Exhibitions

VR: Wirral Hospitals’ School and MaxLiteracy Award

10 June - 3 September 2021

Exhibitions

Return To Nature

30 July 2021

Exhibitions Past Exhibitions

VR: First Light New Northern Graduates Exhibition

22 May - 4 July 2021

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

Exhibitions Main Exhibition

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

Exhibitions Past Exhibitions

Student Exhibitions: Arc

16 June - 20 June 2021

Exhibitions Past Exhibitions

Digital Window Gallery: HOMETOWNS

10 June 2021

Exhibitions Main Exhibition

Digital Window Gallery: Postcards from us x

10 June - 20 June 2021

LightNight 2021: Play

21 May 2021

Heavy Gardening Art Trail Photowalk

21 May 2021

OPEN ROOMS #13: A BALKAN JOURNEY WITH CHRIS LESLIE

17 June 2021

Exhibitions Past Exhibitions

First Light New Northern Graduates Exhibition

22 May 2021

Past Events

Open Eye Gallery book club presents: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

3 June 2021

Past Events

First Light Spotlight: Interior Tension

22 June 2021

Past Events

First Light Spotlight: Networked Beings

8 June 2021

Past Events

First Light Spotlight: Things Are Strange

25 May 2021

Past Events

OPEN ROOMS #12: INDEPENDENTS BIENNIAL

6 May 2021

Exhibitions Past Exhibitions

Liverpool Biennial 2021: The Stomach and the Port

19 May - 6 June 2021

Picturing England’s High Streets: Prescot

7 April 2021

Picturing England’s High Street: Chester

7 April 2021

Exhibitions

Reclaim The City: Suzanne St Clare

8 April 2021

Past Events

First Light Spotlight: Parallel Histories

11 May 2021

Past Events

First Light Spotlight: After Nature

27 April 2021

Past Events

First Light Spotlight: Unearthly Matter

13 April 2021

Exhibitions

Hanging out: Interviews

23 March - 5 April 2021

Exhibitions

Digital Window Gallery: Independents Biennial

18 March - 6 June 2021

Past Events

First Light Spotlight: Corrupted Archives

30 March 2021

Past Events

First Light Spotlight – Connecting new photography with writing

16 March 2021

Past Events

OPEN ROOMS #11: ON THE CORNERS OF ARGYLE AND GLENWOOD – PHOTOBOOK IN COLLABORATION

11 March 2021

Freelance Photographer in Residence Position

23 February 2021

Family Page

23 February 2021

About Alternative Lens

23 February 2021

Projects

Introducing Energy House

23 February 2021

Past Events

Open Rooms #10: All Dressed Up With Nowhere To Go

25 February 2021

The Course

12 February 2021

Past Events

PLATFORM ISSUE 3: HOPE

12 February 2021

Events

OPEN CALL: THE STORY OF LIVERPOOL THROUGH ITS TREES

1 January - 30 April 2021

Past Events

OPEN CALL: HOMETOWNS

11 February - 31 March 2021

Past Events

WHAT WE DO IN LOCKDOWN

5 January 2021

HYPERTEXT: Books Beyond Bars – Felix McNulty in conversation with Sarah Jane Baker

28 November 2020

HYPERTEXT: Ruth White – The Role of the Photobook in Representing the British Working Classes

28 November 2020

Close
Close
An Ethics of Seeing, Olivia Taylor
An Ethics of Seeing, Olivia Taylor
An Ethics of Seeing, Olivia Taylor
An Ethics of Seeing, Olivia Taylor
An Ethics of Seeing, Olivia Taylor

Interview: Olivia Taylor

Olivia Taylor is a BA(Hons) Photography graduate from Huddersfield University. She was selected this year for an Open Eye Gallery award, recognising an outstanding body of student work. We spoke to her about her series, An Ethics of Seeing’.

 

OEG: Throughout this series there’s a sense of wandering, of happenstance and locating a certain gravity in pretty everyday objects, drawing something more out of them. First things first, talk me through the process of going out and shooting it — what you did, where you went, what you felt and thought.

OT: When the project first started, there was no substance really as I had no idea what I really wanted to focus on. I had several trips booked around Europe and wanted to see what I could find there, and thought I would be attracted to all the typical tourism, ‘Instagram’ type shots. But the more I wandered, the more I steered away from crowded streets and bright lights, and was drawn to the quiet areas that, to me, were neglected in their serene beauty. 

After researching, reading and testing further, I realised that these spaces were anywhere and everywhere I looked, in each city I visited – I began to naturally migrate towards them on my walks through these urban landscapes. 

My process of creating the work became something of a meditative state, where I’d aimlessly wander, through every small walkway, alley and alcove I came across, until I felt a hush fall over the area; no sounds of traffic, people or roadworks to penetrate the calm. Once I felt I’d entered this private bubble, I knew it was time to take my photos. This ‘hushed’ atmosphere gave me a feeling of control of my surroundings, in which I could pinpoint exactly what was drawing me to the area and document my experience of that moment in time, in that particular place. 

OEG: That’s interesting, this sense of an urban calm that’s found in many cities. There is a sense of this being more about time than about place, or a sense of a ‘moment’ that isn’t tied to one place. Do you find/feel it at home too?

OT: Yes, possibly even more so, given the feeling of calm often comes with familiarity. But that’s why I enjoy my images that are taken in different places, and why I was constantly surprised when I was able to feel such things in areas completely unknown to me. 

OEG: I‘ve been thinking about the title and how that sets up the ambiguity of the series — what does it mean to you to have an ‘ethics of seeing’?

OT: The title actually comes from an extract from ‘On Photography’ by Susan Sontag – through all of my research and readings, her book is one that really resonated with me whilst creating the work. Her writing starts off with the notion that everyone and anyone can take a photograph, and content is becoming rife with obscurity and meaninglessness; given the book was first published in the late 70’s, I found it so interesting that that concept is still relevant, now more than ever. 

Sontag speaks about ‘real’ photographers having a power in what they do – the idea of being a photographer, and being almost ‘morally’ or ‘ethically’ obligated to create images that speak to other human beings without using words and communicating on thoughts, emotions and experiences. 

This way of thinking influenced my project, and gave me a fresh, new way of thinking in terms of what should be the focus in my images – this, again, helped me realise that they did not need to be anything particularly extraordinary, but could just be ordinary. The way in which I photographed – my own ‘ethics’ of seeing my surroundings – would be the key to the series becoming something of substance, therefore the focal points would become exceptional.

OEG: Although the images mostly picture scenes of urban decay, there’s a particular calmness to them. It kind of makes me think of a very 21st century king of Wabi-Sabi, the japanese aesthetic sensibility of seeing and accepting things in their transient, worn-out, imperfect state. Is this something you identify with in the series, and if not, what other aesthetic sensibilities guided you and your eye?

OT: I had come across that term, and it is very apt for what my work communicates – but the theory side of my work could only allow so much research, which meant narrowing down my inspirations, writings and ideas. My explorations across multiple creative fields (in order to find further examples of a complex look at the banal) led me to several complex thinkers; Christopher Bollas, Marian Milner, Awoiska van der Molen, Phoebe Kiely…the list could go on.

A key writer and academic was W.G.Sebald, author of ‘The Rings of Saturn’. The book revolves around Sebald taking a walk in the British countryside and uses this mundane activity as a way to discuss his existential ponderings to the reader. The whole concept of the book using this mid-afternoon stroll as a way to explore existential questions on life and existence fascinated me, and the photographs littered throughout the book really made me think past images having to present something that the viewer would recognise as a ‘pretty’ or conventionally interesting thing.

 

Interview between Olivia Taylor and Jacob Bolton

Images: Olivia Taylor

 

https://oliviaktaylorphotography.com

Get involved:
Volunteering

Find out more
Join our newsletter