Sunday, 22 April 2012

Ballen Video

Head Inside Shirt, 2001, Roger Ballen

Hello everyone. Well it's been a busy couple of weeks, so just a quick update on the Roger Ballen event for now. 

Before, during & after the event a truly talented chap Michal Dziera filmed the proceedings & put together this wonderful short film. Do post your comments on both this blog & his if you can. I always appreciate feedback. To see the video go here

Also, thanks to Sophie Gerrard I was made aware of the interview with Ballen on 'Front Row', to hear it on i-player go to this link. (Starts from 21:04 mins in)

Obvious questions are asked, but after my parents reviewed the Manchester Art Galleries show. I am looking forward to catching it myself very soon!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Competitive times call for competitive measures

A sample of the pages of this great free magazine. I never miss an issue.

Well hello again all. Just a quick blog to let you know about a great competition I've spotted for all you street photographers out there. As you know we have the Fitzrovia Photography Photography Prize at Diemar/Noble Photography, but what better to shoot your next entry than on an Olympus PEN camera!

Featured in the fantastic State/f22 mag ONLY there is an exclusive call out for photographers to shoot an image on the streets to be posted up to a site & if they like it, they may send you a PEN to take it on! The ones they like get to keep the camera! This is an extraordinary chance. I'd love to see the results. 

The camera is a beauty, with all kinds of features & looks very retro too. As you know I leave the tech talk to the enthusiasts, but couldn't keep this to myself. 

There is a great youtube channel with some info on it too see here!

To download all the details go here. Good luck & happy snapping!

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Ballen & Bristol experiences!

The Venue 

After a very eventful week I would firstly like to wish you a very Happy Easter. As promised here is a report on the two events I have participated in. The first was the Roger Ballen lecture & interview. 

Waiting in the wings...

He spoke for a little over an hour & posed questions to the audience, really letting us into his vision for his work. It is easy to focus upon the people in his photographs without really noticing the formal qualities that his pictures present. His compositions are very carefully considered, more akin to an abstract painter's than a photographer. A mark on a wall is considered of equal importance to the person in the frame, alongside the angle of their arm & the wire hanger on the wall. His forthright unapologetic demeanour was a refreshing change & kept the audience on their toes, me included. 

Roger Ballen in full flow

When it was my turn to interview Ballen I focused on the philosophical nature & intimacy of his own drawings & others found drawings in his photographs, which translate to a sort of automatic writing both haunting & instinctive to view.

An audience gripped

There were several Tweets during the lecture that expressed dissaproval of Ballen occasionally referring to himself in the third person. I felt that this wasn't quite getting the point. He was creating an emotional gap between his work & himself in order to provoke a response, which he achieved admirably. Rattle the audience, demand their full attention...see above.

Sign at the time

A retrospective of his work can be seen at Manchester Art Gallery, I urge you to go & see for yourself. 

Then there was Bristol....

Mshed approach
A quick note about the images here. Any pics without a credit are taken by me, on my phone so nothing special. The rest are by Angela Williams who kindly let me use her photo's taken at the talk on Saturday the 7th for the 'Collecting Photography' event. (Please note that photography is not usually permitted in the gallery)  

The Venue

This was my first visit to the Mshed gallery. The place was buzzing with visitors, with several Easter themed events taking place over the weekend including my own. It's an impressive building with wonderful industrial views. The gallery focuses mainly on the history of Bristol.

The fantastic display of Parkinson's work alongside period fashion

This is one of the first views of the exhibition, wow! The combination of design alongside the photographs works beautifully. The curation is excellent, really bringing the story of Norman Parkinson's work to life. The show has been put on in association with the Angela Williams Archive. Angela herself worked with Parkinson in the 1960's & exhibits vintage & modern prints from it.  Each image is captioned with the usual information including the model's name & the designer whose clothes he or she is wearing & the campaign (if any) or shoot & who for (Vogue etc...) which is extremely helpful. The black & white works are all vintage silver gelatin prints, the colour are modern prints taken from the original transparencies. 

A little before the talk begins...© Angela Williams

I have included a few images of the talk so that you can see the layout of the gallery, which works beautifully. 

During © Angela Williams

As you can see here, there is natural light coming in from the side as well which gives the space a light & airy feel. 

More during...© Angela Williams

It was an informal affair, therefore people were free to stop & listen if they wished, so we had quite a large audience by the end & lots of keen questions, which is always welcome. 

© Angela Williams

After the talk we headed downstairs to a private room where people could view the vintage portfolio of prints from the archive. It was perfect as in my talk I had expressed the importance of getting close to prints whenever possible & the necessity of photography books when collecting (often the first step to collecting photography) & researching artists of interest. 

© Angela Williams
There were more questions here, notably the question of fashion photo's that were originally being commissioned now considered to be part of the artistic canon, not just commercial - as was their initial intention.   

© Angela Williams

The work brought people together informally & prompted much discussion. 

© Angela Williams

© Angela Williams

© Angela Williams

© Becky Peters

Finally, myself with Michael & Angela Williams all happy after a very pleasant afternoon. Many thanks to both of them for inviting me to talk (plying me with cakes) & to M shed for their wonderful hospitality.

The exhibition finishes on April 15th, so be sure to get your skates on to visit it! 

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Roger Ballen: Janet Hall Memorial Lecture & Conversation. Tues April 3rd /// Mshed lecture on Collecting in Bristol. Sat 7th April

Twirling Wires, 2001, Roger Ballen 

Hello all, yes I'm back blogging again & by means of explaining the longer than usual gap between posts I am pleased to announce an event in which I shall be taking part in on Tuesday evening: 

The Janet Hall Memorial Lecture with Roger Ballen & yours truly as the interviewer/conversationalist (for want of a better title as to my role in the proceedings). Here is a brief quote about the lecture's history:London Independent Photography organises an annual lecture with a renowned photographer working on independent projects. The lecture takes place each year in memory of co-founder member Janet Hall who passed away in 2005. She was our energetic, original program organiser and a driving force in establishing London Independent Photography in 1987. The sale of her photographic equipment, bestowed to the group, made the original Janet Hall lecture possible. Previous speakers have included Martin Parr, Brian Griffin and Simon Norfolk.
Having known of Roger's work for many years & first meeting him some years ago I am thrilled to be asked to take part. There are many contradictions & visual acrobatics in Ballen's work which I am keen to discuss. For every question I have an anticipated answer which could fall on either side of the coin. 

What do I mean by this? I have imagined the many answers, from the research  I've done & prior knowledge of his work & interviews from the questions I am thinking of asking him. Of course on the night these questions may change as the answers may be included as part of his lecture. However, to expand on this I've posed some of the multiple possibilities below.

For example:

A question I could ask: Do you think that your portraits of poor white South African's are exploiting their unfortunate circumstances for arts sake, as this work is not classed as photojournalism? 

(Of course he will not agree with this statement, but bear with me I am playing devil's advocate here)

Possible imagined answer 1: Not at all. In fact the Apartheid Government were keen that this group of South African's should be kept hidden from the general public...

Possible imagined answer 2: They are as subjects very interesting both visually & socially & should not be omitted from the artistic canon because they pose an uncomfortable aesthetic.... 

Possible imagined answer 3: I think that they are beautiful & portray them as I do to expose that beauty...
OR is photojournalism exploitative? Discuss....
(ooh I am putting the cat amongst the pigeons today)

Can you see my dilemma here? I do not wish to appear aggressive towards Ballen, but feel that there must be an element of challenge to his practice & work as it absolutely invites it. This is perhaps its strength. It should prove to be a very interesting conversation...

I hope I have whetted your appetite & if you can make it or know of anyone who may be interested in attending I look forward to seeing you there. This prolific artist is rarely in the UK & it is well worth the entry fee I am sure. Please note that it is cheaper to pre-book than get a ticket on the door so go online to book today! Doors open at 6.30pm, lecture starts at 7pm prompt!

An Eye for Fashion: 
Norman Parkinson Photographs 
British Designers 1954 -1964

And now for my second bit of news: 
This coming Saturday 7th April I shall also be giving a lecture on Collecting Photography at the Mshed Gallery in Bristol. This talk is to compliment the current exhibition on display there: An Eye for Fashion : Norman Parkinson Photographs, British Designers 1954 -1964. The show displays over 60 vintage photographs of his work & should prove to be a great day out in the lovely surroundings with plenty to see. 

If you are wondering how to spend your Easter weekend why not come to Bristol & visit Mshed. They have also combined clothing form the period to really show how Parkinson brought the clothes to life through his lens. It is important to see the vintage print on display whenever possible as so many technical changes have taken place in recent years regarding the printing of photographs. The richness & depth of a print is always exquisite when in the hands of a great photographer & I sincerely hope that you will spread the word regarding both events in this blog to anyone you think may be interested. I look forward to seeing you very soon.