Artist Presentation–Castlefield Gallery

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(Image courtesy of Castlefield Gallery)

On Tuesday evening, I had the opportunity present my practice, and specifically ‘New Photographic Chemistry’, alongside three other artists, at a meeting of the Castlefield Gallery Associates group, in Manchester. It took the form of a 10 minute presentation followed by five minutes of questions. The meeting was attended by around 16 members of the group.

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(Images courtesy of Castlefield Gallery)

These are some of my reflections following the event:

  • Once again, the value of time spent in planning and preparation was evident. I had a slideshow (under my control rather than running independently) and a ‘script’ that I had rehearsed – so it was no surprise that the timing worked out more or less exactly. It took the form of a slightly extended version of the video from my website – here – covering the grounding of my practice; the origins and development of ‘New Photographic Chemistry’; and the various forms in which it has, to date, been brought to an audience. So, I covered a lot of ground in a short time but that didn’t seem to be a problem.
  • Everything seemed to be well-received by the audience, in terms of attention and body language during the talk, questions that followed, and responses during the tea interval and at the end of the evening. Most of those in the audience (and all of the other three presenters) were practicing artists with multiple exhibitions, commissions, residencies etc; so there was the potential for a ‘credibility gap’. But I didn’t sense it, and the interest seemed to go at least a little way beyond the merely polite.
  • Questions/comments immediately post-talk covered – printing onto fabric; choice of colours; time to produce; size of output (with a suggestion that I might go bigger … a lot bigger!); and praise for the way I managed to create a sense of depth and dimension in the images. I was pleased when, after the talk, one audience member compared the images of text manipulation (below) to the work of David Batchelor (which had been part of the original inspiration, as blogged here. It was also good to find some connection with the presenter who preceded me – Roger Bygott – who was talking about a recent residency during which he produced some work that physically deconstructed and subverted Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida.

Sulphur Sensitizers

Sulphur Sensitizers (2015)

Perhaps most importantly, I enjoyed doing it and felt confident in the work and my ability to talk about it. Artists tend to be supportive of each other and to have genuine interest in what others are doing; and the CG Associates scheme offers plenty of opportunities to develop and maintain contacts. As I have observed before in various contexts, the basis for a sustainable practice is there and its future is entirely dependent on how much I want it and how much I am prepared to commit.

Oh – and my image featured in the e-mail to all associates about the evening …

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Assignment Four–Tutorial and Feedback

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I’m pleased to say that there isn’t much to say about submission and feedback for Assignment Four. The submission is about a final ‘draft’ of the proposed publication of the work – in my case, the plans for the exhibition at Bank Street Arts, which I sent to my tutor last week. We had an online tutorial yesterday and, apart from a whole series of very useful and encouraging tips/comments, the feedback is, essentially, get on and make it happen, enjoy it and, in the parting comment, ‘break a leg’, That’s not entirely inappropriate; so much is about rehearsing ideas and then putting on a performance.

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As these images show, the layout planning has progressed; the wall mural and larger prints are ordered (and the mural has actually arrived, within four days of ordering!); my own printing & framing is also under way; and, most importantly, the publicity machine is turned on and beginning to roll. There is a social/preview on Friday 30th and OCA are fully on board with invitations for that – 150+ have gone out, including 30 or so that I have done personally. Many of those are to people that I know won’t be able to attend but this is, of course, an excellent opportunity to promote the work anyway. There is to be a Study Visit type event on Saturday 1st, and this has been publicised on WeAreOCA – here. These two events are important – partly, of course, as a means of publicising, but also as a potential source of feedback. Engaging an audience with the work is also about engaging the work with an audience, so to speak. The student event, in particular, should be an opportunity to talk about the work and gauge responses – just hope I get a few people there. I’m also in discussion with the gallery about their related promotional activity, which is likely to be very useful.

Some key pieces of input from the tutorial, in no particular order, were:

  • make sure to gather as much in the way of statistics about site hits, footfall, views and so on as I can; and fully document them for eventual assessment submission.
  • make sure to have sufficient assistance at the installation stage because something is bound to go wrong;
  • take some good installation shots;
  • consider doing a set of affordable, editioned prints for sale at the preview as a means of covering some of the cost;
  • write personal e-mail invites to people I’m particular keen should be aware of the work/event.

The sale of a set of prints wasn’t something I’d considered at all & I wish I’d thought of it before sending out invitations. However, still time to do something, if I decide to. So, all seems to be in order, for now.

‘New Photographic Chemistry’ – video launched

Following the feedback from Assignment Two, I have produced a new, short video about the ‘New Photographic Chemistry’ project. It serves a number of purposes – a general introduction to the project and its origins; background about my creative process (and therefore my practice in general); and illustration of the two ‘returns’ that are key features of the outcomes from the project so far, the return of my images to the original binding of the book that provided the inspiration, and the return of the project to the ‘space’ from which it came, the second-hand bookshop, Daisy Lane Books.

The video is viewable here – ‘New Photographic Chemistry’ – and is also now featured on my website – wherenothingisreal.

I’ve produced the video from stills of the images, stills of the Daisy Lane Books installation, and a few new video sequences shot for the purpose – all supported with a soundtrack of me speaking about the project. I’ve subsequently sought feedback from my fellow students in our hangout group, and from my tutor, incorporating one or two small changes as a result. Thanks to those involved for their support. I’m actually quite pleased with the outcome and see it as a really useful addition to the project that I can confidently link to when promoting the project or otherwise informing interested parties.

And, in the context of further developments, much more planning and preparation is coming up because it has now been confirmed that the work will go on show in its own ‘micro-exhibition’ at Bank Street Arts, Sheffield, 30/09/16-01/10/16. There’ll be more on that in this blog in the not too distant future.

Exhibition opens

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So, everything set up yesterday afternoon (apart from forgetting to put the price labels on my prints for sale – Doh!) and the exhibition officially opened this morning. Fortunately I managed to fight my way through the queues to take a few installation shots!

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And we took advantage of every nook and cranny to display the images …

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… and the poster is on display outside, too.

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A step taken …!

Planning & Preparation for ‘Daisy Lane Books’

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Have spent a lot of time over the last 2-3 weeks getting everything ready for the return of ‘New Photographic Chemistry’ to its origins – Daisy Lane Books shop. This colourful piece of ‘artwork’ that I have designed myself is now being displayed as posters in a couple of locations in town and as A5 ‘flyers’ at three suitable premises. It will also, by Friday, be outside the bookshop, at around A1 size on a display board (printed in four parts). My idea was to produce something that encapsulates something of the ‘story’, displays some of the colourful images in a way that might intrigue, hopefully catches the eye, and provides the essential information (including the new website). I’ve also publicised it on the OCA Student website and a version of it on Facebook. Clearly, the location of the show is somewhat off the beaten track, so I’m not expecting the bookshop to be flooded with visitors wanting to see the exhibition, but I have wanted to take a reasonably thorough and professional approach – well, why would I want to do anything other – and it serves as useful practice for any future events.

The printing and mounting of the images has been time-consuming too, of course. I have around 10-12 A3 prints, and have concentrated on the most colourful of the digital constructs. Then there is a similar number of A4 prints, and I have gone with the ‘burned’ images and a small selection of those where I cut up the book. Finally, I have four much smaller images, more like ‘page-size’, of those where I produced, digitally, something resembling a highlighted/doodled page. This is likely to be more than I need in the shop but, without an opportunity to do some sort of careful measuring and planning, I figured that it would allow some flexibility when I come to ‘hang’. And on that point, I have arranged to be at the shop in the late afternoon of Thursday 30th to do just that.

I want to provide some information on-site for the viewer and have dealt with that in two ways. Firstly, I will have two identical, A3-size, laminated boards on display, featuring a modified but hopefully still valid version of my artist’s statement for the project – intended to be suitable for a more general audience. It’s viewable here PDF of display board. It may be a little ‘wordy’ but I’m hoping that visitors to a second-hand bookshop will be reasonably literate and engaged. With that in mind, I have also produced some printed A4 information sheets that can be given to visitors, and which they can take away, if they wish. These have the same ‘statement’ on them, but also a background piece about the ‘making of’ on of the images. The info sheet can be viewed here Info sheet PDF.

So, in theory, everything is in place ready for the hanging on Thursday evening.

www.wherenothingisreal.com

wherenothingisreal page

As part of the development of my ‘New Photographic Chemistry’ project – and as an essential element in ‘sustaining my practice’ – I have completely re-hashed a website that I originally set up for my ‘Portraits’ Project in Body of Work. I bought the domain name ‘wherenothingisreal.com’ and built a free site via Weebly. The image above is the front page of the new version at www.wherenothingisreal.com; I envisage this being a kind of ‘brand’ for my practice .. for reasons that are hopefully obvious! It’s been done in something of a rush, last week, because I wanted to have it in place for the exhibition of ‘New Photographic Chemistry’, 1st-17th July, that I wrote about here (and of which there will be more to come around preparation, promotion and feedback).

I have sought some feedback on the website from my tutor and fellow students. That has been very helpful (‘thanks’ to those who commented) and a few minor amendments have been implemented as a result. The general consensus seems to be that the look of it suits my work, which is good because I wanted to emphasise the colourful, lively, (seductive!) nature of the images (and it is a style that fits with some other contemporary artists who work in a similar manner). A few of things about the site to comment on:

  • There is only one project on there at present. I considered adding the ‘Portraits’ work, which would certainly fit with the ‘wherenothingisreal’ theme, and consulted with others about it. No one seemed to feel that it would improve the site to any great extent and my tutor recommends building the website around the newest project and adding further work as it develops forward from here. So that’s the way I will leave it, for now; though I don’t rule out adding ‘Portraits’, were I to do anything about taking it to an audience in the future.
  • At present, the site runs on the free version of Weebly and so has their advertisement at the bottom of each page. It is only visible if a viewer scrolls to the very bottom; and I have to say that the quality of the build package, for free, is very good ‘value’ for the sake of that inconvenience. It does irritate me to have it there and I could get rid of it for around $40-50 per annum; but I’m going to live with it for the time being (and only one person commented on it).
  • I’m hoping to add another video when I have time to produce it, a short one with voice-over in which I talk about the way I have developed the work.
  • The ‘News’ blog is useful and I intend to use it to write more about the forthcoming exhibition.

One further reflection, I am not, at present, making a great deal of use of ‘social media’ for promotional purposes. I know someone who has a good knowledge of this field and am hoping to seek their assistance in the not too distant future. I’m quite happy with this new site, though, and feel confident about using it in connection with the exhibition; and Weebly offers plenty of flexibility for further developments/enhancements as I go along.