Events

Zine & Photobook Fair 2017

3 June 2017

Events

Ball Mania Liverpool

26 May - 29 May 2017

Events

Intern Magazine Presents: ‘F You Pay Me’

30 May 2017

Culture Shifts Events

LightNight 2017 – Culture Shifts: Tadhg Devlin & SURF

Events

LIGHTNIGHT 2017 – FLOW2: THE PIONEERS

19 May 2017

Past Exhibitions

Tate Exchange Liverpool

27 November - 29 November 2016

Past Exhibitions

Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015

28 October - 18 December 2016

Wall Work

40 Years of Open Eye Gallery: 1977-2017

5 January 2017

Past Exhibitions

North: Identity, Photography, Fashion

6 January - 19 March 2017

Main Exhibition

Culture Shifts: Global

7 April - 18 June 2017

Culture Shifts

Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust

9 October 2016

Culture Shifts

Sefton

9 October 2016

Culture Shifts

Toxteth

9 October 2016

Culture Shifts

Kirkby

9 October 2016

Culture Shifts

St Helens

9 October 2016

Culture Shifts

Halton

9 October 2016

Culture Shifts

Wirral

9 October 2016

Culture Shifts

Animator Training

9 October 2016

Past Exhibitions

Liverpool Biennial 2016

9 July - 16 October 2016

Past Exhibitions

Walter & Zoniel: Spectra

9 July - 16 October 2016

Past Exhibitions

Tromarama

9 July - 31 July 2016

Past Exhibitions

Telling Tales

6 July - 11 July 2016

Past Exhibitions

Collected Possibilities

15 June - 19 June 2016

Past Exhibitions

Open 2: Pieces of You

15 April - 5 June 2016

Past Exhibitions

Flat Death: Edgar Martins & Jordan Baseman

15 January - 3 April 2016

Past Exhibitions

Mishka Henner: Precious Commodities

2 March - 29 April 2013

Past Exhibitions

Edith Tudor-Hart: Quiet Radicalism

2 March - 29 April 2013

Past Exhibitions

A Lecture Upon The Shadow

7 December - 17 February 2013

Past Exhibitions

E. Chambre Hardman

7 December - 17 February 2013

Past Exhibitions

Kohei Yoshiyuki: Liverpool Biennial 2012

15 September - 25 November 2012

Past Exhibitions

Mark Morrisroe: Liverpool Biennial 2012

15 September - 25 November 2012

Past Exhibitions

Sinta Tantra – Together, Yet Forever Apart: Liverpool Biennial 2012

1 September - 1 January 2014

Past Exhibitions

Still Outside (Or Unexplained)

22 June - 2 September 2012

Past Exhibitions

Erwin Wurm: One Minute Sculptures

22 June - 2 September 2012

Past Exhibitions

Richard Mosse: Infra

30 March - 10 June 2012

Past Exhibitions

Simon Norfolk: For Most of It I Have No Words: Genocide, Landscape, Memory

30 March - 10 June 2012

Past Exhibitions

Emily Speed: Nothing Is Finished, Nothing Is Perfect, Nothing Lasts

30 March - 2 September 2012

Past Exhibitions

Painted Photographs

13 January - 18 March 2012

Past Exhibitions

Richard Simpkin And Simone Lueck: Richard & Famous

13 January - 18 March 2012

Past Exhibitions

Mitch Epstein: American Power

5 November - 23 December 2011

Past Exhibitions

Chris Steele-Perkins: The Pleasure Principle

5 November - 23 December 2011

Past Exhibitions

S Mark Gubb: Good Sailing…

5 November - 18 March 2012

Past Exhibitions

Festive Photo Fayre

16 December - 20 December 2015

Past Exhibitions

Curious Gallery: An Exhibition Designed By Children

11 December - 13 December 2015

Past Exhibitions

Zanele Muholi: VUKANI/RISE

18 September - 29 November 2015

Past Exhibitions

Open 1

16 May - 23 August 2015

Past Exhibitions

Metamorphosis Of Japan After The War

22 January - 26 April 2015

Past Exhibitions

Robert Heinecken: Lessons In Posing Subjects

7 November - 11 January 2015

Past Exhibitions

Not All Documents Are Records: Photographing Exhibitions As An Art Form

5 July - 19 October 2014

Past Exhibitions

Paul Morrison: Urformen

1 June - 1 December 2016

Past Exhibitions

Ebb And Flow: A Visual Chronicle Of The Changes Within Liverpool’s Chinatown

17 May - 22 June 2014

Past Exhibitions

Letizia Battaglia: Breaking The Code Of Silence

22 February - 4 May 2014

Past Exhibitions

Alvin Baltrop And Gordon Matta-Clark: The Piers From Here

7 December - 9 February 2014

Past Exhibitions

Tim Hetherington: You Never See Them Like This

6 September - 24 November 2013

Past Exhibitions

Charles Fréger: The Wild And The Wise

17 May - 26 August 2013

Past Exhibitions

Eva Stenram: Drape

17 May - 26 August 2013

Close
Close

Video Interview
Luke Ching,
Culture Shifts: Global

22 May 2017

Read More

Open Call:
Photobook Fair

18 May 2017

Read More

VIDEO: DEREK MAN
CULTURE SHIFTS: GLOBAL

18 May 2017

Read More

Open call! We're looking for PhotoBook submissions for our Zine & Photobook fair. https://t.co/KnunPtLXYF

This weekend, we're hosting a giant ball pit from @ballmaniamcr in Mann Island Atrium. #BankHolidayWeekend https://t.co/OPm1bMxKdU

A day of Independent publishing. Head over to our Zine & Photobook Fair on Saturday 3rd June!… https://t.co/Hfn544IP0C

Work with the REAL Amazons... Feminist bookshop @Newsfromnowhere is hiring a bookseller. Contact nfn@newsfromnowher… https://t.co/pHE0hiM5xt

Coming to the Atrium outside the gallery over the #BankHolidayWeekend - @ballmaniamcr, the UK's largest ball pit. https://t.co/OPm1bMxKdU

Video Interview with Luke Ching, Culture Shifts: Global

 

 

Hong Kong based photographer Luke Ching presents familiar objects and city environments in unfamiliar ways. As both Liverpool and Hong Kong continue to evolve as cities – often radically changing from one generation to another – Ching’s photography encourages us to reflect on the history of the places that surround us.

The Titanic Hotel is situated in a refurbished warehouse on Liverpool’s North Docks. During his residency Luke Ching turned an entire hotel room into a pinhole camera, blocking out all the light except for a tiny hole and lining the walls of the room with photosensitive paper. It took over a day of exposure time for this image to form.

The view looks out over the brick warehouses and the River Mersey, places that encapsulate Liverpool’s industrial and maritime past. A warehouse is a temporary space full of things coming and going, but so too is a hotel: a place where people stay for a short while before leaving, often without a trace.

Culture Shifts: Global is an exhibition of Liverpool/ Hong Kong photography at Open Eye Gallery. 7 April – 18th June 2017.

Photobook Open Call

Open Eye Gallery would like to invite you to submit self-published photo books to sell at our Photobook Fair. We welcome submissions from a broad range of levels and they can be of any genre; personal, contemporary, experimental – send your application in to us!
The Photobook Fair will take place at 11am-6pm on Saturday 3rd June in our glass atrium space.
We will be showcasing local artists, independent publishers and self-published photobooks and zines on our stands. There will be photobook talks, creative workshops throughout the day, dummy book reviews and a DIY pinhole camera workshop. The likes of Fistful of Books and Carbon Copy Press will be here and we will have stalls for students’/recent graduates’ publications.
 
This is a fantastic opportunity for you to network and promote your work to a wider audience, as well as a chance to meet your favourite local artists and publishers.
 
To apply, send your application to gina@openeye.org.uk
 
In your application please include:
 
– full contact details: name, mobile number, email, address
– photobook content images (JPEG or PDF)
– an image of the front cover
– a brief description of your photobook
– your retail price
– number you have to sell
Let us know if you would like a stall at the fair (limited spaces available) or if you’d like to enjoy the fair and leave the selling to us we will have gallery assistants available at our dedicated self-published stall.
The closing date for applications is 5pm on Wednesday 31st May 2017.
Successful submissions will be notified by the 5pm on Thursday 1st June 2017. We might not be able to take everything offered due to limited space, but we will let you know what we can take along with details of when and where you can drop off your work. 

Video: Derek Man, Culture Shifts: Global

Commissioned by Open Eye Gallery, Derek Man, a UK citizen, re-visited Hong Kong to look at the housing market.

Born in Hong Kong but living in the UK for the past 12 years, Derek Man’s work explores cultural identity and what we call home. He often looks at how we form a sense of place, and find our own ways of feeling like we belong.

Between the human need for shelter and the commercial need for growth, Derek’s photos look at the lives of the people caught in this tension: from the families living in cramped conditions to the estate agents desperate to sell off land. In this cityscape and others like it, the struggle of finding stable homes for everyone grows increasingly more urgent every day.

Culture Shifts: Global is an exhibition of Liverpool/ Hong Kong photography at Open Eye Gallery. 7 April – 18th June 2017.

Culture Shifts: Local, 2017
Max Gorbatskyi for Culture Shifts: Local, 2017
Max Gorbatskyi for Culture Shifts: Local, 2017

Golden Generation in Runcorn, Culture Shifts: Local

Max Gorbatskyi, current Open Eye gallery intern, reflects back on his visit to meet with the community groups collaborating on the Runcorn ‘Culture Shifts: Local’ programme with photographers Gary Bratchford and Robert Parkinson.

 

As part of Culture Shifts: Local – a socially engaged photography programme in which we focus on communities across Liverpool City Region, photographers Gary Bratchford and Robert Parkinson are working with groups across Halton CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group).

 

Recently, we visited the Brindley Theatre in Runcorn to meet with the Golden Generation group and to discuss the future exhibition that will be held there. Golden Generation is a group of Widnes Vikings rugby team supporters, aged 55 and over, who share a passion for rugby, visiting the stadium and spending time together.

 

This photography programme is a participatory project, where value lies in the idea of sharing personal stories and creating a common vision for it. Exhibition content is being created by the group members as well as by the photographer and then curated together. The project’s format combines the organised artistic approach with the spontaneity of amateur snapshots and a generalisation of common experience with a highly personal story from every member of the group.

 

At the meeting, participants had a chance to see the gallery space, review each other’s work and to share ideas about the project’s further development.

 

This is part of wider project, which sees photographer’s Gary Bratchford, Robert Parkinson and Halton communities explore the issues of wellness and wellbeing and questioning how photography can challenge the pre-existing ideas of this topic. The exhibition will run from 1st July 2017 until 2nd September.

Pauline Rowe: Uncovering the Northwood Community

The first evidence of people settling in Kirkby can be found in the Doomsday book when, in 1086, it had a population of about 70.  So it’s a place that carries over ten centuries of human habitation; a place that knows many ghosts.

It’s been a privilege to listen to the Golden Years group recently – women discussing their lives (and experiences of this much changed place) at the Northwood Community Centre.  They are women who know and share the great gift of friendship. They have been working with Kirkby-born photographic artist, Tony Mallon on Culture Shifts, a project organised through the Open Eye Gallery.*

Culture Shifts in Kirkby is focussed on listening to and recording the women’s responses to their home town through photography, including conversations about their lives prompted by photographic images of Kirkby.  This collaboration will lead to an Autumn exhibition that will aim to show the strength of Kirkby through some of its most dedicated citizens. .

I was struck by the collective stories the women share of escaping from the slum housing of post-war city-centre Liverpool to the countryside.  How Kirkby meant fresh air and beautiful new houses but also a move away from old, established communities; people being displaced by peace yet hopeful of a new start.

There are other tales here too of silenced voices and economic uncertainty, ageing and frailties of health.  Stories about how land farmed by tenants of Lord Sefton was reclaimed for government purposes to become the Kirkby Royal Ordnance Factory (ROF) where 10% of UK munitions were produced during the war. Tales of the breaking of families – how generations working together in the local factories such as Birdseye were disrupted and dispersed because of their closure.  How meadows full of birds have been transformed into wastelands and now parklands. How politicians have done deals and kept silent. How high rises (associated in the womens’ experiences with suicides) were pulled down. How the ROF land was transformed in the 60s into an industrial estate that later came to house the ill-fated Sonae factory, a place where two men died in an horrific industrial accident; a place that poured its fumes into the local air, a place that burned and left more than a bitter taste in the mouths of local residents.

I’ve found that Kirkby is rich with ghosts, proud of its people and never silent about the trials those people have learned to face. I am looking forward to learning more on my next visit to the Northwood Community Centre.

All images C. Tony Mallon & Northwood Golden Year’s community group 2017

Kyle Shipstone, Skelmersdale: A New Town

Kyle Shipstone, Skelmersdale: A New Town

In 1961, Skelmersdale was officially designated as a New Town, designed to house the population spillover from Liverpool and surrounding areas in Merseyside.

 

Shipstone’s documentation of the town aims to act as an archive, which gives readers a sense of the town’s history through a non-chronological mix of photographs, interviews and film stills. Skem’s history is expressed through the experiences and memories of people who have lived and grown in the emerging town, offering a personal insight into the development and expansion of the town’s community.

 

Through an eclectic mix of images, readers can gain a perception of the town’s unique nature; seeming as a town springing from nowhere among Lancashire’s fields. The series creates a strong juxtaposition between the rural outskirts of Skem compared to its modern infrastructure, characterised by classic 1960’s architecture.

 

Glassball Art Projects occupied a shop unit within Skelmersdale, inviting residents to come and view a collection of images and videos showcasing the town’s history in order to provoke personal stories about their experiences living and working within the community. Some of these conversations are featured within this book, posing questions such as: How long does it take for a town to become a community? How many generations of families does it take for a community to emerge? To which the artist aims to answer through his selection of written and visual information.

 

This publication is currently on sale in our independent bookshop for £20, perfect for anyone interested in local history or architecture.

 

By Faye Hamblett-Jones

 

Derek Man, 2017
Derek Man, 2017

INTERVIEW: DEREK MAN

Derek Man, a 29-year-old UK citizen, re-visited Hong Kong to look at the housing market, commissioned by Open Eye Gallery for LOOK17.  Anna Taylor caught up with Derek on the opening of the festival to talk about the rapid growth of global cities and the accommodation crisis in China.

The idea for the exhibition was to have someone who is originally from Hong Kong, but who has lived abroad for long enough, going back with a kind of refreshed perspective, sort of like strangely familiar.

I’ve lived in the UK for 12 years, every time I go back I am struck by how quickly the cityscape is changing and new buildings have popped up all in a matter or two or three years. I just thought if that’s the commercial side – where do people live? I started researching and realized that there is a shortage of affordable housing – its something that I’ve always known, everyone is aware of it, but its quite abstract – its just something that happens to some people, the tiny flats are just a thing, they don’t know where or how. In a way it feels like they are, literally and metaphorically in a box – but there’s no context around it. I wanted to place the situation back into the context of this crazy world of new builds and multi million pound flats and estate agents – everything that is happening around it. This all happens under the same roof – from the same city. Most of the scenes I photographed were in Kowloon, a couple of streets down from each other.

This picture of two girls – that’s actually pretty much their whole flat and to my right would be the kitchen – slash – bathroom. Its not uncommon for a flat to have a toilet a few feet away from where you’re preparing food. It’s a family of four who live in that flat and share that bunk bed, so the girls have the top bed and the parents sleep on the lower bunk. But during the summer when it gets too hot – the mum will have to sleep on the floor in front of the bed. That little bit of space there, in front of the bed, actually functions as their dining space, where they do their homework, their play area, basically the whole living room is in that few square foot.

That is not uncommon – I had some help from a local organisation who work with families such as this. I’m not looking for the most sensationalist, or the most extreme – I said just give me what is the norm – this is not uncommon.

This is near where I grew up in Hong Kong, in the new territories where its at the end of the line, a place called Wu Kai Sha – you know just like in every major city, the house prices near the railway network…as soon as they build a new one it sky rockets. That was on top of the station of Ma On Shan Line. I was actually looking for the sea, because from first hand experience, my own bedroom – it’s a long time ago, we moved to that flat when I was still a kid and we had a sea view. And over the years things kept popping up between us and the sea. Now, when I look out, outside the window, its hundreds of other people’s windows. I just wanted to find more examples of that – what’s the view out there? This is a million pound flat. Out of the window you can see the three black and orange buildings, quite strange looking, even by Hong Kong standards. (Apparently designed by the same guy who designed the Pompidou). Those popped up two or three years ago, so whoever sells this flat – when they bought it they were promised a full sea view, and now, well, there’s still a gap in the middle, but there’s a construction site, so perhaps in fact in two or three years it will be fully filled up, so its not quite there yet, but its getting there. And the drapes – I like the contrast between the drapes and the futuristic looking buildings – its like this empty flat is looking to the inevitable future.

This is the landscape in Kowloon City – this is actually the area I went to school and spent 12 years of my life, so that’s near the old Kaitak airport, so low rise buildings – they moved the airport to its current site now back in 97 so since then they lifted the height limit for buildings, so people can build. But because it wasn’t being developed as a whole area, it was – once one building came down, a new one would go up, because they just have this area, they build a whole apartment building that fits exactly that shape. And over the years it turns into all these tall and skinny buildings and makes for quite a peculiar skyline. And that is something that, because of my own memories of the place and my own experience – it probably was happening then, but it was this going back, with this new idea that it becomes very apparent – its weird, that fits the narrative of what I’m trying to convey.

www.derekman.com

Derek Man’s work can be seen throughout LOOK17 in Culture Shifts: Global, Open Eye Gallery, 7th April – 18th June 2017

Born in Hong Kong but living in the UK for the past 12 years, Derek Man’s work explores cultural identity and what we call home. He often looks at how we form a sense of place, and find our own ways of feeling like we belong.

Between the human need for shelter and the commercial need for growth, Derek’s photos look at the lives of the people caught in this tension: from the families living in cramped conditions to the estate agents desperate to sell off land. In this cityscape and others like it, the struggle of finding stable homes for everyone grows increasingly more urgent every day.

Interview by Anna Taylor www.anna-taylor.net

 

Ben Evans, 2017
Ben Evans, 2017
Rob Battersby, 2017

Interview: Luke Ching, Culture Shifts: Global

Hong Kong based artist Luke Ching has transformed a newly refurbished room in Liverpool’s Titanic Hotel into a giant pinhole camera, capturing the historic dock area in transformation. Open Eye Gallery Curator Thomas Dukes speaks to Anna Taylor, LOOK/17, about the project so far…

L:  Luke Ching has just spent three weeks in Liverpool working on the project – how did it go?

TD: Oh it was brilliant, scary but then incredibly exciting and relieving. We had the space booked for him at the Titanic Hotel, and then when we talked to Luke he was saying, ‘we’re going to need lots of boards, and chemicals’ and we were thinking ‘are you sure the Titanic Hotel is going to be the right place to do this?!’

So we talked it through a lot with them, and said ‘he’s going to be making a giant pinhole camera’ and they were like ‘Yeh.’ The room was only available for so long, so it was really tight for time, but Luke was really focused on doing it. So at the start, you can imagine roughly what is going to happen in theory – you can look at some past images that he’s made, but when he’s actually in there, you’re like, ‘what’s going on in there? What’s happening?’ You can’t go and see, because the room is so dark and has to stay fixed. Then there was the rubbish weather – really foggy, cloudy and hazy, no sun and not clear, so poor vision out of the windows, so it was like ‘oh god, what is happening?” But I went down and saw him on the second to last day that he was in there. It was the first time I had met him, and he was dead nice and we had a chat and he said did I want to come and have a look. This was amazing; it was so good. Being able to go up and see the work like that – it was a relieving moment, seeing it and knowing that the project was exactly the right thing to do.

L: Give us a sense of how big the pinhole camera is? Is it literally made of the room? How had the room been blacked out?

TD: So you do wonder about the logistics of it! There were two windows in the hotel room, and we’d ordered him loads of 10mm foam board, so he just made giant walls over the windows, and the actual physics and construction of it still baffles me – one of the angles that he’s got, meant that one of the windows wasn’t just straight back, there was a real angle on the projection…so the actual science of it…obviously I suppose that’s why he’s an artist and he works in that way, but yes, the camera was an entire blacked out room.

L: So the camera was temporarily installed for his visit. How were the images recorded?

TD: Yes, he had to build it – so the throw distance of where the paper is in relation to where the pinhole is determines to a degree, focus and what you can see and the scale of things. So for one of the prints it was literally, block off one window, make a pinhole and on the other side of the room the paper was pinned, and on the other one – another of the prints, he had to make a fake backboard that he could tape the paper to, and then he could see. Seeing them was just great. He recorded three images in total – he’s going to turn one of them into a positive as well, which is going to be smashing. And that’s going to be the big one – it looks fantastic. The buildings are of historic significance and then you see them and see how this all came together really nicely.

You can see Luke CHING in Culture Shifts: Global at Open Eye Gallery, 6 April – 18 June 2017

Culture Shifts: Global features commissioned new work by three artists who in the run up to the festival are producing new work that makes connections between Liverpool and Hong Kong. The exhibition explores the city and urbanism through outsider’s eyes.

The exhibition is part of Open Eye Gallery’s Culture Shifts programme, a socially engaged project dedicated to making photography meaningful to various local, national and international communities.

Interview by Anna Taylor.

www.anna-taylor.net

Simon Foxton. Image courtesy SHOWstudio.

Video: Simon Foxton

Currently on display as part of North: Identity, Photography, Fashion are interviews from designers that hail from the North of England, who discuss the impact the region and their upbringing had on their creative output. Created by the team at SHOWstudio, a platform dedicated to fashion film and live media, these original commissions are available online on SHOWstudio’s North series, which corresponds with this exhibition and features additional contributions and writing.

In this video, stylist Simon Foxton discusses how his youth growing up in a hotel in Berwick has shaped his identity and practice.

‘The real skill will be in learning to look beneath the clichés and habits of imagination that lie at the heart of these myths.’ Motivated by questioning existing depictions of the North of England in fashion imagery, SHOWstudio editor Lou Stoppard and Manchester-based academic and Preston is my Paris founder Adam Murray team up to unpick Northern identity, the effect of geographic space on creative output and the importance of place in general, amongst other things.

The online project encompasses interviews with key creative practitioners – including Simon Foxton, Claire Barrow and Gareth Pugh – who discuss the links between their creative practice and Northern upbringing, citing key spaces, locations, moments and figures. The interviews are displayed as videos created by Jon Emmony using Google Streetview as an immersive street-level documentation of contributors’ origins.

Additionally, essays and writing offer further discussion about the effect of geographic space on everything from gender roles to creative output. To involve those based in the North, select figures from across fashion set briefs to students studying Fashion Communication at Liverpool John Moores University that demand that time be spent out and about engaging with the community and exploring areas of the North. Photographers Jamie Hawkesworth and Nina Manandhar encourage students to look closely at people, places and routines within the North, while curator Ben Whyman and Stoppard ask students to think about text, interiors and artistic outputs. The briefs were given to students in October 2015. They are included here, and the resultant work will also be published later in the year.

North: Identity, Photography, Fashion continues at Open Eye Gallery 6 January – 19 March 2016.

May Connor, Blackpool, Late 50s.
Pauline Rowe, Aged 17. Photo by Andrea J. Cox.

Pauline Rowe on North: Identity, Photography, Fashion

Pauline Rowe, our writer-in-residence, pens her personal response to our current exhibition, North: Identity, Photography, Fashion. She also presents two of her poems, selected in response to ‘North’.

 

North is an exhibition at Liverpool’s Open Eye Gallery (6th Jan – 19th March), curated by Lou Stoppard and Adam Murray. It offers a wide range of images, films, interviews, clothes, fashion, voices (even furniture props) that give a sense of the cultural and visual heritage of the North, from Liverpool to Yarm, from Blackpool to Berwick.

 

The first chorus of Victoria Wood’s song ‘Northerners’ could be used as a preliminary checklist for the exhibition, with every line ticked (with the exception, perhaps, of tripe):

You just go:

Tripe,clogs

Going to the dogs

Wigan and Blackpool tram

Brassbands

Butties in your hands

Whippets and next door’s mam.

Clothcap

Hankie full of snap

Shawlsandscabbyknees

Hot-pot

Seven to a cot

Headscarves and mushypeas.

 

What is cliché while exhausted with overuse is nevertheless rooted in true experience. I grew up in Widnes, an industrial, rugby town, 13 miles outside of Liverpool in the years when Thatcherite policy determined the managed decline of towns like mine. I travelled every day by coach to school in Liverpool making me at once a woolly-back in Liverpool and (according to disapproving Widnesian peers) a “snob” at home. My childhood North was made of Catholicism, playing out on the Bongs, running to the corner shop on “a message”, praying for the dead, trips to “the dogs” on Friday night (where my Uncle Joe raced Mitty, his greyhound), a weekly visit to the library, Saturday night Confession; there was also a fierce sense of class loyalty in my Dad’s romantic Socialism. The domestic drama we knew came from Mum’s ambition for an education denied her and a desire to live in a different part of town. In brief, mine was a trope-drenched North that came to me from a heritage of coal-mining and ‘illegitimacy’ through my mother’s family and agricultural labour, factory work, and a love of drink on my Dad’s side. (Yet so much more than this, of course.)

Each of us can find some evidence of our own North in the Stoppard-Murray exhibition, whether reflecting experience, memory or imagination. There are voices and faces that resonate, as well as a challenging sense of place, appearance, beauty and geography.

I didn’t go to the Hacienda in the early 80s although there were older kids (growing up in Widnes, like me) whose cultural focus was Manchester rather than Liverpool.  I was so out of tune with the fashion-music zeitgeist of the late 70s that I can’t tell you who was playing on the one night I went to Eric’s (I’d gone there as an alibi of sorts for my friend, Phil) or who served me when I went to buy Patti Smith’s Horses from Probe Records.  I didn’t wear make-up, my hair was short and my adolescent idea of fashion was a pair of pale cords, a granddad shirt, a pair of braces, checked hacking jacket and a flat cap. My casual look depended on dungarees and a variety of badges. I hold my hands up. Fashion, to me, is – and always has been – another country. So the casual (masculine) aesthetic through football and music, Adidas and Fred Perry or Paul Smith’s R. Newbold celebrated in Gallery Two and in Gary Aspen’s film/interview remains a charming mystery. I don’t think fashion trivial or pointless – it’s just a baffling alternative universe.

The GPO film Spare Time made in 1939 by Humphrey Jennings and shown in Gallery One is a gem (you can also find it on Youtube). It’s a documentary about the people of four towns (Sheffield, Manchester, Bolton, Pontypridd) – and the three industries of steel, cotton and coal. It observes the hours “(b)etween work and sleep … a time we call our own” “a time when we have a chance to do what we like, a chance to be most ourselves” away from work. For purposes of the exhibition South Wales becomes a kind of honorary North. In this amorphous in-between time we see ghosts of our own familial histories. A woman pours a cup of tea, a man puts on his hat and scarf, there are rural bike rides, pubs, pies and brass-bands, football, the penny pools, a pigeon shed, men in flat caps, factories, the pit-head. The rhythms of the mill towns are different to coal villages and steel towns. The doleful Welsh voices singing Handel, appropriate accompaniment to the images of men carrying lamps in the dark, provide an elegy for lost systems of labour, as well lost communities.

Also In Gallery One there are photographs of the non-famous, some more arresting than the glamorous magazine/archival images of Morrissey or Liam and Patsy. Alice Hawkins’ The Liver Birds (2013) shows two sharp, young women dressed in complementary black and white, wearing their rollers like a fashion helmet – a familiar defiance and confidence in their glamour and poise. This image is positioned close to John Bulmer’s Mill Girls, Ellan Yorkshire (1965); faces from the mid-sixties, young girls coming from work wearing floral pinnies under heavy coats with scarves tied around their rollered heads and under their chins, worn in the manner of older women. They are eating chips from newspaper and one girl is looking away smiling while her companion (perhaps her sister) stares with suspicion at the camera, out at us. Then there’s street photographer Shirley Baker’s Glamorous Elderly Lady Smoking (1985) – the image of an old girl sitting on a city-centre bench smoking. Her wig, her netted hat and winter coat are all chestnut brown. Her small downward smile is set in an over-generous application of lipstick. She has sketched her mouth with imagination and hope. The rings on her left (cigarette-holding) hand suggest stability while her face tells a very different story. Yet the dominating image in Gallery One is Jamie Hawkesworth’s photograph of an eleven year old girl with long blonde hair wearing a bright (almost Marian) blue Gucci suit that’s too big for her. A serious, questioning character shines out of her face above the garments raising questions of wealth and poverty, femininity, class, religion even. She is odd, misplaced, triumphant – and made me think of Thomas Gainsborough’s Blue Boy.

There are more questions raised than answered by North about Northern identity – about gender and power, beauty and industry, heritage and class, language and image – but this is why it is so timely, and well worth a visit before it closes on 19th March.

Please also note that there is a wonderful resource through SHOWStudio that remains available beyond the exhibition dates for films and interviews and imaginative projects with students (see: http://showstudio.com/project/north)

 

The following poems were taken from Waiting for the Brown Trout God, Pauline Rowe (Wirral, Headland Publications, 2009)

 

1967

That winter she signed up for night school,

sneaked books in underneath her coat. Brought Blake

home with his tyger. Slow burning fuel

for those first arguments. No mistake

to think poetry dangerous. His voice

lower than hers but we could hear her shout

just talk to me – listen – I have no choice –


He worked at Fords. Couldn’t work her out.

Next social history. The Spinning Jenny.


Revolutions at our kitchen table.


No more apple pies and not many


laughs. No shifts left. He was unable


to turn back to when ignorance was bliss.


She studied books. His life was hit and miss.

 

Autobiography 1968

The white blonde hair a memory as school

begins with scrapings from the desk

of wax and dirt like crayon worms but black.

 

Each Morning Offering a pledge

of works, prayers, sufferings and joys

like letters fixed on pyramids of milk.

 

At night, an old man dying in a room

my sister fills with blossom

pink and stooped in cups along the window ledge.

 

We laugh although we are without the teeth we need

to speak the kind of words we hear in waves;

warming valves, phonograms, receivers.

 

On Friday nights

St. Helens and the Dogs, my father’s treat,

a glass of vimto and a soft ham barm.

We amble to the car

 

then orange street lamps pass us,

many equal frames of moving frame

on reel. On Sunday night,

the week made circular with light

 

from radio turned low

and mother’s candle

burning in the church.

 

Gareth Pugh. Image courtesy SHOWstudio.

Video: Gareth Pugh

Currently on display as part of North: Identity, Photography, Fashion are interviews from designers that hail from the North of England, who discuss the impact the region and their upbringing had on their creative output. Created by the team at SHOWstudio, a platform dedicated to fashion film and live media, these original commissions are available online on SHOWstudio’s North series, which corresponds with this exhibition and features additional contributions and writing.

In this video, designer Gareth Pugh discusses growing up in Sunderland, exploring landmarks that hold a nostalgic significance to his development as a designer.

‘The real skill will be in learning to look beneath the clichés and habits of imagination that lie at the heart of these myths.’ Motivated by questioning existing depictions of the North of England in fashion imagery, SHOWstudio editor Lou Stoppard and Manchester-based academic and Preston is my Paris founder Adam Murray team up to unpick Northern identity, the effect of geographic space on creative output and the importance of place in general, amongst other things.

The online project encompasses interviews with key creative practitioners – including Simon Foxton, Claire Barrow and Gareth Pugh – who discuss the links between their creative practice and Northern upbringing, citing key spaces, locations, moments and figures. The interviews are displayed as videos created by Jon Emmony using Google Streetview as an immersive street-level documentation of contributors’ origins.

Additionally, essays and writing offer further discussion about the effect of geographic space on everything from gender roles to creative output. To involve those based in the North, select figures from across fashion set briefs to students studying Fashion Communication at Liverpool John Moores University that demand that time be spent out and about engaging with the community and exploring areas of the North. Photographers Jamie Hawkesworth and Nina Manandhar encourage students to look closely at people, places and routines within the North, while curator Ben Whyman and Stoppard ask students to think about text, interiors and artistic outputs. The briefs were given to students in October 2015. They are included here, and the resultant work will also be published later in the year.

North: Identity, Photography, Fashion continues at Open Eye Gallery 6 January – 19 March 2016.

Photograph by John Bulmer, Liverpool, 1965
Photograph by David Sims. From Heaven Up Here. Liverpool Re-Visited 2006
Photograph by Alice Hawkins, Derrin Crawford & Demi-Leigh Cruickshank in 'The Liver Birds' LOVE magazine, Liverpool, 2012
Photograph by Michelle Sank, Blaze, Dancer, Pierhead, 2007

North: Liverpool Highlights

Co-curators Lou Stoppard & Adam Murray discuss some images of Liverpool that appear in our current exhibition, North: Identity, Photography, Fashion.

 

John Bulmer – Liverpool 1965

John Bulmer is a British photographer worker who produced a series of seminal reportage projects documenting Northern England in the 1960s and 70s for publications such as The Sunday Times. Bulmer’s work is important in this exhibition as it provides a comprehensive document of life and lays the foundations for some of the reoccurring motifs that we see in more recent fashion editorials. This particular image shot in Liverpool in 1965 depicts various themes Lou and I have explored in our research to do with housing, domesticity and the family.

– Adam Murray

 

David Sims – From Heaven Up Here. Liverpool Re-Visited 2006

This image is from a project photographed by David Sims and casting by Thom Murphy that first appeared in luxury fashion publication Self Service in 2006. A studio was set up in the Adelphi hotel in Liverpool and young women were photographed in the clothing they happened to be wearing that day. This is not a traditional fashion shoot in the way that a model is dressed with pre decided clothing. Rather, it is a celebration of personal style and the way clothing, make up, hair style and pose is used by each of us as means of expression.

– Adam Murray

 

Alice Hawkins – from The Liver Birds, 2013

Photographer Alice Hawkins is full of respect for her subjects and often plays with or challenges these stereotypes, celebrating the routines and rituals of British women. Highly influenced by Coronation Street and Bet Lynch, she seeks to shoot women ‘who don’t conform to a normal notion of beauty.’ She continues, ‘Lynch is the epitome of what I love and admire about women – women who are audacious in their appearance. They push what it is to be feminine beyond the realms of normal. Some people may consider them to look tacky or tasteless but I think they are dignified and I am completely genuine with my admiration and representation of them in my work. I have dreams to be like them myself.’ Here, glossy fashion bible LOVE commissioned her for this shoot starring Abbey Clancy and members of her extended clan. Their poise and vibrancy is striking.

– Lou Stoppard

 

Michelle Sank – Blaze, Dancer, Pierhead, 2007

The aspects of Northern culture that are most regularly taken up by the fashion press tend to relate mostly to subculture, music and sport. Therefore, often a highly masculine image dominates. During our research we were struck by these images by these 2007 images by Michelle Sank in the Open Eye archive that seemed to challenge these norms. 2007 marked the 800th birthday of the Borough of Liverpool and to celebrate the occasion Open Eye produced The Water’s Edge, a photographic commission, exhibition and book that explored the women who work, or worked, in and around the city’s waterfront, or who have departed from it to work at sea.

– Lou Stoppard

 

North: Identity, Photography, Fashion continues at Open Eye Gallery 6 January – 19 March 2017.

Photograph by Stephen McCoy, From the series Skelmersdale, 1984
The North, John Bulmer, £19.99
Girlfans, Jacqui McAssey and Alex Hurst, £5

Gallery Shop: North

In our independent bookshop we have lots of photo books and zines that capture Northern culture, fashion and our bold identity. Take a look at some of the fantastic publications we have for sale.

 

Stephen McCoy, Café Royal Books, £10.00

North Western indie publisher Café Royal Books encapsulate British cultural change and provide an essential accompaniment to our current exhibition ‘North: Identity, Photography, Fashion’. We have a large collection of these spectacular zines in our gallery shop, many documenting areas local to us including Tricia Porter’s Liverpool South Docks and John Stoddart: Liverpool Before the Exodus. One of a multifarious array of exhibiting artists, Stephen McCoy, has works exploring a candid perspective of Liverpudlian culture. The captivating photography of McCoy’s 1984 series Skelmersdale depicts unequivocally Northern landscapes and its residents during eras of economic decline.

 

The North, John Bulmer, £19.99

Donkey jackets, ginnels and cobbles abound, renowned photojournalist John Bulmer journeys through raw Northern landscapes and bleak suburbs with a series of works collected from the magazines who lent his talent.

Bulmer captures the lives of the working people who were facing vast cultural transformation throughout the 60s and 70s. This poignant archive reflects the sudden use of colour photography in the British Press during this time. Bulmer adopts this adjustment seamlessly, with his later photographs depicting a subtle change in narrative, a more enlightening North!

 

Girlfans, Jacqui McAssey and Alex Hurst, £5 

There‘s no match between the reds and the blues in these striking zines as each limited edition issue is dedicated to how female football fans show their support through fashion. Here, you’ll see a colourful documentation of women supporters, Liverpudlians and Evertonions, one of which combines her home strip with the likes of Louis Vuitton and Chanel accessories – now how fab is that!

Written By Gina Schwarz

Claire Barrow. Image courtesy SHOWstudio.

Video: Claire Barrow

Currently on display as part of North: Identity, Photography, Fashion are interviews from designers that hail from the North of England, who discuss the impact the region and their upbringing had on their creative output. Created by the team at SHOWstudio, a platform dedicated to fashion film and live media, these original commissions are available online on SHOWstudio’s North series, which corresponds with this exhibition and features additional contributions and writing.

In this video, designer Claire Barrow discusses her memories of growing up in Yarm, and questions the effect of her youth on her current aesthetic.

‘The real skill will be in learning to look beneath the clichés and habits of imagination that lie at the heart of these myths.’ Motivated by questioning existing depictions of the North of England in fashion imagery, SHOWstudio editor Lou Stoppard and Manchester-based academic and Preston is my Paris founder Adam Murray team up to unpick Northern identity, the effect of geographic space on creative output and the importance of place in general, amongst other things.

The online project encompasses interviews with key creative practitioners – including Simon Foxton, Claire Barrow and Gareth Pugh – who discuss the links between their creative practice and Northern upbringing, citing key spaces, locations, moments and figures. The interviews are displayed as videos created by Jon Emmony using Google Streetview as an immersive street-level documentation of contributors’ origins.

Additionally, essays and writing offer further discussion about the effect of geographic space on everything from gender roles to creative output. To involve those based in the North, select figures from across fashion set briefs to students studying Fashion Communication at Liverpool John Moores University that demand that time be spent out and about engaging with the community and exploring areas of the North. Photographers Jamie Hawkesworth and Nina Manandhar encourage students to look closely at people, places and routines within the North, while curator Ben Whyman and Stoppard ask students to think about text, interiors and artistic outputs. The briefs were given to students in October 2015. They are included here, and the resultant work will also be published later in the year.

North: Identity, Photography, Fashion continues at Open Eye Gallery 6 January – 19 March 2016.

40 Years of Open Eye Gallery- 1977-2017. Wall Work by Thom Isom. Photo by Mark McNulty.
40 Years of Open Eye Gallery- 1977-2017. Wall Work by Thom Isom. Photo by Mark McNulty.
40 Years of Open Eye Gallery- 1977-2017. Wall Work by Thom Isom. Photo by Mark McNulty.

Share your experiences #OEG40

In 2017 Open Eye Gallery is celebrating its 40th Birthday Year.

Open Eye Gallery’s success is down to the many people who have shaped and grown the organisation over the last 40 years. The new Wall Work features snapshot-quotes from 40 people reflecting upon their experience of Open Eye Gallery. Shaped by our Research Curator and oral historian Dan Warner, and designed by Thom Isom, through the 2017 facade of the gallery we wish to pay homage to a much larger group of photographers, volunteers, partners, visitors and staff who have championed our work.

Open Eye Gallery, Where I…

Share your experiences
#OEG40

Open Eye Gallery, where I… was dynamic. We were doing an exhibition a month. It wasn’t madness – it was exciting. Opportunities came up and we took them. – 1978
Colin Wilkinson, Founder of Open Eye Gallery

Open Eye Gallery, where I… found out that art can shock people. If you’re not provoking people into thought, what are you doing? – 1980
Peter Hagerty, Director (1978-81)

Open Eye Gallery, where I… protested against an exhibition. Myself and other feminists sprayed shaving foam on some quite graphic images of women. – 1980
Mandy, Visitor/Acquaintance

Open Eye Gallery, where I… worked with some of the best British photographers of the time, and of the present. We showed people like Martin Parr, Tom Wood, Chris Killip, John Davies, John Stoddart. They all emerged to national prominence, and I was massively proud of that. Liverpool should be too. – 1985
Neil Burgess, Director (1981-1986)

Open Eye Gallery, where I… discovered photography was what I’d do for the rest of my life. Having a voice that people want to hear is a rare privilege. – 1999
Simon Norfolk, Photographer

Open Eye Gallery, where I… got my first full-time job as trainee programme assistant. A significant occasion, because my Chinese parents always supported my madness for the arts, but never knew how. – 2000
Debbie Chan, Member of Staff (2000-03)

Open Eye Gallery, where… the exhibition ‘Ground Zero’ by Joel Meyerowitz had it’s UK launch attended by the US Ambassador William Farrish, The US Cultural Attaché and NYC Fire Department personnel and LOTS of heavily armed Secret Service/Special Branch! A very surreal evening. – 2002
Paul Mellor, Director (1995-2004)

Open Eye Gallery, where I… was commissioned to produce portraits of Women who worked on the docks. I worked with an oral archivist and it was a wonderful opportunity to collaborate and work with women of all ages – each with fascinating histories. The exhibition and accompanying published book The Water’s Edge were really successful outcomes to the project. – 2006
Michelle Sank, Photographer

Open Eye Gallery, where I… flew over from Sydney to attend the opening night of my show, Richard & Famous. The Gallery treated me like long lost family, and the people of Liverpool were exceptional, warm, funny, friendly and generous. – 2012
Richard Simpkin, Photographer

Open Eye Gallery, where I… worked on UK premiers with Susan Meiselas, David Goldblatt, Yto Barrada, Alec Soth, Helen van Meene, Philippe Chancel, Donovan Wylie, Anne Collier, John Stezaker, Pieter Hugo, Mishka Henner, Richard Mosse and Eva Stenram. – 2013
Partick Henry, Director (2004-2013)

Open Eye Gallery, where I… realised that photography is today the most accessible, immediate and effective tool for transnational storytelling. – 2014
Lorenzo Fusi, Director (2013-15)

Open Eye Gallery, where I… showed when I was 40 (1988) and again when I was 70 (2015). We have grown up together. – 2015
Richard Ross, Photographer

Open Eye Gallery, where I… was hugely impressed by the work of the children from SliCE workshop programme after helping them to produce a series of images created and manipulated in the gallery. – 2016
Sam Hutchinson, Photographer

Open Eye Gallery, where I… have the privilege of working in an era when billions of people are using photography to curate and share their lives and when the expertise of photographers can make real difference to communities. – 2016
Sarah Fisher, Director (2015-Present)

Christopher Shannon. Image courtesy SHOWstudio.

Video: Christopher Shannon

Currently on display as part of North: Identity, Photography, Fashion are interviews from designers that hail from the North of England, who discuss the impact the region and their upbringing had on their creative output. Created by the team at SHOWstudio, a platform dedicated to fashion film and live media, these original commissions are available online on SHOWstudio’s North series, which corresponds with this exhibition and features additional contributions and writing.

In this video, fashion designer Christopher Shannon discusses growing up in Liverpool and the effect the city has had on his sense of style and self.

‘The real skill will be in learning to look beneath the clichés and habits of imagination that lie at the heart of these myths.’ Motivated by questioning existing depictions of the North of England in fashion imagery, SHOWstudio editor Lou Stoppard and Manchester-based academic and Preston is my Paris founder Adam Murray team up to unpick Northern identity, the effect of geographic space on creative output and the importance of place in general, amongst other things.

The online project encompasses interviews with key creative practitioners – including Simon Foxton, Claire Barrow and Gareth Pugh – who discuss the links between their creative practice and Northern upbringing, citing key spaces, locations, moments and figures. The interviews are displayed as videos created by Jon Emmony using Google Streetview as an immersive street-level documentation of contributors’ origins.

Additionally, essays and writing offer further discussion about the effect of geographic space on everything from gender roles to creative output. To involve those based in the North, select figures from across fashion set briefs to students studying Fashion Communication at Liverpool John Moores University that demand that time be spent out and about engaging with the community and exploring areas of the North. Photographers Jamie Hawkesworth and Nina Manandhar encourage students to look closely at people, places and routines within the North, while curator Ben Whyman and Stoppard ask students to think about text, interiors and artistic outputs. The briefs were given to students in October 2015. They are included here, and the resultant work will also be published later in the year.

North: Identity, Photography, Fashion continues at Open Eye Gallery 6 January – 19 March 2016.

Cameron Tallant: North

North: Identity, Photography, Fashion

Sat on Liverpool’s waterfront is Open Eye Gallery, one of the most important galleries – not only in the North West but also throughout the UK- for promoting photography as an artistic discipline. This year the gallery celebrates its 40th birthday of pioneering work in this field and it has certainly started 2017 as it intends to go on. North: Identity, Photography, Fashion is a collage of medias documenting and depicting the last 30 years in the North of England and the exhibition can be regarded as a glance back over the gallery’s own history.

The show begins with an exploration of the visions and stereotypes people have of the North. One corner is dedicated to photographs and video-works that challenge –or at least expose- the historically white, hetero, boisterous image of the North which can still be seen today. Beside this are archived magazines from the likes of Homme, Face and i-D which remind us of some particularly iconic moments in northern history: an early photoshoot with Kate Moss in Blackpool, interviews with The Stone Roses, and portraits of Morrissey.

The exhibition continues into an analysis of street fashion and style in cities like Manchester, Sheffield and Newcastle. The most interesting thing about these images (other than the fact that the members of Elbow were photographed in the collection – before they were famous) is how you could still walk through Hyde Park in these outfits and not look out of place (although you would be trying too hard). Also included is one of the earliest, handcrafted versions of Raf Simon’s 2003 Parka Jackets, alongside some iconic archives of Adidas trainers. These are contrasted with the newest, unreleased pieces by Off-White that were inspired by the northern fashion movements in the 90s.

The last room of the gallery houses candid interviews with artists, fashion designers and other creatives from the North, monologuing about their experiences and childhood. A personal favourite for me was Fashion Designer Thom Murphy’s interview on the rise of Acid House in the Northwest and its impact on youth culture, nightlife and violence.

Open Eye Gallery has offered an exciting and varied insight into the North over the past decades. It is difficult to discuss what is on display at the gallery in terms of fashion or photography, in the same way; it is difficult to talk about the North as one homogenous region. Its only real common denominator is diversity and variety of styles, accents, and attitudes. This exhibition has expressed this extremely well. I highly recommend paying it a visit.

—-

Written by Cameron Tallant

Stephen Jones. Thom Murphy. Image courtesy SHOWstudio.

Video: Stephen Jones

Currently on display as part of North: Identity, Photography, Fashion are interviews from designers that hail from the North of England, who discuss the impact the region and their upbringing had on their creative output. Created by the team at SHOWstudio, a platform dedicated to fashion film and live media, these original commissions are available online on SHOWstudio’s North series, which corresponds with this exhibition and features additional contributions and writing.

In this video, master milliner Stephen Jones discusses class divides in post-war Liverpool and creative influences in the North despite economic downturn.

‘The real skill will be in learning to look beneath the clichés and habits of imagination that lie at the heart of these myths.’ Motivated by questioning existing depictions of the North of England in fashion imagery, SHOWstudio editor Lou Stoppard and Manchester-based academic and Preston is my Paris founder Adam Murray team up to unpick Northern identity, the effect of geographic space on creative output and the importance of place in general, amongst other things.

The online project encompasses interviews with key creative practitioners – including Simon Foxton, Claire Barrow and Gareth Pugh – who discuss the links between their creative practice and Northern upbringing, citing key spaces, locations, moments and figures. The interviews are displayed as videos created by Jon Emmony using Google Streetview as an immersive street-level documentation of contributors’ origins.

Additionally, essays and writing offer further discussion about the effect of geographic space on everything from gender roles to creative output. To involve those based in the North, select figures from across fashion set briefs to students studying Fashion Communication at Liverpool John Moores University that demand that time be spent out and about engaging with the community and exploring areas of the North. Photographers Jamie Hawkesworth and Nina Manandhar encourage students to look closely at people, places and routines within the North, while curator Ben Whyman and Stoppard ask students to think about text, interiors and artistic outputs. The briefs were given to students in October 2015. They are included here, and the resultant work will also be published later in the year.

North: Identity, Photography, Fashion continues at Open Eye Gallery 6 January – 19 March 2016.

Jamie Lau, Betting Shop (Red), 2009 (2016). Edition of 50 prints, signed and numbered on the back. £250
Leo Fitzmaurice, Tompa Utca, (2016). Edition of 20 prints, signed and numbered on the back. £595.00

Field Editions

Support Open Eye Gallery and buy an outstanding, yet affordable print by an exceptional artist.

Field Editions launched on home territory at The Manchester Contemporary Art Fair in September 2016, and launched internationally at Miami NADA in December 2016, with a well received presentation of exciting new photographic limited editions specially created and generously donated by alumni of Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool, Impressions Gallery, Bradford and Redeye, the Photography Network, Manchester.

Next stop NADA New York!

Artists who have contributed inaugural works to Field Editions include Murray Ballard, Rut Blees Luxemburg, Broomberg and Chanarin, Ben Rivers, Martin Parr, Helen Sear, John Stezaker and Eva Stenram among many others.

The aim of Field Editions is to offer a different and innovative approach to the collecting of contemporary photography and to showcase new and emerging talent along side well known contemporary artists.

All proceeds coming to Open Eye Gallery will be spent on supporting the next generation of photographers at crucial stages in their careers.

Field Editions is a consortium established in 2016 for the production of benefit editions to support the work of two charities, Open Eye Gallery , Liverpool and Impressions Gallery,  Bradford as well as Redeye, the Photography Network in Manchester.  These three organisations have between them over 100 year’s experience in championing the very best of contemporary photography, and of providing invaluable professional support to both emerging and established photographers.

Field Editions is committed to becoming a destination brand for the acquisition of the most outstanding, yet affordable, photographic limited editions available today.

Support Open Eye Gallery by collecting Field Editions prints:
www.fieldeditions.org/product-category/open-eye-gallery

Field Editions is supported by Arts Council England.

PhotoStories

Introducing a new website:

PHOTOSTORIES

www.photostories.org.uk

#PhotoStories

PhotoStories – what’s yours?

An image can tell us what a thousand words may never manage to portray. Photography is embedded in our everyday lives and continues to be one of the most powerful tools of communication. With photography at our finger tips, how and what do we want to say?

Launching in February 2017, PhotoStories is a new website bringing together the work of communities and professional photographers, exploring and sharing the world around them in a powerful and sometimes challenging way.  The website showcases PhotoStories created throughout our current Culture Shifts programme, as well as inviting the public to upload and share their own narratives. 

Culture Shifts works with 10 national and international photographers embedded in communities across 7 areas of Liverpool City Region. It aims to support communities to explore their stories in a way that is meaningful to them. By co-authoring stories that reflect people’s identity, interests or lives, we hope to inspire, surprise or challenge a wider audience to participate through the new PhotoStories website.

“4 billion photographs per day are uploaded onto social media. Photography is now as important as text or verbal communication in the stories we tell about our own lives.” – Sarah Fisher, Executive Director, Open Eye Gallery

Once users have registered to PhotoStories (it’s free!), they will be able to upload their own visual narrative of 3-15 images. The website is designed to host your own online portfolio of unique PhotoStories, with features to support you to think about the way you select and curate your own digital exhibition of images. Individual photo stories can be ‘liked’ and shared by other visitors to the website. A series of guest curators, photographers and communities will choose stories to be featured in the ‘Editors Choice’ section of the site.

As part of the overall Culture Shifts programme, Redeye, the Photography Network continue to work with local community champions to deliver training sessions on framing images, selecting and uploading photographs. Videos from the training sessions will be uploaded to PhotoStories to inspire a wider public to engage with photography and the new website.

When the website launches in February 2017, projects from across Culture Shifts will be available to view.

PhotoStories is currently being developed in partnership with Liverpool’s Red Ninja.

All images are uploaded to PhotoStories under a creative commons license.

Namibia (1904). From For Most Of It I Have No Words, Genocide Landscape Memory © Simon Norfolk, 1998
Praskovia, Lokhvytsia, Ukraine © Kate Kornberg
Image by Wilhelm Brasse

Holocaust Memorial Day

Holocaust Memorial Day takes place every year on 27th January. In this blog, we look at photographers who have captured scenes from the Holocaust and a number of genocides in their work.

Simon Norfolk is a landscape photographer, who has most recently exhibited at Open Eye Gallery in 2012. His work is captivating and explores some of the worlds most horrific war zones. The body of work ‘For Most Of It I Have No Words: Genocide, Landscape, Memory’, is a thought-provoking series. Norfolk embodies how race, religion or nation can lead to such horror in communities. The photographs include skulls of bodies found around a church in Rwanda to ash ponds at Auschwitz. He uses black and white photography to capture an eerie and still portrayal. There is a certain aspect of beauty within his work, as he has captured the purity of the places. Norfolk wants to question the idea that if a large number of people are killed, for example 6 million, soon after the public start to question the reality of the atrocity. Where as if, for example, 6 people are killed, it is news of the day.

The simple message that Norfolk is saying in his work ‘is not about yesterday, history- it is about today’. As we commemorate the Holocaust, Norfolk’s words are a key message to remember.

Signed copies of Simon Norfolk’s book ‘For Most Of It I Have No Words: Genocide, Landscape, Memory’ are available in our independent shop for £30.

Kate Kornberg’s project ‘Witnesses: the Holocaust by Bullets’, looks at the people who witnessed the Holocaust in their communities. They have never told their stories before, and now they want to make sure they keep this tragedy from disappearing. The body of work is in colour and projects every line and shade within the persons face. On the contrary to Norfolk’s work, the photographs are upfront and clear, making the viewer see every flaw.

When viewing the photograph, at first you see a portrait, for example the photograph Praskovia, Lokhvytsia, Ukraine’, but when you read the description “The Jews undressed to their underwear, the infants were covered only with their blankets. The police brought them all to the pit.” you look at it in a different way; you almost see what Paraskovia sees.

The work embodies Norfolk’s belief that ‘history is today’. These people are living with what they witnessed and are concerned that no one is talking about their experiences.

Refusing to declare his loyalty to Adolf Hitler, Wilhelm Brasse was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau on August 31, 1940. As a prisoner in Auschwitz, his role was to take photographs of fellow inmates at the death camp. He once said he photographed between 40,000 to 50,000 prisoners.

Brasse learnt photography from his aunt in Poland. As he was a skilled photographer and could speak German, he was appointed to create photographs for incoming prisoners identity cards.

“When they arrived at Auschwitz, people’s faces were full, they looked normal. Just weeks later, if they were still alive, they were unrecognizable.” Brasse told the AFP in a 2009 interview.

Before the Soviet army liberated the camp, Brasse was instructed to destroy all of the negatives, but he didn’t. A lot of the images are now on display at the Auschwitz museum. When Brasse returned to his home he wanted to continue taking photographs, but the experiences he had witnessed in Auschwitz were too haunting. “Those poor Jewish children were always before my eyes,” Brasse told AFP in 2009. “There are things you can never forget.”

Brasse’s photographs not only capture a moment in time, but also are part of history.

Written by Madeleine Wright, Youth Champion Board Member for the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.

madeleinegwright.wixsite.com/textiles

Find more information about the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust here: hmd.org.uk

Thom Murphy. Image courtesy SHOWstudio.

Video: Thom Murphy

Currently on display as part of North: Identity, Photography, Fashion are interviews from designers that hail from the North of England, who discuss the impact the region and their upbringing had on their creative output. Created by the team at SHOWstudio, a platform dedicated to fashion film and live media, these original commissions are available online on SHOWstudio’s North series, which corresponds with this exhibition and features additional contributions and writing.

In this video, Liverpudlian stylist Thom Murphy describes the evolution of the club scene in the North of England and his subsequent trajectory into fashion.

‘The real skill will be in learning to look beneath the clichés and habits of imagination that lie at the heart of these myths.’ Motivated by questioning existing depictions of the North of England in fashion imagery, SHOWstudio editor Lou Stoppard and Manchester-based academic and Preston is my Paris founder Adam Murray team up to unpick Northern identity, the effect of geographic space on creative output and the importance of place in general, amongst other things.

The online project encompasses interviews with key creative practitioners – including Simon Foxton, Claire Barrow and Gareth Pugh – who discuss the links between their creative practice and Northern upbringing, citing key spaces, locations, moments and figures. The interviews are displayed as videos created by Jon Emmony using Google Streetview as an immersive street-level documentation of contributors’ origins.

Additionally, essays and writing offer further discussion about the effect of geographic space on everything from gender roles to creative output. To involve those based in the North, select figures from across fashion set briefs to students studying Fashion Communication at Liverpool John Moores University that demand that time be spent out and about engaging with the community and exploring areas of the North. Photographers Jamie Hawkesworth and Nina Manandhar encourage students to look closely at people, places and routines within the North, while curator Ben Whyman and Stoppard ask students to think about text, interiors and artistic outputs. The briefs were given to students in October 2015. They are included here, and the resultant work will also be published later in the year.

North: Identity, Photography, Fashion continues at Open Eye Gallery 6 January – 19 March 2016.

Luke Ching. 1-F 17 Fung Yi Street, To Kwa Wan, KL, Hong Kong (Door, Wall, Window) 2001

LOOK/17: Open Call

LOOK/17 (Liverpool International Photo Festival) presents a unique opportunity for trans-global sharing of images and ideas. Working with Hong Kong based curator Ying Kwok, the festival will focus on exchange with China, welcoming Chinese photographers and exploring images taken in Hong Kong and Liverpool – cities with a long history of exchange.

The festival will consider how we use the universal language of photography to experience and shape the city. It will encourage conversations with other disciplines such as architecture, education, planning and commerce.

LOOK/17 is seeking applications from UK based artists. We are seeking photographic work that relates to the themes of China and or Urbanism. As well as opportunities to exhibit, we would anticipate that selected artists participate in hosting related events, such as talks or workshops.

The LOOK/17 team will make a selection of artists for inclusion in exhibitions at various secured venues across the city. Successful artists will be responsible for coordinating the  installation of their work in conversation with the LOOK/17 team.  All artists selected for exhibition will be featured on the festival blog and promoted via social media.

If you have a project that relates to these themes LOOK would love to hear from you. The deadline for submissions is 22 February 2017.

To apply, please send us three images (please resize each image to 3000 pixels along the longest edge), a short text describing your work (no more than 100 words) with your name, email address, mobile number and web address to:

submissions@lookphotofestival.com

LOOK/17 runs from the 7th of April to the 14th of May 2017 at venues across Liverpool.

Girl Plays with Snake ©Clare Strand.
ZZYZX ©Gregory Halpern.
Provisional Arrangement ©Martin Kollar.
MACK free goodies when you spend £50.

MACK Publications

In our independent bookshop we have lots of photo books from the publisher MACK, here is a closer look at three of the new additions to our ever growing shop.

 

Girl Plays with Snake, Clare Strand, £30.00

The artist behind this clean cut scrap book containing found photographs of snakes is British conceptual artist Clare Strand. Strand has an interest in found photography and the shape-shifting nature photographs can have depending on their context. In an interview with i-D magazine the artist reveled the inspiration for the book came from her daughter who came home from school one day declaring that she had held a snake. Strand turned to her archive of found photographs and selected ones that featured women and yes, you guessed it, snakes. The book features bizarre photographs of amusing situations, one of my favorites is of a woman hanging out of a car window posing happily with a snake. As stated on the artists website, Clare Strand would like to make it very clear that she is not a lover of snakes.

 

ZZYZX, Gregory Halpern, £35.00

Taking its title from the town of Zzyzx in California, Gregory Halpern’s collection of photographs taken around Los Angeles evokes a sense of a dystopian future. When selecting images for the book Halpern trawled through an estimated thousand rolls of film, all which were shot between 2008 and 2015. The result a carefully curated selection of individual photographs that form a liner story in which we follow on a journey from east to west California.

 

Provisional Arrangement, Martin Kollar, £25.00

Martin Kollar was the first winner if the Prix Elysée in 2015, with his £55,000 prize he put half of it towards the production of his project Provisional Arrangement. The Slovakian artist grew up during the communist era under the slogan “With the Soviet Union for all Eternity”, like many of his generation the provisional ruled the everyday. As seen though his practise Kollar is interested with the temporary world in which he now exists, and how he is constantly adapting himself to endless variations. Provisional Arrangement has no supporting text, the reader is expected to form their own narratives and own paths of possibilities.

 

Spend £50 or more on MACK books and receive a free goodie bag that contains a MACK sketchbook and a MACK catalogue.

 

Written by Holly Christopher

Shahr-e Qesseh (City of Tales), written and directed by Bijan Mofid, University Hall, 1968, Courtesy of Courtesy of Festival of Arts, Shiraz-Persepolis / Bijan Mofid Foundation
Renga Moi, written and directed by Robert Serumaga, National Theatre of Uganda, Saray-e Moshir, 1975. Courtesy of Festival of Arts, Shiraz-Persepolis.

A Utopian Stage

A Utopian Stage: Festival of Arts, Shiraz-Persepolis
Curation and Research: Vali Mahlouji

The Festival of Arts was a performance festival held annually in Iran every summer between 1967-77 in and around the city of Shiraz and the ancient ruins of Persepolis. It facilitated a uniquely transformative and radical crucible of artistic exchange and experience. By the early ‘70s Shiraz-Persepolis had become a crucial player in a complex international network of creative expression circumventing divisions of North-South and South-South. In line with the Non-Aligned Movement, it articulated a Third World-ist post-colonial position and negotiated the ideological Cold War demarcations facilitating the exchange of information beyond the Iron Curtain.

Curated by Iranian intellectuals and in line with post-war anti-colonial sensibilities, the festival defied European hierarchical cultural models and discourses. In proposing a universalist model of culture, it put distant voices from Asia and Africa, often for the first time, on the cultural map as valid and equal. Artists found opportunities to investigate shared roots of drama, music and performance in rejecting the conventional definitions of traditional and modern, native and alien. Domestically, the festival opened up a transgressively liberal space within a dictatorship, which was perceived as culturally and politically controversial.

At the time of the Iranian revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini issued a religious fatwa against the festival in 1978 declaring it culturally decadent and un-Islamic. Many of the Iranian participants were not allowed to work again and all records and materials associated with the festival in Iran remain banned to date.

A Utopian Stage is a project of Archaeology of the Final Decade, a curatorial platform founded in 2010, which researches histories of nations condemned by social displacement, cultural annihilation or deliberate disappearance. AOTFD engages with accounts of culture, which have been lost through material destruction, acts of censorship, political, economic or human contingencies. The research identifies, investigates and re-circulates significant cultural and artistic materials that have remained obscure, under-exposed, endangered, banned or in some instances destroyed.

A four channel video presentation of the Festival of Arts from the Archaeology of the Final Decade is now on display on our Digital Window Gallery. Booklets offering a fuller perspective on the project are available in our independent book shop.

Gary Aspden. Image courtesy SHOWstudio.

Video: Gary Aspden

Currently on display as part of North: Identity, Photography, Fashion are interviews from designers that hail from the North of England, who discuss the impact the region and their upbringing had on their creative output. Created by the team at SHOWstudio, a platform dedicated to fashion film and live media, these original commissions are available online on SHOWstudio’s North series, which corresponds with this exhibition and features additional contributions and writing.

In this video, adidas brand consultant Gary Aspden discusses the aspirational nature of sportswear and the class tourism inherent in casual fashion in the eighties

‘The real skill will be in learning to look beneath the clichés and habits of imagination that lie at the heart of these myths.’ Motivated by questioning existing depictions of the North of England in fashion imagery, SHOWstudio editor Lou Stoppard and Manchester-based academic and Preston is my Paris founder Adam Murray team up to unpick Northern identity, the effect of geographic space on creative output and the importance of place in general, amongst other things.

The online project encompasses interviews with key creative practitioners – including Simon Foxton, Claire Barrow and Gareth Pugh – who discuss the links between their creative practice and Northern upbringing, citing key spaces, locations, moments and figures. The interviews are displayed as videos created by Jon Emmony using Google Streetview as an immersive street-level documentation of contributors’ origins.

Additionally, essays and writing offer further discussion about the effect of geographic space on everything from gender roles to creative output. To involve those based in the North, select figures from across fashion set briefs to students studying Fashion Communication at Liverpool John Moores University that demand that time be spent out and about engaging with the community and exploring areas of the North. Photographers Jamie Hawkesworth and Nina Manandhar encourage students to look closely at people, places and routines within the North, while curator Ben Whyman and Stoppard ask students to think about text, interiors and artistic outputs. The briefs were given to students in October 2015. They are included here, and the resultant work will also be published later in the year.

North: Identity, Photography, Fashion continues at Open Eye Gallery 6 January – 19 March 2016.

Photograph by Stephen McCoy, From the series Skelmersdale, 1984
Photograph by Alasdair McLellan, Boy at the Saint Leger Fair, Doncaster, September 2005
Photograph by Alice Hawkins, Derrin Crawford & Demi-Leigh Cruickshank in 'The Liver Birds' LOVE magazine, Liverpool, 2012

Launch Night – North: Identity, Photography

Thursday 5 January 2017 / 6pm-9pm

Speeches at 6:15pm from:

Simon Mellor
Deputy Chief Executive, Arts & Culture, Arts Council England

Cllr Wendy Simon
Assistant Mayor & Cabinet Member for Culture, Tourism & Events, Liverpool Labour

Sarah Fisher
Executive Director, Open Eye Gallery

Lou Stoppard
Curator, North: Fashion, Photography, Identity & Editor at SHOWstudio

Over the past 40 years, Open Eye Gallery has exhibited some of the world’s most inspiring and insightful photographers. We have championed the agency of photography as art, as social and historical document, and as integral to the cultural impact of music, fashion, architecture and many other disciplines.

We will be unveiling a brand new Wall Work featuring snapshot-quotes from 40 people who have shaped and grown the organisation, reflecting upon their experience of Open Eye Gallery.

We are delighted to launch our 40th birthday year with a brand new exhibition exploring the influence of the North of England on fashion and visual culture, North: Identity, Photography, Fashion.

The exhibition features work from some of fashion’s most notable image-makers. Early photography by Jamie Hawkesworth and Alasdair McLellan, dating back to the first years of their careers, is shown alongside historic prints from Glen Luchford and Nick Knight. Original prints from Luchford’s first ever shoot, a session with The Stone Roses for The Face in 1989, will be on display. Additionally, work by contemporary artists such as Turner Prize winners Mark Leckey and Jeremy Deller will be exhibited.

Co-curated by Lou Stoppard and Adam Murray.

Featured artists are Alasdair McLellan, Glen Luchford, Corinne Day, David Sims, Jamie Hawkesworth, Jason Evans, Alice Hawkins, Mark Leckey, Jeremy Deller, Raf Simons, Paul Smith, Virgil Abloh, New Power Studio, adidas, Elaine Constantine, Christopher Shannon, Maxwell Sterling, Simon Foxton, Ben Kelly, Stephen Jones, Gareth Pugh, Nick Knight, Peter Saville, John Bulmer, Peter Mitchell, Nik Hartley, Claire Barrow, Humphrey Spender, Thom Murphy, Ewen Spencer, Brett Dee, Humphrey Jennings, Dave Turner, Rob Williams, David Ellison, Scott King, Shirley Baker, Greg Leach, John Davies, John Stoddart, Martin Roberts, Michael Robinson, Michelle Sank, Paul O’Donnell, Stephen McCoy, Tom Wood, John Skelton.

Kindly supported by adidas.

Exhibition continues 6 January – 19 March 2017.

Photograph by Alice Hawkins, Derrin Crawford & Demi-Leigh Cruickshank in 'The Liver Birds' LOVE magazine, Liverpool, 2012

Happy New Year!

Join us for an exciting year ahead as we launch our 40th birthday celebrations, 1977-2017.

Over this 40 year period, Open Eye Gallery has exhibited some of the world’s most inspiring and insightful photographers. We have championed the agency of photography as art, as social and historical document, and as integral to the cultural impact of music, fashion, architecture and many other disciplines.

In 2017, Open Eye Gallery will be celebrating our deep connection to place. Working in partnership, we explore the visual identity of the North, the City as a site for global exchange, the history and future of counter culture and the people & communities of our City Region.

Walter & Zoniel: Spectra
Paul Morrison, Urformen. Image by Katie Louise Dixon.
Sinta Tantra: Together, Yet Forever Apart. Image by Mark McNulty
Emily Speed, Nothing is Finished, Nothing is Perfect, Nothing Lasts 2012. Photo by Mark Reeves
S Mark Gubb, Good Sailing... Image by Mark McNulty

New Wall Work

The external wall of Open Eye Gallery is made from a workable material called Corian. In the past, paint has been fired at the gallery (Walter & Zoniel: Spectra), sculptures have protruded from the walls (Emily Speed: Nothing Is Finished, Nothing Is Perfect, Nothing Lasts) and the exterior has beed ‘dazzled’ (S Mark Gubb: Good Sailing…)

In 2017, Open Eye Gallery celebrates its 40th Birthday Year (1977-2017). Our success is down to the many people who have shaped and grown the organisation. The new Wall Work features snapshot-quotes from 40 people reflecting upon their experience of Open Eye Gallery.

Shaped by our Research Curator and oral historian Dan Warner, and designed by Thom Isom, through the 2017 facade of the gallery we wish to pay homage to a much larger group of photographers, volunteers, partners, visitors and staff who have championed our work.

The new Wall Work, 40 Years of Open Eye Gallery: 1977-2017, will be unveiled on Thursday 5 January, 6-9pm.

#OEG40

40 Years of Open Eye Gallery: 1977-2017

Colin Wilkinson, Founder of Open Eye Gallery
“Open Eye Gallery, where I… was dynamic. We were doing an exhibition a month. It wasn’t madness – it was exciting. Opportunities came up and we took them.” – 1978

Mandy, Visitor
“Open Eye Gallery, where I… protested against an exhibition. Myself and other feminists sprayed shaving foam on some quite graphic images of women.” – 1980

Martin Parr, Photographer
“Open Eye Gallery, where I… exhibited The Last Resort with Tom Wood. The Gallery was a nice place to go. It was what you might call shabby chic, but it worked and functioned well and the show got a good response.” – 1986

Simon Norfolk, Photographer
“Open Eye Gallery, where I… discovered photography was what I’d do for the rest of my life. Having a voice that people want to hear is a rare privilege.” – 1999

Debbie Chan, Previous member of staff
“Open Eye Gallery, where I…got my first full-time job as trainee programme assistant. A significant occasion, because my Chinese parents always supported my madness for the arts, but never knew how.” – 2000

Tim Riley, Architect (Mann Island gallery)
Open Eye Gallery, where I…felt immense pride to be told that the design had captured the spirit of the Gallery and continued to provoke and engage the people of the city.” – 2011

Phoebe Kiely, Photographer
“Open Eye Gallery, where I…was given my first exhibition. I was given a voice throughout. I grew more as an artist during that exhibition than I ever had before.” – 2016

John Greenwood, The first slice of turkey, Christmas Day, 1981

Merry Christmas from Open Eye Gallery

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and all the best for the New Year!

We look forward to welcoming you in 2017, when Open Eye Gallery celebrates its 40th Birthday Year: 1977-2017.

Over this 40 year period, we have exhibited some of the world’s most inspiring and insightful photographers. We have championed the agency of photography as art, as social and historical document, and as integral to the cultural impact of music, fashion, architecture and many other disciplines.

In January 2017 we will be unveiling a brand new Wall Work featuring snapshot-quotes from 40 photographers, volunteers, partners, visitors and staff who have championed our work.

We will also be opening a brand new exhibition exploring the influence of the North of England on fashion and visual culture, North: Identity, Photography, Fashion.

Gina at a Library in Liverpool © Tadhg Devlin and the SURF dementia group, 2016
Roy in Aigburth, Liverpool © Tadhg Devlin and the SURF dementia group, 2016
Tony Mallon meeting the women’s of Northwoods, Kirkby (2016)
Jimi © Andrew Jackson, 2016
Fatima © Andrew Jackson, 2016

Culture Shifts: The story so far

Reflecting on the potentials and the tensions of photography as a collaborative practice…

As we reflect back on the first 6 months of the Culture Shifts programme, we say a fond farewell to a 2016 full of new relationships, friendships, networks and contemplation between the ever-shifting role of photography and society.

Some of our Culture Shifts photographers have been working with specific individuals and community groups across Merseyside, embedding themselves within the community setting whilst others have only just started to meet new faces and hear new stories.

What has become clear from the projects, which have developed over the past few months, is a genuine interest from both the community and photographer to want to continue their conversations. Often with residencies with restricted timelines you can feel like you are only just scratching the surface of a narrative, and with each encounter and conversation you unearth hidden connections to more people and places, and new subject matters and areas of interests which both the photographer and community alike want to delve deeper into.

Photographer Tony Mallon, for example has met with the Northwood’s Golden age women’s group for over a number of weeks now. Some of the women are particularly keen to develop a skills exchange between themselves and the photographer; Tony offering the photography skills, the women offering a huge and personal insight into the history of their area. Some of the women are more focused on exploring self-representation, and Mallon himself has reflected on how first impressions can always be misleading. What seems to have struck him most is the perception of an older women’s community as a group of women who are more fragile or vulnerable, but Mallon has been completely struck by the vitality and active community lifestyle these women hold dear to Northwoods. He hopes to explore these ideas further through collaborative portraiture over the next few months. The residency has also allowed Mallon to reflect on his own relationship to the area, with Northwoods being his local hometown until he turned 18. The women are a reminder of what was but also a welcome new perspective of a place he once called home.

Mallon is not the only photographer to re-trace connections to the community he is collaborating with. Both photographer and filmmaker Andrew Jackson and Darryl Georgiou (and supported by film maker Rebekah Tolley), have been meeting the individual residents and shop keepers of the Granby area, Toxteth. With a recent media spotlight shining on the Granby 4Streets CLT, post hosting a Turner Prize winning project with art collective Assemble, the photographers have been revisiting the individuals who actually make up the fabric of the area, each with their own stories, histories and perspectives from communities both “lost and forgotten” and the “here and now”. Upon this dialogue and interaction with local residents, both Jackson and Georgiou both living in Birmingham, have found personal friend and family connections to the area, almost as if this has been a hidden calling card home.

These relationships and discovered narratives about people and place have created a rich tapestry of new photographic work, but with these new connections and stories, comes its own challenges. Photographers invited to work in a new community context can often feel in a limbo position between commissioner and community, with multiple agendas pulling the photographers eye and priorities from one side to the next.

There can be a pressure of high expectations from both ends for the photographer to deliver something “authentic” about the collaborative experience but the very nature of asking an outsider to engage with a new community can create its own inherent artificial feelings. But hasn’t that always been the role of a photographer in many ways, to be that guest, that outside visitor to a new setting, reflecting back through the lens of what he/she seems before them and sharing with others? Whilst this can suggest a somewhat single perspective view, the beauty of the Culture Shifts programme is that the photographers are invited to collaborate with the community directly on what is being reflected and how, inviting a series of subjective responses from different individuals and creating a bigger picture of what their community really means to them.

This still doesn’t mean high expectations aren’t still placed on the photographer as in some instances what the community or individuals want to explore through their photo stories are massive subjects in their own right. Colin McPherson, for example, has been invited to work with a group of young people living in Sefton, interested in reflecting what really matters to the younger generation in that area. The young people want to explore some major topics such as breaking down stigma’s attached to labeling, body image and gender identity as well as raising issues around mental health, sexual health and curriculum for life. Each one of these topics could be explored for a lifetime, but together with the young people of Sefton, McPherson has the challenging but exciting role of summarising these topics into a concise series of impactful photographs.

The photographers of the Culture Shifts programme reflect some wider topics currently in debate across the photography and socially engaged network of practitioners in the UK. After visiting a recent lecture by photographer Anthony Luvera, around photography as a collaborative practice, some similar themes seem to be resonating around this type of photographic work. What do we really mean by co-authored images? Does work need to be co-created to be co-authored, who needs to physically be making the photograph to suggest the process has been collaborative, and what are the tension lines between process V’s product? As Luvera suggested “there is always a tension around the potential powers and problems of representation” even more so with photography, a medium which often associates itself with the individual on-looker’s lens. However, photography by its very nature was created as a means of representation, reflecting something more democratic, a reproduction of what we see before us. A theorist and writer, Jacques Rancière describes photography as a ‘reflection on the true’. He talks about photography’s role to shift the focus of what we represent from only the “great names and events of history to the life of the (often) anonymous… it finds society, or a civilisations… in capturing the minute details of ordinary life”. In an era of social media and mass participation, photography now more than ever, takes on this mass democratic role of self-representation. So just think what can happen when photographers and communities come together to expand and create images of their own lives.

What seems clear from the Culture Shifts programme to date, is that there is no one set answer in terms of approach to co-creation at least, and that the nature of the collaboration has to come down to the context with its community and setting. In the case of Tadhg Devlin’s recent collaboration with individuals from the SURF Dementia Network group, it became very clear that these individuals wanted to share their personal stories, and how they live with a specific condition not just the condition itself. In order for this to be realised, it was crucial the individuals shared their own story by becoming the subject matter of their own visual narrative – with Tadhg using his photographic skills to animate these individual stories shared between photographer and the SURF group over a number of months. In this sense, a true collaboration emerged between photographer and individual, co-designing, performing and capturing a series of photo stories. A unique series of photographs have been created, and ones which represent individual stories which never would have been realised in such a powerful way if not for the pairing of photographer and group.

Whether the Culture Shifts projects have just started, or nearing their completion, they all feel like they have just hit the tip of the iceberg of a bigger on-going conversation between photographer and community. It is not only community groups and individuals from projects so far who have suggested wanting to explore ideas and images further, but a desire from the photographers involved, to find out more more about themselves as practitioners through these collaborative roles.

We a wait with great anticipation and excitement, to see what type of collaborative approaches will emerge from our Culture Shifts partnerships and which new stories will be shared in 2017.

Written by Liz Wewiora
Culture Shifts Creative Producer

Photograph by Alice Hawkins, Derrin Crawford & Demi-Leigh Cruickshank in 'The Liver Birds' LOVE magazine, Liverpool, 2012
Photograph by Stephen McCoy, From the series Skelmersdale, 1984

Closed for Install

Open Eye Gallery is now closed to the public whilst we install our next exhibitions.

 

Please join us for our 2017 Launch NightThursday 5 January, 6-9pm.

In 2017 Open Eye Gallery celebrates it’s 40th Birthday Year!

Over this 40 year period, Open Eye Gallery has exhibited some of the world’s most inspiring and insightful photographers. We have championed the agency of photography as art, as social and historical document, and as integral to the cultural impact of music, fashion, architecture and many other disciplines.

We will be unveiling a brand new Wall Work featuring snapshot-quotes from 40 people who have shaped and grown the organisation, reflecting upon their experience of Open Eye Gallery.

We are delighted to launch our 40th birthday year with a brand new exhibition exploring the influence of the North of England on fashion and visual culture, North: Identity, Photography, Fashion.

The exhibition features work from some of fashion’s most notable image-makers. Early photography by Jamie Hawkesworth and Alasdair McLellan, dating back to the first years of their careers, is shown alongside historic prints from Glen Luchford and Nick Knight. Original prints from Luchford’s first ever shoot, a session with The Stone Roses for The Face in 1989, will be on display. Additionally, work by contemporary artists such as Turner Prize winners Mark Leckey and Jeremy Deller will be exhibited.

Co-curated by Lou Stoppard and Adam Murray.

Exhibition Continues:
6 January – 19 March 2017

Check our social media platforms for regular updates #JPA2015
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
YouTube
Pinterest

From the series Photoworks Photography, Art Culture_Issue 22: Women ©Photoworks, 2015.
From the series Photoworks Photography, Art Culture_Issue 22: Women ©Photoworks, 2015.
From the series Photoworks Photography, Art Culture_Issue 22: Women ©Photoworks, 2015.
From the series Photoworks Photography, Art Culture_Issue 22: Women ©Photoworks, 2015.

Photoworks, Issue 22

Photoworks Photography, Art, Culture_Issue 22: Women- £20

Issue 22 of Photoworks Annual looks at women and their roles in photography. It draws out thematic relationships between women and photography, looks at women from all different ages and backgrounds and includes some of the issues that women face in today’s society. It also talks about the use of photography in the media. Some of the contributors in this book include, Lucy-Anne Holmes, Grafik Magazine’s Angharad Lewis, Harriet Riches and many more.

One of the contributing artists in this issue is Marianna Rothen. She is based in New York and has had her work displayed in a number of exhibitions including 2016 – Salon Zurcher Photo, New York, and 2016 – Photo London, London, UK. Marianna Rothen originally started out as a model when she was 15, during this time she travelled and took pictures as she did so. After, Rothen thought that she wanted to become a fashion photographer. She told AnOther magazine “In the beginning I thought I wanted to be a fashion photographer…but then I realised that the best images I took were the ones I’d got by myself, working with my own ideas.”

As well as having various exhibitions, Marianna Rothen also has her own instagram page in which she post her own work in an attempt to promote herself further. She posts photos that show typical women’s body image. On top of this, Rothen also has her own website where she posts her past and future exhibitions dates and locations.

In this book Rothen’s photos capture what it is like to be a women in this modern era. She has managed to capture how women are expected to be. With the continual growth in social media women are exposed to the unrealistic expectations of how women should be. Women are constantly reminded of the ‘perfect body’ as they see celebrities with perfectly constructed Breasts, full lips, long hair and fluttery eyelashes, when in reality they have spend thousands of pounds on surgery and extensions. This would mean that women are idolising and aspiring to be something that isn’t real.

Photoworks issue 22, addresses the current fashion for fakery and allows women to understand that they do not need to conform to the fake expectations set and created by the media.

Photoworks Photography, Art, Culture_Issue 22: Women is available in our shop for £20.

Written by Amy Williamson

© Joanna Piotrowska, Untitled, originally commissioned for Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015
Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015. Open Eye Gallery, 2016. Image, Rob Battersby.
© Joanna Piotrowska, Untitled, originally commissioned for Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015
Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015. Open Eye Gallery, 2016. Image, Rob Battersby.
© Joanna Piotrowska, Untitled, originally commissioned for Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015

Some Thoughts: Joanna Pietrowska

Some thoughts on Joanna Pietrowska’s Jerwood-Photoworks exhibition

By Pauline Rowe, Open Eye Gallery’s Writer in Residence

How do we respond to the gestures and poses of the human body, especially when the body gazed upon is young and female? This is one aspect of provocation in Joanna Pietrowski’s award-winning exhibition (28 Oct – 18 Dec 2016) at Open Eye Gallery and for which she won an inaugural Jerwood-Photoworks award in 2015.

In Gallery One there are four large photographs free standing on white, wooden, portable, wheeled structures (mini billboards), and each image is mounted on uncovered metal with the frame at the back of the photograph. On one side we see framed metal, on the other an unframed black and white image. The metal suggests shadow but does not offer a clear reflection of the observer.

On the first free-standing bill-board there are two teenage girls sitting on a wicker garden sofa, on wooden decking, framed to the right by an evergreen hedge; one of the girls is in a conventional sitting pose, feet to the floor with her face (hidden by her hair) turned towards the second girl who is sitting with her back against the right arm of the sofa, her legs across the first girl’s knees, her head thrown back and her eyes covered by the first girl’s left hand, which is placed in such a way to suggest a pressing down.   Their legs and feet are bare and they are dressed in simple shorts and short-sleeved T-shirts, the first girl in a pale T-shirt, and for the second girl, both garments are black.   The first girl holds the second girl’s right leg at the back of her calf and the second girl’s right arm is placed around the others neck as it reaches to touch the tips of her own left hand. Both bodies are connected and choreographed as though playing some strange version of statues in which the face must not be shown, where no music is played.

The second free-standing photograph is of a different girl lounging on a mattress that is against a wall. Above the figure and adjacent to the mattress is a floating curtain, although we cannot see a window.   Behind the girl is part of a hanging rug and a small framed painting of a parrot. The girl is leaning against a floral cushion in a contorted pose, her right leg bent and right foot underneath her left leg, her left elbow pointing outwards as her arm clutches her body. Her head is tilted to the right and her right arm is bent over her head and holds her own chin. Her eyes are looking down. It is as though she grabs at her own head, as her left arm tries to protect her body. This is not a story. Her gestures are in opposition in the one body. The figure’s pose is so strange one feels compelled to mimick it and no matter how hard I try I can’t do so. Perhaps one must be a girl to accomplish this staged eeriness in the body.

The third fee-standing image reminded me of the spider-walking scene from William Friedkin’s The Exorcist (1973) and is recorded in my notebook as “exorcist girl on patterned paving or driveway (large)”. The image is split into a dark backdrop and light pavement with the girl just off-centre holding herself up, on her right hand and left elbow in the shape of a walking crab with her hair falling to the pavement. Her body is twisted and her left leg bent (foot flat to the ground). We cannot see her right leg as it is covered by her body.

The fourth fee-standing image shows a girl, her long hair loose past her shoulders, sitting at a dining table. Behind her is a wall of cupboards and between the cupboards and the table to her right is an old fashioned standard lamp, its pale drum shade edged with brocade. The girl is facing us but her face is partially covered by her raised right hand, palm facing outwards, fingers slightly curved. We can, perhaps see a sliver of her eye suggesting she can see through her fingers. The lighting throws a close shadow outline of her silhouette just to the right of her frame. The table is covered in a checked table cloth which I imagine is red and white.

On the walls are four different sized images.   On the right hand wall as one goes into Gallery One is a collage of six images of a girl in interior space (a domestic setting) posed in various shapes, one of which shows a girl in pyjamas balancing on one leg leaning over to the left with her right leg in the air and her right hand touching what looks like a television table. There’s a close silhouette shadow cast on the net curtains in front of her. Her left arm is not visible. She must be holding it in to her body.   On the opposite wall is a smaller image of a mature woman standing, pressing her closed, ringed left hand against the girl’s forehead. The woman wears a smug smile and has her eyes closed. We can see just the left profile of her face and her left arm, and the shadows of both. The girl is sitting looks at the woman – we see her in profile. Her small cleavage is visible as she is wearing a sleeveless summer top. We can see the straps of an undergarment too. She may have been out in the sun but this is not a story. She has short bobbed hair and looks as if she is used to punishment.   There is also a much smaller image on the wall facing the gallery entrance of a combination of two pairs of arms and hands.   They seem like children’s arms, and the proximity with the other images suggests the arms of girls. They could have been engaged in a game of arm wrestling as the arms to the left are joined by hands, left hand over right and the arms to the right are holding the other girl, one hand holding her opponent by the wrist and the other hand holding lower down the arm. It is oppositional and strange to see limbs in such relation. The final image in this exhibition shows two girls outside by a pond, one is lying down and the other stands over her. There is a suggestion of domination and submission, power and violence and a sense of stagnancy in the backdrop of the pond.

These strange and difficult images resist narrative. They are theatrical stagings of still moments of conflict that illustrate power relationships. They present the vulnerabilities and difficulties of young female bodies and make us as observers implicit in the power relations they depict. They make poses in domestic settings that have a museum feel about them. Just beneath the surface we sense unease and danger. We know those staged rehearsals of hands and grip, balance and poise will protect no one.

By Pauline Rowe, Open Eye Gallery’s Writer in Residence

Don’t miss the last week of the Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015 at Ope Eye Gallery! The exhibition closes on Sunday 18th December at 5:30pm.

Matthew Finn has been photographing his mother in a series of collaborative portraits since 1987. Joanna Piotrowska’s work explores anxiety and the effects of global and political events on the individual. Tereza Zelenkova has travelled to her native Czech Republic to explore themes of history, local legend and folklore.

British Journal of Photography Magazines
Craig Atkinson, Cafe Royal Books
OKIDO, the arts and science magazine

Independent Gallery Shop

Faithful OEG followers will know we have been mentioning our ‘independent book shop’ as often as we can (apologies!) but the team here is really quite proud of it. So proud, if fact that we thought a virtual tour would be a fantastic idea!

Without further ado…

As the only dedicated contemporary photographic gallery here in the dark and rain-soaked North, we think it is hugely important to point a torch towards local artists, be they established photographers or fresh out of university. If the work adds to the discussion about contemporary art, we stand firmly behind it and think it rightly deserves a place on our shelf or feature walls.

Section 2 is a completely different animal – this space is reserved only for independent publishers, such as MACK, and Fistful of Books. Expect more experimental, wacky and highly emotive projects not restrained by larger corporations in the forms of lovingly cloth-bound hardbacks and small edition zines. With such a range of massively differing titles, this is a good spot for a rummage through lesser-known names.

Browse through contemporary work from the likes of British Journal of Photography, Hotshoe, Aesthetica and fresh talent: Gravy Photographic. If your thirst for knowledge is left unquenched, there is always space on our theory shelf for the classics. From Susan Sontag to Friedrich Nietzsche, we have you covered.

Next, we have our local interest area; dedicated to established and up-and-coming local photographers or image-makers that turn their eye to UK soil. We have a wide variety of Craig Atkinson’s highly collectable publishing project: Café Royal Books alongside the work of Liverpool photographers Ken Grant, Dave Sinclair and more. All of this is only one part of our small-but-perfectly-formed independent shop!

Bright kids will love OKIDO, the arts and science magazine, and story-telling dice in our range for smaller hands. From shadow puppet theatres to 15ft concertina colouring books; we have the perfect gift to feed your child’s creativity.

Our cabinet is brimming with specialised, colourful analogue cameras and accessories (please ask about them!), featuring Lomography, Polaroid and DIY pinhole cameras. You are going to need film to feed, and luckily enough we have a whole stockpile of classics including Tri-X, Portra and Ilford HP5 amongst more rare and expired films to experiment with, such as special edition Impossible Polaroid film and turquoise tinted Lomo film.

Open Eye Gallery support and actively encourage artists of all ages and disciplines, and we endeavor to bring to our visitors a curated library of materials to do just that. Come in and have a look!

Visit our independent shop Tuesday-Sunday, 10:30am-5:30pm.
Students receive 10% off on presentation of a valid student card.

Written By Declan Connolly

© Matthew Finn, Untitled, originally commissioned for Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015 from the series Mother (1987- present)
© Matthew Finn, Untitled, originally commissioned for Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015 from the series Mother (1987- present)
© Matthew Finn, Untitled, originally commissioned for Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015 from the series Mother (1987- present)

Autumn Writing Workshop

We concentrated on Matthew Finn’s exhibition for our second Autumn workshop, reading Seamus Heaney’s lines from Clearances that begin, like so many of Matthew’s photographs, in the kitchen:

 

When all the other were away at Mass

I was all hers as we peeled potatoes…

 

We were in the company of a very different mother with Julia Kaldorf:

 

I learned from my mother how to love

the living, to have plenty of vases on hand

in case you have to rush to the hospital…

 

and with Ruby Robinson we meet a mother and daughter on a sad yet momentous day out, a day of escape from the psychiatric unit:

 

…She said she’d been talking to Jesus and God

because she didn’t want to go to hell, although,

she said, correctly, we’ve been through hell

already, haven’t we..

 

And we saw the frail ageing and motherly concern in the elderly mother in Richard Jarette’s My Mother Worries About My Heart.

 

There was a sort of mediation between the poems we read aloud and then the reverence with which we looked at Matthew’s photographs each of us contemplating what it means to be an adult child, to have a mother, all those things unspoken, unsayable.

 

We finished with our own messages for our mothers, one of which, by Gareth Roberts, read:

 

I’m inspired by the way you coped with Dad’s death.

I’m inspired by the way you set about reinventing yourself.

I’m inspired by the way you used technology to find someone.

I’m inspired that I can’t spend Christmas with you.

I’m inspired that you are happy again.

 

For links to the poems we read for Mother:

 

From Clearances by Seamus Heaney

https://apoemforireland.rte.ie/shortlist/clearances/

 

What I learned from My Mother by Julia Kaldorf

http://etyistheword.blogspot.co.uk/2011/05/what-i-learned-from-my-mother-julia.html

 

My Mother Worries About My Hat by Richard Jarette

http://www.americanlifeinpoetry.org/columns/detail/572

 

My Mother by Ruby Robinson https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/detail/57459

La Sardina and Flash Orinoco Ochre. ©Lomography.
La Sardina and Flash Orinoco Ochre. ©Lomography.
La Sardina and Flash Orinoco Ochre. ©Lomography.
La Sardina and Flash Orinoco Ochre. ©Lomography.

Camera Overview: La Sardina, Orinoco Ochre

Open Eye Gallery simply loves Lomography! A glancer into the independent shop and you will notice a whole cabinet full of colourful, playful photographic toys, many of which have achieved a cult following as analogue is becoming more and more fashionable.

It is easy to wonder why Lomography has become so popular – in a world of full-auto and instant upload, why would anybody want to constrain themselves to the long process of shooting film, never mind with a plastic lens! The ethos is this: photography should be as fun as it is limitless. I am reminded of Lomography’s philosophy by the relief text on the back of my own beaten up Golden Half camera, which enthusiastically exclaims

“So throw away your book and why don’t you go out!”

With such vigour, I am often persuaded.

Lomography cameras are purely mechanical; there are no electronic parts whatsoever so being left in the rain or snow is simply not an issue and when dropped, they bounce. What Lomography actively does is dismiss any excuse for not taking pictures; they are some of the most simplistic machines available and produce images that are raw (not .raw, but RAW!) and so devoid of the usual digital algorithms that each image simply oozes character. These machines are to be used to effectively break down the stereotypes of precise, modern photography and also photographic tradition as a whole. It means to take the craft of photography away from the camera and into a way of recognition of an image. The absolute essence of image making is thrust somewhat forcibly, and definitely crudely, into the hands of the photographer.

Look a little closer at the Lomography cabinet and perhaps you will see a new orange box winking at you. This is known as the ‘La Sardina’, aptly named for its sardine-can appearance. The specific name of this odd, orange snakeskin camera is Orinoco Ochre and it comes with a matching orange Fritz the Blitz flash and multiple colour filters to create some truly strange effects. Certainly, this limited edition unit is an attention snatcher and acts as a perfect icebreaker for those impromptu street portraits.

There are two shutterspeed settings, N or B – that is 1/100 or Bulb. Using the Bulb setting, the film can be exposed to the chosen subject for an infinite amount of time meaning that this camera, simple as it may be, is great for street photography but also good for photographing the stars or, given its 22mm manual focus lens, even the Milky Way. The inclusion of an MX switch also makes creating multiple exposures impossibly easy. The Orinoco Ochre is well designed, simple to operate and an absolute pleasure to use!

Since orange is the theme, Open Eye Gallery now stock Lomography Redscale XR 50-200 35mm film (which bathes the subject in a deep, warm glow (how autumnal!) due to the negative film being traditionally loaded backwards into the canister. Being ranged between ASA 50-200 and with 36 full frame exposures, this is a significantly versatile film stock. Whilst rated at it’s native 200ASA, the orange and red tones are more prominent but rated more towards 50ASA the hues become less intense and more subtly introduce blue tones into the image. Being developed via C-41, redscale is really easy to process for such a strange effect.

La Sardina Reptilla Orinoco Ochre is available to buy from our shop for £99.99.

Redscale XR 50-200 35mm film x3 pack is also available to buy from our shop for £11.90

 

© Tereza Zelenkova, Dog Cemetery, originally commissioned through Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015
© Tereza Zelenkova, Elizabeth Bathory's bedroom, Čachtice Castle, originally commissioned through Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015
© Tereza Zelenkova, Stairs, originally commissioned for Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015

Ghosts in the Landscape

It was an icy, misty night by the river when eleven of us met to consider Tereza Zelenkova’s haunting landscapes and portraits of hidden places taken in her native Czech Republic. We took the opportunity to absorb the unhomely atmosphere of her dark stories and images and read together The Witches Song from Macbeth:

Double, Double toil and trouble;

Fire burn and cauldron bubble…

We also read The Listeners by Walter de la Mare taking lines one voice at a time rather than collectively:

‘Is there anybody there?’ said the Traveller

Knocking on the moonlit door…

It would not have surprised any of us if the Traveller had stopped within one of Tereza’s landscapes, within the forest.

From Rae Armantrout’s poem Djinn we contemplated the lines:

Many whisper

white lies

to the dead.

 

“The boys are doing really well”

 

Some think

nothing is so

until it has been witnessed…

We dreamed our own memories out of Louise Gluck’s poem All Hallows

     …. Come here

           Come here, little one

   

And the soul creeps out of the tree.

 

Each one of us chose one picture that called to us or struck us in some way – why or how is difficult to articulate but there were certain images that touched us collectively: the four women with covered heads around the table, the rock with a creaturely face, the tree growing around the crucifix. All of us were affected by the mysteries and plaintive qualities of Tereza’s work.

We collaborated on a written response to Tereza’s ideas of homeland by contemplating what a portrait of Britain might look like:

 

          A Portrait of My Home Country

 

Home is buttered toast

under a blanket, in bed.

No one hears the young

men on the street trying

to sleep in bags,

asking for change.

On the Wirral, lost, I listen

seek with my ears the voice

of the Green Knight.

A proud past long since

gone, future unsure, we are

of today.

Cold but bright, busy

but happy

 

            with river-laced arsenic

choking ionide streams.

A two-way mirror

splattered with slime.

Forgotten unwanted industry,

forgotten unwanted people

steel faces, steel cities, steel nerves

a modern dockland clings to history.

 

A group poem by:

James Borner, Louise Stewart, Susan Comer, Paula Frew, Megan Holt,

Marielle Matthee, Lewis Johnson, Paula Pritchard, Louis Tuckman, Brendan Curtis.

 

Poems we read for Ghosts in the Landscape:

Witches Song – from Macbeth

https://allpoetry.com/Witches’-Chant-(from-Macbeth)

The Traveller by Walter de la Mare

http://nationalpoetryday.co.uk/wp/poem/the-listeners/

Djinn by Rae Armantrout: http://www.poetryinternationalweb.net/pi/site/poem/item/18005

All Hallows by Louise Gluck

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/49605

Tate Exchange: Culture Shifts

#TateExchange   #CultureShifts

Get involved with Culture Shifts at Tate Exchange Liverpool, Sunday 27th, Monday 28th and Tuesday 29th November 2016.

Open Eye Gallery is working across Merseyside on a new socially engaged photographic programme Culture Shifts. This Tate Exchange Liverpool event showcases the first collaborative project.

Liverpool based photographer Tadhg Devlin has been working in collaboration with the Dementia SURF (Service User Reference Forum) group, supported by Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust. The group has a strong track record as ambassadors for those living with early on set dementia. A number of the group have been working closely with Devlin to create Photo Stories which break the stigma associated with dementia, and reflect their lives as individuals, not as a condition.

At Tate Exchange Liverpool, Culture Shifts will showcase a series of photographic works and a creative newspaper. The newspaper acts as an artwork in its own right and as well as an alternative piece of interpretation about living with dementia and the individual stories of the SURF group members.

Culture Shifts will also host a series of events led by the SURF group as well as various guest speakers from the Arts, Health and Care sector. We aim to open up dialogue around Arts and Health and raise awareness around dementia in a creative and engaging way.

Find out more here: www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-liverpool/workshop/tate-exchange/culture-shifts-open-eye-gallery-surf-and-tadhg-devlin

The Prospect of Immortality © Murray Ballard.
Patient storage demonstration. Alcor Life Extension Foundation, Scottsdale, Arizona. August 2009. From the project titled The Prospect of Immortality © Murray Ballard.
Patient Care Bay (dewar being filled with liquid nitrogen). Alcor Life Extension Foundation, Scottsdale, Arizona. October 2006. From the project titled The Prospect of Immortality © Murray Ballard.
Alcor Life Extension Foundation. Scottsdale, Arizona. December 2012. From the project titled The Prospect of Immortality © Murray Ballard.
Aaron Drake, Medical Response Director. Alcor Life Extension Foundation, Scottsdale, Arizona. August 2009. From the project titled The Prospect of Immortality © Murray Ballard.

Book Review: The Prospect of Immortality

The Prospect of Immortality by Murray Ballard – £35

The unmistakable and unavoidable aspect of survival is the understanding that our time, and body is limited and should ultimately end. The notion of death is something that quite rightly produces a natural fear, which has actively kept the current species of the world alive. To be alive is to understand the concept of death – it is understandable therefore that many people live a large portion of their life in fear.

The concept of ultimate survival is a seductive one; it is that primordial, unquestionable success of both species and individual – so, as technologies become more advanced, and natural lifespans are at their peak, it seems to make sense that people are inclined to go about extending their time here.

In 1962 a man named Robert Ettinger published a book on a subject that would become ingrained in the lore of modern fiction and in the pursuits of contemporary science: cryogenics. This book would later be translated into nine languages and in several editions. The work of Ettinger has been reduced by some to simple romanticism, and whilst it would be hard to describe the ideology of cryogenics as anything unromantic, it cannot be said that the theories and experiments put forward are unimportant – be that in terms of science, theology or ethical debate.

Today, one is more likely to be talking about cryogenics in works of fiction or thought experiments as available technology lags behind somewhat from the technological utopia cryogenics heralds… However, as with all revolutionary thinking, there is somebody, somewhere experimenting with the foreign concept and pushing theories into popular systems of thought. These are the people that UK photographer, Murray Ballard has sought out and whose stories feature in Ballard’s first book published this year by GOST: The Prospect of Immortality.

Where Ettinger’s book of the same name introduces the significance of, the then unnamed, cryonics – Murray’s serves as more of an unofficial history, the collective memoirs and journals of those involved.

Nine years and three countries in the making, The Prospect of Immortality is a sizeable yet tightly edited tome of more than 80 photographs that bears the weight of it’s content; the stories of love, desperation, faith, comfort and despair of very mortal humans attempting to covet the ownership of the very last possession any person has. Murray’s work does not glorify cryogenics, nor does it attempt to quash the experimental nature of the processes involved. Ballard remains respectful and inquisitive without forcing any particular views, instead acting more as an interested archivist and allowing the stories to be understood dependent on each individual viewing, making more of an object for discussion instead of the altogether more common religious or scientific propaganda.

Reflecting the title, The Prospect of Immortality, although relentless in its scope and understanding, is not necessarily about the endeavors of Robert Ettinger, or even cryonics in a wider sense. Ballard’s work successfully describes the very human way a group of dedicated people come to terms with the ever-present and universal fear we all have to face.

Published by Gost, The Prospect of Immortality is available in our independent book shop for £35.

Written by Declan Connolly
www.declanconnolly.co.uk

From the series Ken. To be destroyed. © Sara Davidmann 2013-2015.
From the series Ken. To be destroyed. © Sara Davidmann 2013-2015.
Side By Side from the series Ken. To be destroyed. © Sara Davidmann 2013-2015.
Ken and Hazel from the series Ken. To be destroyed. © Sara Davidmann 2013-2015.
From the series Ken. To be destroyed. © Sara Davidmann 2013-2015.

Book Review: Ken. To be destroyed

Ken. To be destroyed by Sara Davidmann

Review by Stephen Clarke

Most letters are addressed to a named reader, an intended recipient of the writer’s message. Many of these communications are private. Love letters in particular demand intimacy, and so unauthorized reading becomes an act of trespass. This discretionary principle can also be applied to photographs. Sara Davidmann’s project began with the discovery of two large envelopes and a brown bag that were in a chest of drawers in her mother’s garage. Marked on both of the envelopes was the directive: ‘To be destroyed’. Contained inside were the private correspondence between Davidmann’s mother, aunt and uncle. Authority, through inheritance, passed to the daughter to question the contents and interpret the instruction.

Davidmann, Senior Research Fellow in Photography at the London College of Communication, is a member of the Photography and the Archive Research Centre (PARC). Within the remit of the Centre’s academic concern the Davidmann family’s archive became appropriate material for sympathetic scrutiny by the artist/researcher. In a brief section towards the end of the book titled History of a Project, Davidmann guides the reader through the evolution of her exploration. From the artist inheriting the family archive in 2011, through to working alongside Val Williams (Director of PARC) and Robin Christian (PARC’s then Project Manager), to publishing a selection of letters and images in Fieldstudy 19 (2014), the Research Centre’s own publication. Following this Sara Davidmann and Val Williams began work on the book Ken. To be destroyed (2016) that has been published by Schilt Publishing.

Williams, credited as the editor of the book, provides the opening essay Secrets and Scraps. The secrets that this collection holds are revealed through the unraveling history of the troubled relationship between Hazel Houston – Davidmann’s aunt on her mother’s side – and her husband Ken Houston, as Hazel comes to terms with Ken’s self-identity as transgender. Letters and ephemera are the scraps that Davidmann uses to piece together this story. The correspondence between Hazel and her sister Audrey, and between Hazel and Ken, is the script for this narrative, as well as a point of reference for Williams’ essay. As Williams notes it is unclear what is left out of this archive and so what the reader is presented with is inconclusive. It is this fracturing of Sara Davidmann’s familial identity that gives moral context to public exposure of this material. The story is not just about Ken and Hazel but also the family as a whole. Davidmann’s family extends beyond that of her blood relations. The antecedent to Ken. To be destroyed is her work with the UK transgender and queer communities during the last fifteen years. In the essay included in Fieldstudy 19 Davidmann argues that her responsibilities to Ken lie with this other ‘family’ that her uncle was naturally a part.

Images in this extensive project are organized into series and fabricated using existing photographs. Davidmann adopts an approach to this material that is common amongst contemporary artists working with archives; using a combination of physical and digital processes she has altered the original photographs. An early series, The Dress, draws attention to a dress worn by Hazel. In these pictures the head of Davidmann’s aunt is erased by a covering of ink, chalk, magic markers and correction fluid. The headless dress stands in for a traumatized Hazel or perhaps, potentially, a transformed Ken. The physicality of the photographs is emphasized in the series Closer that enlarges the actual skin of the photograph noting its imperfections, hinting at what lies beneath the images of Ken and Hazel as a couple. The series Looking for K/Finding K visualizes Ken in the feminine role. These hand-tinted montages are the rose-tinted dream of transformation from man to the woman he may have wanted to become. In the melancholic series For K Davidmann’s uncle seemingly dissolves in the fluid alterations of her chemigram processes. The most recent part of the project is a collaboration with Graham Goldwater simply titled Archive. Images of the found papers in their bundles tied with string or bands show the viewer the physical substance that Davidmann is wrestling meaning from.

Throughout this book are reproductions of personal letters, family photographs and ephemera, such as envelopes and dance cards; these are interspersed among Davidmann’s explanatory comments and her artworks. The book closes with transcripts of selected letters, some of which are love letters, that Ken Houston sent to Hazel. Reading such intimate correspondence provokes unease in the understanding that this dialogue was not meant for anyone else but Hazel. It is from this juncture, where the private becomes public, that the project derives its tension. The letters, photographs and ephemera belong to Davidmann and her family – these are her family’s heirlooms. As a sibling Sara Davidmann came to an agreement with her brother and sister in relation to the exhibition and publication of the material. Whilst they were unhappy that Ken’s transgender identity would become publically known they gave their permission for the archive to be displayed, however, this was on condition that they themselves would remain unnamed and would not be included in the photographs. This agreement gives Davidmann the authority to explore and expose the archive but one question stays unanswered: Would Ken have wanted his – and Hazel’s – story told or would he have preferred the archive ‘to be destroyed’?

Ken. To be destroyed. by Sara Davidmann (2016) is published by Schilt Publishing.
Hardcover with dustjacket, 120 pages, 113 images, £35.00 retail
ISBN 978 90 5330 861 5

The exhibition Ken. To be Destroyed is showing at the Schwules Museum, Berlin until October 2016.

The author Stephen Clarke is an artist, writer and lecturer based in the North West.

The article Alien Resident: Searching for San Diego by Julia García Hernández and Stephen Clarke on Clarke’s 1980s photographs of Southern California was published in The Royal Photographic Society’s Contemporary Journal No. 63, Spring 2016, pp 12-15. It is available to view at: https://issuu.com/bjsdesign/docs/spring_2016_journal_final__for_issu

Stephen Clarke’s photobook a strange field produced in collaboration with book artist Elizabeth Kealy-Morris (Sequential Press) was on show at Impressions Book Art 2016, Ireland from July 11- 24 2016. See Issue 105 of UWE’s Book Art Newsletter p.60: www.bookarts.uwe.ac.uk/newsletters.html

Girlfans

If you’re a football fanatic, then you’ll love Girlfans by Jacqui McAssey and Alex Hurst.

Issue 1 is a limited edition zine dedicated to Liverpool FC’s female supporters. The issue shows the passion and diversity of LFC’s fans and the euphoria that comes from supporting a team you love.

Issue 2 celebrates the female fans of Everton F.C. The photographs are bursting with colour- Everton’s trademark blue inventively worn by the supporters of Goodison Park’s home team.

Open Eye Gallery is the only Liverpool stockist of Girlfans issue 1 & 2! Available for £5 each.

Find other self-published photobooks in our independent bookshop.

Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015. Open Eye Gallery, 2016. Image, Rob Battersby.
© Tereza Zelenkova, Elizabeth Bathory's bedroom, Čachtice Castle, originally commissioned through Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015
Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015. Open Eye Gallery, 2016. Image, Rob Battersby.
© Tereza Zelenkova, Dog Cemetery, originally commissioned through Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015
Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015. Open Eye Gallery, 2016. Image, Rob Battersby.
© Tereza Zelenkova, stairs, originally commissioned through Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015
Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015. Open Eye Gallery, 2016. Image, Rob Battersby.
Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015. Open Eye Gallery, 2016. Image, Rob Battersby.
© Tereza Zelenkova, originally commissioned through Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015
Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015. Open Eye Gallery, 2016. Image, Rob Battersby.

Artist Interview: Tereza Zelenkova

Open Eye Gallery’s first Writer-in-Residence, Pauline Rowe, interviews exhibiting artist Tereza Zelenkova about her photography practice. You can see Tereza’s work on display at Open Eye Gallery as part of the Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015 from 28 October – 18 December 2016.

 

Pauline Rowe:  You have spoken previously of a dark romanticism in your work – can you say where this started in your imaginative life?  Was it something that came before your interest in photography?

Tereza Zelenkova: The romanticism… well I am a hopeless Romantic but in the reference to the movement. I actually just glanced at wikipedia and realised I am 200 years late with my work in terms of innovation!

“characterized by its emphasis on emotion and individualism as well as glorification of all the past and nature. The [Romantic] movement emphasized intense emotion as an authentic source of aesthetic experience, placing new emphasis on such emotions as apprehension, horror and terror, and awe—especially that experienced in confronting the new aesthetic categories of the sublimity and beauty of nature. It considered folk art and ancient custom to be noble statuses, but also valued spontaneity.” 

And the darkness is probably inherent to this. To answer your question, it is not something that I set to do or intentionally mimic in my practice, it’s just always been a natural part of me and my photographs merely reflect that. I don’t know where it comes from, but it extends from the art, music and literature I like, to how I navigate in personal life as well.

 

PR: Can you say something about the important symbols in your work?  Carved stone, Christian imagery, trees, caves, streets, steps, locations related to folk-lore?

TZ: That’s quite broad question as there’s a lot to say about each of these. I think that a lot of these have something to do with rituals that people engage in and then how these relate to one’s surrounding landscape and nature.

 

PR: I’d like to ask you about Prague – it’s something you’ve described as “a city on the threshold of different worlds or realities” and also that ‘the city’s heartbeat has been heard loudest through the voices of its ethnic minorities.” Could you say a little more about that in relation to your work as an artist?

TZ: Yes, I’ve been thinking about Prague through the work of a German-Jewish writer, Gustav Meyrink who was influenced by many esoteric things. He was an occultist. Reading him is a bit like reading magic realism. He was interested in alchemy and he writes philosophically but also has a sense of humour. What I like about Prague is that it’s a city of mystery and astrology and astronomy with its narrow streets. It’s quite small with medieval parts. I think about Prague before the Jewish ghetto was demolished, before the second world war.  It has historic roots as the centre of Europe. It also has a strong German influence. Have you been there?

 

PR: I haven’t. No. You’ve talked about the German influence and also that it’s a city of mystery and metamorphosis in a way….what you do convey in your work is story – layers of story…? Could you say something about narrative and photography and your thinking behind that?

TZ: Yes, this is something I’ve been thinking of when I make my work. The stories behind the images are important. There is a Germanic influence in Prague from Rudolph II on. There’s always a struggle between what the image is able to say and what you get from the image without text. How much can you say and how much is actually lost. Sometimes, framing a fragment… Sometimes when I work it’s more like a diarist. I want to include the stories behind the images. I have a writer working with me and this introduces a different voice. My work allows for imagination and different interpretations.

 

PR:  You capture places which feel as though they are moving into the dark or towards darkness (e.g. Elizabeth Bathory’s Bedroom, Stairs) while leaving the viewer at the threshold uneasy and anxious.  Are you aiming to create this unease – if so, how does this link with images of the land – of your own country?

TZ: I quite enjoy the photography’s relationship with polarity of light and darkness. When you’re printing from a negative, the dark areas of the picture are formed by the light hitting the sensitive paper, so it’s actually the bright light that creates the darkest tones. It’s kind of similar like looking directly into the sun and getting blinded by that. For me that reflects on a lot of other things in the world and opposites that somehow complement each other or are actually the same thing. I can think of many cultural references that it embodies for me, for example like Arthur Rimbaud writing that you need to lay down into mud to see the stars, or alchemistic “as above so below”, and ultimately Georges Bataille writes a lot about darkness as excess of light. So that’s one angle of why I am attracted to the dark abyss within an image. The more obvious one is the sense of ambiguity of what lurks inside these dark openings and what might be looking back at you. (apropos “When you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back at you”, Nietzsche). The image that I’d like to present is of a place that has its secrets, a place that can’t be overseen with a single glance and might be even fictional and one has to employ a bit of imagination to complete its image. I am looking for a sort of inner landscape rather than for the outward manifestation of it. The work is a lot about people’s relationship to the landscape of their home and how they create stories around it and so I am just trying to continue in that tradition by creating my own perspective.

 

PR: You’ve also said that each image has a meaning…some of the work you’ve done around landscape – it’s also as if you’re uncovering clues. 

TZ: It’s very common- sandstone – emblematic landscape of the Czech republic – and a lot of it. I didn’t realize how emblematic this thing was. I was not concentrating on the sandstone landscape although a lot of things I’d photographed had to do with sandstone. It is interesting to the people and it invites sculpture although it also erodes unlike marble. For the size of the territory it’s a small part of the Czech republic. It is interesting to see how people reacted with the landscape and their sensitivity to nature, working with it as opposed to destroying it – the symbiosis of people with the land. Together, the natural and human element – the opposite to globalization. It is not so long ago since that sensitivity was lost.

Sometimes I feel more like a diarist, to include the stories behind the images. I have a writer working with me (through the Jerwood-Photoworks award) so there is a sense of different voices and interpretations. I don’t want to work in a way that is too didactic or theory-based. Working with someone else allows for imagination and different interpretations. Sandstone is easy to carve into.

 

PR: You have written about Kopic, a man who carved symbols of Czechoslovakian nationality and history into the sandstone rocks behind his farm, the following:

“This man’s quest proves to me that art can be political but also therapeutic and a way of dealing with great injustice and that the most important examples of such art are often found not in contemporary galleries but in places where they’re least expected.”

What does this mean for work that is in galleries?

TZ: I don’t see my work as political although this is the most political work I have ever done. It seems a most reasonable way to resist globalization. The way people are moving and migrating. We are becoming scared of our own cultural heritage. How can we respond to this? It seems the most positive way is to examine your own roots and share them. The work is political because it’s about identity and legacy. How much influence does the place have where I grew up? It stays with you.

There are political artists always working with more spontaneous expression outside of the polished gallery world. It is most interesting to discover when someone did something for themselves. I was born in Czechoslovakia in 1985 and it was divided in 1993 but the split wasn’t a traumatic thing.

 

PR: You have said the working title is ‘the land with the secret heart beat’– can you say something more about this?

TZ: Again this is from Gustav Meyrink when he talks about Prague being “a city with a secret heartbeat” but the translation isn’t quite right and I couldn’t use the original language as it would be pretentious. What matters is the sense of what’s below the surface.

 

PR: You have written about wanting to photograph the death mask of Gustav Meyrink.  Will you do so?  Can you say why this is important to you?

TZ: I have actually photographed it few weeks ago. It was quite powerful experience to hold this in my hands and also to meet its current owners. Gustav Meyrink is a really important writer to me because he wrote stories that deal with esoteric and occult subjects, creating the upmost mysterious and poetic visions of cities and their inhabitants. His writings about Prague cause one too many people to look for places that exist only on the thresholds of reality.

 

PR: The sense of differing realities and ambiguity in your work is important.  Are you interested in how the viewer responds to this and could this response influence how you develop your work?

TZ: Of course I am interested how the viewer will react but I am not creating this work in terms of trying to reach specific audience. I don’t really think about my audience when making work, that’s not my motivation.

 

PR:  You have described the two influential themes that provoked the image The Unseen as the automatism of photography (linked with nineteenth century spiritualism) and the Czech fairy-tale Goldielocks.  In that tale the 12 princesses cover their hair when the prince is looking for Goldielocks amongst them.  In your image the family of women have their heads completely covered and the top of the covering is flat.  It suggests accusation, perhaps waiting death. Can you say more about this, especially as there are few human figures in this exhibition?

TZ: I think you are placing a lot of your interpretation on this image. Albeit it’s interesting one, it wasn’t my intention to produce the reading of accusation. The flatness is caused by the crowns worn by each princess and I really just liked the effect it produced. For me the image is more about a slightly surreal family gathering in pre-war rural setting suggesting some involvement with spiritism and ghosts.

 

PR:  Does your work have feminist aspirations and, if so, how?  

TZ: I think you have to be a feminist if you are a woman in today’s society. In my work I’ve been really interested in woman as a type of medium that connects the irrational and rational worlds or let’s say combines emotions and reason in very powerful way. I find it curious that a lot of spiritistic mediums were women as we somehow seem to be closer to the otherworldly side of being, perhaps we are much more intuitive and attentive to the invisible world. This is something I am trying to portray with some of my photographs of women.

About Pauline Rowe, Writer-in-Residence
Pauline first got the chance to work with the Gallery through the LiNK programme at the University of Liverpool and continuing work is being supported by the universities’ Centre for New and International Writing. She has 2 poetry collections, also works as a poet delivering projects at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, and is currently doing a PHD at Liverpool University. Pauline lives with her husband and 6 children.

Jerwood/Photoworks Awards: Publications

Supporting our current exhibition at Open Eye Gallery Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015 is a selected number of publications, which feature the work of the exhibiting artists – each described are available in our independent shop.

Upon entering through the front door of the gallery, metallic sheets of rigid steel greet the viewer. On the reverse of, and surrounding these floating shapes, are fixed fine prints portraying monochrome, angular poses that are both alien yet recognizable. This is the work of Joanna Piotrowska: a Polish photographer known also for the acclaimed ‘Frowst’ (£25).

Works from Frowst have been included in Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2013, and in the exhibition ‘Jerwood Encounters: Family Politics’, curated by Photoworks before being Published in 2014 by MACK. Frowst was awarded ‘First Book Award’ in the same year. The title of the book itself refers to this duality; an archaic word that describes a warm atmosphere that is equally stuffy and humid but can also used as a verb to describe to act of lounging in this area: comforting and uncomfortable.

Back at Open Eye Gallery, in Gallery Two, is the work of Tereza Zelenkova. There is a definite thread that can be woven between the two spaces with Zelenkova’s imagery also being monochromatic and somewhat obscure, however, we have moved from hard angles to an altogether more organic feel. Replacing cold, sharp steel is carved wooden frames and hung fabric.

Deliberately vague in meaning, Zelenkova uses these photographs to set the scene for the viewer’s own story, as she takes inspiration from the customs and folklore of her native Czech Republic. Looking at her earlier self-published work The Absence of Myth (£20) her path to decontextualized scenes becomes clear. From “Freud’s Study” to “Sea”, we are again given stories without characters, photographs interspersed with poems and short chapters, all eluding to the idea that without a human presence objects are left meaningless.

Upstairs, Open Eye Gallery’s third gallery is home to Matthew Finn’s photographic series Mother. Each intimate portrait gives the viewer a glimpse into the unique yet familiar relationship between mother and son, set against a backdrop evocative of Finn’s mother’s living room wallpaper. The sense that Mother’s story is unfinished brings optimism to an otherwise heavy-hearted journey away from independent living into a care home for the elderly.

Jerwood visual arts and Photoworks have produced an official catalogue (£4) for the touring exhibition: a view into the conversations between artists and their assigned mentors. The catalogue provides a closer look into the collective effort of writers, visual artists and mentors that has resulted in the collaborative exhibition currently at Open Eye Gallery until 18th December 2016, and features beautifully printed work by all three artists.

Written by Declan Connolly

Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015. Open Eye Gallery, 2016. Image, Rob Battersby.
Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015. Open Eye Gallery, 2016. Image, Rob Battersby.
Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015. Open Eye Gallery, 2016. Image, Rob Battersby.
© Matthew Finn, Untitled, originally commissioned for Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015 from the series Mother (1987- present)
Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015. Open Eye Gallery, 2016. Image, Rob Battersby.
Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015. Open Eye Gallery, 2016. Image, Rob Battersby.
© Matthew Finn, Untitled, originally commissioned for Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015 from the series Mother (1987- present)
Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015. Open Eye Gallery, 2016. Image, Rob Battersby.
Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015. Open Eye Gallery, 2016. Image, Rob Battersby.
© Matthew Finn, Untitled, originally commissioned for Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015 from the series Mother (1987- present)
Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015. Open Eye Gallery, 2016. Image, Rob Battersby.
Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015. Open Eye Gallery, 2016. Image, Rob Battersby.
Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015. Open Eye Gallery, 2016. Image, Rob Battersby.
Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015. Open Eye Gallery, 2016. Image, Rob Battersby.
Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015. Open Eye Gallery, 2016. Image, Rob Battersby.

Artist Interview: Matthew Finn

Open Eye Gallery’s first Writer-in-Residence, Pauline Rowe, interviews exhibiting artist Matthew Finn about his photography practice. You can see Matthew’s work on display at Open Eye Gallery as part of the Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015 from 28 October – 18 December 2016.

 

Pauline Rowe: To get started – I’m really interested in how the camera and photography has framed and supported your relationship with your Mum. Can you remember the moment this made sense to you (i.e. was there a starting point you consciously remember) – was it when you first received the camera?  And do you feel that the work is a joint (equal) collaboration with your Mum?  And would she agree with you?

Matthew Finn: I’d been giving a camera several months before I started photographing my mother. I remember well the first photograph I took, at least the first one I printed in B/W. She was sitting on a dining room table chair positioned close to the patio windows so she could get the fresh air from the outside whilst looking onto the garden. It winter 1986. The light was bright but soft and cast lovely shadows onto the wall behind my mother.

As I said I’d had the camera for a while before this picture. What started the project was moving from our council flat to the semi-detached home that all the photographs are taken. We moved in the spring of ‘86. I think that first photograph and the new surrounds were the springboard to the series and its continuation.

The idea of the collaboration is an interesting one. At first I was just practising, using my mother as a figure within the frame. Once I moved away to University, several years after the start, that’s when it became a series worth investing in. Also the images seemed fresh each time I visited as they offered a sense of time compared to the daily images taken before I moved away.

I was starting to look at Nan Goldin and Sally Mann and was struck at how different approaches could be taken to long term projects. I liked the idea of something that was tangible and accepting at the same time.

As time went on and I showed my mother the images she became aware of angles, her best side, quality of light, the closeness of the lens. I started to notice that she was coaxing me into the image she wanted. She knew how she wanted to be portrayed. This for me was a collaboration; it was unspoken we just continued with what I call a dance.

Photography became everything to us. I would not go back home without a camera and film and would be disappointed if the light was poor. I would have my camera ready first thing in the morning and photograph around my mother’s daily routine. We did this for 29 years in that house.

We never spoke about the project much. It was our routine. I had a camera and we made these images together. We needed each other. Would my mother agree on ideas of collaboration? I don’t know and now I never will.

 

PR: What is it that photographers can see that those of us who aren’t photographers miss? 

MF: I don’t know if photographers do see things differently. What you’re left with is a trace. Putting work in a gallery is to do with confidence and acceptance. There’s a hierarchy about having work in a gallery that social media can’t have. Photographers see very small things in detail of what they want to photograph. It’s the opposite, in fact of what you suggest. I want to see the same as everyone else so that the audience can recognise it. It depends on the type of work you make. I like to make work about everything around me – family, students – photos where people can find something of themselves.

 

PR: You mention (in the Jerwood/Phortoworks interview) that in the Winter of 86 the light was casting lovely shadows onto the wall behind your Mum. Is photography about your relationship with light – or how you see the light? 

MF: I love light and how light cast shadows. I’d never seen Van Gogh paintings before I saw them in the Musee d’Orsay in Paris. There is a vividness of colour that I couldn’t replicate in life. It’s the same in Peter Greenaway films – with their sumptuous sets. Black and white made sense to me. Home for Mum was very brown – it didn’t lend itself to colour, but it did to light. Mum used to smoke – smoke is wonderful in light – and she used to drink – a crystal tumbler in the light is wonderful too. I don’t think I’ve changed from that constant in my work. To be good a photograph needs good light and a good subject. It’s only in war or when a singular event happens that you can’t aestheticise – then you can get away with no subject and poor light.

 

PR: You say your ‘Mother’ project started when you moved from your Council flat to the house where all the photos are taken. What was it about this move that was important to you and your Mum?

MF: It was a Council estate where you rented from the Council – it was rough and getting rougher. We lived in a top floor maisonette. To move to a house with a garden was amazing really. I was 16 and there was space to manoeuvre. I’d just left school. I hadn’t done particularly well, although I did enjoy school. The move came at a time when I was trying to figure out who I was. Photography worked on a lot of levels. It was instantaneous. The immediacy and the freedom. Slight independence. The camera exaggerated that independence and I enjoyed it. I couldn’t imagine not finding the camera. There are lots of things that made the work the way it is. The TV series Butterflies by Carla Lane – there was a lot in that series of a singular woman dreaming of a different life. I wanted to isolate Mother from the rest of the family. So we could have time together. The longevity of the project cuts through the question of how to avoid sentimentality. Here you see a person ageing.

 

PR: You talk about practising, using your mother in the frame. You were looking inside your house rather than outside – do you think this is unusual?

MF: Duration makes it unique. As a working-class boy there’s no way I could make certain types of work. Here you have a subject, you can keep on doing it and there are many of the same (Images). This is how we’d communicate. It’s ritualistic. This is what would be happening. It’s my point of view – as I lived in the house. We all had our own space. Lots of photos were taken from my mother’s routines and it’s how I had a conversation with her. It became important – part and parcel of our routine – taken for granted. My mother was a willing participant in this ‘dance’. In many ways she was directing me. I valued the time – it was over 30 years of her life – an incredible gift. I never questioned it or worried. Mum lived with her brother for 76 years and they had very defined roles in the home. He earned good money. There was a traditional division of labour. He provided Mum with security. Uncle paid for the house (£33,000 in 1986). He changed the destination. Mum couldn’t afford boxes of photographic paper. He was my father really. There was a confidence mother had. I wanted to portray mother as a heroine.

Once I moved away to University it became a project worth investing in…

 

PR: Is there a sense in which the photos are your life, not just evidence of it but how you see and understand – maybe remember your life? Do we find self-portraiture here?

MF: Photography is everything. I don’t think it’s particularly healthy. I look after my mother. There’s no escape. It’s so full on now in the last few years. If I start showing the work I don’t know if people like it. It’s public. I feel compelled to push it further. I want her to be recognised. Absolutely.

It is common. Dementia. There was not time to think about it. I was in Texas in 2014 and Uncle needed a pacemaker. But they didn’t operate in time and he was dead. 21st May. This was a catalyst when her brother died. She has mixed dementia and he had been protecting her. She won’t stop moving. There are two images I’ve taken in the Home. We can’t collaborate now. Before, it was a photographic device to entrap my mother, and she could leave the house. Now she’s mentally trapped in her own mind and physically trapped in the Home. I’ve taken photos on my phone, soft images for me, but they don’t mean anything.

 

PR: How did the greater gaps of time help with the series?

MF: I don’t think it will be chronological. We are moving through time but not chronologically. It’s more a walk through the house to give a sense of change, time, taste, environment. A sense of semi-detached Englishness. Not in terms of the North – that’s just a back-drop. I never wanted it to be a kitchen sink drama. There are some clues, but very few. Maybe more of Uncle wearing a flat cap. But if I had put mother in the city – images in Leeds – that would have been very different. Everyone knows the punchline. The edit constantly changes. I don’t want it too obvious.

 

PR: Can you say more about how looking at Nan Goldin or Sally Mann’s work helped you to consider or think differently about your own work?

MF: I like the duration. Emmet Gowan’s work is an incredible series. Beautiful lyrical work of his wife Adrienne, showing the fragile nature of the skin. Photography shows you physical change. I liked the Seven Up TV series – there was a sense of a different life. An honesty and openness. The thing with this type of work is the inevitability about what will happen. Honesty.

I didn’t expect to be here 30 years later. The work will help. I photographed Uncle. How they occupied the space together. Mother will be a book. I’m working on that. Flexibility can change images on a wall but not in a book. Through the Jerwood-Photoworks award I’m working with a very good anthropologist, Elizabeth Edwards, who works like a detective and sees the work differently. She’s agreed to write the foreword for the book. I’m happy to collaborate.

 

PR: The way you describe your Mum as responding to angles and light – that she ‘knew how she wanted to be portrayed’ – gives a strength to her place in the work as collaborator rather than simple subject. Almost that she became more of an artist?

MF: Mum had no artistic ambition. That would have been so out of kilter, growing up in the second world war. It wasn’t a working-class option…It still isn’t. There’s a need for backing, which is why the Jerwood award helps. I have a burning desire to show my mother to the world. I suppose I need my uncle. He was my patron.

 

PR: I want to pick up on what you said earlier – about your photography of your Mum being like a ‘dance’?

MF: Yes there was a sense of movement – ‘too close”, “to the left,” ‘to the right,” – but it was not a power struggle. But an act of theatricality. It became so embedded in routine eg. cooking Sunday lunch, there was tremendous security. A lot of time the photos were punctuations. We needed to spend time in the living room. There was a rhythm, an instinct – something not happened for a while. Always thinking of an audience. It was 25 years before I showed anyone the work – Bridget Copeland from The Guardian and Dewi Lewis.

 

PR: You also said earlier “photography became everything to us” ?

MF: Everything I do is collaborative. I’ve been working with students for over 20 years. In some ways I prefer to work closer to an auteur (film theory)- but there are no commercial constraints, because I want to do a certain kind of work- to uncover peoples’ lives. You can do this in 20 pictures over 20 years. I only take photographs in places and backgrounds real to the person – with students it’s the college or their home. Now the reason for doing it is more for my mother – with the award and because of Jean’s (Mum’s) illness.

 

PR: Given how you work, what do you think of work in a studio?

MF: It is false. False emotion. You have to construct an emotion. The context is part of the whole. I wouldn’t want that backdrop to be denied or to be taken away. One exception I can think of is Richard Atherton’s photos of his Father which he took in his studio.   Also I haven’t been based in Leeds since 1989. I was only 3 years in the house, the rest of the work came from me visiting.

 

PR: What about technical stuff?

MF: All the work with Mum is on Leica Rangefinders. I do everything myself but I need a dark room now. Photography costs. Technology changes. You can’t teach technique any more given digital technology. For me what’s important is image, sequence and narrative.

 

PR: What does it mean to be a winner in the Jerwood-Photoworks Award? What did it help you to do that would have been difficult otherwise?

MF: My wife entered my photographs into the competition, not me. Martina sees the potential of the work and she wanted it to be recognised. It’s a finished body of work. I showed it sensitively. It’s inconceivable that young people now would make work like this. I had a range of ten projects on the go – all long term. I’ve been taking photographs of Prague since 1987. And my wife’s family. It only occurred to me recently that I took the first photo when my mother was 50. It’s only 5 years off for me – to reach the same age. How might I continue? – I might give my son a camera and see what he makes of it.

 

PR: In her essay “The Greys” Elinor Carucci says your works seems “curiously closer to the work of women artists than men..’ – what do you make of this?

MF: All my adult life it has impacted. I was always a quiet back-seat passenger. Mother would talk and talk and talk. Maybe photography was my way of getting into the conversation. Whether they are self-portraits or not – I suppose there is a reverse mirror image of me in the same moment in time. Physically there in each scene though I am not visible.

 

PR: Your work conveys change, time, fragility – is there anything you’d like to add?

MF: It all starts with the quality of light and then the every day things Mum would do. What mothers do for children. We see this in poor countries, mothers walking miles for water and hardship. When Mum worked she would get 2 buses and walk miles to drop me off at her sister’s before she took the same journey to work. She worked in a Jewish Textiles firm and later in a Bakery where she made cakes and sandwiches. It was important to document this labour – what mothers do. Regardless. A motherhood that’s not touchy, feely.

 

PR: Are there Catholic sensibilities at play in your work?

MF: I suppose there’s something of the quality of light, backlight. I love Easter and Christmas and there are certain values that are important. Trying to be a good person.

 

PR: Do you know how people receive the work? Does it matter?

MF: I like to talk to people where the exhibition is shown. The response in Bradford and Belfast was good. I suppose Liverpool sits the closest (in terms of the city). There’ll be 19 photographs in the exhibition and somewhere between 60-80 in the book from an edit of 400. It moves all the time. I have thousands of prints and 40 boxes of negatives. It needs an archivist.

About Pauline Rowe, Writer-in-Residence
Pauline first got the chance to work with the Gallery through the LiNK programme at the University of Liverpool and continuing work is being supported by the universities’ Centre for New and International Writing. She has 2 poetry collections, also works as a poet delivering projects at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, and is currently doing a PHD at Liverpool University. Pauline lives with her husband and 6 children.

The Last Cosmology by Kikuji Kawada - £45
Julia Margaret Cameron: Photographs to electrify you with delight and startle the world by Marta Weiss - £25
In Case it Rains in Heaven by Kurt Tong - £25

Halloween Highlights

With fewer daylight hours to play with, it’s the perfect time of year to embrace the night-time. Over the next few weeks we’ll be hosting a couple of events that suit the darker evenings perfectly; Ghosts in the Landscape, a writing workshop that draws inspiration from exhibiting artist, Tereza Zelenkova’s landscapes, taking place, very appropriately, this Halloween. Also on Bonfire Night, Light Painting, a chance to capture shapes drawn in the air using a torch, laser pen or other bright light, suitable for all the family.

Here are some highlights from our Independent Bookshop.

The Last Cosmology by Kikuji Kawada – £45
In the black night sky, the moon is a very obvious focal point. Always the same moon, but as Japanese photographer Kikuji Kawada shows us in The Last Cosmology, somehow always different. Using various photographic techniques, Kawada presents us with an intriguing picture of the cosmos.

Julia Margaret Cameron: Photographs to electrify you with delight and startle the world by Marta Weiss – £25
Julia Margaret Cameron is known for her soft-focus portraits. While she endeavored to capture beauty, similar to the style of Pre-Raphaelite painters, using the medium of photography she managed to capture an otherworldly quality. This book is compiled from the V&A collection, and includes some of Cameron’s most iconic and haunting images.

In Case it Rains in Heaven by Kurt Tong – £25
Traditionally, in Chinese culture when a person dies it is up to the family to properly equip them for the afterlife, until their reincarnation. By burning joss paper folded into the shape of gold ingots, you are ensuring your late relative will have the money to live lavishly in the afterlife. As consumerism spreads across the globe, the essential luggage for heaven is becoming far more extensive. Kurt Tong takes a closer look at this phenomenon, collecting as many paper offerings as he could find, from iPods to umbrellas, to burn for his own ancestors… just in case it rains in heaven.

© Joanna Piotrowska, Untitled, originally commissioned for Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015
Keith Piper, Unearthing the Banker's Bones. Film Still.

Launching tonight!

Liverpool has loads of cultural offerings kicking off tonight, here we break them down for you…

Open Eye Gallery, 6-8pm

Please join us for the launch of our latest exhibition, Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015. At 6pm, Tereza Zelenkova and Matthew Finn will be speaking about their projects on display at Open Eye Gallery.

The Jerwood/Photoworks Awards are for artists using photography as a core part of their work. Supported by a group of mentors, the first award winners, Joanna Piotrowska, Tereza Zelenkova & Matthew Finn were given £5,000 to contribute towards creating new work.

Joanna Piotrowska’s work explores anxiety and the effects of global and political events on the individual. Tereza Zelenkova has travelled to her native Czech Republic to explore themes of history, local legend and folklore. Matthew Finn has been photographing his mother in a series of collaborative portraits since 1987.

 

The Bluecoat, 5:30pm-11pm

Keith Piper: Unearthing the Banker’s Bones
Renowned British artist Keith Piper’s new solo show at Bluecoat addresses contemporary anxieties about race and class through the perspective of a fictional future.

Adham Faramawy: Janus Collapse (the juice-box edition)
Janus Collapse (the juice-box edition) is a new solo show by Adham Faramawy exploring how identity is constructed in the 21st century.

 

Walker Art Gallery, 5pm-8pm

Benedict Drew: KAPUT
KAPUT, an Arts Council Collection acquisition, explores the concept of space tourism through a thrilling installation. Until 26 February 2017.

Looking North
An exhibition presenting work by artists from north-west England, highlighting many recent additions to the Arts Council Collection. Until 26 February 2017.

 

The Serving Library, 6:30pm

Keywords for Dummies: *Intellectual Property.*
“Keywords for Dummies” is a new series of talks presented by The Serving Library in an effort to saddle some commonly used terms that remain wildly misunderstood despite being highly circulated. They begin with Liverpool-based curator Darren Pih and Italian writer Vincenzo Latronico on the subject of Intellectual Property.

Harold’s Shark at Granby, 2016
© Redeye, The Photography Network

Introducing Culture Shifts

Culture Shifts is a new and exciting socially engaged photography programme, working with 10 national and international photographers embedded in communities across 7 areas of Liverpool City Region. It aims to support communities to explore their stories in a way that is meaningful to them.

“4 billion photographs per day are uploaded onto social media. Photography is now as important as text or verbal communication in the stories we tell about our own lives. Culture Shifts brings together people’s experience of the world and photographers’ expertise in taking and editing photo stories.”
– Sarah Fisher, Executive Director, Open Eye Gallery

Collaborating with photographers, communities will co-author a series of photo stories, reflecting on their identity, interests or lives. Collectively we hope these photo stories will inspire, surprise or challenge a wider audience through both a digital platform and 8 exhibitions across 7 venues.

The digital platform PhotoStories (currently being developed in partnership with Liverpool’s Red Ninja) will act as an online location for the photo stories created throughout Culture Shifts. In January 2017 the platform will be open for the wider public to share and respond to these new narratives, and also to upload their own photo stories.

As part of the overall Culture Shifts programme, Redeye, the Photography Network are working with local community champions and staff and volunteers associated with each residency to deliver training sessions on framing images, selecting and uploading photographs.

Liverpool based photographer Tadhg Devlin has been working in collaboration with the SURF Dementia network group, supported by Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust. The SURF group act as support and advocacy network for those living with or affected by Dementia. This project will make it’s public debut as part of the new Tate Liverpool exchange programme in November 2016.

A number of young people’s groups from across Sefton, including an LGBT group and Youth Parliament group, are working with photographer Colin McPherson to explore the identity of young people in the area, reflecting on representation through online images. The Atkinson, Southport, will host the final selection of work in Spring 2017.

Birmingham based photographer Andrew Jackson, in collaboration with practitioner Darryl Georgiou are working with the people behind the public face of the “Granby Four Streets” community in the Toxteth area of Liverpool. Photo stories will be on display within one of the creative community centers in the area.

Communities in Northwood, Kirkby are coming together to work with photographer Tony Mallon to address what it means to live and be from the area. This is a welcome return home for Mallon, who grew up in the area. The results of this collaboration will be showcased at Kirkby Gallery in Autumn 2017.

St. Helens is home to the Pilkington Glass factory, which holds a key place in our industrial history. Photographer Stephen King and the local community connected to the factory will re-imagine and reanimate this site of industrial significance. The final photographic work will be displayed at the neighbouring World of Glass exhibition centre.

Working with photographers Gary Bratchford and Robert Parkinson, communities across Halton CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) will explore barriers to health and wellbeing, and how photography can challenge pre-existing ideas and fears to exploring this topic. Results of the project will be showcased at The Brindley, Runcorn, in Summer 2017.

London based photographer Maria Kapajeva will challenge perceptions of who exactly the women of Wirral are, and bring women from different backgrounds, ages and domestic circumstances together to celebrate what it means to be a woman from this area. The Williamson Gallery, Birkenhead, will play host to the final exhibition of works in Spring 2017.

A selection of all work created across Liverpool City Region will culminate in a Culture Shifts exhibition at Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool, in September 2017, which will also celebrate the partnerships across the City Region and the power of photography to creatively engage us all.

This programme has been supported by the Strategic Touring Programme, Arts Council England in partnership with Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool CC, Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, The Atkinson, Sefton BC, Granby4Streets Community Land Trust, Kirkby Art Gallery, Knowlsey BC, Heart of Glass, St. Helens BC, Halton BC, Halton CCG, The Brindley, The Williamson, Wirral BC, Red Ninja, Redeye, the Photography Network and LOOK: Liverpool International Photography Festival.

Find out more about each of the projects here:
openeye.org.uk/whatson-category/culture-shifts

© Matthew Finn, Untitled, originally commissioned for Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015 from the series Mother (1987- present)
© Joanna Piotrowska, Untitled, originally commissioned for Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015

Jerwood/Photoworks Awards: Call for Entries

Deadline: Midnight GMT, Wednesday 2 November 2016.

The second national Jerwood/Photoworks Awards seek outstanding proposals from UK-based artists and photographers using new approaches to photography in their practice.

Three Awards of £5,000 will be made to support the making of new work, alongside a mentoring programme, access to a significant additional production fund of up to £5,000 per artist, a group exhibition in London as part of the Jerwood Visual Arts programme at Jerwood Space (from January 2018) with a subsequent UK exhibition tour. Spectrum Photographic are the Jerwood/Photoworks Awards Official Print Partner.

Presented every two years, the Awards are open to all practitioners using photography and applicants must be resident in the UK. There is no age limitation and no requirement for art school or university education. Applicants will be expected to be within ten years of establishing their practice or graduating. Moving image work is not eligible for the Awards.

The selection panel will include: Celia Davies, Director, Photoworks; Sarah Williams, Head of Programme, Jerwood Visual Arts; Anna Fox, photographer; Ori Gersht, photographer; Mark Durden, writer and photographer.

The three selected artists will be announced in January 2017.

Both the Photoworks and Jerwood Visual Arts teams will offer curatorial and logistical support to the selected artists through 2017, plus a high-profile pool of mentors will support the selected artists for twelve months after selection. Confirmed Mentors in addition to the selection panel include: Rut Blees Luxemburg – photographer, Mitch Epstein – photographer, Fariba Farshad – curator, Francis Hodgson – writer/art adviser, Michael Mack – publisher, Maureen Paley – gallerist and Mark Power – photographer.

Information and details of how to apply can be found at photoworks.org.uk.

© Tereza Zelenkova, Stairs, originally commissioned for Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015

Closed for Install

Open Eye Gallery is now closed to the public whilst we install our new exhibition:

Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015

Three artists were selected from a call for applications to UK based photography practitioners within ten years of establishing their practice. Each has received an award of £5,000 to support the making of new work for this exhibition, with a significant production fund and advice from a pool of thirteen Mentors including Alec Soth, Gillian Wearing, Broomberg & Chanarin and Michael Mack as well as curatorial advice from both of the award giving organisations.

Matthew Finn has been photographing his mother in a series of collaborative portraits since 1987. Joanna Piotrowska’s work explores anxiety and the effects of global and political events on the individual. Tereza Zelenkova has travelled to her native Czech Republic to explore themes of history, local legend and folklore.

Exhibition Launch Night:
Thursday 27 October 2016, 6-8pm
At 6pm, Matthew Finn and Tereza Kelenkova will be speaking about their projects on display at Open Eye Gallery.

Exhibition Continues:
28 October – 18 December 2016

Check our social media platforms for regular updates #JPA2015
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
YouTube
Pinterest

Youth and Dog outside of Sir Thomas White Gardens © John Stoddart, 1983
Tallest block at the centre of Gerard Gardens © John McDonnald, 1978-81

Gardens of Stone

Dan Warner is a 3rd year PhD Researcher and Teacher at the University of Liverpool. Having completed a B.A. in History and an M.A. in Cultural History, his thesis utilises social documentary photography to explore working class culture in British inner cities during the 1970s. Dan completed a placement at Open Eye Gallery in 2015, composing and delivering the Spoken Words and Photographs event during which images from the Gallery’s archive were matched with local oral histories. In the following series of blogs, Dan explores the research conducted, including representations of life in British inner cities at the time and the uses of urban street photography as an historical source. In this blog, Dan explores how John’s photography highlights how local children and adolescents made the most of a rapidly changing and decaying landscape. 

A disappearing point of reference in the landscape of inner Liverpool at this time were the interwar tenements, and many shots in the archive deal with their increasingly dilapidated state. A good example of this can be found here, in a Stoddart picture of a boy and his dog taken outside Sir Thomas White Gardens, or “Tommy Whites”, situated by St Domingo Road.

Built much earlier than the post-war high-rises, strong communities had formed around these squares. However, by the early 1980s more and more of these tenements were earmarked for demolition and many communities began to gradually erode. A similar block was Gerard Gardens, seen in this shot taken by John McDonald in 1979. Paul grew up in Gerard Crescent, a tenement that ran down the spine of Gerard Gardens. His family moved there in 1960 and Paul had fond memories of his time there. After talking to work colleagues upon getting his first job in 1979, Paul remembers their alarm when he told them where he was from.

“They’d asked me so I said Gerard Gardens and they’d take a step back. They’d drive past and see the kids playing in the archway and think, “I’d hate to live there. Look at it, it looks horrible.” I can see how coming from an outsider’s perspective you’d be intimidated because when you walked through the archway you were surrounded on all sides. There wasn’t a lot of light that got through. But you speak to most of the people that lived there and it’s a different story. It was a great community and everyone looked out for each other. We didn’t have much, but because of that we made more of an effort to be social. There was no keeping up with the Jones’s because the Jones’s never lived there.”

When his mother was finally moved out before the blocks were pulled down in the late eighties and moved into a more conventional house, Paul described how much she missed her flat.

“The new house was lovely, it was a little two bedroom with a front and back garden. She hated it. She said, “You go in, you shut your door and you don’t see anyone.” Everyone got a little more insular, they got a bit more house-proud. The airs and graces as me ma used to say. There was none of that in the squares.”

Though difficult to imagine looking at this ghostly picture, the interwar gardens, which ironically had very little greenery, were the social hubs within lively and active communities.

“When we’d be in school or in work, me ma would just stand out on the landing. There’d always be someone walking along, and they’d stop and have a chat and they’d be there for up to an hour. That was the difference. When she had a front garden it became a barrier. People looked at the openness of the flats and thought it was a bad thing. But back then, it wasn’t. It was part of the community.”

Indeed, it was these open and communal spaces that formed the very heart of the community. And for the children growing up in these blocks, that was no different.

“We always used to play out. We didn’t have no space in the house. The landing was great for skateboarding because it was dead flat. Or we’d have games of football in the main square, and you’re talking about twenty a side here. No offside rules or nothing like that. What would happen was a game of footie would start as a four a side and then someone would run down and before you knew it everyone was there. There was a fella who used to live next-door but one to us, lovely fella, and he used to have a drink and that. He’d come in after being on the ale and we’d all be playing footie, and he’d be leaning on the landing shouting instructions out to the kids. “Pass it to him! Ger’ it out wide!””

Open Eye Gallery, Whitechapel © John Stoddart

40 Years of Open Eye Gallery: 1977-2017

2017 Open Eye Gallery will celebrate its 40th birthday. Over this period we have exhibited some of the worlds most inspiring and insightful photographers. We have championed the agency of photography as art, as social and historical document, and as integral to cultural impact of music, fashion, architecture and many other disciplines.

We want to celebrate your part in our history. It would be fantastic if you could share a memory with us.

John Stoddart – Photographer: “Open Eye Gallery, where I was given my first exhibition. They really took me under their wing to be honest. I was only 22 at the time and it encouraged me to do more” – 1981

Colin Wilkinson – Founder of Open Eye Gallery: “Open Eye Gallery, where I was dynamic. We were doing an exhibition a month. It wasn’t madness, it was exciting. Opportunities came up and we took them.” – 1978

Peter Hagerty – Previous Director of Open Eye Gallery: “Open Eye Gallery, where I found out that art can shock people. If you’re not provoking people into thought, what are you doing?” – 1980

Jog your memory by taking a look at our History page. Open Eye Gallery has previously been located on Whitechapel (1977-88), Bold Street (1989-1995) and Wood Street (1996-2010) before moving to Mann Island in 2011.

Share your memory with us by downloading this quote template or by emailing Dan Warner, Research Curator, dan@openeye.org.uk

© National Trust Images / Edward Chambré Hardman Collection
© National Trust Images / Edward Chambré Hardman Collection

The Hardman’s House

Step back in time to the 1950s in this fascinating home and photographic studio.

It is as though Hardman walked out one morning after a particularly hectic night in the dark room and forgot to come back”  – Dame Beryl Bainbridge

The award winning landscape and portrait photographer Edward Chambré Hardman [1898-1988] and his wife and business partner, Margaret, lived on Rodney Street for over 40 years from 1948. Famous artists such as Margot Fonteyn, Ivor Novello, Michael Redgrave, Patricia Routledge and Leonard Rossiter all sat for a portrait in their home.

The Hardmans’ House (59 Rodney Street, Liverpool) is the most complete collection of a photographer’s work and studio from the mid 20th century anywhere in the world that we know of, complete with all the vintage ephemera of their daily life.

Visitors to The Hardman’s House can book a fascinating tour and walk through the four floor Georgian town house and see their working studio, office and living quarters, kept intact as it was when they lived there. The house is jam packed with fascinating art, antiques and vintage treasure. A unique time capsule of Liverpool life and creativity.

The Hardman’s House collection is part of the National Trust Liverpool portfolio.

Opening Times:
March – October
Wednesday – Saturday
Tours start from 11am – 3:30pm

Price:
Adult £6.50 / Child £3.25 / Family £16.25
FREE for National Trust members

October offer:
Choose one of six FREE Edward Chambré Hardman prints with every tour booked at The Hardmans’ House until 29 October.
*One 10” x 8” print per person per tour. There are four prints to choose from including: The Copse, Museum Steps, Ivor Novello, Memories of Avignon, Shadow of the Aqueduct and The Arch Royal. Wwhile stocks last.

Booking information:
To book a visit call 0151 709 6261 or email thehardmanshouse@nationaltrust.org.uk

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hardmans-house  /  @NTHardmanshouse

© Greg Leach, Castlefield, Manchester, 1991

Searching for Photographers

We need your help!

For our upcoming show next year North: Identity, Photography, Fashion, Lou Stoppard of SHOWstudio and Adam Murray of Preston is my Paris have selected photographs from our archive.

We are trying to reach photographers regarding images from the 80s and 90s which include; Paul Fazackerley, Martin Roberts, John Edwards, Dave Turner, Michael Robinson, Greg Leach and Rob Williams.

If you have any information, please let us know on exhibitions@openeye.org.uk

The People's Church, Everton, Liverpool, 1686 © Vanley Burke
© John Stoddart, 1984-1985
© John Stoddart, 1984-1985
© John Stoddart, 1984-1985
© John Stoddart, 1984-1985

Godless Landscapes?

Dan Warner is a 3rd year PhD Researcher and Teacher at the University of Liverpool. Having completed a B.A. in History and an M.A. in Cultural History, his thesis utilises social documentary photography to explore working class culture in British inner cities during the 1970s. Dan completed a placement at Open Eye Gallery in 2015, composing and delivering the Spoken Words and Photographs event during which images from the Gallery’s archive were matched with local oral histories. In the following series of blogs, Dan explores the research conducted, including representations of life in British inner cities at the time and the uses of urban street photography as an historical source. In this blog, Dan explores how John’s photography highlights how local children and adolescents made the most of a rapidly changing and decaying landscape.

Around the same time as John and Vanley began taking their photographs of the Piggeries, Roy Kerridge, a reporter for The Spectator, also happened upon the blocks during a visit to the city. In his account, the flats had become a symbol of the persistent religious tensions that still continued to partially define the landscape.

“The most famous of Liverpool’s dreadful flats are the Piggeries, which now stand empty and grey with dirt, nearly every window smashed. They look eerie in their solitude. However, I could not but admire the vandals in a way, for with courage over and above the call of vandalism, they had swarmed all over the outside of a block, high up in the air, and painted enormous slogans on the dizzying heights. Probably they had used ropes and mountaineering boots. ‘God Bless Our Pope’ I read, rather moved. Other, pro-IRA, slogans pleased less.

Once a front line in a district of Ulster immigrants and their grandchildren, the Piggeries look across to Everton Brow and Everton Road, Orange Protestant territory, where the slogans are ‘1690’, ‘Orange Order Rules’ and ‘Here to Stay, UDA’. In a daring raid, someone has even added a few IRA slogans here too.”[1]

Some of the graffiti of which Roy speaks can be seen from Vanley’s shot above. The area itself had been a hotbed of sectarianism during the early part of the twentieth century, and it was the embers and remains of this religious landscape, often continued through traditions such as Orange Lodge associations, that fascinated John. However, John found something more akin to a community club than a political or religious institution:

“I thought they were fantastic. Some of their nutty nights out were great. I remember speaking to one old lady, she wasn’t interested in anything religious at all, and she said they’d saved her life because she was cooped up in some dump in Everton Heights and they got her out and took her to these barmy social clubs with all the mad seventies music.”

Indeed, John’s photographs highlight the continuing centrality of the Orange Lodge as a community hub and not simply as an emblem of religious or political beliefs. His photographs of their “nutty nights out” highlight that for many of its members the religious connotations of the organisation were subsumed under the more mundane experience of everyday life. For John, these lively events were a test of his photography skills.

“You can see that they’re really rammed. I couldn’t say it was intentional because these rooms weren’t very well lit. I’d use the flash on the camera to make the shot quite brutal. Some of them almost look like paintings, a tableau of these people, there, just drinking. And there’d be one or two where someone will just be looking straight into the camera while everyone else was oblivious to what I was doing.”

In spite of the increasingly secular society in which it found itself, by the early 1980s the annual 12th July parade was still a visible and vibrant street presence. Setting out from all areas of the city, the Lodge organisations would converge on the city centre and board trains to Southport. This image that John captured looks down London Road, with the corner of Saint George’s Hall just visible in the background.

“The marching season was a photographer’s dream. They certainly dressed up for it back then. There was always a little lad at the front with the baton or something. I used to love the marches, they really made an effort.”

For many, the spectacle provided an opportunity to have some fun. However, for some it was a day when religion and politics asserted themselves onto the local landscape. John remembered the days simmered with a tension just below the surface.

“But at the same time it wasn’t like, “Oh, lets just have a bit of fun.” Yeah, it was all marching and the crazy music and the banners, but underneath it all there was that little tension.”

Indeed, despite his positive experiences with the Lodge, John still felt unable to tell them of his own background.

“I’m a Catholic myself. I never told them that. That’s how weird it was. I had to take my Northern Ireland medal to show that I’d been in the army.”

A photograph that perhaps illustrates these underlying tensions is shown below. Previously unclassified in the archive, John immediately recognised this photograph as his own and managed to provide a detailed contextual picture. His description not only highlights the tensions that remained, but the continuing demarcations of the landscape across the boundaries of religion. Even at this late stage then, it appears that there remained areas that were Catholic and areas that were Protestant:

“That picture you’ve got of the lad being nicked by the police – there was always a little undercurrent of that. I don’t want to paint a picture of some little street urchins having good fun. He was caught throwing rocks at the Lodge. They deliberately marched through Catholic areas. It all sounds bloody stupid now, but it did get a bit tense.”

“There’s another picture I’ve taken, though I’m not sure if the Open Eye has got it, that’s quite surreal because there’s a lot of sky and there’s people hanging around. Some of them are dressed in the clothes of the Lodge. And you can see in their faces that something is going on. There were all these rocks coming over, and it was him throwing them. The police caught him pretty quickly.”

 

[1] R. Kerridge, ‘City of Dreadful Flats’, Spectator, 31st January 1981, p. 13

Volunteer Testimony: Declan Collony

Like many art graduates, I found landing a relevant job in the art sector really difficult – rather than signing on for benefits I took a job as a bartender and later at a theatre to make up more shifts. As the post-university blues set in, I began to feel culturally strangled – missing the creative circle I had on my university course, so, I quit my paid bar job and began volunteering at Open Eye Gallery In January 2016.

Instantly, the gallery provided the environment I had been craving and actively seeking for some months; I came to look forward to my weekly escape into the wonderful photography collection on the bookshelf, and on the walls of the gallery. I threw myself into what Open Eye had to offer – first, Front of House duties and then researching in the office with the fantastic permanent staff. The gallery team have been thoroughly supportive, asking me to write for the blog and capitalising on my (somewhat obsessive) camera and film knowledge – encouraging me to help with, and later, lead workshops. This is what the Open Eye Gallery family (yes, OEG really feels like family) does: members work out what makes you excited, what you are passionate about and builds it into tangible, workable skills.

Since volunteering, I have comfortably been able to lead tours of 20+ people through the gallery, asked to assist a Magnum photographer and even been put in charge of a paid month-long Biennial Fringe exhibition. In such a short period, I have seen my CV rocket upwards in terms of employability and have made an incredible group of friends from whom I learn something every week.

Thanks to Open Eye Gallery putting me in touch with the right people, I have been offered an internship at Edouard Malingue Gallery in Hong Kong, I am moving to China in December!

I am unsure what I will be doing when, or if, I return from Hong Kong, but I know where one of my first stops will be.

Declan Connolly (Volunteer at Open Eye Gallery)

www.declanconnolly.co.uk

If you are interested in joining Open Eye Gallery’s team, check out our volunteering page for further information

Writer-in-Residence: Getting Started

In his talk at Open Eye Gallery at the end of July Michael James O’Brien, in a slightly altered version of Walker Evans, enjoined us to “Spy, eavesdrop, listen. Die knowing something.” It’s a phrase that came back to me hearing John Le Carré read his memoirs on the radio, as he commented on the closeness of spying and writing. I am learning to be a kind of spy in the world of photography, listening as hard as I can, trying to look at the world in a new way, trying to understand what it might be to write the world through light.

Our first event linked to my writing residency at The Open Eye was a Poetry and Protest workshop involving American ‘Occupy’ poet Juliana Spahr, radical poet Sean Bonney and poet Ruby Robinson who were sponsored by the University of Liverpool’s Centre for New and International Writing. (The Centre has also enabled me, as a PhD student, to work with the Open Eye as a writer.)

Poetry and Protest asked participants to engage and respond to Koki Tanaka’s Biennial exhibition which, inspired by Dave Sinclair’s original photographs, revisited the Liverpool school-childrens’ strike (1985).

Participants took about 30-40 minutes to have a good look around at the exhibition and talk to each other in the process. Some listened to the interviews, some also spent time considering the exhibition by Iranian artists Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian. This includes work that documents the daily lives of three submersibles (Anti-Catty, Princess Rambo and Space-Sheep), works smuggled from Dubai to Liverpool.

Shared responses to the exhibition varied from the doubtful, to the curious to the questioning. What is the value of re-enactment? How do we have a voice? Who decides what was really happening? ‘How stylized the strike became when it became art.’

Juliana Spahr chose not to read from her own work but from African Dawn, the words of Keita Fodeba, the African poet and politician, killed in prison in the Republic of Guinea in 1965. Juliana shared her thoughts on how Fodeba developed a tradition of writing a good poem:

  • It must define accurately the historic moment of the struggle
  • Mark off the field – be clear about the terrain
  • The poem must understand its history, recognize one’s advances and open up the past to the future.

Ruby Robinson, born in 1985 (the same year as the Childrens’ Strike’) talked about the idea of physical protest seeming radical to her, asking Am I a poet? Am I a radical? She also discussed what can happen when we’re “powered over” ~ one response is to comply with the wishes of the powerful, to protect ourselves. What does this do to our identity? Ruby’s interest in trauma is explored in her first collection Every Little Sound, from which she read her astonishing, long poem Apology.

Sean Bonney read work from his recent book, Letters Against the Firmament. He writes in rage against the forces of the establishment, and in solidarity with the marginalized and oppressed.

We did more on that afternoon than I can share here but it felt unusual and challenging, sharing poetry and ideas with friends, students, arts professionals and practitioners, poets, mental health campaigners, other interested folk. I’m looking forward to the next time.

Further reading:
Sean Bonney Letters Against the Firmament (Enitharmon Press, 2015)
For Sean’s blog: http://abandonedbuildings.blogspot.co.uk
Ruby Robinson Every Little Sound (University of Liverpool Press, 2016)
Juliana Spahr That Winter the Wolf Came (ak press, Commune Editions, 2015)

Written by Pauline Rowe, Writer in Residence

Liverpool Biennial 2016: Books

Liverpool Biennial 2016 is a story narrated through several episodes: Ancient Greece, Chinatown, Children, Monuments from the Future, Software and Flashback.

Open Eye Gallery’s exhibition as part of Liverpool Biennial 2016 has a particular focus on the Flashback and Children’s episodes, featuring international artists Koki Tanaka, Fabien Giraud and Raphaël Siboni, Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian.

The Flashback episode presents a way of experiencing history as it punctures the present, unexpectedly. The Children’s episode invites artists to consider children as the primary audience, making work with and for them.

To celebrate the start of Liverpool Biennial 2016 and the opening of the new exhibition, we have brought together products and publications from our independent book shop that reflect the Flashback and Children’s episodes, complementing the work of our exhibiting artists:

The Two- Sided Lake: Edited By Rosie Cooper, Sandeep Parmar, And Dominic Willsdon – £9.99

Published by Liverpool University press, The Two-Sided Lake is the essential companion to Liverpool Biennial 2016! Featuring scenarios, storyboards and sets from Liverpool Biennial 2016, the publication explores the concept of the ‘episode’ and how stories can be told. Includes contributions from Liverpool Biennial’s artists and texts by many more!

Precarious Practice: Koki Tanaka – £35.00

Koki Tanaka is one of our international exhibiting artists for Liverpool Biennial 2016. Tanaka revisited the scene of a 1985 protest in Liverpool, which involved around 10,000 school children angered by the Youth Training Scheme.

Precarious Practice was published by Deutsche Bank to coincide with Tanaka being awarded Artist of the Year 2015. His work often reflects on poignant historical moments such as America’s occupation of Japan and the 2011 tsunami in Fukushima, while participation from visitors adds a collective social element to his projects. The book explores Tanaka’s interest in the everyday, revisiting recent and past projects and how they came into fruition.   

YTS & Liverpool In The 1980s: Dave Sinclair (Café Royal Books) – £8.00 signed edition

Like the images on Koki Tanaka’s billboards? Dave Sinclair’s original photographs of the 1985 protest against the Conservative government’s Youth Training Scheme in Liverpool feature alongside Koki Tanaka’s video work in our Liverpool Biennial 2016 exhibition. These captivating photographs and many more feature in Liverpool in the 1980s and YTS. At the time, Sinclair was the official photographer for the Militant newspaper and consequently captured images of the anger and resentment of Liverpool’s children and the formidable impact social demonstrations can have. YTS is published by Café Royal Books an independent publishers based in North West England, specializing in documentary photography.

Are You Lost? – £6.00

Seven artists from the Royal College of Art exhibited in ‘Telling Tales’ a Fringe exhibition for Liverpool Biennial 2016 in collaboration with our curator Thomas Dukes over the opening weekend.

The Are You Lost? zine edited by Matt Taylor compiles the work of first year MA Photography students at the Royal College of Art, showcasing a diverse mix of talent and individual style. The images offer an insight into each photographer’s practice, from obscure landscapes to domestic interiors. 

Our independent book shop is open Monday-Sunday, 10am-6pm throughout Liverpool Biennial 2016.

Written by Nicole Etherington 

The People's Church, Everton, Liverpool, 1686 © Vanley Burke
Everton, 1984-1985 © John Stoddart

High-Rise Sties: Reflections on the Piggeries

Dan Warner is a 3rd year PhD Researcher and Teacher at the University of Liverpool. Having completed a B.A. in History and an M.A. in Cultural History, his thesis utilises social documentary photography to explore working class culture in British inner cities during the 1970s. Dan completed a placement at Open Eye Gallery in 2015, composing and delivering the Spoken Words and Photographs event during which images from the Gallery’s archive were matched with local oral histories. In the following series of blogs, Dan explores the research conducted, including representations of life in British inner cities at the time and the uses of urban street photography as an historical source. In this blog, Dan explores how John’s photography highlights how local children and adolescents made the most of a rapidly changing and decaying landscape.

Ominous and forebodingly present in many of John and Vanley’s shots are a collection of three identical blocks on Shaw Street. Crosbie, Canterbury and Haigh Heights in their original guise, though almost universally known as “the Piggeries”, were built in 1966. Each fifteen-storey block was promoted for the use of families and for many provided the first experience of indoor toilets and hot running water. Built from large, pre-cast concrete panels that were bolted together on site, the resulting design was hardly sensitive to the needs of its tenants and landscaping, decoration and architectural refinement was kept to a bare minimum. By the mid-1970s they had become so severely run down that tenants Mr and Mrs Irwin went on a rent strike that would eventually reach the House of Lords. Lord Denning, a judge who ruled on the case, could barely contain his shock upon visiting in 1977, just a few years before Vanley and John would take their photographs. His testimony chimes perfectly with their shots.

“At one time Everton was a slum. The houses were said to be unfit for human habitation. So the city council demolished them and built three tower blocks instead. But within 18 months the conditions there became so bad that, by all accounts, these tower blocks were not fit for human habitation.

First, the lifts were continually out of action. Either one or other of them, and sometimes both of them together. They are permanently vandalized, with buttons ripped off operating panels and lights smashed. They are regularly used as public conveniences. When the lifts are not working, people have to go up or down the staircase; but vandals constantly take out the electric light bulbs so that the staircase is very dark.

I myself travelled to the ninth floor by lift. Half an hour later no lift was operating and I had to return by staircase: throughout the whole of its length there was no light. It was still daylight outside, but down the stairs it was very dark. I heaved a very great sigh of relief when I finally did reach the ground level. How on earth a woman with two or three small children and possibly laden with shopping baskets could be expected to negotiate those stairs with any degree of peace of mind baffles me: and it is not to be forgotten that these premises are provided for the use, not of single persons or of married couples without children, but they are family houses.”[1]

Denning’s description is merely the tip of an iceberg. The rubbish chute was only 18 square inches wide, yet impressively one tenant had managed to get a mattress down there – an achievement that blocked the chute for everybody else in the meantime. Worst of all, the sewerage and sanitation system was severely faulty and the toilets regularly overflowed onto the surrounding floor or, if you were unlucky enough, into the flat below. This photograph, a Harry Ainscough print taken during the late 1960s provides something of a contrast. And its here, in these better times, that Canterbury Heights provided Eddie and his family with a childhood home between 1966 and 1968.

The vitality of Eddie’s memories contrast sharply with Vanley and John’s shots. Relocated to Huyton in 1964, the family jumped at the opportunity to move back into the old community.

My dad wanted to be in amongst his mates. My mam went along with that; I think she was happy to move back because it was a long haul up to Huyton. Thinking about it now we should have stayed there but for some mad reason they took this flat in Canterbury Heights as an alternative to a three-bedroom house. Looking back now it was fun, but it was hard as well. You had to be tough to survive. The stairwell was full of shit and piss and you had to walk up and down it regular because the lifts never worked. It was alright for us kids; we’d have a laugh. But not for the ‘ald ones. It was a hovel. Looking back now I wonder how the hell we survived. But people lived in them. The community was great.

This idea that the blocks were once a community was strong in Eddie’s memory.

There was a big playground between Canterbury and Crosbie. On summer evenings the whole neighbourhood would be out. The kids would play there and all the mams and dads would be looking out over the balconies. They’d be watching the kids while chilling on the balcony. We’d have great fun.

As well as the communal playground, the flats created new, more unorthodox, spaces of play for local children.

The kids used to play on the landings and in the stairwells all the time. It was dangerous when you think about it. I was too busy studying for my Eleven-Plus but my younger brothers used to go up to the roof of the building through a lift shaft. Now, there’s a small ledge here and eternity on the other side. Me mam’s since said, “Christ! If I’d have known that at the time I would have collapsed!” It could have been so easy. The kids would do mad things like walk across the little ledge. There were some dangerous kids there.

Eddie’s memories of these games of brinksmanship perhaps illustrate why Lord Denning would deem the blocks as totally unsuitable for families.

[1] Lord Denning, [1977] AC 239

The Lost Temple of Olympus, 2008 © Peter Hagerty
Leaf Mould, 2011 © Peter Hagerty

Peter Hagerty: Bleed

I have many lives not just two. Roleplay is changing one’s character to assume a role: it can be realistic for training purposes; for example one character plays an awkward customer. The internet gave rise to new, freeform text-based roleplays and the subsequent advent of virtual worlds has given rise to a new genre of personal actors immersed as avatars in the virtual world where paragraph after paragraph they create fictional narrative drama with each other over hours, days, months and sometimes years.

Bleed describes the remarkable gestalt where the character actor and the out of character typist ‘bleed’ into one another. There is a similar effect when reading a novel or watching a film experienced as the empathy you have for the characters and following from this is the memory of the experience, the film becomes a part of you, a book becomes a part of you, just as much as last years holiday is a part of you.

The actor George Costigan once said “you can’t play yourself, it’s too fluffy” and we know from the drama of theatre and the narratives of the novel that dull people make for dull stories so the citizen paragraph role players living in Nadir Taov’s ‘Dead End’ explore twenty-first century themes reminiscent at times of ancient Euripides.

www.arklo.com

Somizy Sincwala, Lerato Dumse & Zanele Muholi, VUKANI RISE, Open Eye Gallery, 2015 © Ted Oonk
Lebo Leptie Phume, Daveyton, Johannesburg 2013 © Zanele Muholi
Amanda Mahlaba, Mt. Moriah, Edgecombe, Durban 2012 © Zanele Muholi

Zanele Muholi: Faces and Phases 10

Zanele Muholi is a South African photographer and visual activist whose work explores gender, race and sexuality, particularly in relation to South African society and political landscape. In 2015 Zanele Muholi presented VUKANI/RISE at Open Eye Gallery, the first major presentation of her work in the UK. One of the three series on display for this exhibition was Faces and Phases (2006–16), a living and growing collection of portraits making visible black lesbians and transgender men in South Africa. A decade since the project began, STEVENSON celebrate the 10th anniversary of Faces and Phases.

STEVENSON is proud to present Faces and Phases 10, a special project by Zanele Muholi celebrating the 10th anniversary of her acclaimed portrait series documenting black lesbian and transgender individuals from South Africa and beyond.

Muholi’s 10-year celebration takes place just days after South Africa marks another milestone: a decade since the Civil Union Act was introduced in the National Assembly on 12 September 2006. The act, which was passed on 14 November 2006, legalised same-sex marriages and civil partnerships.

As an emerging artist at that time, Muholi was painfully aware of the lack of documentation of her community, and its absence from visual history, and this drove her to embark on her series of black and white portraits. Since taking her first image of Busi Sigasa at Constitution Hill, Muholi has captured more than 250 portraits, and is now producing follow-up images of her participants as they go through various phases in their lives.

‘The journey has been long and hard,’ says Muholi, paying tribute to the bravery of her participants, who she describes as ‘history makers who are positioned differently in politics, economy and in society’. Some of those featured in this exhibition were members of the Chosen FEW soccer team that Muholi accompanied to the 2006 Gay Games in Chicago.

Muholi notes that Faces and Phases’ 10th anniversary also coincides with 60 years since the historic Women’s March of 1956. ‘We are the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those women who marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to challenge an unjust system. Were there lesbian women among that crowd? What narrative would they share with us today?’ she asks.

An archive of this magnitude is not built overnight, and Muholi admits that working on the series has been emotionally and physically exhausting. It has also brought her joy and fulfilment. For her, a highlight ‘is when participants meet in different places and spaces, when we travel together locally and abroad. I get excited when I see people presenting in different events and when we come together to share skills like during the Yithi Laba youth conference last year.’ Muholi has been able to witness the progress that has taken place in participants’ lives, as well as the emergence of new photographers through training workshops.

Setting out 10 years ago, Muholi described Faces and Phases as follows:

‘Faces’ express the person, and ‘Phases’ signify the transition from one stage of sexuality or gender expression and experience to another. ‘Faces’ is also about the face-to-face confrontation between myself as the photographer/activist and the many lesbians, women and trans(wo)men I have interacted with from different places … Faces and Phases is an insider’s perspective that both commemorates and celebrates the lives of the black queers I have met in my journeys. Some of their stories gave me sleepless nights as I tried to process the struggles that were told to me. Many of the women I met had been violated and I endeavoured not to exploit them further through my work. I set out to establish relationships with them based on a mutual understanding of what it means to be female, lesbian and black today. Faces and Phases is about our histories and the struggles that we continue to face. 

These words continue to hold true. By showing some of Muholi’s initial portraits alongside others taken more recently, this celebratory exhibition will map the trajectory of each individual’s growth. Muholi will also introduce the audience to new participants, highlighting the fact that this is a living archive. Reflecting on the past decade, the award-winning Muholi states: ‘Faces and Phases is the only project in Africa of its kind. It is a success, milestone and record-breaker.’

Zanele Muholi: Faces and Phases 10 will be on display at STEVENSON, Johanesburg, from 15 September – 14 October 2016

www.stevenson.info

twitter.com/facesandphases

The Edge of These Isles, Beacons © Simon Bray
The Edge of These Isles, Glen Coe © Tom Musgrove

The Edges Of These Isles

Photographer Simon Bray talks about his new project in collaboration with painter Tom Musgrove.

The Edges Of These Isles, a project born from a desire to collaborate. What could a photographer and a painter learn from each other by exploring the British Isles together?

There were no aims, or targets, we didn’t try and predict or restrict the work that we could make from each of the seven locations, and by no means were we looking to represent the British Isles, we just had a desire to create landscape work and gave each other the excuse to do so.

Spread over 2 years, starting out at Buttermere in the Lake District, and over time, travelling to Lindisfarne, The Brecon Beacons, The Gower Peninsula, Glen Coe, The Causeway Coast and The Peak District, we spent a day or so in each location, with myself documenting as a photographer, and Tom gathering sketches and building a sense of a place to translate into a final piece in his studio back in Manchester. Through our long journeys, time spent talking together on location, walking, eating, meeting up to review past trips, share work and plan future trips, we begun to learn from one another. We were both representing the same place, at the same time, in the same season, weather, having been on the same journey, but the work would look vastly different. Each piece a unique perspective of our personal experience of that place at that time, so we begun to question each other’s practice and process.

As a photographer, my processing happens in the moment. Of course it is influenced from years of image making, study and looking at images, but I have to make practical and creative decisions in that space to create and represent the landscape. Tom’s process is vastly difference. His ability to gain a sensory understanding of a place has truly inspired me. His pace is slow, he’s looking for a colour, gesture, shape, weather formation, a smell or sound, or a combination of them all to build in his mind an understanding of what each place is, and how he is experiencing it through his unique lens. That ability to experience in the present and allow that to inform the work he creates really is the essence of what I will take away from this collaboration, and certainly something that I am working hard to instil into my own creative practice.

We have each created one piece from each location, to be exhibited in a gallery setting at The Whitworth in Manchester for one night only. Alongside the exhibit, we have produced a book, featuring the final pieces, as well as further work, sketches, ideas, personal accounts, maps and more, which will be launched on the night, as well as the premiere screening of a documentary about the project and a Q&A with Tom & I where we’ll try to give further insight into the project. You are very welcome to attend!

We are extremely grateful to Arts Council England, G.F Smith, DoodledoMOTION, Pressision Printing, Fred Aldous and Thornbridge Brewery for supporting this project.

The Whitworth, Manchester – 8th September – 6-9pm Exhibit / Book Launch / Documentary Screening / Q&A with Simon, Tom and John Moores nominated landscape artist, Richard Webb

Facebook Event: www.facebook.com/events/494737284070700

www.theedgesoftheseisles.com
www.instagram.com/theedgesoftheseisles

Everton, Liverpool, 1985 © John Stoddart
Everton, Liverpool, 1983 © John Stoddart
Everton, Liverpool, 1985 © John Stoddart
Everton, Liverpool, 1983 © John Stoddart
Everton, Liverpool, 1985 © John Stoddart

Youthful Spaces

Youthful Spaces

Dan Warner is a 3rd year PhD Researcher and Teacher at the University of Liverpool. Having completed a B.A. in History and an M.A. in Cultural History, his thesis utilises social documentary photography to explore working class culture in British inner cities during the 1970s. Dan completed a placement at Open Eye Gallery in 2015, composing and delivering the Spoken Words and Photographs event during which images from the Gallery’s archive were matched with local oral histories. In the following series of blogs, Dan explores the research conducted, including representations of life in British inner cities at the time and the uses of urban street photography as an historical source. In this blog, Dan explores how John’s photography highlights how local children and adolescents made the most of a rapidly changing and decaying landscape.

“Can you imagine walking around taking pictures of kids now? You’d be lynched. I used to get invited into their house and they’d jump around and pull out their knives and air guns, their pigeons and get their dogs outs. They just loved being photographed. And then I’d meet their mum and dad and they’d be like, “Oh, that’s a good idea! Anyway, come on, in for your tea now.” It was completely innocent. It was a different time.” – John Stoddart

That John’s photographs are laced with humanity and individuality seldom present in historical representations of these areas at this time is evident. No clearer does this appear than in the many shots of children amongst the decaying landscape.

For John, these photographs excavate a contradictory mixture of emotions and memories. On the surface they beam with an energetic happiness, but bubbling just underneath there remains a tinge of sadness.

“I’m going on gut reaction here but I just remember them all to be really vibrant, happy kids playing on the streets. I love this one, though I find it quite moving actually. They were brother and sister and she’s holding his hand. You can’t really tell from the print but she was wearing a pink leather dress and he’s got a little bobbly hat on. If you look closely at the photo he looks cold. I remember him being really cold. God knows how she was wearing only that little dress. And you can just see this bloody hovel they had to live in. Despite all that, they seemed really happy.”

While the streets around them fell apart, it appears that children saw only opportunities. The increasingly derelict landscape became the setting for an adventure. Abandoned and deemed useless by the adult world, children reimagined these landscapes as their own territory. In this photograph, taken by John in 1985, a group of friends and a small child tucked away in the middle of the group have adopted an abandoned caravan for play. Pauline, a local mother at the time, remembers childhood acts like this to be a common occurrence.

“My son got up to everything. There’d be an old wrecked car there with kids jumping and playing on it. People used to dump stuff on the wasteland, fly-tipping and stolen cars, but the kids made it into their own little wrecking area. They’d sit inside it and pretend to race. You’d think twice now but years ago they had fun with it. They didn’t see it as a threat. And neither did the neighbours, really. Normally we’d say, “Oh leave them playing in it, they’re doing no harm.” Growing up in the area was good. You felt that your kids were safe.”

On this topic, Pauline remembered one incident in particular involving wrecked and dumped cars:

“There was one car that I can remember in particular. It was an old wreck and the kids were taking pieces off it, taking the seats out, “We’re fixing it, we’re repairing it!” They didn’t see it as a danger, instead they used to say, “Well come on, lets put the headlamps back on it. Let’s put this back together.”

The children’s sense of ownership over these areas is clearly demonstrated when Pauline remembers the their reactions when the council came to take the car away:

“Actually, when the police and the council moved that car all the kids were going mad. “Ahh, no! They’re taking our car!” They thought it was theirs to play with!” 

In very few of John’s photographs of local children are adults actually present. Crucially, it seems that this was often a playground bereft of parental or communal observation. Without the surveillance their parents experienced growing up in terraced streets, John’s photographs demonstrate how some children and adolescents used this landscape to their advantage by actively seeking out the nooks and crannies of the failed or failing housing developments. Of course, with the lack of surveillance came the opportunity for mischief.

John remembered this shot particularly well, though there’s much about it that remains tantalizingly unexplained:

“God knows how he got that black eye. He’s got a little bar sticking out between his legs and he looks a bit shy about me taking his picture. He was using that pole to try and get into the disused shop behind him with the corrugated blind down. Yeah, it’s just his little face and you wonder who belted him to give him a big black eye like that. There’s a lot of mystery behind that one.” 

Perhaps this point about surveillance is most strikingly illustrated by this photograph of the Radcliffe Estate. A peripheral blur dwarfed by the scale of what’s behind him, this child seems almost perfectly camouflaged against his background. Built in the mid-seventies and demolished less than twenty years after completion, the Radcliffe was jammed between Shaw Street and Everton Road and designed to look like a quaint Cornish fishing village. Its confusing and unusual design became difficult to maintain and the estate was quickly sent into a spiral of decline. Bin lorries, emergency services and even its tenants’ cars struggled to penetrate into this labyrinth.

Proverbially, the same apparently applied to police officers. Instead of becoming a cosy and homely neighbourhood, its maze of dark passages and complicated walkways became locally notorious as a quick and easy escape route. In this context, the fleeting presence of a child running past the estate brings new mysteries. Where he was he running to? Or, perhaps more importantly, what was he running from?

Betty Woodman, Liverpool Fountain, 2016. Photo: Joel Chester Fildes
Koki Tanaka, Liverpool Biennial 2016, Open Eye Gallery. Photo: Paul Karalius
Statue of Apollo Sauroktonos © Tate Liverpool. Photo: Roger Sine

On the Waterfront: Liverpool Biennial 2016

Start your Liverpool Biennial 2016 journey by exploring the exhibitions and public artworks on display at the Liverpool Waterfront. If you are coming into Liverpool via train depart at Liverpool James Street, or ask for Paradise Street is you prefer to use the bus.

Instead of a theme, the Biennial is using the concept of ‘episodes’ to bring together a wide range of artworks. This year, the contemporary art festival is a TV show. In line with this, the artists and artworks can be regarded as characters that you spot in different venues and become more familiar with as you explore the Biennial. I find myself drawn to elements of the time travel episode in a lot of the artworks on display at the Waterfront venues and public spaces.

One artwork that you will definitely become familiar with is ‘What the Living Do’ by Jason Dodge. It is a series of scattered rubbish placed around the Biennial venues, signifying the passing of time and mob mentality through its invitation of asking Biennial goers to add to the accumulating bits on the floor.

From the train station, walk straight down the hill to George’s Dock Ventilation Tower Plaza. Here you will find Betty Woodman’s ‘A Visit to Rome’ which is a fountain made up of a concrete structure with delicate bronze details spread across it. Woodman’s source of inspiration for this jump across different times, borrowing styles from Ancient Greece to Italian Baroque and Picasso amongst many others to create a final display of ancient like treasures.

A protest is happening nearby at Open Eye Gallery. Fear not, this is actually an artwork by Koki Tanaka and is a re-stage of the mass protest against the Conservative Goverment’s Youth Training Scheme that happened in Liverpool just over 30 years ago in 1985. History repeats itself and although this protest is staged, its content is very relevant to the challenges of gaining higher education and securing real jobs that many young people are facing today.

After Open Eye Gallery, walk behind the Museum of Liverpool to make your way to Tate Liverpool. It’s hard to miss but keep an eye out for the Dazzle Ship when you’re walking next to the river. Inspired by war ships from World War II, Peter Blake designed the bright geometric patterns for this Mersey ferry that parade colours across the grey river.

We travel further back in time at Tate Liverpool. Although there are a number of contemporary artworks dotted around the exhibition space, the main highlight here is the Henry Blundell’s collection of mismatched classical sculptures. There’s something unnatural about these sculptures, some more obvious that others and that’s because 18th century restorers had a humorous practise of repairing these objects for sales by using random fragments to create a complete but entirely new work.

When you’re ready to leave the time travel bubble on the Liverpool Waterfront, you can head over to Paradise Street to get the 27 bus to Cains Brewery and 143 Granby or walk into town to explore the Bloomberg Contemporaries at the Bluecoat and the John Moores Painting Prize at the Walker Art Gallery.

Written by Sufea Mohamad Noor
www.sumonospectrum.tumblr.com

twitter.com/sufeamono
instagram.com/sufeamono

About Liverpool Biennial
Liverpool Biennial presents the largest festival of contemporary visual art in the UK. It takes place every two years across the city in public spaces, unused buildings, galleries and online. Liverpool Biennial 2016 runs from 9 July until 16 October and is organised as a story narrated in several episodes: fictional worlds that draw from Liverpool’s past, present and future. Founded in 1998, Liverpool Biennial has commissioned over 268 new artworks and presented work by over 400 artists from around the world.
www.biennial.com   /   #Biennial2016

Eva Stenram, Per Pulverem Ad Astra 1.5, 2007

Field Editions

Field Editions works with photographers to produce benefit limited edition photographic prints in support of Northern photography. www.fieldeditions.org

Established by Impressions Gallery, Bradford, Redeye, the Photography Network, Manchester, and Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool, Field Editions presents its inaugural portfolio of 20 exceptional – yet affordable – limited edition prints by both established and emerging contemporary photographers. All sales proceeds go towards supporting the three organisations in this consortium and the work they do investing in the next generation of photography talent.

Limited edition works kindly gifted by photographers to Open Eye Gallery include prints from John Stezaker, Eva Stenram, Paul Morrison, Jordan Baseman, Andrew Cross, Jamie Lau and Leo Fitzmaurice. Further editions are available from artists such as Rut Blees Luxemburg, Karen Knorr, Murray Ballard and Martin Parr.

All editions can be viewed and purchased online through the Field Editions website. The prints will also be available at the Field Editions stand at Manchester Contemporary Art Fair, 22nd – 25th September 2016 and in NADA Miami in Nov 2016.

Supported by Arts Council England.

www.fieldeditions.org

www.instagram.com/fieldeditions

www.facebook.com/fieldeditions

Everton, Liverpool, 1985 © John Stoddart
Everton, Liverpool, 1985 © John Stoddart
Hope Street, Liverpool, 1983 © John Stoddart

Changing the Picture

Changing the Picture: Using photography to rethink our approaches to inner city life

Dan Warner is a 3rd year PhD Researcher and Teacher at the University of Liverpool. Having completed a B.A. in History and an M.A. in Cultural History, his thesis utilises social documentary photography to explore working class culture in British inner cities during the 1970s. Dan completed a placement at Open Eye Gallery in 2015, composing and delivering the Spoken Words and Photographs event during which images from the Gallery’s archive were matched with local oral histories. In the following series of blogs, Dan explores the research conducted, including representations of life in British inner cities at the time and the uses of urban street photography as an historical source. This first blog explores the idea behind using photography like John Stoddart’s to revaluate how we remember and visualise the inner city at this time.

“I was just taking pictures of where I lived, basically. There was no political motive in any of the photographs. I just loved photography.” – John Stoddart

John Stoddart hasn’t always been a celebrity and glamour photographer. For a period of four years in his twenties John would take a series of photographs that represent a detailed and evocative document of Liverpool at the time. Whilst talking to me about what he remembers about this time in his life, John is keen to keen to stress the personal motives driving him. However, whether intended or not, John was pointing his camera at a community during a moment of extreme transition. Situated in a very particular time and embedded in a very particular place, the inadvertent social and historical significance of these photographs is clear.

“Ironically, when you look at them they are, by their very definition, political. You’ve only got to look at some of the housing conditions in those pictures. Some of those people had to live in bloody slums.”

The setting of John’s photographs – Vauxhall and Everton – provides us with a rich topic to explore further.

Council housing, high-rise flats, tenements, estates, the inner city. A collection of seemingly neutral nouns that instead conjures an array of strong images and a rich inference of not always positive meanings. Hotly contested elements of post-war political and social policy, intricately tied into the moods and fortunes of the nation, many of the terms have now become stigmatised beyond reasonable debate – reduced to a series of “no-go” areas endlessly parodied and stereotyped in popular culture and the national psyche.

From the mid-1950s onwards, British cities were buffeted by a series of material, social and economic changes. Under the optimistic spirit of modernity, city centres and inner cities were comprehensively redeveloped. The cramped, out-dated and in many cases squalid rows of terraces were razed in the name of progress and replaced with bold and confident high-rise blocks and modernist estates, symbolic of the new metropolitan lifestyles that urban modernity would foster. The bullish mood of the day is apparent in the Liverpool Echo, here commenting on a 1958 exhibition entitled Liverpool of the Future.

“The exhibition will be of particular interest to the residents of Liverpool’s 375 darkest acres, those 39,000…living in the forest of 90 to 130-years-old terraces…in Netherfield, Vauxhall, St. Domingo and Westminster…they will see what the future holds for the dreary, narrow streets and blackened houses which have been their familiars for too long.”

However, as the seventies ushered in economic crisis, recession and a breakdown in the post-war consensus, British inner cities began to erode into disrepair. In seeking to understand precisely what had gone wrong, a very particular aftermath narrative was constructed. It is one that guides our opinions, imagery and policy-making to this day. A tale of strong and cohesive terraced communities smashed by overzealous planners and politicians who deemed them slums, fit only for the bulldozer. A myriad of social, political and economic changes was downplayed in a rush to scapegoat the design faults of the planners and architects, the possible corruption of local politicians and, perhaps most unfairly, the very nature of inner city residents. On a much more basic level, this narrative simply ignores the everyday practices and experiences of working class life that continued regardless of the instability of the landscape around them.

As an historian, herein lies the challenge. Piecing together the everyday activities, the ordinary lives and the memories in the face of such an overpowering and unhelpful stigma. The Open Eye Gallery’s archive has proven a useful tool in this challenge, helping to reconstruct the lives and experiences of those who lived through these changes.

“So what I used to do was, almost every day, I’d literally just walk the streets of Liverpool with a pair of cameras and I started taking pictures, finishing up around ’84. I was doing a part-time job in the Post Office. I’d started at six in the morning, I clocked out at one and I became a photographer for the afternoon. I didn’t look into the things that were happening. It was laid out on a plate for you, really. It was in-your-face street photography, a great piece of street theatre happening every day. I printed all the pictures myself and I approached the Open Eye Gallery.”

What has been left behind from this is a wonderful archive of inner city Liverpool in the early 1980s. The photographs form a curious mixture of urban blight, poverty and hardship, but also of a strong community spirit and stoical attitude, all overlain with a tender and moving sense of humanity. In the following series of blogs, I join these photographs alongside the personal testimony of John, local residents and commentary from the time to present the histories of everyday life so often ignored amidst the narrative of overwhelming decline. Forming a counterpoint to endless statistics of population losses, factory closures and reports of poverty and dereliction, John’s photographs show a vibrant landscape, inhabited. Perhaps then, these photographs stress not so much the failure of town planning or the British economy per se, but a much less well covered issue – the coping mechanisms and ordinary everyday life that continued in spite of everything.

Opportunity: Liverpool International Photography Festival – Festival Coordinator

Fee. Fixed fee £15,000 (approx.£29,000 pro rata) 

Project length: September 2016 – June 2017 (9 months)

Time Commitment: Part time leading to full time during Festival delivery.

This job description is not intended to be exhaustive. The post-holder will be expected to adopt a flexible approach to the duties which may have to be undertaken subject to the needs of the Festival.

Application process & schedule

Please send a CV and cover letter highlighting your ability and experience to meet the requirements of the job description and person specification for the position of Festival Coordinator to:

Lawrence George Giles, LOOK Chair of the Board, l.g.giles@salford.ac.uk

The deadline for applications is 5pm, Friday 2nd September. Interviews will be conducted on Monday 12th September at the Open Eye Gallery with the role commencing as soon as possible.

LOOK presents Liverpool’s International Photography Biennial; a four-week festival with a programme of exhibitions, talks, tours, workshops, participation activities and screenings. The LOOK festival features work by emerging and established artists from Liverpool, the UK and beyond. It combines historical exhibitions with contemporary solo and group shows. The majority of work on display is new or being shown in the UK for the first time.

LOOK has already delivered four successful editions of the festival, in 2007, 2011, 2013 and 2015, and is now established as one of the leading photography festivals in the UK. To build on from these accomplishments the LOOK Board is seeking an entrepreneurial and energetic individual to oversee and coordinate the delivery of the 2017 festival and support photographic practice in Liverpool and the wider North West.

Overview of role

Based at The Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool, the Festival Coordinator will work closely with the Festival Curator and Chair of the Board of Directors to deliver the Liverpool International Photography Festival. You will also be the main point of contact for Fringe artists/venues and be responsible for managing festival volunteers.

You will need to have excellent verbal and written communication skills and able to oversee LOOK’s social media and online presence throughout the Festival.

The Festival Coordinator will report to the Festival Curator and Chair and will play a crucial role in the day to day running of the festival ensuring the smooth delivery of the festivals events.

You will be responsible for the successful co-ordination of the festival programme, ensuing logistics and requirements are managed effectively and that all events run to budget and to deadline.

Job Description

Management

  • To work closely with the Festival Curator and oversee all Festival participants and artists including detailed negotiation of all requirements and technical specifications.
  • To oversee the content of the Festival website and social media platforms in the lead up to and during the festival.
  • To oversee and manage a pool of volunteers to deliver the LOOK/17 festival.
  • To manage relationships between the festival’s partners and stakeholders in order to ensure a co-ordinated strategy for the delivery of LOOK activities.

Administration

  • To maintain organisational budget and complete financial reporting to Board and funders as required
  • To oversee evaluation processes of the festival, including data collection analysis, reporting and development of legacy materials
  • To maintain and expand a database of professional contacts for LOOK
  • To report to the Festival Board at regularly scheduled meetings, providing update reports and information about strategic goals.
  • To meet fortnightly (approximately) with the Chair to provide updates and development

Development

  • To maintain effective communication with current stakeholders and the Board
  • To identify new contacts in business and the community with the aim of establishing new partnerships and opportunities for collaboration
  • To undertake a detailed post-festival evaluation, with recommendations for future Festivals

Download Job Description

Download Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form

New Writer in Residence

Open Eye Gallery appoints new Writer in Residence: Pauline Rowe

Open Eye Gallery is delighted to appoint Liverpool based poet Pauline Rowe as our first Writer in Residence. Over the next five months Pauline will be leading a programme of creative writing interventions and workshops, inviting writers to respond to our programme, develop new writing and explore opportunities to work with photographers.

Open Eye Gallery’s Executive Director, Sarah Fisher said:
“Photography has an easy affinity with the written word, poetry, new and experimental writing, and Open Eye Gallery is delighted to welcome Pauline Rowe as our first Writer in Residence. Pauline shares the Gallery’s collaborative ethos and interest in collective creative experimentation. The programme is part of our developing partnership with the University of Liverpool’s Centre for New and International Writing and our thanks goes to them and the University’s LiNK programme for their support”

Professor Deryn Rees-Jones, Department of English, School of the Arts, University of Liverpool said:
“We are delighted to be working with Open Eye Gallery in such an exciting way. The establishment of the residency will provoke useful dialogue between photographers and poets, establishing new and creative contexts for practitioners from visual and literary arts as well as developing important links with communities across Liverpool”

New Writer in Residence, Pauline Rowe said:
“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to work with Open Eye Gallery at the start of an innovative project working with and exploring the ways writing and photography can speak new words, new responses, new relationships”

Pauline first got the chance to work with the Gallery through the LiNK programme at the University of Liverpool and continuing work is being supported by the universities’ Centre for New and International Writing. She has 2 poetry collections, also works as a poet delivering projects at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, and is currently doing a PHD at Liverpool University. Pauline lives with her husband and 6 children.

pauline@openeye.org.uk / paulineroweblog.wordpress.com

‘July 1, 2, 3…’ Double Exposure – Ulysse Di Meglio/Pamela Mastrilli.
‘July 1, 2, 3…’.
The Event Room – July 2016, during ‘July 1, 2, 3…’.
A young Rose Howey resident’s response to ‘July 1, 2, 3…’.
‘July 1, 2, 3…’.
‘Untitled’ - Claire Baker of 26:86 Collective

Rose Howey Cooperative Gallery: 02

Hello again from Rose Howey!

We write this off the back our first event ‘July 1, 2, 3…”; an introduction to the artists showing in The Event Room this summer. Although first and foremost a successful exhibition of politically charged, personally expressive artwork, the show also radically improved our main communal space and celebrated the coming together of friends and residents of Rose Howey cooperative. The exhibition sought to socially and artistically gather the residents of the cooperative and unite our local community whilst making us all aware of the importance of communal spaces.

Even the youngest dwellers got caught up in the artistic dynamic, embracing the moment and spontaneously producing artwork which was displayed in the corridor, creating a ‘fringe’ show of their own!

The exhibition was a great opportunity to introduce housing cooperation to an audience that may never have experienced or been aware of it before. Simultaneously, it was a chance to bring artwork to a public that may frequent cooperative spaces but not necessarily art galleries. It is these interactions that activate the space as an artwork itself and therefore blur the boundaries between private and public space by creating a community space – redefining what is “dwelling”. This can be understood in the light of Heidegger’s conception of dwelling; his philosophy argues that building, dwelling and thinking are actually one unique intellectual operation and that language throughout History has divided into different concepts, (Originally published as in Martin Heidegger’s ‘Building and Dwelling’, [Bauen und Wohnen].

The next exhibition to come to Rose Howey Cooperative Gallery will be ‘Chernobyl: 30 Years On’, which takes place at the end of this month. It will be the first exhibition of new works by 26:86 Collective, a group of artists of varying practices based in the North of England. The show features artistic output following their expedition to Chernobyl and Pripyat in Ukraine which investigates the site on the 30th anniversary of the biggest and most devastating nuclear disaster of the 20th century.

This weekend it is the turn of the MaMa group (Migrant Artist Mutual Aid), to leave The Event Room, their rehearsal space, and perform in the Atrium of the Open Eye Gallery. The cross-national, multi-lingual, multi-faith group of women will be singing a love song in Swahili, a lullaby in Xhosa, a Civil Rights song in English and of course a Bollywood song celebrating racial equality.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Spectrum

Founded in Brighton in 1933, Spectrum are a longstanding professional imaging lab specialising in high quality fine art and photographic printing, as well as archival mounting. For our Liverpool Biennial 2016 exhibition, Spectrum have been working on archival contact sheets from photographer Dave Sinclair.

Sinclair captured the 1985 Youth Training Scheme protest, which saw over 10,000 school children take to the streets of Liverpool. At a time of 80% unemployment in the City, the young people where standing against the Conservative governments compulsory, unskilled, unpaid scheme. They marched from St Georges Hall down to the Pier Head, where Open Eye Gallery is located. Japanese artist Koki Tanaka has re-staged this protest and invited original participants from the protest to reflect on the past and look to the future.

The installation at Open Eye Gallery consists of billboard prints, videos and interviews from Koki Tanaka’s re-staging of the protest, as well as reproduction prints from Dave Sinclair’s original photographs.

Spectrum have scanned three of Dave Sinclair’s archival contact sheets and made overall corrections to match the original prints. The contact sheets have then been enlarged and printed as C-Type Matt prints before being mounted on Dibond with battens fixings.

Visit our Liverpool Biennial 2016 exhibition from 9 July – 16 October 2016.

If you have an enquiry for Spectrum, get in contact with their fantastic customer service team.

Website: spectrumphoto.co.uk
Telephone: 01273 708222
Email: enquiries@spectrumphoto.co.uk

© Dominic Till, 2016

Telling Tales

Exhibition Dates:
6-11 July 2016, 10am-6pm

Address:
45-61 Duke Street, Liverpool, L1 5AP

As part of our Biennial Fringe Programme, Thomas Dukes has curated an exhibition of work from seven artists from the Royal College of Art.

The featured artists make use of photography, text, moving image, sculpture and sound to delve into the recreation of experience.

The work takes as its subject ideas around, and expressions of, emotion and experience – two areas that are considered personal. But these experiences are subject to an increasingly connected world, one in which we are encouraged to share as much of our lives with groups from close family to complete strangers.

The projects on display reconsider how we express these aspects of experience in society. The personal becomes stages (and in some cases re-staged) in moments of reflection, online and through art.

Artists:
Iris Brember
Theo Ellison
Sarah Howe
Ben McDonnell
Joshua Phillips
Mark Sedge
Dominic Till

Twitter: @TellingTalesRCA
Instagram: @tellingtalesrca

Tromarama, Still from ‘Intercourse’, 2015, Two channel video, 4 min 10 sec, image courtesy Edouard Malingue Gallery
Tromarama, First Wave, 2015, image courtesy Edouard Malingue Gallery
Tromarama, Still from ‘Burn Out’, 2013, image courtesy Edouard Malingue Gallery

Tromarama

Exhibition Dates:
9-31 July 2016 / Tuesday-Sunday / 10am-6pm

Address:
Apartment 603, One Park West, 31 Strand Street, Liverpool, L1 8LN
(Please ring the doorbell and you will be shown up to the apartment)

As part of our Biennial Fringe Programme, Indonesian collective Tromarama exhibit for the first time in the UK in the unusual setting of a private residential apartment.

Widely considered one of Indonesia’s most exciting rising talents, Tromarama provide an exploration of how the digital world redefines our existential existence. Formed in 2006 by Febie Babyrose, Herbert Hans Maruli and Ruddy Hatumena and graduating from the Institute of Technology in Bandung, the three are among the first generation of artists who were confronted with the impact of the digital revolution in Indonesia during the early 2000s. This exhibition presents a selection of recent animations and lenticular prints, as well as a new work, which was created especially for the occasion.

The exhibition features animations that combine HD photographs of animated objects, such as shoes, suitcases, desk lights and wires, with images of the urban Indonesian landscape. Although each work exists in a seemingly foreign public sphere elsewhere in the world, it interacts with a private one that we, the audience, all possess ourselves. They activate otherwise impossible narratives within a domestic space, behind a closet, through a bedroom window, inside a kitchen cupboard. A new work highlights the playfulness of tea making, an otherwise mundane and joyful ritual undertaken countless times in everyone’s daily lives in the UK.

Play, in the sense of ‘fresh, intriguing and humorous’ pulsates through the body of Tromarama’s practice, which combines video animation with music and installation. Each work, rather than existing in viewership isolation, is woven into the larger social fabric of the things we do both inside and outside our homes.

At the heart of Tromarama’s practice is the creation of an inclusive narrative through the use of form and colour, objects and figures, sounds and rhythms. Each work literally animates the ordinary and weaves its existence into a tale of tribulations fuelled by consequence. As such, their work infuses the ordinary with novel means of contemplation in the context of urban life, developments and political reverberations.

Curated by Ying Tan.

This exhibition is presented in collaboration with Open Eye Gallery with support by Edouard Malingue Gallery.

edouardmalingue.com

Have We Started Yet? - Image Declan Connolly
Have We Started Yet? - Image Declan Connolly
Have We Started Yet? - Image Declan Connolly

Have we started yet?

University of South Wales BA (Hons) Photographic Art Graduate Show 2016

*Formerly University of Newport

One likes to think that an artist is innately capable of producing emotive work simply because they are artistic. Although this can be the case for the very lucky few, most artists have had an education in their practice – like a muscle, the creative mind and it’s processes need to be trained.

Art degrees have taken a fair bit of flack recently – sometimes, correctly so. It is difficult to guide a group of largely 20-somethings from a base level to an ‘artist’ in three years. The fruit of this short period takes the form of the degree show which is expected to be, and too often described as, ‘up-and-coming’ or even more optimistically: ‘emerging’. A degree show cannot be fully curated as each student is represented regardless of quality and usually with an equal amount of wall space shared between the class.

Understandably then, the idea of a self-organised exhibition by a large group of very new and very different artists would strike terror into the hearts of many with an interest in visual culture. It is abhorrently far too easy to conjure up a caricature: a rag-tag band of students throwing together the amalgamation of three years worth of experimentation into a cramped space, simply because, pitifully, this concept is by no means rare.

The description of the stereotypical degree show above is a far cry from the confident, bold work by University of South Wales’* Photographic Art students. The show and subsequent publication has a certain self effacing humour, as does a lot of the work within them, this tone is perfectly captured in the title: ‘Have We Started Yet?’. The publication is well designed, perfectly functioning as an efficient exhibition catalogue of sorts whilst also managing to define the kaleidoscopic cacophony that is the exhibition itself. To describe the show as a kaleidoscope infers that ‘Have We Started Yet?’ is in some way psychedelic. Perhaps this makes the choice of word a poor representation of the clear separation between bodies of work. “Separation” is not used to identify physical space, which was admittedly a little in short supply, but rather to describe the clear choices of medium and style between each of the pieces.

Turner House Gallery was awash with bold colours and fit to bursting with large, confident work that seemed to jostle a little for space from the floorboards to (and through) the ceiling in an equally playful way. Not restrained to tradition in any sense but almost trying to distance itself from or gleefully satirise photographic and indeed art history. There is a real sense of fun running throughout nearly every aspect of the show and in the same vein is relentless experimentation both in the concepts and actual aesthetics of what each artist has managed to produce. ‘Have We Started Yet?’ is a degree show which showcases some very real talent by very capable artists, however, one does not frequent degree shows to see artists in their prime. One visits a degree show rather to experience an explosion; a celebration of pride as students forcing their heads under the curtain of the ‘art world’, perhaps for the first time, realise that there are more people on the other side, welcoming and willing them to wriggle further through. It is truly joyous to witness and honestly inspiring to be part of.

Best of luck to you, graduates of 2016. I can only look forward to see more of you soon.

‘Have We Started Yet?’ was on display at Turner House Gallery 11 – 16 June 2016 in association with Ffotogallery.

Have We Started Yet? Facebook / Twitter

Words and images by Declan Connolly

Pamela Mastrilli. From the series ‘Free Our Sisters’
Pamela Mastrilli. ‘Malaika’
Ulysse Di Meglio. ‘Evolution of the Event Room: from the nursing home to the cooperative gallery space’
Ulysse Di Meglio. ‘Evolution of the Event Room: from the nursing home to the cooperative gallery space’

Rose Howey Cooperative Gallery: 01

Welcome from our housing cooperative in Liverpool. You join us as we embark on establishing a gallery and performance space in the heart of our home – the ‘main’ room of the building – today referred to by its dwellers as the ‘Events Room’.

From its beginnings in the 1850’s, this room (and the house itself) has constantly been a place of human interaction and co-operation; whether to dine, discuss or debate, the space remains central and integral to our co-existence. It is not only residents that benefit from and use this room: The events room welcomes a migrant women’s choir practice, Paper Wings band rehearsals, creative writing and science clubs for kids and a Community kitchen once a month where all the different groups come together to share food and thoughts and fundraise for a crisis fund which aids women seeking sanctuary in the UK from gender based violence.

Over the next few months, we are hosting a series of intimate exhibitions in the Events Room alongside the Liverpool Biennial and will be creating online versions of the exhibitions for the Open Eye Gallery blog. Alongside the works there will be writings that explore the process from the different artistic perspectives of co-operative members.

The first in the series is ‘1, 2, 3…Origins and expressions of political desires’ – is an introduction to the artists exhibiting over the summer and showcases the history, the diversity, and the creative production of co-operative members and friends.

The project began with three co-operative residents over espresso in the tea kitchen.

Pamela Mastrilli is an Italian social researcher and photographer currently working with Migrant Artists Mutual Aid (MaMa) who uses photography to examine and capture gestures of harmony defining a post-colonial British citizenship.

Jennifer Verson, performance artist and artistic director of MaMa, is showing documentary photographs of her work with the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army alongside documentary images of her current work to explore how migration and motherhood impact art and activism.

Parisian photographer, Ulysse Di Meglio, currently studying for his Masters in Photography at Manchester Metropolitan University, has been documenting the co-op and its Event Room for over two years in order to explore the co-operative use of space and more widely, co-operative living in the UK. He is exhibiting his photographic documentation in situ.

Each of the ten artists to feature in ‘1, 2, 3…’ will exhibit work that expresses their personal relationship to dissent, social engagement and radical social change.

The desire to participate in social change by breaking down binaries and boundaries and allowing artists to flourish as both creator and subject, is an inspiration behind the conception of this project.

The collaboration between the co-operative and the Open Eye Gallery emerges as an expression of the gallery’s history, rooted in the origins and expression of art and activism. These events re-imagine that origin and is an expression of a shared political desire for contemporary Liverpool.

As part of our coinciding schedule of events the MaMa choir will be performing the Open Eye gallery atrium on the 16th of July at 1pm.

rosehowey.wordpress.com

Spectra, Walter & Zoniel, 2016
Tromarama, Still from ‘Intercourse’, 2015, Two channel video, 4 min 10 sec, image courtesy Edouard Malingue Gallery
Tromarama, First Wave, 2015, image courtesy Edouard Malingue Gallery
Tromarama, Still from ‘Burn Out’, 2013, image courtesy Edouard Malingue Gallery
© Joshua Phillips, 2016
Resonance 1, 2016 © Benjamin McDonnell (part of a triptych)
Pamela Mastrilli. From the series ‘Free Our Sisters’

Biennial Fringe Programme

Spectra

 

Public Participation:
Friday 8 July 2016, 6pm-8pm
Saturday 9 July 2016, 11:30am-4:30pm
Sunday 10 July 2016, 11:30am-4:30pm

Installation Dates:
9 July – 16 October 2016

London based artists Walter & Zoniel invite you to help them create a new Wall Work installation, Spectra.

Open Eye Gallery will be transformed as the artists invite the public to launch paint directly at the outside wall using catapults!

The interactive artwork uses elements key to Walter & Zoniel’s practice including fun, surrealism and transforming buildings that are familiar to us.

The installation creates a sense of mischief, and explores its relationship to inspiration and creativity. By crossing the lines of what is normally allowed, those interacting with the work are, for a moment, set free of some of the constraints of the everyday.

Get involved and help Walter & Zoniel create this new installation!

In collaboration with Gazelli Art House.

gazelliarthouse.com   /   walterandzoniel.com

 

Tromarama

Exhibition Dates:
9-31 July 2016 / Tuesday-Sunday / 10am-6pm

Address:
Apartment 603, One Park West, 31 Strand Street, Liverpool, L1 8LN
(Please ring the doorbell and you will be shown up to the apartment)

As part of our Biennial Fringe Programme, Indonesian collective Tromarama exhibit for the first time in the UK in the unusual setting of a private residential apartment.

Widely considered one of Indonesia’s most exciting rising talents, Tromaramaprovide an exploration of how the digital world redefines our existential existence. Formed in 2006 by Febie Babyrose, Herbert Hans Maruli and Ruddy Hatumena and graduating from the Institute of Technology in Bandung, the three are among the first generation of artists who were confronted with the impact of the digital revolution in Indonesia during the early 2000s. This exhibition presents a selection of recent animations and lenticular prints, as well as a new work, which was created especially for the occasion.

The exhibition features animations that combine HD photographs of animated objects, such as shoes, suitcases, desk lights and wires, with images of the urban Indonesian landscape. Although each work exists in a seemingly foreign public sphere elsewhere in the world, it interacts with a private one that we, the audience, all possess ourselves. They activate otherwise impossible narratives within a domestic space, behind a closet, through a bedroom window, inside a kitchen cupboard. A new work highlights the playfulness of tea making, an otherwise mundane and joyful ritual undertaken countless times in everyone’s daily lives in the UK.

Play, in the sense of ‘fresh, intriguing and humorous’ pulsates through the body of Tromarama’s practice, which combines video animation with music and installation. Each work, rather than existing in viewership isolation, is woven into the larger social fabric of the things we do both inside and outside our homes.

At the heart of Tromarama’s practice is the creation of an inclusive narrative through the use of form and colour, objects and figures, sounds and rhythms. Each work literally animates the ordinary and weaves its existence into a tale of tribulations fuelled by consequence. As such, their work infuses the ordinary with novel means of contemplation in the context of urban life, developments and political reverberations.

Curated by Ying Tan.

This exhibition is presented in collaboration with Open Eye Gallery with support by Edouard Malingue Gallery.

edouardmalingue.com

 

Telling Tales

Exhibition Dates:
6-11 July 2016, 10am-6pm

Address:
45-61 Duke Street, Liverpool, L1 5AP

As part of our Biennial Fringe Programme, Thomas Dukes has curated an exhibition of work from seven artists from the Royal College of Art.

The featured artists make use of photography, text, moving image, sculpture and sound to delve into the recreation of experience.

The work takes as its subject ideas around, and expressions of, emotion and experience – two areas that are considered personal. But these experiences are subject to an increasingly connected world, one in which we are encouraged to share as much of our lives with groups from close family to complete strangers.

The projects on display reconsider how we express these aspects of experience in society. The personal becomes stages (and in some cases re-staged) in moments of reflection, online and through art.

Artists:
Iris Brember
Theo Ellison
Sarah Howe
Ben McDonnell
Joshua Phillips
Mark Sedge
Dominic Till

Twitter:@TellingTalesRCA
Instagram:@tellingtalesrca

 

Rose Howey Cooperative Gallery

Rose Howey is a housing co-operative established in the L8 area of Liverpool to address issues around poverty, housing, parenting, and education. Open Eye Gallery is pleased to be partnering Rose Howey Cooperative Gallery in their programme activity unfolding throughout Liverpool Biennial 2016 as they embark on establishing a gallery and performance space. The collaboration emerges as an expression of the gallery’s history, rooted in the origins and expression of art and activism.

rosehowey.wordpress.com

Address:
By invitation only, please email rosehoweycooperative@gmail.com

July 1,2,3
1-3 July 2016, Friday 12pm-9pm, Saturday & Sunday 12pm-8pm

MaMa Choir Performance
(This event takes place at Open Eye Gallery and is a free, drop in event)
Saturday 16 July 2016, 1pm-1:30pm

30 Years On: Chernobyl Exposed
29-31 July 2016, Friday 12pm-9pm, Saturday & Sunday 12pm-8pm

The Event Room
5-7 August 2016, Friday 12pm-9pm, Saturday & Sunday 12pm-8pm

Transmutable Voices: New Aesthetics Of Citizenship
2-4 September 2016, Friday 12pm-9pm, Saturday & Sunday 12pm-8pm

Transatlantic Rumors: Alternatives To Urban Capitalism
7-9 October 2016, Friday 12pm-9pm, Saturday & Sunday 12pm-8pm

Closed for Install

Open Eye Gallery is now closed to the public whilst we install our new exhibition:

Liverpool Biennial 2016

Featuring: Koki Tanaka / Fabien Giraud & Raphaël Siboni / Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh & Hesam Rahmanian

Liverpool Biennial 2016 unfolds throughout the landscape of the city. It is organised as a story narrated in several episodes: Ancient Greece, Chinatown, Children, Monuments from the Future, Software and Flashback. Open Eye Gallery’s exhibition as part of Liverpool Biennial 2016 has a particular focus on the Flashback and Children’s episodes. The Flashback episode presents a way of experiencing history as it punctures the present, unexpectedly. The Children’s episode invites artists to consider children as the primary audience, making work with and for them.

Preview Night
Friday 8 July 2016, 6-8pm

Exhibition Continues
9 July – 16 October 2016

 

They Where My Landscape © Phoebe Kiely, 2015
Tate Modern - View from the South at dusk © Hayes Davidson and Herzog & de Meuron

Phoebe Kiely: New Tate Modern exhibition

Phoebe Kiely is a photographer currently based in Manchester.

They Were My Landscape was a project which was first shown at Phoebe’s degree show at Manchester School of Art in June 2015. It was this project which was shown at Open Eye Gallery 15 April – 5 June 2016 as part of the Open 2: Pieces of You exhibition.

To mark the opening of the new Tate Modern building, from June 17th until June 19th two of Phoebe’s images from They were my Landscape will be shown in the Turbine Hall using digital screens.

cargocollective.com/phoebekiely

www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern/new-tate-modern/building

Open Eye Gallery, Collected Possibilities, 2016 © Ted Oonk
Open Eye Gallery, Collected Possibilities, 2016 © Ted Oonk
Open Eye Gallery, Collected Possibilities, 2016 © Ted Oonk
Open Eye Gallery, Collected Possibilities, 2016 © Ted Oonk
Open Eye Gallery, Collected Possibilities, 2016 © Ted Oonk
Open Eye Gallery, Collected Possibilities, 2016 © Ted Oonk
Open Eye Gallery, Collected Possibilities, 2016 © Ted Oonk
Open Eye Gallery, Collected Possibilities, 2016 © Ted Oonk

Maria Percival: Arts Council England

Open Eye Gallery was delighted to welcome Maria Percival (Relationship Manager, North, Arts Council England) to speak during the launch of Collected Possibilities and Pieces of Us.

Collected Possibilities presents a curated exhibition showcasing work from final year students of Hugh Baird University Centre. This exhibition comes out of an ongoing collaboration with the BA (Hons) Digital Imaging and Photography course, whereby dialogue between Open Eye Gallery and the students has provided critical feedback and suggested creative context on these final major projects.

Throughout our recent Open 2: Pieces of You exhibition, four emerging artists provided a series of workshops to four schools across the Wirral and Liverpool. The workshops were supported by the Curious Minds organisation and it’s Specialist Leaders in Cultural Education (SLiCE) programme. We have produced a video which captures the essence of the programme and the young people’s experiences of the workshops, titled Pieces of Us, which is displayed on our new Digital Window Gallery.

Maria Percival: Opening speech

Arts Council England’s role is to champion, develop and invest in arts and culture in England. Our Mission is ‘Great art and culture for everyone’. We support the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. But we’re about much more than just funding. We have a development role, which means we give advice and promote partnership. And through this we hope to develop a thriving arts ecology that offers everybody the chance to enjoy, participate and create. Our mission can be distilled into two core goals: we want excellent arts and culture to thrive, and we want as many people as possible to engage with it. Children and young people are at the heart of what we do. We want to help release their talent, to give them the chance to work with the best professional artists – and to show them routes to work in one of the wide range of careers in the creative industries, if they wish. Above all, we want the arts to enrich their lives – whether as artists, or as audiences. And we believe that there should be no barriers to talent.

And this goes further – Arts Council England’s promise is to support people to enjoy a learning continuum in arts and culture and high quality life experiences from early years to entering the world of work and beyond. To this end we deliver, or support others to deliver, a range of national schemes for children and young people, including Bridge organisations – we invest £10 million a year in 10 Bridge organisations who play a vital role in building local cultural alliances, increasing provision for children and young people, and who collectively now work with more than 7000 schools. We also engage with other development activity which overlaps and complements this, for instance our talent development work and which focuses on supporting artists at all career stages. And also on developing centres of regional excellence outside of London where talent can thrive.

Building partnerships between FE/HE and arts and cultural organisations offer perhaps the most useful place to develop formal and informal pathways for learning. Recognising this ACE has committed through its corporate plan to build effective partnerships with further and higher education institutions to ensure that artistic talent and workforce diversity is being developed and nurtured and to encourage more FE/HEs to work closely with arts and cultural organisations to support the arts and culture ecology in their localities.

And there are strong contextual reasons for this, the down-grading of the arts throughout the education system, the threat to practice based courses from: the introduction of tuition fees, also opportunities such as the education sector’s adoption of public engagement strategies and the cultural shift implied within the HEI Research Excellence Framework which emphasises impact of research beyond the academic sphere.

In the North there is and has been for a while a very strong and distinctive approach. The number and strength of these partnerships here has led to the development, with Arts Council support of, Culture Forum North – an open network of alliances between Higher Education and the Arts across the North and which acts as a platform through which this work can be championed, shared and developed to enable impact beyond individual partnerships – regionally and nationally.

Through 2016 Forum partners are working together on three key agendas: Research, civic, talent. All of which chime with Arts Council’s strategic priorities. And for the partners provide a key opportunity to look at what the civic role of each is in a city and how they can create an increased civic impact by working together.

As Juan Cruz (former Director of Liverpool School of Art and Design, LJMU) has said:

‘[So] we recognise in the university and in arts organisations that our success is intimately tied to the success of the city, and that we all effectively play for the city, delivering high quality art experience and education that also contributes to the cities’ broader aims and agendas.’

Specific examples of exemplary partnerships in the North, include:

  1. LJMU’s model of embedded lecturer posts based in arts organisations, at Tate Liverpool, Liverpool Biennial and FACT
  1. Northumbria University’s embedded staff and programme development with the Baltic in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in particular with the Baltic 39 space and which includes artist studios
  1. The University of Bolton’s new BA (Hons) Theatre co-designed and delivered with the Octagon Theatre Bolton, one of the UK’s most successful regional producing theatres
  1. Manchester Metropolitan University’s launch pad programme with Castlefield Gallery, Manchester, which offers artist support and showcasing at the emerging end of artistic practice and, like Collected Possibilities, offers a public platform for MMU’s annual degree show

The characteristics of these partnerships nationally can be broadly identified as being designed to: maximise current and develop new resources; add value; further shared aspirations; meet individual corporate performance targets or objectives; raise profile; realise new opportunities. A recurring theme nationally, in terms of what unlocks this potential, is that leadership at the top – CEO or Vice Chancellor level – significantly aides the sustainability, investment in and prioritisation of partnership work. Leading to outcomes such as: greater resilience; stronger programmes; work ready graduates; more student applications; higher profile appointments; more valuable assets; learning organisations; place making; extended audiences; and greater national and international profile. All of which chime with increasing emphasis within the recent H.E. White Paper on: the quality of the student experience, which includes relationships with industry in designing, developing and delivering courses; and developing work ready students. Very few (if any) of these partnerships are with HE-delivered-within F.E. institutions, such as this one with Hugh Baird University Centre. And this example is compelling in what it can teach us and offer in terms of extending the possibilities to support talent across a greater range of demographics and lifelong learning. With the greater flexibility in terms of living costs associated with undertaking degrees in this context, there is great opportunity to support diversity within artistic excellence and the next generation of artists. As well as opportunities to retain local talent and which is a key element of Arts Council’s talent development agenda.

As with all the partnerships we see, there is a strong and complementary fit between Open Eye and Hugh Baird – the shared photography focus but also Open Eye’s experience as an artist support agency and learning organisation offering vocational and professional experiences to a range of artists, professional and amateur, since launching in 1977. Collected Possibilities and Pieces of Us demonstrate two sides of the talent development challenge. Collected Possibilities presents us with the next generation of photographers, or arts workers potentially, before they emerge either as creative practitioners, into the world of work or further study. Pieces of Us shows us artists a step on, perhaps gaining their first paid professional experience as an artist, in turn inspiring a younger generation working alongside them. The opportunity to apply their skills to the real world and earn income is an invaluable demonstration of the next challenges ahead: how to navigate earning a living as an artist. And which is where the arts Council also seeks to invest and to work in partnership to enable more artists from a greater diversity of backgrounds to make a viable living as an artist, in a locale that can support artists careers through all stages of their development. And which again requires national schemes and structures, delivered via a place-based approach, but that’s another story …

Congratulations to the partnership and very importantly to the artists whose talent is clearly evident.

From series Casualty in the body of work In the Shadow of the Pyramids 2005-2016 © Laura El-Tantawy
From series Casualty in the body of work In the Shadow of the Pyramids 2005-2016 © Laura El-Tantawy
From Unfinished Father, Fhotogaphia Europea - Reggio Emilia 2015 © Erik Kessels
Large Hangars and Fuel Storage; Tonopah Test Range, NV Distance - 18miles; 10:44a.m. 2005 From The Octopus © Trevor Paglen
The Citizen Installation 2014 © Tobias Zielony

Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2016

This year’s nominees display a wide range of approaches with diverse bodies of work exploring political and personal concerns with identity, surveillance, migration and loss. With works emotionally and visually captivating, it’s no surprise that these four artists were shortlisted for this award.

Here are this year’s nominees:

 

Laura El-Tantawy has been shortlisted for her self-published photobook, In the Shadow of the Pyramids, which features images spanning from 2005 to 2014.

Although she was born in England, El-Tantawy was also partly brought up in Egypt and Saudi Arabia; she says the project stemmed from a desire to reconnect with a country she no longer knew. El-Tantawy began exploring the essence of Egyptian identity with the hopes that she would eventually come to terms with her own and in doing so created this intimate body of work which was guided by her childhood memories via her own family archive. Overtime the project gained a sense of urgency following the Egyptian Revolution prompted by Mubarak’s resignation in 2011 when he was forced to stand down after a wave of mass protests.

This body of work provides the viewer with an intimate, powerful and somewhat heart-breaking insight into the past and present everyday realities that Egyptians face not knowing what the future holds for their country or for themselves alike.

Erik Kessels has been shortlisted for his project, Unfinished Father, which was exhibited at Fotografia Europea, Italy from 15th May – 31st July in 2015.

In 2014, Kessels’ father suffered a stroke causing his motor skills to dramatically decrease and left him barely able to talk. Prior to this, Kessel’s father was extremely active with many side projects, one of them being the restoration of a little Fiat 500 classic. The images throughout this body of work are essentially Kessels take on the fragmented realities of loss and memory as a result of his father’s devitalising stroke, using his father’s unfinished restoration project of the Fiat 500 to representation of his current condition; ‘like his car, his father will never be complete, but remain unfinished’. Kessels brought pieces of the unfinished car into the exhibition space and presented them alongside photographs of car parts and images that his father had taken concluding this intimate and personal project which many viewers will also relate to.

Trevor Paglen was shortlisted for his project, The Octopus, which was displayed at the Frankfurter Kunstverein museum in Germany from 20th June – 30th August in 2015.

Known for his work tackling mass surveillance, Paglan untiringly collaborated with scientists, amateur astronomers and human rights activists in order to make this project happen. The Octopus explores a collection of what may be seen as sometimes quite touchy topics including data collection, military surveillance, classified drone and satellite activities and the systems of power that affix them together.

Arguably this project started in 2013 when Paglen hired a helicopter to take night-time aerial shots across the US of National Security Agencies that are responsible for all national security apparatus, including the extremely controversial drone programme. Some suggest that Paglen’s earlier work exploring mass surveillance is more visually striking and perhaps even more captivating than his later aerial shots, which are quite repetitive; nevertheless, through his work, Paglen demonstrates that secrets cannot be hidden from sight and that traces and structures will always remain and be a part of the US landscape. Paglen is a significant contribution to current issues dealing with the impact of unseen aspects of technology on our day to day lives.

 

Tobias Zielony is the fourth and final artist shortlisted for his project, The Citizen, which was exhibited as part of the German Pavilion presentation at the Venice Bienale from 9th May – 22nd November 2015 and is currently on display at the Kow gallery in Berlin until 12th June, 2016.

With most of these images taken in Hamburg and Berlin, Zielony’s lens portrays the lives of African refugee activists living in Europe and the struggles they face on a daily basis. Many escaping the oppression and violence in their home countries arrive in the West in search of security and freedom, only to find themselves living as outsiders in refugee-camps without work permits or legal representation. Zielony candidly documents these African refugees who are on the fringes of society in the most intimate and voyeuristic light, making this body of work all the more ambiguous and captivating in the eyes of the viewer.

The images are presented alongside first person accounts of life as an African refugee living in Europe today, along with interviews and narratives published by Zielony in African newspapers and magazines whilst he was reporting on the refugees’ journeys and experiences.

 

Works by the nominated artists will be exhibited at The Photographers’ Gallery from 16th April until 26th June 2016 and will later be presented at the Deutsche BÖrse HQ in Frankfurk/Eschborn. A prize of £30,000 will be rewarded to a photographer of any nationality for a specific body of work in exhibition or publication format which is felt to have significantly contributed to photography in Europe between 1st October 2014 and 30th September 2015.

 

Trevor Paglen was announced the winner of the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2016 for his work, The Octopus.

Written by Sam Powell

 

© Danny Barrett, 2016

Closed for install

Open Eye Gallery is now closed to the public whilst we install our new exhibition: Collected Possibilities.

As part of Open Eye Gallery’s ongoing collaboration with the FdA / BA (Hons) Top Up in Digital Imaging and Photography Courses at the Hugh Baird University Centre (which are validated by the University of Central Lancashire), we are pleased to present a curated exhibition showcasing work from the BA final year students.

Open Eye Gallery’s Executive Director Sarah Fisher and Curator Thomas Dukes have worked closely with the staff and undergraduates, providing critical feedback and suggesting creative direction on these final projects.

Preview Night
Tuesday 14 June, 6-8pm

Please join us for our preview night and be the first to see the talented graduates work.

In response to the I-1

The last five years has heralded some truly innovative technology that has really pushed the boundaries of what consumers can come to expect from the visual market. 2016 is the year of 4k video being produced on a phone, mirrorless, full frame cameras that can compete with DSLRs and ridiculous quality 100-megapixel, medium format behemoths being the trend.

Gone are the days when photography, or rather the photographer, is reliant on having the best kit. Brilliant digital cameras capable of producing professional results are available from amateur level price-tags on the high street. These ‘entry level’ DSLRs do not vary much between brands in terms of their rather impressive picture quality, especially when in their respective automatic modes to the point where to be entrusted with an old manual camera today would be simply too slow and inaccurate in unfamiliar hands.

When digital cameras made their first appearance, the quality of the image, although revolutionary and exciting, was completely redundant in terms of what a film camera could produce. Since it’s conception, digital technology has had to prove itself within the existing market of camera users in order to stake its claim of superiority. In order to do so, modern cameras had to be able to surpass celluloid relatively and in their own field- this is why the top end DSLRs today are called ‘full-frame’. The term ‘full-frame’ relates to the physical size of the sensor plane able to record an image- that is: 36mm x 24mm, or, in other terms: the exact size of a 35mm film frame.

The sensitivity of the instruments and of the algorithms used within DSLRs today can indeed rival and at times surpass 35mm film in terms of scientifically representing an environment. Teamed with highly intelligent auto modes and a seemingly endless amount of space to record multiple images – photography has never been easier or more consistently able to produce impressive results.

The question, then, if digital photography is in its prime, is this: why is experimental, analogue, chemical-based photography becoming increasingly popular?

2016 will see both Kodak and Impossible bring out new cameras to herald the “analogue renaissance”, the first of which being released only last month: Impossible’s I-1. This camera will feel familiar and nostalgic, as would anything using such an iconic and recognizable format known as a Polaroid. At its core, the I-1 is a Polaroid camera and can be used as such. Essentially, this is a point and shoot camera that produces chemically volatile images that are at the very edge of the spectrum of visual reliability. The creation of this camera in 2016 is interesting enough but what comes in the box is only half of the creature. Whilst the I-1 appears to belong in the 20th century, the second half of the I-1 exists in app form (iOS) and very much belongs to the smartphone generation. The app connects the camera to an iPhone and completely transforms the ‘Polaroid’ into the real I-1. The original automatic point and shoot is left behind as you are handed the controls to the first ever fully manual digital instant camera. The app allows the use of manual shutterspeed, aperture and double exposure, to but name a few.

The I-1’s manual mode opens up a whole range of creative options akin to what one would expect from a more traditional camera body- Impossible have given the user and the machine the ability to attempt consistency but also the film stock to completely destroy that illusion. By no means should the I-1’s audience be able to know exactly what is going to spit out of the camera’s belly. Impossible, like Polaroid before them do not create precision tools- they make a photographic toy box. What is produced from the I-1 and its 8-frame film cartridge should be unexpected and exciting.

Still, the question of why technically inferior methods of making an image are causing such a stir has to be raised. The history of photography is a brief one that began in a kind of alchemy- it was a very unstable process that resulted in a skewed vision of our world on glass and paper. What made the images magical were that they did not represent the world at all but instead showed very human mistakes towards making a perfect rendering of the external scene. These same ‘mistakes’ are present within the painter’s brush strokes or the poet’s vocabulary; it is what characterizes authorship and also what is lacking from the algorithms used throughout most digital cameras produced today.

The I-1 is by no means perfect- it simply shouldn’t be. The I-1 is a novel, experimental and refreshing break from the automatic nature of 21st century media.

WRITTEN BY DECLAN CONNOLLY

Images courtesy of Impossible’s website and Impossible’s Instagram.

I Used To Think You Were Normal © Sam Hutchinson, 2015/16
Open 2: Pieces of You, Open Eye Gallery © Paul Karalius, 2016
I Used To Think You Were Normal © Sam Hutchinson, 2015/16
Open 2: Pieces of You, Open Eye Gallery © Paul Karalius, 2016
I Used To Think You Were Normal © Sam Hutchinson, 2015/16
Open 2: Pieces of You, Open Eye Gallery © Paul Karalius, 2016

Artist Interview: Sam Hutchinson

Pauline Rowe: How and why did you become an artist?

Sam Hutchinson: I have no idea how I became an artist, I’ve always enjoyed making, sculpting and painting since being a child, and the mediums I work with now are a natural progression of years of experimenting with different media and working out which I feel the most comfortable using.

 

PR: You are very interested in Kant’s idea that there’s no objective property of a thing that makes it beautiful.  Can you say a bit more about this in relation to your own aesthetics?

SH: I am very interested in Kant. My graduate work (The) Anarchy of Aesthetic & Judgement was a large study loosely taking items from Kant’s Critique of Judgement and studying certain aspects of them. I strongly feel that everything exists as an abstract concept unless it is put into context, and in terms of aesthetics, everything can be re-arranged and re-contextualised to produce different ideas; using images as a creative language that can be manipulated ‘for’ or ‘against’ whichever side you come from. A large part of this is taking into consideration how we process images too, and this leads on to how they can be manipulated for our own benefit. As a predominantly image based artist, I like to test how we process the differences between the physical and the constructed and make decisions about what we see within an image. There are a lot of inbuilt and natural responses to images that work without logic or reason, and my work acts in ways like a study of these situations.

 

PR: Can you say something about the camera you prefer to use and why? 

SH: Cameras and equipment aren’t important to me. Personally I just want to obtain the image, so the camera is really only giving context to my work. I like the fact that a phone image looks like a phone image, or that the work in I Used to Think You Were Normal can be reduced to bare pixels when the images are seen at large-scale. This gives the images various depths, and can draw you back into realising that what you are looking at is made up from these small squares of colour. With this work being photographed off a curved, glass screen, the bars of light projecting the image on the screen are very visible, and I like to see the entire body of work as being interchangeable. All images can exist as crops of themselves, and appear multiple times in different forms.

 

PR: How do you select, edit, process your images and then decide on a final sequence and order etc.,?

SH: Depending on what I feel like showing, the mass of images can be seen as purely texture, or objects, portraits, or studio based studies, yet it all directs you to the same outcome. Some are more visual than others, and I like the idea that each time this work is displayed it can take into consideration those I am working with, and let others influence and manipulate how the final edit will be. Rather like the manipulation of the mind when it comes to influencing children and adults, these factors depend on its agendas for broadcasting, whether they will be hidden or not. This is also another part to the work that I see as a main concept, in that like a performance it can be adapted and changed in meaning rather than exist in concrete.

 

PR: What was compelling about the subject matter, the 90s TV quiz show Crystal Maze, and your medium?

SH: A lot of this work stems from trying to understand what influenced me as a child, not only positive influences, but trying to understand my rationale for my judgement and where this came from. I think a lot about ideas which I used to hold without reason – as my younger self I was trying to comprehend the meanings of the world and what goes on, and especially when you’re consistently learning, I feel you can make judgements that you hold onto for a while until you start growing up, then you begin to question these.

I don’t watch too much television anymore. Since being born I constantly watched TV, and I became very interested in looking back to how I understood what I saw on the screen. It has always seemed like a different world, like a non-reality that you understand as being real. It’s just that little bit harder to visualise that the people on the screen are like ourselves, it’s always struck me as a bit disconnected. It’s like how you assume that a photograph depicts reality whereas it has been directed as such, and manipulated by the photographer to depict their vision of the content.

Gameshows and the related programmes are the most bizarre in that they use the contestants as the entertainment, in fictional scenarios and settings that are either made to look authentic or made to look completely alien. There isn’t much in-between. I liked the idea of taking these out of context, as well as the locations being very visual and sculptural. The human element is interesting in that the contestants are acting as players to win a prize, a game, money, a holiday etc., – all of which are presented like treasures or sacred artefacts. Yet they are also playing for entertainment, and for the entertainment of the audience.

 

PR: To whom does the “I” and “You” refer in the title?

SH: These pronouns I feel I like to use come from the way in which the TV as an object comes directly between the viewer and programme, ‘them and us’. So onto the title of the project, ‘I Used to Think You Were Normal’, the ‘I’ refers to myself, and the ‘you’ refers to the whole TV itself as an object, but also that of the countless programmes in which influenced me to understand their content as something very ‘normal’ as a commonplace practice, as if all adults would be gameshow contestants at some point, that it was something ‘we’ all did as humans. As if what I saw on the screen was ‘normal’!

 

PR: Would it be fair to see your work as questioning or distrusting the imagination as well as judgement of yourself as a child?

SH: I feel that the work questions the imagination as well as judgement, however I don’t feel that it really is directly critical of any of any of these ideas, rather determining an understanding of how it can predetermine judgement and its outcomes. So maybe distrust isn’t something I would encourage, instead a ‘question everything’ approach, being logical about judgement and our understanding of what we see and process. I do also see television as a form of religious object, in the sense that so much blind trust and belief is placed into the screen, this could be again linked to how staged and detached from reality television programmes can be, being young and naive I always felt that it had to be fact what was fed to me, yet I now realise anyone can have an agenda.

 

PR: Is there some regret that your imagination was disrespected in some way by the world of television?

SH: I feel no regret by my imagination being manipulated as I feel the aesthetics are really something, certain sculptural elements to these TV shows have always amazed me, I guess the human element is the bit that slightly troubles me. It’s more thinking about the set design and the fact that these locations are completely one of a kind and designed to replicate something real, that they only appear within these games. It changes our perception of what we are looking at. I guess these elements interest me a lot more. Especially in the way that they link with photography, for example, the way in which the TV film camera composes the screens to hide the edges of the set, its a contained representation of what actually exists outside of that composition, just as if it were a photographer framing an image. I think technology has the ability to make these environments possible. To me they appear as studies into looking objectively at these locations and re-contextualising them to give them a platform to be analysed for their visual forms and similarities. It is a questioning about the way in which we understand reality.

 

Poems for further reading linked to some of the ideas in Sam Hutchinson’s work:

The Synthetic A Priori: Kathleen Graber

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/241276

 

The Vacation: Wendell Berry

http://www.americanlifeinpoetry.org/columns/425.html

 

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird: Wallace Stevens

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/174503

A PDF pack containing interviews with each of the artists exhibiting in Open 2: Pieces of You is available to download here.

Ilford Photo: Chemicals & Solutions

Our Gallery Shop stocks a wide variety of ILFORD Photo products including photographic paper, black and white film and darkroom chemistry.

This blog will guide you through the chemicals and solutions available in our gallery shop.

ILFORD PQ UNIVERSAL

  • Liquid Concentrate
  • Clean working
  • Can be used for processing technical film
  • Slightly warm image tone
  • Can be used at a dilution of 1+9 (high contrast) and 1+9 (pictorial contrast)
  • Designed to be used at ambient room temperatures; 20°C/68°F

ILFORD PQ UNIVERSAL is a liquid concentrate dimezones/hydroquinone developer that is fitting for dish/tray developing of all RC and FB black and white photographic papers, and it can be used to dish/tray process ILFORD and other technical films. It is also suitable for dish/tray developing of general purpose sheet films when a fast working, high contrast developer is needed and a high degree of enlargement is not required. The ILFORD PQ UNIVERSAL however it is not recommended for processing general purpose 35mm and roll film formats, or for high temperature or machine processing applications.

Price: £12.00

ILFORD ILFOSTOP

  • Liquid Concentrate
  • Low odour citric acid stop bath
  • Use for Tank, Tray or Dish film processing
  • Prolongs life of fixers
  • Use for Black and White Film

ILFORD ILFOSTOP is a low odour citric acid stop bath, that helps to prolong the life of fixer solutions by reducing carry over of excess developer (alkaline) into a fixer bath (acidic). After any films, prints and papers have been developed, it is recommended that they are rinsed in an acid stop bath to halt the developing process immediately by neutralising the developer in order to help maintain the activity of the fixer bath. The stop bath process is used to extend the life of the fixer, if a stop bath is not available, the film or print soaked thoroughly in a bath or rinse with a frequent change of a water supply. The ILFORD ILFOSTOP also specifically recommended for dish/tray processing of paper or deep tank processing of film.

Price: £8.00

ILFORD RAPID FIXER

  • Liquid Concentrate
  • Easy to use
  • Suitable for film and paper
  • Can be used at a dilution of 1+4 or 1+9
  • Non-Hardening Fixer
  • Dilute with Water

ILFORD RAPID FIXER is a non-hardening rapid fixer supplied as a liquid concentrate diluted with water for use. The fixer is both suitable and easy to use in the temperature range of 18-40ºC (66-104ºF) to fix black and white film and paper in all manual and machine processing applications. The fixing process assures that the dormant image remains on the film or paper, after a stop rinse and hypo wash; all traces of the fixer are removed to prevent the image degrading and being stained.ILFORD RAPID FIXER contains a fixing agent of ammonium thiosulphate, which contains no sodium thiosulphate (hypo).

Price: £12.00

ILFORD ID-11

  • Economic, versatile, powder developer
  • Spiral tank, Deep tanks and Machine processing
  • Fine grain film developer
  • Ensures sharp detail and tonal rendition
  • Can be used at a dilution of 1+1 or 1+3
  • 5 liters of powder

ID-11 is a fine grain film developer for all general film processing requirements where fine grain negatives are required without loss of emulsion speed. The ID-11 produces excellent results with all films and is ideal to ensure a perfect balance of fine grain, tonal rendition and sharp detail to produce negatives, which allow a high degree of enlargement. As a powdered developer, it is both economical and versatile to users and is recognised internationally as a standard in many fields of scientific and technical photography.

Price: £14.50

Written by Alex McEvoy

Artist Interview: Thom Isom

Pauline Rowe:  How and why did you become an artist?

Thom Isom: I never had any specific intentions to become an artist. My practice as a designer over the years has led me to collaborate with a variety of people in different practices – arts, music and film. As time has gone by I’ve found my ideas as a designer expanded into these different areas. Calling myself an artist is just an easy way to describe what I do.

 

PRDo you have a favourite medium in which to work?

TI: Typography, illustration, video and animation. I’ve found a lot of cross over with these different mediums and feel each complement one another well.

 

PRCan you tell me about your approach to making the publication for the exhibition?

TI: Conversation has been key in the production of the publication. I started with meeting and chatting to each of the artists in person or over Skype. Rather than just request their images and pick and choose my favourites to put into the publication I wanted to learn about the process, methods and stories behind their work.

After several conversations it was clear a new format was needed to present the work. Rather than imitating the photos in gallery and prescribing the order I decided to create a format that encouraged play and self curation. This is when I decided to produce a box with prints, introducing materials that reflect the work and ideas each of the artists explore.

 

PR:  What has been most difficult in collaborating with other artists?   What have been the best aspects of collaborating?

TI: Trying to establish a format and outcome that best worked with each of the artists ideas has been the most difficult part of this project. Although themes and ideas are similar the artists intentions differ. The best aspect of collaborating on this project was learning about these different intentions and approaches to photography.

 

Poems for further reading linked to some of the ideas in Thom Isom’s publication:

The Little Box: Vasko Popa

http://allpoetry.com/The-Little-Box

A PDF pack containing interviews with each of the artists exhibiting in Open 2: Pieces of You is available to download here.

 

© Stephen Iles and Nicola Dale, 2016
© Stephen Iles and Nicola Dale, 2016
© Stephen Iles and Nicola Dale, 2016
Open 2: Pieces of You, Open Eye Gallery © Paul Karalius, 2016
Open 2: Pieces of You, Open Eye Gallery © Paul Karalius, 2016
Open 2: Pieces of You, Open Eye Gallery © Paul Karalius, 2016

Artist Interview: Nicola Dale

Photographer Stephen Iles and sculptor Nicola Dale collaborate to explore the possibilities of photography to communicate an understanding of a subject. Their work is currently on display as part of Open 2: Pieces of You.

This interview has been conducted by Pauline Rowe, who is currently at Open Eye Gallery on a PhD placement from the University of Liverpool.

Pauline Rowe: How and why did you become an artist?

Nicola Dale: I became an artist because I wanted to develop my own language. Art affords both making and thinking which are of equal importance to me. I want to make work that looks like thinking. I have a consistent need to ask questions that don’t necessarily have answers and art offers a space to do this.

I relish how difficult art is – it’s so slippy and surprising; it’s the ultimate devil’s advocate, always presenting a different point of view. Art encourages argument, wrong answers and mistakes. It absolutely will not be pinned down. I find this comforting.

 

PR: Can say something about your work with Steve  – did it feel in any way more challenging than other collaborations?    How did you discuss and agree your work together?

ND: It took a while for myself and Steve to work out how we could work together on this project, even though we already knew each other. Steve had previously taken photos of my work, but that is, of course, not the same as collaborating in the traditional sense. We wanted to see how on earth we could possibly meet in the middle in some way.

Our initial discussions were fascinating (though somewhat scary for me) because Steve is very much about “making nothing”, whereas I am all about the making process. We were also both aware that in terms of hierarchies of art, a sculpture is traditionally seen as occupying a loftier position in the art world than a photograph. What would it therefore be saying to put a sculpture of some kind in a dedicated photography gallery?

I began by telling Steve one of the issues I have with photography. Whenever I see a photo of a sculpture, I am immediately frustrated by not being able to see the back of it. I want to be able to turn the photo over and see the rest of the piece! Steve says that he often cannot remember whether he has seen an artwork in real life, or just as a photo. My memory does not work in this way. I always know whether I have seen an artwork in real life. This gives you a sense of the difference between a photographer’s and a sculptor’s visual world, despite both operating under the banner of “art”. This is not something that had ever occurred to me before. It was a good starting point actually and we both buzzed off it, once we had got our heads around it.

So, the project started in a challenging manner because our eyes and our heads work in such different ways. I have collaborated with all sorts of creative people before, but this has been both the most difficult and the most rewarding because we managed to get over the question of how to submit to each other without unhappy compromise.

What we have ended up doing is using me as the sculpture. I have previously done some performance work, so this was not too much of a stretch and, given Steve’s existing interest in how artists present themselves to the world, it seemed a natural way forward. From our discussions of the lack of a “back” in the photograph, we moved towards trying to work out how to break that sense of the flat plane – how one might suggest 3-dimensional movement through flatness, i.e. breaking the frame, thinking sculpturally, whilst using a photo. We will play with this also through the way in which the work is presented in the gallery…

 

PR: In presenting your own body as sculptural in this exhibition are you emphasising yourself as a physical being/ body that makes and creates – and does this in any way relate to your love of Spinoza, and your interest in knowledge?

ND: I think the emphasis is on information rather than knowledge. (I find the difference between these endlessly fascinating and perplexing in equal measure.) I’m not sure the photos are about my physical body as the site of creation – I think they’re more about questioning physicality itself: are our frames of reference regarding physicality diminishing in a screen mediated world?

I do love Spinoza and he does have some relevance here (though he is not someone Steve and I have ever discussed). As far as I understand it, Spinoza’s emphasis was on everything being one “substance” – man, world, universe, are all interconnected. There is therefore no “outside” – everything is… well, everything! This suggests to me a kind of infinite touch, where the tiniest tap reaches the farthest shores. The world of information does not suggest this kind of physicality to me. It is flatter, it is a dull thud.

 

PR: What is the difference between your art being photographed (as in promotions or information for previous exhibitions) – and the idea of making something to be photographed with the photograph, rather than sculpture, being the exhibited piece?

ND: The difference comes from where you or I think the “art” exists I suppose. A photograph of my work is not my work, it is a record or a document of my work (in the same way that a musical score is not the music itself.) If I make the decision that a photograph is an artwork, then it’s contents are almost irrelevant, they could be sculptural or painted or performed, depending on the idea I am trying to convey. The art will exist as a photograph.

I happen to love making things, so I tend towards the “real”, the sculptural; however, I always try to stay true to an idea so if that means a sculpture only existing as a photograph, then so be it! I guess the question always has to be “What would I like the viewer to see?” In the case of the collaboration with Steve, I would like the viewer to see that Steve and I are playing with the “flatness of information” – photography seems a better starting point for this than sculpture.

 

PR: Each of the images seems distinct, to be saying something different.  They don’t suggest a connecting narrative. The head and shoulders picture where the frame is broken covering your right eye seems to be questioning the very framing of photographs and portraits.  Would it be fair to describe these images as philosophical or are they all studies of you? 

ND: It is interesting that you think of the photos as distinct pieces. For me, the connecting narrative is the idea of framing, or rather, breaking the frame (Pieces of You!)… I would say the images are philosophical. I don’t think they tell the viewer anything about me personally. They provide a certain amount of information about a woman in a certain place at a certain time, but I could be replaced with someone else and the images would still stand. This is how I feel information works – it flattens stuff out.

 

PR: You said that you could be replaced with someone else and the images would still stand – and that they are not about you.  Wouldn’t such replacement make them images staged in a different way and somehow affect their authenticity especially as they were formed through collaboration?

ND: The images would still stand in that the ideas they present would still stand. In a very literal sense the images are about “me” but the-life-and-times-of-Nicola-Dale are not the focus.

The images would of course look different with a different person, but the notions of breaking the frame; of 2 versus 3 dimensionality; of the difference between photography and sculpture; of the fact of the collaboration between Steve and myself (and the camera) would still resonate (by this I mean that this work, these ideas, came out of a specific collaboration, regardless of who is pictured in the photos – assuming of course that we did not allow this other person to bring their own ideas to the table and that they were just a model!)

Where does authenticity lie? Is it in the idea? In the action? In the process? In the “spirit of collaboration”? In the lens of the camera? In our eyeballs? In our minds? In a mixture of all of the above? I don’t feel philosophically qualified to answer the question, but my gut says the authenticity lies in the idea, the need to question. I say this because my work always begins when I ask “What if?…”

Poems for further reading linked to some of the ideas in Nicola Dale’s work:

The Curator: Miller Williams
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/176491

When the Copperplate Cracks: Imtiaz Dharker
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkAhvoUzakE

Information: David Ignatow
http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/information-3/

The Visible World: Jorie Graham
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/242176

A PDF pack containing interviews with each of the artists exhibiting in Open 2: Pieces of You is available to download here.

Sale: Expired Impossible film

The Open Eye Gallery shop is currently having a 10% discount sale on expired ‘Impossible’ Polaroid film, and as far as expired produce goes, this is an excellent deal.

For many, the act of instant photography has become one of tactility, the framed memory. The quality of the image has become a huge part of instant photography; even having a digital filter on phones replicating it’s faded and aged appearance. When film expires, or simply ages, it becomes less predictable and more prone to over exposure, distortions in the image, and other incredible effects that would be difficult to achieve otherwise. So instead of throwing out expired stock, we feel the opportunity for creative expression and experimentation should be wildly promoted.

The unpredictable and inconsistent nature of film can often deliver a wide variation of satisfying visual results. Quite often, photographers and artists alike are open to experimenting and testing the limitations of the medium, striving more and more to deliver imagery expressing the films fullest potential. People are known to rip, bleach, dissect, burn, drown, and irradiate their Polaroids (and more so) to varying levels of expertise and success.

A brief history of Polaroid photography: in 1947 Edwin Land, founder of Polaroid, demonstrated to the public for the first time something that revolutionized photography and would later define a generation within its now iconic white borders. Now a household name and an instantly recognizable brand to photographers and non-photographers alike, Polaroid is arguably, aside from digital, the most accessible form of photography.

In 2008, however, Polaroid stopped producing instant film, much to the horror of their devout, if not somewhat niche fan base, as their cameras and photographic process would suddenly have a very limited lifespan. The factories producing the film stocks shut down one by one- the machines were dismantled and a truly iconic format was to be left in ruin. In the very last days of the very last factory a group of people called ‘Impossible Project’ stepped in and bought the factory in its entirety to then set about re-creating instant film from scratch.

Impossible is now the only company in the world that produces film for Polaroid cameras and realizes Polaroid’s philosophy of experimentation and play. Working with this approach, expired film can often be inspired, allowing for effects even more distorted, abstracted, over exposed, and so on. The fact that film has passed it’s sell by date, does not mean it will not work, but instead suggests that the temperamental nature of the film maybe exacerbated somewhat by the length of time since the chemicals had been mixed, the film had been produced; all of these factors that will contribute to the final resulting image.

Currently, the Open Eye shop stocks five different types of Impossible film in both colour and monochrome, including the classic white frame packs and the rarer black frame editions. Alongside these are fun ‘Skins Edition’ packs, which include varying designs around the borders of the image surface. All of our Impossible film is specifically intended for use with Polaroid’s most popular cameras: the Polaroid SX-70 and Polaroid 600. Expired instant film is unpredictable, allowing artists and photographers, and absolutely anybody else to express their creativity with just a single click (and however else you can alter your polaroid).

Impossible Project is releasing a brand new camera in May, this year. Link below.

https://uk.impossible-project.com/pages/impossible-i-1-analog-instant-camera

 

LightNight Liverpool 2016

To celebrate Light Night Liverpool 2016, Open Eye is extending its opening until 10pm on Friday 13th May. Alongside our current exhibition Open 2: Pieces of You, we have three specials events. Phoebe Kiely will be giving short tours of the darkroom (6pm, 7:30pm and 9pm) Stephen Iles & Nicola Dale will be creating an interactive intervention (6pm-9pm) and there will be an exciting collaboration between La Bomba Drum Ensemble & Up For Arts Community (8pm-8.20pm).

You can purchase a festival guide from our gallery shop for £1.00.

In anticipation of this exciting city-wide event we have gathered five items for our shop that share a nocturnal theme.

 

• ILFORD DELTA 3200 B&W FILM: £9.00

Light Night offers audiences an alternative experience of Liverpool’s museums and galleries after dark. Ilford Delta 3200 B&W film is the perfect choice for capturing this exciting one-night event, due to its ultra speed and low light photographic capabilities.

You can find more information about the film we stock here.

 

• DIANA F+ EXPLORER NOCTURNE: £69.00

In theme with Light Night, we have picked out the limited edition Diana F+ Explorer Nocturne. The camera has a winter’s night design and comes equipped with a flash – perfect for illuminating the night’s events.

 

• FRANK HALLAM DAY, NOCTURNAL: £32.00 
• MACIEJ DAKOWICZ, CARDIFF AFTER DARK: £24.95

These two photographers offer alternative views of the night across two separate continents. In ‘Nocturnal’, Day captures the sub-tropical world of Florida and the transit vehicles that inhabit the landscape. The absence of light transforms Florida into an urban jungle in which man and nature are at odds. The world Dakowicz’s presents is far different. ‘Cardiff After Dark’ is the culmination of five years photographic study, documenting the weird and wonderful side to Cardiff’s nightlife. Superheroes, police cars, stags and hens all inhabit the streets after dark.

For more information on LightNight Liverpool 2016, visit the website.
www.lightnightliverpool.co.uk

© Stephen Iles and Nicola Dale, 2016
© Stephen Iles and Nicola Dale, 2016
© Stephen Iles and Nicola Dale, 2016
Open 2: Pieces of You, Open Eye Gallery © Paul Karalius, 2016
Open 2: Pieces of You, Open Eye Gallery © Paul Karalius, 2016
Open 2: Pieces of You, Open Eye Gallery © Paul Karalius, 2016

Artist Interview: Stephen Iles

Photographer Stephen Iles and sculptor Nicola Dale collaborate to explore the possibilities of photography to communicate an understanding of a subject. Their work is currently on display as part of Open 2: Pieces of You.

This interview has been conducted by Pauline Rowe, who is currently at Open Eye Gallery on a PhD placement from the University of Liverpool.

Pauline Rowe: How and why did you become an artist?

Stephen Iles: I’m not sure if being an artist is something you choose to become or something you are.  At first it is a title conferred upon you when as a child you show an aptitude for drawing on creative activity and you subsequently begin to assume it as an identity. Sometimes I’m an artist and sometimes I’m a photographer. I’d say I’m an artist in the approach I take as a photographer but not necessarily that everything I produce is the work of an artist.

It may be common to photographers to equivocate with the term ‘artist’ given the rather complicated history between photography and art. I’m happy to be called either but what interests me most is that as we transition from the title photographer to that of artist we do not automatically confer the title art to all our images. We may call our photographs art but they are most resolutely still photographs with properties that resist consumption by ‘art’. The way photography can equivocate in this way, being art if we call it such whilst still having an independent authority all it’s own allows me to work with a camera to explore what art might be, pointing the camera at art in the hope that it may reveal itself.

 

PR: Can you say something about the camera you prefer to use and why?

SI: In these times the preference expressed most often concerns the choice of medium, either film or digital. I use both medium,preference often being dictated by technical suitability for a particular application, other times because it is the camera at hand.

I have owned and used many film cameras over time, each with their different qualities and quirks. Currently I prefer a 6×7 medium format camera when working with film, the more squared format of the image more easily references painting, maybe creating a more settled image whereas a more stretched 35mm image references cinema, television and suggests movement.

Working with digital more often these days, I am aware how some of the preferences I had working with a film camera bleed into the digital environment. I prefer a digital camera with a more squared crop for example and the lenses are the same for both medium and have as much to do with the resultant image as the camera does.

The question of style in relation to the camera and subsequent technical processes is always prominent. Style is something we develop through doing, it becomes a signature of ourselves as the artist but it is also tethered to the quite specific and narrow characteristics of the technology. Working with digital I’ve found the greater flexibility and less distinctive thumbprint [than that we find with individual film types] encourages me to search for a more neutral, less stylised space and to employ multiple styles in order to try and escape the notion of style. Working and collaborating with many different artists I try not to impose my style upon their work but rather try different approaches and cameras depending upon the context.

In a sense a preference for a particular camera is like a fetish, as objects they combine magical and tactile properties so well. Their complexity makes them different to a tool, [like a brush or a chisel.] Cameras bring with them their own character and characteristics, affording them their own voice and a quota of authorship, becoming a part of the collaboration.

 

PR: Also, how do you select, edit, process your images and then decide on a final sequence and order etc.,?

SI: It’s hard to define a specific process relating to selection. With each different collaboration the approach is likely to be different, either confirming or disrupting narrative, depending again on context. Though I do find it interesting that as much as we make selections, we still seem to have thousands of them, maybe when we press the delete button to deselect we are making a most definitive selection!

  

PR: What is the difference for you between photographing an artist/sculptor as a collaborative work and a photograph as portraiture?

SI: In a sense photographing an artists work is always a collaboration, between both the individuals involved and between the object and the camera. Working within a premeditated collaboration allows an exploration of the intersection between the work being completed and it being photographed.

There is always a tension between what a photograph is and what we might want to say about or attribute to it, a tension between notions of intention and authorship.  When we describe a photograph of an artist or their work as a portrait we confer the authorship to the photographer, the artist submits themselves and their work and with it authorship of the image to the photographer. The artist is still the author of the work shown in the image but not of the image itself.

In submitting to be photographed, the work goes through a metaphysical process whereby it becomes something else. It is not necessarily a copy, as it is now represented in another medium. It’s dimensions and materiality have been altered. The image begins to take on multiple identities, the relationship between the original object and its image begin to blur.

 

PR: It seems important that these images not only question the framing and stillness of photographs but also capture internal spaces – can you comment on the space in which the images are set – and why this is important?

SI: A camera gobbles up space with a voracious appetite, in a fraction of a second it can render an inordinate amount of information. When the camera photographs a space it photographs all the things in that space and a narrative begins to emerge where the image can be seen to be about that space, or the content of that image can be subjected to further narratives and concerns.

By working in a more neutral studio space, [which provides minimal visual information about itself] the notion of space as it exists within the camera  begins to become more prominent. It’s about trying to address the idea of a ubiquitous space as opposed to a specific one, to marvel at the cameras ability to dialogue with space rather than to simply copy it.

 

PR: Has this collaboration with Nicola been challenging in ways you did not expect – and, if so, how?

SI: Through collaboration we can take this event, [photographing a piece of work] and begin to stretch it. We can explore the degree to which a physical work may be conceived as image as much as object and reflect upon the fact that works are seen, [and therefore known?] more by their image than by their physical presence. We can ask to what degree does the object serve the image when the more accepted scenario is one of the image serving the object.

 

PR: Is there anything else you think important to add?

SI: The majority of my photography work is to some degree or other in collaboration with other artists where the challenge of representing art through photography is the central concern.  The ambiguities that exist between a work and a photograph of that work and the ensuing skewing of things like intention determine a constant adjustment of expectations.

Poems linked to ideas, energy and themes in Steve Iles’s work:

Rembrandt’s Late Self-Portraits: Elizabeth Jenningshttp://www.poetryarchive.org/poem/rembrandts-late-self-portraits

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird: Wallace Stevens
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/174503

A PDF pack containing interviews with each of the artists exhibiting in Open 2: Pieces of You is available to download here.

Ilford Photo: Photographic Paper

Ilford Multigrade IV RC Deluxe Photographic Paper

  • Cool to neutral image colour
  • Premium quality paper
  • Available in rolls and sheets; 25 – 50 sheets
  • Choice of surfaces: Satin or Pearl

 

MULTIGRADE IV RC DELUXE is a premium quality paper with a bright base tint that comes with a variety of surfaces including Satin, Glossy and Pearl. The image colour remains cool to neutral whether viewed in daylight or fluorescent light. As part of the ILFORD MULTIGRADE system, the MULTIGRADE IV RC DELUXE is fully compatible with all existing MULTIGRADE filters and equipment. MULTIGRADE IV RC DELUXE has the standard weight (190g/m2) resin coated base.

 

Ilford Multigrade IV RC Deluxe Photographic Paper: Satin (12,7 x 17,8cm)

Price: £15.00 / Sheets: 25

Ilford Multigrade IV RC Deluxe Photographic Paper: Satin (17,8 x 24cm)

Price: £20.00 / Sheets: 25

Ilford Multigrade IV RC Deluxe Photographic Paper: Pearl (20,3 x 25,4cm)

Price: £35.00 / Sheets: 50

Written by Alex McEvoy

They Where My Landscape © Phoebe Kiely, 2015
They Where My Landscape © Phoebe Kiely, 2015
Open 2: Pieces of You, Open Eye Gallery © Paul Karalius, 2016
Open 2: Pieces of You, Open Eye Gallery © Paul Karalius, 2016

Artist Interview: Phoebe Kiely

Pauline Rowe: Can you tell me a bit about how and why you became an artist?

Phoebe Kiely: That’s an incredibly difficult question. It has and probably will always be a drive and compulsion to first capture my life and the people around me. From the age of 13, I was curious to collect, it became second nature to me quite quickly. I remember consciously thinking one day that everything I saw, I framed in my mind. When I opened my eyes I began to look at things differently. I remember it becoming irritating, having to see everything like a photograph. I have no other way to describe it. I think back to this time and I think it was my mind training my eyes to see what I wanted my photos to capture.

I began with a digital camera but it didn’t take me long to change to analogue.

I took three years out, between college and university. It was a wise choice for me. I gave myself time to think and to shoot. Three years I shot colour film. It gave me a purpose.

 

PR: So you use the same camera – why do you like to use it?

PK: I use a Yashica twin lens reflex. I moved on from 35mm at the beginning of my third year. It proved to be a wise choice for street photography. Medium format just allows me to slow the whole process down. Initially it made me much more careful.

It’s a trust thing, too. I trust this camera. With analogue I feel like that’s one of the most important things.

However, I am moving on to my Hasselblad now. I bought it almost two years ago and I didn’t use it. I feel like now is the right time. For the forseeable future that is what I will be working with. I feel like I need to feel comfortable with it for this next chapter.

 

PR: Some of your pictures are enigmatic, others have a documentary feel – others are close-up studies of the environment. How do you decide on which images make up an exhibition?

PK: I was told during university that most photographers can’t edit their own work; they’re too close to it.

It’s almost like a secret, it can’t be too obvious. The way that I work, the edit is always changing. There’s so much work, there’s no wrong edit, really. It’s difficult to commit with new work always surfacing.

The edit for my degree show changed over and over. It changed every time I shot more, every time I printed more. It was only about a week before the degree show that I finially had to stop at an edit. I find it difficult committing to one sequence of images.

I constantly look for human presence in the images I capture. Occasionally people will feature in the work. I feel like there needs to be some balance between photos, therefore there can’t be too many photos of people.

 

PR: Can you tell me about the title of your exhibition- They Were My Landscape?

PK: It’s a quote from The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. When I first read it I pencilled underneath that particular line.

I always avoided titling anything during my time at university. Edits are more comfortable things to decide than the titles. My work, it doesn’t refer to a specific place or person but – there – it’s my landscape. The unifying factor is my experiences. There is no concept behind it. It is a way of fixing me into the frame, into the story. The dream like sequence, it’s about the human condition. The peeling paint, about my human condition. My way of making it permanent.

 

PR: Will the work be framed conventionally?

PK: The work will be pinned to the walls. Frames feel too permanent, they would fix the work too much. Pins make everything seem more temporary.

 

PR: Do you have plans for after the exhibition?

PK: To sort my own dark room. Then the next step is a residency.

 

Poems linked to ideas, energy and themes in Phoebe Kiely’s work:

The Moult: Jen Hadfield

http://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/poetry/poems/moult

 

A True Account of Talking to the Sun at Fire Island : Frank O’Hara https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACpLm3qNamU

A PDF pack containing interviews with each of the artists exhibiting in Open 2: Pieces of You is available to download here.

Tide Press: Ante Meridiem

About Tide Press

Tide Press is an independent photobook publishing project established in 2015. All publications are produced by hand at our small studio in Manchester, England.

Ante Meridiem: £12.00

Ante Meridiem, the first Tide Press publication, was born out of an interest in the intricacies of morning and the introduction of day. The period of waking is generally a quiet time when our minds, still cloudy from sleep, gently begin another cycle.

There is something about this period of transition, with the possibilities of the new day, which is compelling. Thoughts of things to be thankful for, things to be inquisitive about, to explore, to embrace – all of these emerge, as routines are settled into, or perhaps broken.

Ante Meridiem consists of individual and multifaceted responses to the onset of day. It features images by 12 photographers presenting their own version of the morning, captured in various locations around the world.

Featuring photography and text by:
Marianne Bjørnmyr
Alex Catt
Christopher Coyle
Sophie Davidson
Adrian Davies
Sarah Eyre
Sean Gardiner
Sam A Harris
Richard Higginbottom
Richard Mulhearn
Layla Sailor
Oliver Udy

Details
167 x 235mm
Risograph printed cover
32 pages
Hand stitched
First Edition of 50
Hand numbered

Web Links
www.tidepress.com
Instagram: @tidepress
Twitter: @Tidepressmcr

Ante Meridiem is currently available in our gallery shop for £12.00

Thom Isom: Pieces of You

When visiting an exhibition one expects a degree of diversity to set it aside from other exhibitions – in theme, aesthetics, and curatorial elements; a sign that the exhibition is unique. This and the need for the artworks to vary in approach, style, execution, concept, etc. seems paramount to the success of the reception of the show. It is within this context, that of the ever growing and expanding forms in which art takes, the Open Eye Gallery presents the work of Thom Isom: Pieces of You.  

Thom Isom is an artist and graphic designer based in Liverpool, and a common theme of his practice involves exploring/experimenting with new ways the audience can experience the exhibition/artwork/event. It is this interest that has given Isom the inspiration leading to the creation of his work in this show; a publication – a book of images and materials reflecting the exhibition on a whole.

Artist’s books are no new concept, however, and exhibition guides aren’t either. But Isom has delivered something comparably different to both of these things. Acting as a piece of metanarrative, the exhibition’s namesake (Isom’s piece) is a deconstructed book composed of images from the exhibition; documenting the exhibition while simultaneously contributing to it.

The piece is compiled of photographs and other materials; acetate, metal, and reflective card, all neatly formatted in A5 and contained within a slick, clean-cut black box. And across the front of the black box in white text, like a precious photo-album or an overly sentimental shoebox of memories, reads ‘Pieces of You’.

In the gallery, two copies of the work are presented in two very clean and almost museum like display cabinets, giving an untouchable glimpse at the work. Each page overlaying the next, the piece is seen as a whole but not in its entirety. Perhaps paradoxically, as the piece is to be held, shuffled through, and mixed up – the viewer as curator. To fulfill this extra dynamic, the artwork, the publication, is in fact a purchasable object for sale at the gallery for £15. Yet another example of the expanded (and expanding) field of exhibitions and curatorship, the work can be reordered, re-appropriated in relation to the images of other works in the show. This piece, to me, is an exploration of the boundaries of the art exhibition and an exercise in audience involvement; all bound up in a neat little publication.

Ilford Photo: Film

ILFORD PAN F PLUS 50

  • Speed Rate ISO 50
  • Exceptionally fine grain
  • Outstanding resolution & sharpness
  • 35mm Roll Film
  • Black and White Film

 

The ILFORD PAN F PLUS at ISO 50 is the slowest of the ILFORD films, but what it lacks in film speed, it makes up for in capturing sharp detail with a lack of grain that refines the image quality. It is ideal for portraiture and still-life photographs, as well as being used to photograph architecture and medical subjects. The PAN F PLUS can also be developed to a higher contrast for scientific, technical and copying applications, with its mural size enlargements used to display an exceptional range of tone and detail once the film has been carefully exposed and processed.

Price: £7.50

 

ILFORD DELTA 400 PROFESSIONAL

  • High Speed ISO 400
  • Exceptional sharpness and detail
  • Core-shell crystal technology
  • 35mm and 120mm Roll Film
  • Black and White Film

 

As ISO 400 high-speed film captures extraordinary depth and dimension within images; the DELTA 400 PROFESSIONAL provides users with distinguished detail through the use a combination of speed and sharpness with a width of tonal range. Its liberating speed allows fast action to be frozen and captures a great depth of field, with exceptional results in low lighting conditions and the freedom of a handheld camera. It also provides the fine grain and level of detail normally associated with ISO 100 films. The sharpness of this film is worth comment, a perfect companion to its high speed resulting in some crisp images.

Price: £7.50

 

ILFORD HP5 PLUS

  • High Speed ISO 400
  • Great results in varied lighting conditions
  • Wide exposure latitude
  • 35mm Roll Film
  • Black and White Film

 

The HP5 PLUS is a high speed, medium contrast film that can be used for action and press photography, and is an excellent choice for general-purpose photography. With a wide exposure latitude, it displays an outstanding sharpness and fine grain under all lighting conditions. To capture photography at high speeds, the HP5 PLUS is designed to respond well, whilst push processing film speeds up to an achievable EI 3200/36 when using ILFORD MICROPHEN developer, whilst maintaining good shadow detail and well separated mid-tones with sharp grain. The HP5 PLUS is highly adaptable to varying situations.

Price: £7.50

 

ILFORD DELTA 3200 PROFESSIONAL

  • Ultra High Speed EI 3200
  • Perfect for low-light and action shots
  • Core-shell crystal technology
  • 35mm and 120mm Roll Film
  • Black and White film

 

DELTA 3200 PROFESSIONAL is an ultra-speed black and white film that can be used to photograph at night time, sport, and indoor architectural applications with its low light photographic capabilities and fast action moments where flash photography is ‘forbidden’. It also has the ability to record highlight detail that sets it apart from other films. This high-speed film has many strengths, most notably are its liberating high speed, unobtrusive grain structure and its unsurpassed tonality.

Price: £9.00

 

ILFORD XP2 SUPER

  • High Speed ISO 400
  • Wide exposure latitude
  • Well defined highlights
  • 35mm Roll Film
  • Black and White Film using colour C41 Process

 

XP2 SUPER is a sharp, fast, fine grain black and white film that ensures excellent results when there is a wide subject brightness range. With an extremely wide exposure latitude, the film can be used to shoot any photographic subject and is suitable for use in varied lighting conditions. The XP2 SUPER is easy to process and is excellent for scanning well, whilst capturing defined highlights. It is a black and white film that is processed in C41 type processing chemicals alongside colour negative films. It has inherent exposure flexibility.

Price: £7.50

 

ILFORD FP4 PLUS

  • Medium Speed ISO 125
  • Fine Grain, high sharpness
  • Robust exposure tolerance
  • 35mm and 120mm Roll Film
  • Black and White Film

 

The ILFORD FP4 PLUS is unrivalled for portraying high quality black and white photography. With its very fine grain, outstanding sharpness and high acutance, it is the film of choice to use whenever a job demands great enlargement or the subject contains a wealth of fine detail. With enormous latitude for exposure error above and below its ISO 125ILFORD FP4 PLUS is very suitable for most photographic subjects under a variety of lighting conditions. Nominally rated at ISO 125/22, ILFORD FP4 PLUS has become the benchmark against which other medium speed films are judged.

Price: £7.50

Written by Alex McEvoy

The Unforgetting © Peter Watkins 2015
The Unforgetting © Peter Watkins 2015
The Unforgetting © Peter Watkins 2015
Open 2: Pieces of You, Open Eye Gallery © Peter Watkins, 2016
Open 2: Pieces of You, Open Eye Gallery © Peter Watkins, 2016
Open 2: Pieces of You, Open Eye Gallery © Peter Watkins, 2016
Open 2: Pieces of You, Open Eye Gallery © Peter Watkins, 2016
Open 2: Pieces of You, Open Eye Gallery © Peter Watkins, 2016
Open 2: Pieces of You, Open Eye Gallery © Paul Karalius, 2016
Open 2: Pieces of You, Open Eye Gallery © Paul Karalius, 2016
Open 2: Pieces of You, Open Eye Gallery © Paul Karalius, 2016
Open 2: Pieces of You, Open Eye Gallery © Peter Watkins, 2016

Artist Interview: Peter Watkins

Pauline Rowe: As children we are given received versions of someone’s life/death, not to be questioned.  Is The Unforgetting challenging this in its presentation of items of evidence – evidence of your Mother’s life?

Peter Watkins: To an extent I think I was looking to substantiate my mother’s life in some way; to dedicate the necessary time to understand something of my families shared history that has at once been very present in my life, but yet throughout my childhood had been a source of deep repression. In that sense The Unforgetting was about taking memory as a starting point—my memory—but reassessing and reconstituting this memory through objects, documents, and creating staged situations that I guess rest somewhere on the fringes of a documentary practice and something more metaphysically oriented and difficult to pin down.

Early on in the process I interviewed my family, and came to realise that the series of events leading to my mother’s death had been reduced down to simple narratives, as if the ensuing years had stripped away any palpable sense of complexity and depth or accuracy, and had been replaced with a few factual occurrences and a good measure of reverence for the dead—the kind that is almost always afforded to those who die young and in tragic circumstances. My memories of her manic episodes before her death far outweigh any other memory I have of her, and so in a way I’ve been trying to come to terms with the trauma of this experience. The objects have this totemic, monumental quality about them, and I think because they have been isolated, obscured from a greater whole, and reimagined as photographic representations, they take on this heightened sense of purpose, and we are offered to meditate over them as such and look for connections in the space between the images. They are evidence of lived experience, things that remain from a person, but they obscure as much as they reveal, and speak universally, rather than with a sentimental, overtly personal tone.

Walter Benjamin described aura as a things ‘unique existence’, and wrote that the aura of a thing is stripped away by the photographic representation—the object loses its uniqueness in the face of potential innumerable reproducibility. But through the transformation of object to representation the resultant image also has this innate connection to time, to place, the specific moment or situation that it was created in – that is forever irrevocably lost to the past. So in this sense the object is not only lost in the act of transformation from object to representation, but the moment is forever lost, along with the object: In this way it can be a mournful act to photograph an object, and the representation becomes something quite different to the object itself.

 

PR: For each of us there is importance in finding our own stories or narratives that make sense – do you feel you can’t make sense of your story fully because you are compelled to search after something unanswerable?

PW: I think that there is so much that is unanswerable when you go out in search of some form of truth or authenticity in your past, something which I think we all feel compelled to do at some point in our lives. To make sense of the past is to attempt to ground our lives, to afford it meaning and a sense of deep-rootedness, even if it’s painful to go in search of this. These stories and narratives that are passed through families are just that—they’re stories. They have narrative arcs and moral punch lines, shared through generations in a way that builds a foundation of meaning that justifies our experience and offers purposefulness. I think with this work I was holding up these narratives to account somehow, even if this is not perhaps fully evident from the works themselves. There is a futility to making sense of your story, and a delusion in searching for truth. What I’ve made is an abstraction, it doesn’t capture the essence of my mother, or my wider family history, but looks at that which can’t be fully grasped, which lies somewhere in the space between fact and what is only partially remembered / a kind of forced remembering.

 

PR: When a parent dies there is a risk of secrets and silence – has this been important in your formation as an artist?

PW: I started working on The Unforgetting, or earlier iterations of the project shortly after my father passed away, so yes, the possibility of never finding out about my past became a very real possibility. It suddenly felt like something that was really urgent to me as I came to realise that we had never talked about what had happened to my mother, about this shared experience. I read somewhere that the sudden loss of a loved one can spark in us the repressed memories of a past loss, and that instead of focusing on that immediate loss, we look to the past, to that which we failed to come to terms with previously.

My grandmother has been the archivist of the family, and her house has a museum quality about it, and had always given me that false sense of unchanging fixity. She has kept everything of my mothers exactly as it was, and would archive everything from achievements, photographs, to newspaper clippings that reminded her of her lost daughter, each annotated on the spine explaining why the article had triggered some memory in her—often unwittingly forming image-text relationships. All the work was shot in the village where my Grandmother lives, in the house where my mother grew up. I would convert her old shop, which was at the front of the house, into my studio when I’d come to visit, and then create these object assemblages from the things that she kept, shooting mostly at night. You see the shop windows and fabric curtains from this room in a couple of the photographs.

 

PR: The objects depicted suggest that one important aspect of life is sound or music (the accordian, the tapes, the audio cassette – again suggesting evidence, something to be replayed and heard). Can you comment on this?

PW: There are layers of narrative hidden behind the images. The accordion, for example, was my Grandfathers, and playing it was how he met my Grandmother. The rolls of Super-8 film contain moving images of my mother and family on various holidays in the 60’s and 70’s, invariably smiling, happy, bathed in sunlight. The still life image became a way to conflate all of these images into a single, unified one, albeit withholding somehow the image of happiness. My mother was a linguist, and she used to teach herself languages by recording her own voice on a Panasonic tape recorder from the early 80’s, carefully recording the words and phrases she was practising, and checking back for good diction. She would sit cross-legged on the dining room floor with the tape recorder between her legs and practise. The tape I photographed was actually a mix tape that she had made, and left in my Grandmother’s car, and as the radio never worked, this became my soundtrack to the project. Another tape I have is of me, at two years old, singing nursery rhymes with my mother, the only recording I have of her voice.

 

PR: Another important aspect of life here is shared history, warmth (the wood), drink, books, stories, the forest etc., Does this mean for you that the necessities of life include cultural matters as well as family archive – other photographs?

PW: About wood, about this idea of shared history, the glasses, the forest? The glasses are called Roemer glasses and are a traditional German wine glass, and the inscription carries the name of my Grandfather, and they were given to him for each years full attendance of choir practice, something he kept up his whole life, and each represent a milestone of time. He is also pictured as a young man in a small photograph rested against the blade of an axe. He passed away during the course of this project, but one of the last things we did together was to chop wood, and I had a sense at the time that this would be the last time we would carry out this repetitive, masculine activity together. I filmed the whole thing, and took a log away which appears in this exhibition cast in concrete, and repeated three times. Wood is repeated throughout the project. For me it speaks of the folkloric, of Germany, of this German sense of ‘Heimat’, but also of the passing and splitting of time. In the photograph of my brother suspending a large piece of beech wood for the camera, the wood appears to flow from his arm, and there is a certain liquidity to the image, or sense of suspension, which I think is echoed in the photograph of the baptismal dress, and the books.

 

PR: Did the making of this collection feel like an honouring of your Mum? And what do your family feel about it? Have you been able to respond differently as a son/brother to bereavement because you are an artist?

PW: I think the pain of loss is something that never really leaves you. If you have experienced it young there is a certain shift to the way you think about life, and you consider questions of mortality too young. I think I’ve approached it with a willingness to understand something that has oftentimes been difficult, but everyone deals with mourning in different ways. I think as more family members have passed away, I have unwittingly become the family archivist, although my approach is from an artistic standpoint, and not how you would traditionally catalogue a family history.

 

PR: Is this an archive of memory – an attempt to understand more about your self in relation to loss?

PW: I suppose it’s an archive of sorts, but I don’t really think about it strictly that way, although it does obviously reference certain display methods used in museums and does tap into the archive, but I was very careful not to include too much information, or rather careful about how much was out there. The Black Bag and the Letter from the Dutch Police 1993 are the only actual objects on display in the project, and come to stand as a kind of dark star around which the rest of the works revolve. Their significance is made more prominent by their selection ahead of the multitude of other things. Supplementary information such as this interview, or articles that have been written about the work, can always be looked at to offer an expanded experience of the work, to peel back some additional layers, but really I’m more interested in what the viewer can bring to the experience. It’s very personal work, and I’m hyperaware of the fact that I’m putting it out there, so I have had to be careful about how much personal information gets out into the open.

 

PR: What lies between these images seems so important – do you know if they have helped other people to approach loss/grief in a different way?

Would that be important to you?

PW: I think I touched upon the space between the images in some of the previous answers, how there is space for connection, and how the works stand to reinforce each other and make each other stronger and have an implied narrative that is completed or reinterpreted by the viewer.

People do write to me sometimes when they have come across the work or read about the project, and tell me how they have related to the work in terms of their own experience, and they often tell me things that have happened to them. These correspondences seem to always come out of the blue, and you only then get this sense that the project is out there in the world, and that there are people who attempt to relate to such things. Mostly, though, people seem to wonder whether carrying out the project has helped me in some way to come to terms with my past and my place in the world, and its something that I guess is forever an ongoing process.

 

PR: When you exhibit a collection are you presenting a narrative or hoping the observer will make their own narratives from your work?

PW: There certainly is an implied narrative, but it’s non-specific and requires audience participation. I think that there is a space between the images where connections can be made, and an oscillation between photographs that are representationally clear and others that are less straightforward and ambiguous in nature. Materially there are connections made between everything, in terms of playing with the opacity and transparency of materials, their spatial relations to one another in space, and how the viewer must navigate the space of the exhibition to view the works. It’s important to me that the audience feels a sense of embodiment in the space, and I think that this encourages a certain amount of participation.

 

PR: Unforgetting is very different to remembering – it feels like a hard won fight.  Would this be overstating the difference between the two for you?

PW: Chris Marker, the late filmmaker and artist wrote that ‘I will have spent my life trying to understand the function of remembering, which is not the opposite of forgetting but rather its lining’, by which he was in part referring to how memory is not something that is fixed, that it is always subject to change and reinterpretation, much in the same way as history is subject to being rewritten. The more you dig into memory the more it seems to move away from those seemingly pure flashes of memory that we hold onto from childhood. The image of my mother became irrevocably changed once I started to dig into the past and into my memory.

 

PR: Can you say something about the Christening gown? 

PW: The Christening gown was something that came very late in the project. When I thought I had sifted through everything my Grandmother pulled out the dress, along with a lock of hair of my mothers from a cupboard. The dress is pale yellow and is photographed in black and white, seemingly impossibly suspended in front of a fabric net curtain, in the makeshift studio where I shot most of the work. Both materials appear to float weightlessly, and perhaps have that feeling of liquidity I mentioned earlier. The circularity of the baptismal act and my mother’s death by drowning is perhaps what drew me so magnetically to the dress. The photograph is framed behind yellow glass, and here I was really thinking about the idea of putting colour back into the work, and about the falsity of artificially putting yellow back into the dress; the strangeness of applying this wash of colour over the piece. Yellow is the colour of warmth, of light, and colour brings with it emotion, whereas black and white can signify a more evidential, calculated approach to working. But the colour yellow is also the colour of decay, of death, of the hallucinatory space in the mind, and of dreams. The work is almost uniformly monochromatic, so when colour comes into the work it introduces colour to all the work—but it’s a false colour, something applied to the work after the image has been made.

 

Poems for further reading linked to some ideas in Peter Watkins’ work:

The Wild Iris: Louise Glück

http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-wild-iris/

 

My Son, The Man: Sharon Olds

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/178285

 

In the Museum of Lost Objects: Rebecca Lindenberg

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/243894

A PDF pack containing interviews with each of the artists exhibiting in Open 2: Pieces of You is available to download here.

They Where My Landscape © Phoebe Kiely, 2015

Closed for Install

Open Eye Gallery is closed to the public whilst we install our new exhibition, Open 2: Pieces of You.

The second exhibition in the Open series presents six new and early career artists predominantly from the North whose work came to us through submissions and expressions of interest.Open provides a platform for displaying new work and a forum for discussion thanks to a rich programme of public events unfolding throughout the duration of the exhibition.

In Pieces of You, each of the six artists share a curiosity in exploring how we gather and make meaning of our experiences. When we choose to photograph a moment, perhaps we imagine looking at it again in the future, showing it to a friend, or sharing it online – but we make it part of our story. From a dog-walk to a christening, moments in a coffee shop or reflecting on our past, how do we use images to make sense of ourselves and express ourselves? What do your photos say about you?

Preview Night
Thursday 14 January, 6-8pm

Please join us for our preview night and be the first to see this exciting new exhibition.

KEEP IN TOUCH

Check our social media platforms for regular updates:

Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
YouTube
Pinterest
Tumblr

Jordan Baseman, Deadness, 2013. Still courtesy the artist and Matt’s Gallery, London
Jordan Baseman, Deadness (Still 139a), 2013. Courtesy the artist and Matt's Gallery, London

Jordan Baseman: Deadness

The piece, Deadness, balances both interest and intrigue whilst managing the sensitive subject matter of death. Focusing on embalming and funerals, and the personal and professional relationships societies have to these, the non-fiction and interview based narrative presents a more informative approach to the issue, rather than an overly emotive one. Because of this, the work becomes much more accessible and, in my opinion, does not seek to overwhelm any viewers.

This is in fact part one of Baseman’s 2013 exhibition Deadness,consisting of re-appropriated 35mm slides, projected from five projectors onto two walls, in a rhythmic arrangement. This accompanies a recorded spoken narrative by Dr./Prof. John Troyer (deputy director for the centre of death and society at the University of Bath), of his experiences in this field. Lasting around thirty minutes, Deadness does not veer from its communicative approach, and could even be categorised as an essay film, in terms of it’s format and content.

Driven by interviews and discussions with people in professions relating to the coinciding concept, it seems very much important to the execution of the narration that the format remains natural and conversational. Clearly but comfortably spoken, and on occasion, but not disrespectfully, laughing to himself whilst talking, the narrator appears very human; a quality which I believe would be lost, and would be of great loss to the work if the monologue had been simply read from a script.

The narrator talks the viewer through anecdotes of embalmers and their techniques; of the relatives of the deceased, their grief and requests to see the deceased, and so on. And alongside this, he addresses notions of death and bereavement, embalming, the spectacle and photography. The idea of the ‘spectacle’ in this work, however, is not so apparent. Instead, the images of what in some instances could be considered so, now manifest as further information adjoined to the spoken word.

The images used, all of which were purchased online, are of corpses in coffins at funerals and wakes, as well as in funeral parlours. Showing the deceased in their final visual state, in the state which their loved ones will see them in last. Multiple shots of the same people, some in black and white and some in colour, some outdoors and some inside, some depicting funeral goers also in the frame. Well choreographed and rhythmically paced, the some 200 plus images flow perfectly, neatly complimenting the narration. The photographs themselves alternate between all five projections at once, to just some, to just one.

The notions of embalming, wakes, funerals, and photographing the deceased are interesting in regards to the concepts that it arrises concerning death and memory in the context of photography; a point touched upon by Roland Barthes in Camera Lucida, from which the exhibition title, Flat Death, originates. Addressing this, Barthes states the photograph, ‘produces Death while trying to preserve life.’ (Barthes, 1993, p.92) An idea which adds significant metaphorical meaning to Deadness. The idea of embalming – preserving the essence of an individuals ‘life’ after life, and post-mortem photography, becomes, instead, an attempt to preserve moments as memories in a state of timeless remembrance.

On a whole this work addresses a cultural understanding of the relationship which both individuals and professionals have with the deceased, as well as how society bereaves and confronts the concept of death and the actuality of death. And this is all carefully shrouded under the ideas based around photography, which connect all of the afore discussed issues into this one particularly well informed and well executed work; Deadness.

WRITTEN BY KYLE NATHAN BROWN

Website / Blog

Flat Death: Edgar Martins & Jordan Baseman continues at Open Eye Gallery until Sunday 3 April 2016.

20.6, 2016 © Henry Woodley

Henry Woodley: 20.6

20.6 is a four-day long exhibition presenting the work of local photographer Henry Woodley.

The photographs on display were taken in January of this year when the artist visited Calais, which is home to one of the largest refugee camps in Europe. This camp is only a mere 20.6 miles away from the cliffs of Dover in South East England. This is the final destination for the thousands of refugees that inhabit the camp in Calais in the hope of seeking asylum in the UK. This exhibition aims to shed light on the current refugee crisis that is currently happening across Europe. Woodley’s work explores the day to day lives of the people who live within the make-shift camp that is “The Jungle”.

For the duration of the exhibition it will be possible for visitors to donate to the charity BuildinCalais to support the construction of shelters in replacement of tents.

The exhibition, which is curated by Holly Christopher, will take place in the Public Exhibition Space located on the lower ground floor of the John Lennon Art & Design Building, 2 Duckinfield Street, L3 5RD. (Directions here).

It will be open daily from Tuesday 29th March – Friday 1st April 2016, 8am-5:30pm.

To keep up to date with the exhibition please visit the events Facebook page.

LINKS

20.6 Ehibition Facebook event

Henry Woodley’s Facebook page

Henry Woodley’s Website

BuildinCalais Facebook Page

 

 

Image from Petra Collins’ Twitter account
From the Summer series, Dafy Hagai

Babe: Petra Collins

Petra Collins challenges the norms that have been set in today’s celebrity driven culture, she explores the raw realities that take place during adulthood. Her work celebrates everything that young women go through, from our periods to pubic hair, her photography work covers it all.  Babe is a visual encyclopaedia of twenty-nine contemporary female artists, these are artists that still find it incredibly hard to be represented in galleries. However Collins has overcome this, back in 2010 she set up online gallery The Ardorous. According to Collins she set up this online gallery space because as a young female artist she never saw a place for her work. This is an online gallery space that provides a platform for female creatives to easily display their work. Collins describes the artists in Babe as “…endlessly inspiring women who I believe have the power to change the world.

Many of the visual artists featured in Babe solely exist on Instagram, they use the app as their online galley, they are the curator and the artist, therefore are in change of their own work. Both The Ardorous and Instagram allow for a global audience to view their work, artworks can be viewed at any time and shared via other online networks like Facebook and Twitter. Instagram is easily accessible and anyone can exhibit on it, hence its rise in popularity for contemporary photographers. However, unfortunately censorship takes place. Collins had her Instagram account blocked in 2013 because of an image that she posted. But it wasn’t because she posted a picture of her doing something illegal or something deeply offensive or racist. The photograph is question was of the artist in a bikini with her natural unshaven bikini line poking out.

All of the artists featured in Babe are a refreshing breath of air, many are breaking away from the social norms that have been set within today’s society. The book crushes the boundaries of sexualisation of the female body along with the glamorisation of adolescence.

Babe encapsulates everything about being a contemporary female artist, the book is a guide to girl power. Despite rights for women coming along way over the past few hundred years it is still incredibly difficult for emerging female artists to be exhibited in art galleries. Female artists are still incredibly underrepresented within major international arts institutions, for example at Tate Modern have only had solo female shows 25% of the time since 2007. This is why easily accessible online platforms and physical publications are starting to lead the way for female artists.

Written by Holly Christopher
Holly is studying Art History at Liverpool John Moores University.

Flat Death, Open Eye Gallery, 2015 © Ted Oonk
Edgar Martins, Untitled from the series Siloquies and Soliloquies on death, life and other interludes, 2016
Edgar Martins, from the series Siloquies and Soliloquies on death, life and other interludes, 2016
Jordan Baseman, Deadness (Still 139a), 2013. Courtesy the artist and Matt's Gallery, London
Jordan Baseman, Deadness, 2013. Still courtesy the artist and Matt’s Gallery, London

Flat Death: Thomas Dukes & Angela Samata in Conversation

Through photographic projects by Edgar Martins and Jordan Baseman, Flat Death presents two series of work that invite us to reflect on how we deal with death, as a society and individually.

Edgar Martins attempts to understand our relationship to death and photography’s role in this process through a variety of images. Jordan Baseman’s exhibition of memorial images sits within a long tradition of photography being used by families to remember their loved ones after they have passed.

The exhibition’s title, Flat Death, is taken from Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida, which considers the photograph as a fixed record of a moment in time.

Our Curator, Thomas Dukes has been in conversation with Angela Samata. Angela sits on the All Party Parliamentary Group tackling suicide prevention in England and Wales and is a presenter and arts professional. Angela presented the BBC documentary ‘Life After Suicide’ which has recently been recognised with a Mind Media Award. Together, Thomas and Angela discuss themes that arise throughout the exhibition.

THOMAS DUKES: Good Morning Angela, thank you for agreeing to having a conversation around the exhibition Flat Death.  From the outset the gallery has been talking to a lot of different people and organisations who deal with bereavement, to try and ensure that the exhibition remains as open and constructive as possible, and so we appreciate your time to contribute to the discussions we’ve been having here.

ANGELA SAMATA: Morning Thomas. Thanks for inviting me to talk to you about the show. I’m interested in Flat Death both because of my personal experience as someone bereaved by suicide and professionally as a curator. Can I ask where the initial idea for the exhibition came from and did you always plan to exhibit Edgar Martins and Jordan Baseman simultaneously?

TD: Well, in 2014 we were talking to Edgar Martins following the release of his work The Rehearsal of Space & the Poetic Impossibility to Manage the Infinite.  He had worked with the European Space Agency to create an incredibly comprehensive & meditative survey of this leading scientific organisation. The project presented items and asked questions of them, as Martins says “an approach that was simultaneously descriptive and speculative”.  In conversation, Martins said he was producing a new body of work with exclusive access to the Portuguese Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences around the human relationship to death – and we were really excited to see Martins create a similar forensic/poetic vehicle to reflect on a mental space Western Society can often distance itself from.

Then, knowing Jordan Baseman’s work, we understood that we could continue the visitors’ experience in a more durational, installation way.  The two pieces have a conversation of style and ethics between them, and together make a powerful experience for the visitor. This seems like a good time to say that both of the artists have been phenomenal to learn from and work with.

I wanted to talk about how we have needed to be careful in the selection of the work – as there are some pieces that in consultation with various groups,  we are looking to not include.  In this instance, entirely to try and safeguard rather than any ethical or taboo based consideration.  It’s a very difficult question for me,  but what do you think a public gallery should consider in presenting potentially difficult/challenging work?

AS: If we view Flat Death in the context of Open Eye Gallery’s long history of presenting shows which confront the viewer with often uncomfortable truths, then this exhibition follows in what is a strong tradition for any public gallery. Looking more specifically at some of the work here, once the objects depicted in a selection of Martins photographs have been utilised in the actions that many of us are unfortunately familiar with, they change forever. Photographic truth, capturing an object or a moment in time is an important aspect of photography, but these objects also represent life changing actions, with all the impact that those actions elicit. They transform from inanimate, everyday objects that don’t even register in our psyche, into significant, constant reminders of what was lost in those moments. Curatorially, I see the merits of and place for each image, however, I do find them personally challenging. I hope some of these points will be raised in the ethics debates.

TD: Yes, I’m looking forward to hearing from a cross-section of voices and seeing if some people change or question their own position on the responsibility of a public gallery when working with challenging material. By bringing together arts professionals along with people working in mental health I’m hoping that we’ll end up with some useful thinking to share (the questions and findings are being presented in the gallery).

You raised the nature of photographic truth earlier, and I do find myself coming back to the difference between presenting archive imagery of crimes, autopsy or trial material, for example the Burden of Proof exhibition recently on display at The Photographers’ Gallery, and the work that functions more as an art object when the source material is so similar. I see something of the divide of art from the ‘real life’ processes of science or social history here; we can consider an image differently when its purpose is defined by a scientific objective to when it is used in a creative sense.

AS: Again, yes, I hope during the ethics debates we consider these contextual issues and moral dilemmas for both photographers and the viewing public regarding this type of image. I think we could probably write a book on one aspect of this conversation alone, Thomas!

TD: There is so much writing and discussion about the relationship of photography to death; it’s a subject that comes from our humanity, creativity and science. I hope that people find their visit thought provoking.

Thank you, Angela, it’s been a pleasure looking at these ideas with you.

LINKS

Flat Death: Edgar Martins & Jordan Baseman

Sunday 13 March 2016, 2:30pm-3:15pm
Monthly Exhibition Tour with Angela Samata

Thursday 24 March 2016, 6-7pm
Public Discussion

Flat Death: Edgar Martins video interview

Documentary: Life After Suicide

Matty Lambert: MONO

Matty Lambert is a Liverpool based documentary photographer. Matty grew up amongst the bike/BMX scene in Liverpool and knows the riding scene there inside out. Despite a short stint in London to extend his working career he made the move back up north to Merseyside and since then has been capturing the ins and outs of scouse BMX on various rolls of black and white 35mm film, in-between his film-making adventures around the world. Matty recently put together a zine to showcase his photos and it was appropriately dubbed, ‘Mono’.

His zine Mono came about after the decline in European BMX magazines and is Matty’s unique perspective on UK street riding, specifically in the North West of England.

Pick up your copy in our gallery shop for £5.00.

MONO By Matty Lambert
£5.00
56 page photo zine documenting Liverpool BMX street scene 2014-2015 on 35mm black and white film
15x21cm
Edition of 230

 

Get involved:
Volunteering

Find out more
Receive email updates
Enter email here and press enter

OPEN EYE GALLERY VIDEO CHANNEL

OPEN EYE GALLERY ON INSTAGRAM

FOLLOW