Exhibitions

DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: Today, Tomorrow and Somewhere In-between

10 November - 12 December 2021

Exhibitions

DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: Make It Snappy

1 December - 12 December 2021

Exhibitions

My Message to You

1 December - 17 December 2021

Events

EXHIBITION LAUNCH: MY MESSAGE TO YOU

3 December 2021

Events

Open Rooms #19: Moral Turpitude

9 December 2021

Exhibitions Open Source Exhibitions

OPEN SOURCE 019: DREW FINDLAY

3 November - 30 November 2021

Past Events

Open Rooms #18: FireHawks

18 November 2021

Exhibitions

VR: Whose Land Is It?

8 July 2021

Projects

Mccoy Wynne to exhibit at COP26 Universities’ Innovation Showcase

18 October 2021

Past Events

Collective Matters: Meet and Greet

22 October 2021

Past Events

Holding Time: Launch Event

19 November 2021

Past Events

The Mutual Respect Manifesto by Glow Creative Learning

25 October 2021

Events

Joseph Lee: Mindful Photo Workshop

11 December 2021

Events

Who’s Left Behind? Part 2: Tadhg Devlin, staff from Community Integrated Care, and Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust in association with Liverpool SURF group

25 November 2021

Events

Who’s Left Behind? Part 1: Liverpool Cares and MA SEP graduate Vilija Skubute

24 November 2021

Past Events

Open Rooms # 17: Today, Tomorrow and Somewhere in between

11 November 2021

Past Events

One Day at a Time Boys: Introductory talk and workshop

6 November 2021

Exhibitions

DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: CROSSING SECTORS

30 September - 7 November 2021

Exhibitions

Just Between Friends: Runcorn Public Realm

30 September - 12 December 2021

Past Events

LATE NIGHT OPENING: COLLECTIVE MATTERS

15 October 2021

Past Events

Holding the Baby: Banner making workshop

16 October 2021

Exhibitions

Digital Window Gallery: Tabitha Jussa

17 October - 6 November 2021

Main Exhibition

Collective Matters

1 October - 12 December 2021

Past Events

Open Rooms #16: Agency of Women

23 September 2021

Exhibitions

Polly Braden: Holding The Baby

30 September - 31 October 2021

Projects

PLATFORM ISSUE 04: CROSSROADS

10 September 2021

Exhibitions Past Exhibitions

Digital Window Gallery: Our Lands

23 August - 19 September 2021

Exhibitions

Imagining Disaster: Essay Series

30 August 2021

Exhibitions

Rivers of the World

6 September 2021

Past Events LOOK Events

Open Rooms #15: Common Ground

8 September 2021

Exhibitions Past Exhibitions

Instagram Residency: Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley

30 August - 5 September 2021

Past Events

PLATFORM: Issue 4 Launch Party

10 September 2021

Past Events

Imagining Disaster: Contemporary Art X Science Fiction

2 September 2021

Past Events

Launch Party: One Day At A Time

19 August 2021

Past Events

Open Eye Gallery book club presents: Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray

9 September 2021

Past Exhibitions

Sam Batley: ONE DAY AT A TIME

18 August - 19 September 2021

Exhibitions

VR: Wirral Hospitals’ School and MaxLiteracy Award

10 June - 3 September 2021

Past Exhibitions

Return To Nature

30 July 2021

Exhibitions Past Exhibitions

VR: First Light New Northern Graduates Exhibition

22 May - 4 July 2021

Past Exhibitions

We Are Nature

30 July - 14 August 2021

Exhibitions

Liverpool Arab Arts Festival — Jessica El Mal: Grounds For Concern

16 July - 15 August 2021

Exhibitions

Digital Window Gallery: Who We Are

8 July - 31 July 2021

Past Exhibitions

Whose Land Is It?

8 July - 19 September 2021

Exhibitions

VR Student Exhibitions: UCEN

9 June - 13 June 2021

Exhibitions

VR Student Exhibitions: Youth Culture by Whitby High School

23 June - 27 June 2021

Exhibitions

VR Student Exhibitions: Arc with Hugh Baird

16 June - 20 June 2021

Past Events

First Light: Photography Writing Now – Tilt Launch Party

9 July 2021

Past Events

OPEN ROOMS #14: Separated Together

24 June 2021

Exhibitions Past Exhibitions

Student Exhibitions: Whitby High School

23 June - 27 June 2021

Exhibitions Past Exhibitions

Student Exhibitions: UCEN

9 June - 13 June 2021

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Page from As and When by Gary Bratchford and Robert Parkinson, taken by Hollie-May Gibson
Cover of As and When by Gary Bratchford and Robert Parkinson, taken by Hollie-May Gibson

Book Review: As and When by Gary Bratchford & Robert Parkinson

Review by Hollie-May Gibson

Gary Bratchford is a UK based visual culture theorist, writer, photographer, and Robert Parkinson is an artist based in Manchester whose work revolves around social and political themes. Their collaborative publication As and When highlights the importance of socially engaged photography and arts impact within communities. Focusing on two predetermined groups in Runcorn and Widnes, the Widnes Vikings Golden Generation Group and The Women of Windmill Hill, Bratchford and Parkinson explore photography as a means of visual communication and collaborative working as a process. 

The Women of Windmill Hill banded together as a way to support their local community as they watched their home change as the years went by. Part of the 1970s New Towns projects, Windmill Hill has faced devastating changes over the years, such as losing their GP service in 2017. The Widnes Vikings Golden Generation came together through their mutual love of their rugby team, the Widnes Vikings, and their determination to stay healthy, active citizens in their golden years whilst forming lifelong friendships along the way.

This exercise in socially engaged practice highlights the importance of photography and its positive impact on wellbeing. The Women of Windmill Hill showed a dramatic increase in both their mood and interest in their art practice since taking part. The opportunity led them to create their own photography group as a way to not only come together, but also to explore art and all it has to offer. In doing so, they used art practices as a way to have a positive impact on the wellbeing of those taking part within the community.

At the beginning of As and When, the authors discuss the workshops they had with group leaders and the challenges they often faced due to the lack of prior photographic knowledge the participants had, including a scan of a black polaroid that had been taken at one of these workshops. The inclusion of the blacked out polaroid helps the reader to understand the knowledge the participants had. I feel that the polaroid acts as a landmark of great importance, referencing the beginning of the group’s journey within the photographic medium and as a means of reflection. 

The book explains that initially The Women of Windmill Hill decided to photograph where they live and their surroundings, leading them to explore themes of physical barriers, domesticity and seasonal change. These themes are reflected in the women’s work, documenting their day to day lives by creating images that not only made me reflect on my own domesticity, but also about the objects I surround myself with; their importance and the roles they play within my life, whether functional or aesthetic. The imagery also made me consider why I choose these items, why I continue to keep them around me and how they impact my wellbeing. 

The Widnes Vikings  Golden Generation Group unfortunately did not have access to their beloved stadium, leading them to approach the task differently. They took to documenting their ‘pre-game activity’ on the day of or weekend before a Home fixture. Seeing the Golden Generation’s pre-game rituals gives the reader a real insight into the participants lives, opening them up to feel a sense of home, and belonging within the images.

After an interim exhibition at The Brindley, Bratchford and Parkinson took the opportunity to evaluate and reflect on the work they had already produced with the two groups. They went on to encourage experimentation within the project, leading the Women of Windmill Hill to write poems and think more critically about their work. The Golden Generation Group, however, did not express an interest in expanding their methodologies beyond the initial exercise and took to exploring Mike Flynn’s archive of old images centered around the rugby club, which first brought the group together. These decisions are a crucial part of socially engaged practices, however it felt a shame to me that this decision was made, leaving me feeling that had the group expanded their thinking and methodology, the project could have led them to have an even more impactful and positive experience.

Both groups had a strong sense of how they felt their work should be exhibited, however both groups decided to put their trust in Bratchford and Parkinson as artists to take their own initiative and choose what they felt was best, leading to mixed results within the groups. The Women of Windmill Hill felt the exhibition was a catalyst for more work and saw the exhibition as a way to further introduce issues of health and wellbeing through, and as a result of, photography. This response is telling of the group’s feelings towards photography and the enjoyment that they have experienced through the medium with them moving forward to create their own photography club, citing the improvement in their wellbeing as their reason to do so. This has created a lasting positive impact on the group and further community too.

The Golden Generation Group’s less positive response to the exhibition leads me to believe that Bratchford and Parkinson, in this instance, had underrepresented the group by only featuring the work of Mike Flynn which they, the group, admit themselves. As a consequence of this, Bratchford and Parkinson explain, the group felt that they weren’t visible. I feel that if the authors had regularly engaged with the group instead of on the infrequent basis which they did, and developed a photography committee earlier in the project, their work would have been significantly more successful and would have had a greater positive impact on the groups wellbeing. This acknowledgement allows their readers to understand the creative process further and the choices they made. In addition to this, it also exemplifies the difficult nature of socially engaged practice, illustrating that when working with large groups of people it can be hard to produce an outcome that everyone is happy with. 

As and When is a wonderful book, and project, which shines a light on the communities that live in Runcorn and Widnes, illustrating their readiness to engage in photography and their enthusiasm for art. I feel that Gary Bratchford and Robert Parkinson, in partnership with the Open Eye Gallery, and working alongside the Women of Windmill Hill and the Widnes Vikings Golden Generation Group, created a project that truly exemplifies what socially engaged photography is all about. Collaboration, trial and error, and having a positive impact on the communities involved. 

As and When by Gary Bratchford & Robert Parkinson is available to purchase from the Open Eye Gallery Shop for £10.

Images:

Page taken from As and When by Gary Bratchford & Robert Parkinson, taken by Hollie-May Gibson

Cover of As and When by Gary Bratchford & Robert Parkinson, taken by Hollie-May Gibson

 

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