Disappearance at Sea – Mare Nostrum, The Baltic, Newcastle

James Bridle, Tomo Brody, Aikaterini Gegisian, ScanLAB Projects & Embassy for the Displaced, Forensic Architecture (Lorenzo Pezzani & Charles Heller), Jackie Karuti, Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen, Hrair Sarkissian, Škart collective – Djordje Balmazovič, Wolfgang Tillmans, Watch the Med

Disappearance at Sea – Mare Nostrum is a visual response to the pressing migrant crisis currently affecting a large proportion of the world. The exhibition was a collection of interactive and informative photography, film, sculpture and art work which explores the problematic political issue. The work aims to provide an insight in to the barbaric extradition of the people who have subsequently became lost at sea. The contributors, shown above, come from all corners of the globe, and attempt to explore this problem in their own way.

Using photography as a weapon to combat humanitarian issues has happened for many years. This body of work is the first that has emerged since the crisis happened, bringing a new perspective to the issue. By gathering and presenting this evidence as it were, the collection of artists are almost dumbing it down and making the issue easier to digest. I find this very interesting, however, the work when digested was very moving.

We also had a gallery tour of this body of work, however, the tour was very basic and therefore when exploring, we were able to understand more of the work. Being from an artistic background helped when viewing this work, as some of it was very abstract, making it difficult to connect to the rest. However, I do believe that working in collaboration with other artists and photographers is a good idea for the future.

Free Range – Graduate Degree Show

6th July – 10th July 2017

As part of our professional development as emerging photographers, a small group from our course were offered a place to exhibit our work in a top London graduate show. Free Range is an Old Truman Brewery production, aiming to showcase graduate talent from a variety of courses at many universities in the UK. It is exciting to know that I will be exhibiting along side many talented others, that a wider audience will be viewing my work and it could potentially kick start my photography career. There is also the exciting idea that I could potentially meet others who are also working on tackling the stigma attached to disability; meaning we can combat the issue faster.

The University of Cumbria has selected 24 artists from BA (Hons) Photography and BA (Hons) Fine Art, and joined us together – naming our exhibition Modern Love. This title was chose for us by the University – as they are in control of the finance of the space and the curating of the show. As this is a large show where professionalism is key, I believe their control of the way in which we present our selves to the world is a good idea.

The work I will be displaying in the show will be my FMP – Disability Talks. For the show self-promotion is also necessary, meaning people can contact you in the future if interested. Because of this, I will be creating my own marketing material in case of any interest in my work. We are currently in the early stages of developing marketing material as a group however, watch this space!

Further Study

After receiving an interesting talk from the Principal of the University of Cumbria earlier in the semester, I have increasingly thought about further study – in particular, the Photography MA. Achieving an MA in photography would advance my photographic skills and my theoretical knowledge; making my skill set greater and therefore more attractive to potential employers. I had always intended to study photography, but after studying my BA (Hons) Photography, I have a desire to learn more.

During the talk, Roddy Hunter (Head of Department, Institute of the Arts) explained and explored the benefits of the an MA, as part of the Futures Festival. He introduced the other courses at the university which had an MA on offer. These included MA Contemporary Fine Art, MA Creative Practice and MA Fashion Textiles. As my background is predominantly photography and fine art based I believed it would be sensible to pursue this root. Although the courses were interesting and would give me ample opportunity to study and work with other mediums – I enjoy practising photography too much!

I decided to bite the bullet and apply for MA Photography. The link to the course outline can be found at the end of this post. The course is split into two sections, 70% practical and the remaining theory based. This means that I can continue to explore disability in photography further and continue to increase it’s position in photography.

The application required details on past experiences and qualifications, as well as a personal statement. The statement that I provided is shown below:

Photography is a subject that has been an interest for many years – whether it be producing photographs or researching and exploring the topics. Using photography allows me to communicate my ideas and make them accessible to the wider population, and change public perceptions.

As a woman with a physical disability, photography has been a successful way to communicate my view of the world to the world. Disability and photography is something that has not been greatly explored until recent years, and I would like to participate in this investigation. During my studies at the University of Cumbria, I have begun to investigate the relationship between photography and disability and how it can be improved. This was carried out both on a photographic level through challenging the way in which we perceive disability and a theoretical level through carrying out an extensive dissertation exploring this concept.

Exploring and expanding my photographic skill and knowledge is something that I wish to achieve by completing the MA Photography course. This would then enable myself to tackle topics with more vigorously and communicate the ideas and concepts more effectively.

This also would open doors to potential teaching careers to help young photographers, who are in the same position as I once was.

The feedback on whether or not I have been successful is provided in 4-6 weeks. Following this news, I will either be offered an interview or declined a place. I decided this is the better option due to my health, as I will be able to achieve the best I can whilst also receiving the medical help I require.



That’s Not Me by Rodney Graham – The Baltic, Newcastle

Rodney Graham is a successful photographer, filmmaker, sculptor and artist; often exploring and exploiting a multitude of mediums to produce astounding contemporary art work. Graham’s most recent body of work is That’s Not Me, which is a large collection of manipulated self-portraits in light boxes. The grand scale of the work mimics the scale of the work inputted into the work.

We received a tour around this gallery space, along with Graham’s other film work, by a member of the Baltic staff. Although the tour did elaborate on some of the works, and how they relate to the seasons, films and real life scenarios, we felt as a group that she didn’t provide an in depth analysis like we would have hoped for.

Graham’s work is always staged; he becomes the director, the photographer, the writer and the producer. This vast control of all aspects allows Graham to produce high quality, focused work. Although the work very impressive, it did not suit my personal taste. I believe this is because of the falseness of the images, and how animated they feel – almost removing them as photographs and transforming them into some sort of art work. Viewing this work was a good experience as it showed me what is possible for the future.

Under Gods by Liz Hingley – Side Gallery , Newcastle

Liz Hingley recently exhibited her body of work, Under Gods, at the Side Gallery in Newcastle. The work is an in depth social document of the people, all of different religions living on Soho Road in Birmingham. Hingley sensitively documents the people, the place they call home and subsequently the religion; which influences the lives they lead.

The body of work is presented in white wall gallery, however, the presentation and hanging of the work is very unique. Hingley hung the work in a straight line to represent the formation of the houses. The frames enclosed the people into their houses, making it feel as though we were looking through a window. The frames themselves served as a likeness to the frames hanging around portraits owned by the aristocracy. Hingley’s traditional framing and composition reinforced this concept; often borrowing poses from religious iconography.

Hingley’s gaze is un-discriminatory and delicate, documenting the relationships that the community holds dear; allowing them to function as an admirable society. The relationships shown have created a very positive outlook on race and religion, particularly in the current political climate. This timing and contrast to the events shown in the media is crucial in combatting negative feelings towards religion. This body of work was supported by artefacts, which were collected and displayed in a cabinet, adding a real factor to the prints. This is something that I will explore when looking into creating exhibitions in the future.

The Prospect of Immortality by Murray Ballard – Side Gallery, Newcastle

The Prospect of Immortality is a contemporary project exploring the process of cryogenics (the preservation of the human body after death in liquid nitrogen in the hope of future advances to bring them back to life). Ballard takes the viewer on a visual journey around the world, meeting the people who are pioneering the process and those who want to be involved.

Ballard’s work is inspired by literature, and takes on a very clinical approach. Robert Ettinger is deemed the founder of the concept of cryonics; therefore his book (also titled The Prospect of Immortality) forms the grounding for both the process and the exploration of it carried out by Ballard. The Side Gallery claims that Ballard takes and ‘objective’ stance in order to let the viewers develop their own connection with the morals explored in this work.

The presentation of the work is crucial to both engage the viewer and to convey the message across. Ballard displays the work printed large scale and mounted onto dibond. This clinical feel was selected purposely to reflect the clinical nature of the process and the people that are soon to become a part of it. The large scale, unframed prints allow the viewer to almost step into the images, showing every last detail as though you are looking through a window.

When viewing this work, there are no written statements next to the prints – however there is an audio narrative. This introduction of technology is keeping in line with the idea of technological and scientific advances. This can also be interpreted in another way. The written word is less human, although a person wrote it, a connection will develop further if the word is spoken; displaying the human behind the process. Another interpretation is that although the work is not intending to persuade towards or against the process, we as humans respond to the tone of a persons voice and much like religion, the spoken word could represent an almost religious preaching – encouraging support and highlighting the negatives.

Facing the concept of death is an unpleasant sensation, and it’s one that Roland Barthes explores in his theories surrounding the photographic image and it’s effect. Barthes explores how we can be moved by the image, in his text Camera Lucida and how the photographic image is made up of two parts; the punctum and the studium. When viewing this image the framing and the places are familiar, however when viewing a select few images I feel punctum. The studium and punctum are always at play in every photograph, and are very much subjective. The studium is what draws you into the photograph (such as a lush palette or a beautiful scene). On the other hand the punctum is the element that disturbs this balance, interrupting it and causing pain (like a prick or a bruise). I feel comfort looking into Ballard’s photographs due to their inviting nature. However, I experience the punctum when I notice a body bag or a coffin, as this reminds me of death; which is not a comfortable thought.

Ballard’s work has enticed me to think about the position of photography along side the advancement of technology. As photography is it’s self always developing, we are aging and may not see in years to come what photography as a medium has to offer or the artists practicing it. This is what intrigues me about the concept cryogenics. However, the way in which Ballard discusses the topic in a sophisticated manner has triggered me to think about photography and my position in it in a whole other way.


You, Me and Autism by Colin Potsig – Side Gallery, Newcastle

27th March – 30th April 2017

Colin Potsig’s project You, Me and Autism was shown during World Autism Awareness Week (27th March – 2nd April 2017), presenting an interesting conversation between photography and Autism. Autism is a condition that is lifelong, affecting the person’s ability to perceive and interact with the world1. Potsig also has Autism, leading him to carry out the project to challenge the key characteristics and confronts them face on.

Photography and disability are two topics that are starting to come together. In history, they have been widely unsympathetic and misinformed. Contemporary art and particularly photography, are trying to challenge this. The work, shown in a small white wall gallery on the ground floor, is displayed in the way which mimics the way in which a person with autism perceives the world. The space is small and filled with other things, computers books and the front desk. The prints are placed close together, enhancing this sensation.

Potsig photographs his subjects, and frames them on the wall. He adds context to the work by disclosing the subjects name, their age and when they were diagnosed. When you first enter the gallery space, the framed black and white and colour prints on the wall with their contextualisation are the first to greet you. The artist statement is round the corner, hidden away. By removing this, Potsig is challenging the public perception of disability; particularly invisible disability. This is a concept that I am very interested in and is conveyed throughout my visual investigation of the invisible disability in my FMP.

Although not the most striking portraits, the style effectively conveys the lack of ability to perceive and convey emotions; which is associated with autism. Without the understanding of the condition, (a family member of mine Autism), the viewer may just disregard the portraits. Which enforces the theory that disability is a social issue that is largely overlooked by society as a whole due to lack of understanding. Therefore, Potsig’s work is commendable in this respect.


Apocrypha – An Exhibition by Jed Buttress

14th-17th April

Jed Buttress is a local artist currently studying BA (Hons) Fine Art at Newcastle University. In order to gain exhibition experience and make his debut, Jed created, curated and opened an enticing exhibition of a body of work called Apocrypha.

Apocrypha means writings that are not believed to be real or genuine. This title is the only key piece of information that informs the viewer how to view the work. The collection is a mix of sculpture, fine art, photography and other mixed media pieces; showing Buttress’ strength to work with a large variety of mediums.

The work explores the connection between the disappearance of children and young adults and paranormal/extra-terrestrial phenomena. The collection showcased a selection of ‘evidence’ such as a mangled mess of bikes, left at the scene of an abduction/disappearance. As the mediums used were broad, the way in which the collection formed and interacted with the viewer, without any context, was remarkable. The use of posters especially for a missing dog, with the accompaniment of the dog’s vandalised collar played with the viewers notion of reality and made the viewer question the truth of the story. To suggest every piece of evidence in the gallery was manipulated and created to deceive would be to spoil the fun of the exhibition. However, the extent that Jed Buttress travelled too to produce such an intricate body of work, which created a reaction (showing it’s success), was commendable.

As I have known and learned in the same environment as Jed, I am ultimately going to be biased regarding the success of his work. However, it was intriguing to see how with the same grounding, people still produce very different works; although our intentions are the same – to produce outstanding work that both shows our interests and our strengths as emerging artists.

Seeing a peer showcase their work as a solo exhibition has motivated me to look into thinking about a solo or even small group show. Doing this will be good experience and will also help build my reputation as an emerging photographer.

Kyoko Tachibana – Visiting Speaker

Kyoko Tachibana visited the University of Cumbria to give a talk on her practice and artists residencies. Kyoko is a Japanese born and based, working primarily in the art sector. Her most recent roles include being the Programme Director at S-AIR, (Sapporo Artist In Residence). The non-profit organisation hosts partnering artists and curators on an exchange programme, offering them to work in the unique environment and respond to it artistically. Tachibana also spoke of her current residency at London’s Art Catalyst as a Resident Curator.

Tachibana spoke to the audience firstly about the historical context of Sapporo, capital of Hokkaido. The island has a very brief history, roughly only lasting around 150 years or so. Previous to this, the island was inhabited by the Ainu people, an indigenous group who have lived on the land for many years before. During the industrial revolution of Hokkaido, the island was built quickly in order to house all of the new citizens. They modernised the land, and quickly designed buildings in order to keep with the trends of design at the time.

The aim of the talks was to show how well partnerships and exchange programmes work. Tachibana showed us work from previous exchange programmes; such as Justin Ambrosino, Andi Schmeid, and Mat Cowan. The work was very diverse, however was coming more from a fine art and film background.

The exchange programme requirements were also spoken of as not only do the artists in residence produce work, but they are also required to base themselves in a local community or school and provide workshops. This ensures that both parties receive the best possible outcome from the residency.

Tachibana went on to explore the most recent project regarding nuclear decommissioning. This was particularly interesting as it shows an outsider, who lives on the doorstep of a nuclear power plant, what could happen following its closure or if a nuclear disaster was to happen.

Overall, although a possibility, I don’t believe that I could carry out an artist residency abroad due to health reasons. However, they are an excellent opportunity to anyone who undertakes them, providing invaluable experience.

Britain in Focus: A Photographic History

Britain in Focus: A Photographic History aired on BBC 4 on Monday 6th March 2017 as part of the BBC’s Photography season. This episode, the first in a series of three, explores the history of photography in the 19th century. The programme explored the development of science and art along side the British economy.

Eamonn McCabe explores the position of photographers at this time, and the challenges, both through ‘technology’ and support that they faced. Photography is something that in today’s age, we take for granted as something that is accessible to most. Photography is something that is all around us, in the media, in advertising, in the home and in our literature. However, everything must start somewhere.

Theoretically, photography, in both film and digital forms is painting with light. The photographer possesses a tool, the camera, which is used to capture the light and produce an image – the photograph. From a nation predominantly dictated by the painting, this development by scientists was not embraced in the early years.

In the first episode, McCabe explores the pioneers of photography in Britain, and how photography was initially deemed a science. The programme mainly focused on the male photographer, reflecting visions of the time. I found this particularly interesting. The programme explored how this advancement of science in the 19th century made photography develop from a scientific process, seen in the works of Roger Fenton to artistic masterpieces that mimicked the framing and principles of painting, shown by Julia Margaret Cameron. Without the fundamental advances in photography that were shown in this episode, we would possibly not be where we are today regarding photography.

In the second episode, McCabe explored the 20th century and how the photograph was now becoming more accessible to the masses. The photograph was firstly used in the studio, making it easy for the glass plate to be developed, but with the invention of the roll of film and mass printing, it made photography the key means of recording events, both in the home and by the media. The episode explored works by the media and Kristina Broom to increase the moral of soldiers, and artists like Cecil Beaton who developed fine art photography. Without the pioneers in the documentary and fine art genre it’s puzzling to think what we would be photographing today and if we even would be categorizing it as such.

The final episode explored the late 20th century up until the present day, looking into the sport photography industry, and the use of photography to react to disasters and industrialisation and the accessibility of photography to everyone. The episode explored pioneers such as John Hinde’s postcards, showing Photography’s ability to be manipulated in order to persuade. The documentary greats such as John Bulmer, Martin Parr and Vanley Burke were explored, showing the use of photography to respond to political and social anguish.

Although particularly biased, McCabe produced an interesting account of Britain’s history of photography. The programme triggers the thought that we take photography for granted, as it dominates our lives now – as so many men and women devoted their time to create such a brilliant trade which has now became such a large factor of my life.