Photography Blog

University of Cumbria’s Future Festival 2017

The Careers and Employability Service organised an event where a number of talks and sessions were available to provide information and guidance in relation to further study and careers. There are a multitude of career paths and ways and means of achieving them, however, one must be proactive in creating this: allowing for fewer pitfalls.

Networking was brought to the forefront of the event as it can allow for the support network around you to strengthen, opening new doors to new opportunities. The event showcased a range of different agencies with offers of advice and future job prospects. The chosen career path is to embark on the Photography MA and then train to gain QTS (Qualified Teacher Status). This would then allow myself to teach photography at a higher level and also have some flexibility with the types of jobs that are accessible with the qualifications.

The following posts will explore the information given both through leaflets and through the talks. I will explore how useful the information is and the further steps that I will take based on this.

Exhibition History

In this blog post I will explore the history of the exhibition and how the context of the space can influence the meaning. As we draw closer to the final degree show, it is important to understand the historical context behind exhibitions and how this can influence and affect the decisions being made in the final exhibition.

Palaces

Artwork was displayed in Palaces, whilst the aristocracy inhabited them. Before photography, to have a painting or even in the early stages of photography, to have a photograph displayed in ones home was a display of wealth, and political power. In the later stages of the 20th century, these places, such as the Louvre and Hermitage, were converted into museums and artefacts themselves. The artwork in these spaces, are often large scale and framed to show how grand a spectacle they are.

Churches

The church is also a place that is used in contemporary and ancient times to display artwork. Although primarily a place of worship, the display of work in the ancient times in particular, was a display of power and authoritarianism. The work in these spaces (much like in the Vatican) holds spiritual power and often deals with ideologies of the tiers of life. This tradition has been prominent in the Catholic culture. However, moving into the contemporary era, the spaces are now being showcased for it’s art, with the religious element following closely. Work from the time and new works are now placed in the space, giving it an array of meaning.

Cabinets and Curiosities

Cabinets and Curiosities held no formal or authoritarian status, other than over that of whom the photographs were made of. The artwork and photographs were made to intrigue, mock and educate the people on widely unseen issues. The work was often printed small scale, as it was to be transported around the streets in a cart. The work in the carts followed no set methodology, as it was based on the arbitrary nature of the viewers. The topics of the displays often changed; but were mostly taxidermies of tropical animals, specimens of unusual life forms and things that were of scientific and aesthetic research. Although this side was harmless, some people did fall subject to the judging gaze, especially those who were considered ‘freaks’ and performed in travelling circuses.

Museums

The word museum is derived from multiple languages; in Latin it means “library or study”, in Greek it means palace of study, library, museum school of art and poetry” and “a seat or shrine of muses”. This ideology of learning associated with the founding of the museum formed the grounding for their purpose. Artefacts and artwork were beginning to be shown before the 16th century in British Libraries. This coupling of the physical object and the written word was interesting, showing that it can aid learning. In the 17th century, there was no real formal organisation of the objects, as it was considered a more formal collection of curiosities. In the 19th and 20th century, the building was now more accessible to the wider public, and housed materials of an educational and cultural purpose. In the contemporary era, there is now less emphasis on the space/building which work is displayed in; more so how the work is best curated.

Galleries

Moving into the contemporary era, the gallery is a space whereby artwork and photography is shown. Galleries are either stand on their own, or work in partnership with a museum/other institution. They work in one of two ways; either being publically owned and therefore working as a non profit organisation, or they are privately owned and display work purely for financial gain. Some galleries, especially those who are run by artist collectives, work mostly in the non-profit sector. Where as those working and displaying in vanity galleries, are in that area for financial gain.

Contemporary Galleries

Contemporary galleries have similar priorities much like the original galleries. However, the space is less important in some instances, where as the space is very conservative and conventional in others. The contemporary gallery is still classed as something that is highly authoritarian, as the showcase is carefully curated in order to control the way the work is seen. Because of this, the contemporary gallery can be considered something that is highly self-conscious, often dealing with debates surrounding aesthetics, social context, economics and political dimensions.

Other Areas of Display

In today’s age, art and photography can be displayed and exhibited in most places. As technology and printing has advanced, we can now display work in retail environments, billboards, through community projects, in converted buildings and many more.

Overview

As the topic of my Final Major Project is disability, the exhibiting of my photography will be far from conventional. As the disabled body has been largely rejected in the conventional portrait, the way in which I display the work will be breaking conventions. The disabled body is something that has just started to enter social media, advertising and gallery spaces, however, their representation still needs improved. This is something that will be explored in future blog posts.

Stephen Clarke Exhibition

Stephen Clarke displayed an extensive collection of his work, which had been accumulated over several decades, exploring the seaside culture. Clarke’s series displays a collection of black and white photographs along side a collection of postcards. This post will explore and review the exhibition displayed in February 2017 in the Vallum Gallery, University of Cumbria.

Clarke’s work, shot on black and white film shows an intimate relationship with the photographer and the landscape. Clarke explores this relationship through the use of text and image. This clever collaboration allows for the viewer to see how Clarke and his family view the landscape. In the series, the postcards are shown large scale in a grid format, which shows the formality of the tradition. When viewing the images and the postcards, especially the physical copies displayed in the cabinet, as a viewer I felt nostalgic. Even though the photographs and the postcards were sent and taken before I was born, the culture is still very similar.

A prominent piece in Clarke’s work was displayed on a television screen, as it was a collection of moving images. The quality of the film was very much similar to the family snapshot. This style allowed for the viewer to understand the idea of recording precious moments in the British holiday season. This work oozed nostalgia, from building sandcastles at the beach, having a donkey ride, to visiting the amusement parks. The lack of clarity in the images allows the viewer to take what they wish from the experience.

The construct of the exhibition was interesting, as Clarke played with scale, form and framing. Clarke used a combination of small 6×4 prints in large frames, large prints in large frames, and a collection of large prints mounted onto aluminium dibond. From personal preference, I would prefer a collection of prints all the same size and framed and mounted the same way. However, Clarke’s decisions to display his work this was place emphasis on some images more than others. By presenting a collection of large scale prints, Clarke is intending for the viewer to notice those prints first and appreciate their importance over other prints. By presenting a selection of small scale prints in a cluster, Clarke is intending us to explore the print in much more depth and appreciate them as collection.

Overall, Clarke’s exhibition was an interesting collection of images that can be interpreted in a multitude of ways. I felt very nostalgic when viewing the images. The display of the work is something that I will explore further when exploring presentation options. Although the work was something that I would normally pass by, it was a interesting change to see how other genres of work.

 

Final Major Project – An Introduction

The Final Major Project (or FMP) is the final project that will be produced during the final semester of the photography degree. The project will be an extensive study into the portrayal of the disabled in todays society; which is an extended study following the dissertation which explored the current position of disability in photography and how this can be improved. The dissertation showed that there is a rise of the disabled body being shown, but there still needs to be more change. In order to inflict change, there must be understanding.

Disability Talks (working title) is a project that challenges the public perception and position of the disabled person in society. Following the dissertation, exploring the current position of the disabled body in photography and how to improve this, a personal awareness was developed in relation to discrimination and lack of acceptance in society for the disabled.

Disability is an issue that affects around 11 million people in the UK (in accordance with 2014 Government statistics.) This seems a large amount, however, the majority of those with a disability or life limiting condition are unseen to the wider community; whether this be because the conditions are largely invisible or whether wider society has chosen to ignore it for numerous reasons. Parallel to the ignorance of society is the disabled community, who by no fault of their own have been discriminated against in many ways without their voice being heard. Their voice is what is portrayed through this photography project.

Posted in fmp

Exhibition – Presentation and Production

As part of the assessment criteria, and a way of showcasing our work, the class and myself must produce an exhibition. This area will explore the ins and outs of the exhibition planning; explore ideas of displaying the work and the challenges that are faced along the way. The exhibition is created as a group and therefore, the posts will be explored from a personal perspective.

Open To Interpretation

Our photography exhibition is named Open To Interpretation, and will showcase our best work. The process will be liberating in the sense that we have control to produce our own work and show it in our own way. The topics of the work range from disability, agricultural issues, fairy tales, and childhood memories to identity. This extensive range of topics allows for a wider audience reach, and therefore the ability to show the work to the masses.

In order to show case an innovative and successful show, as a group, we came up with the following areas which we will tackle; social media, branding and banking. Each member of the group will take on a role in one of the following categories:

Social Media – this group will setup and maintain the social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and update them as and when interesting things are going on.

Branding – this group will develop a logo and all of the advertising materials for the exhibition.

Banking – this group will open a bank account and organise the online fundraising platform. They will also apply for funding from funding bodies in order to support the financial implications of the show.

During the first meeting, I volunteered, along with two others, to organise the banking aspect. As well as this, I have also taken on a leadership role within the group, taking notes from the meeting and passing them on the relevant people, and organising the meeting’s place, time and agenda. Follow the posts to come to find out the progress with the exhibition planning.