he did, he said no, he never carries a camera when he's not working, as a photographer he sees himself as a 'gun for hire'. He was also asked what he's looking for when taking someone's portrait, his answer was simple, 'them'. His portrait of Bardot was staring at him nonchalantly through her windswept hair throughout the interview, he says it was the last shot on the roll, the wind had just caught her hair, it's a beautiful photograph.
I've still to make a decision on my final edit but I found the research I did over the weekend very useful, I feel ready to start printing at the end of this week.
In other news...I've secured a place on a local project called The Bathroom Darkroom Project which takes place in Chorlton over Easter, it has been created by photographer Rachael Burns, I'll post more information about this soon.
My new project is an investigation of the Isokon building in Hampstead, London, aka Lawn Road Flats. It's a fascinating grade one listed modernist building with an equally fascinating history. I'm writing a presentation for a peer review this week and I've found this, along with a peer crit last Friday, has really helped me consolidate my research and ideas so far. Below is a slide from my presentation, pictured are places where the very early seeds for this project originated in August last year. I visited the László Moholy-Nagy exhibition at the Guggenheim and the Diane Arbus exhibition at the MET Breuer, I was struck not only by the work of Arbus but also by the building designed by Marcel Breuer.
Before moving to America both Moholy-Nagy and Breuer were residents of Lawn Road Flats.
I have been invited to write a blog article for MMU Special Collections about the research I did for my self-published work PlatForm, please follow the link here:
My work PlatForm; artists book and analogue photographs, will be exhibited at Manchester Metropolitan University's Faculty Festival, Geoffrey Manton Building, next week. Faculty Fest is a cross disciplinary festival celebrating work across the Art and Humanities at MMU.
Follow this link for more information Faculty Fest Facebook Page
I attended a poetry reading and workshop called Inspiration, Process and Outcomes at the Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool yesterday hosted by poets Maria Isakova-Bennett and Michael Brown. The event was aimed at beginners, more experienced writers and artists like myself who have an interest in collaboration between photography and text.
They provided the group with an excellent introduction to how they create poetry in response to works of art. We were tasked with making a poem in response to a photograph in the North: Identity, Photography, Fashion exhibition.
At the end of the workshop I had written this poem in response to Shirley Baker's photograph Glamorous Elderly Lady Smoking
Glamorous Lady Smoking
She's lost the woman she used to be
She looks in the mirror and paints in what's missing
Do you like my hat love?
Damson Plush it is, Billy liked it,
You've got to make an effort haven't you?
Coral Spring my lipstick is, do you like it?
Love of my life, back in the day.
He's still there,
in the mirror.
From the city of Pankhurst with love
William Eggleston and Black Chronicles at the National Portrait Gallery, Westminster MA Degree Show PV, Painting With Light at Tate Britain, Fox Talbot at the Science Museum, Beetles and Huxley and The Camera Exposed at the V&A
Levenshulme Market, Manchester