Sunday, 23 June 2013

Born Free Range, the second batch cometh!

Loved this display of books by Nottingham Trent University Students

Hello all. I must begin by apologising for the rant that is to follow, but it's for your own good graduates & if I didn't care I would't say it.  These are the things that everyone bemoans & no-one puts out there, so I have taken it upon myself to have a minor rant, followed by a selection of works that caught my eye on Thursday for various reasons. Many upon closer inspection need some pointers on self promotion, presentation & even grammar checks on their website - but these are the things that can be tweaked quickly. For now I just want to applaud all the graduates for getting this far. Now the real work begins....

Part 1. The RANT:

This is a shout-out for COMMON SENSE!!!! 

Photography, art, life, is all about communication. 

In order to communicate with your chosen medium remember the image needs to speak its concept visually - if no one can decipher this from looking at it why make a picture at all?

Having trawled through the Free Range website I was astounded at the lack of consistency with regard to gaining info & images. (Photography graduates without an image on their page SERIOUSLY!) This has made the writing of this blog to be akin to the speed of a sloth on valium trying to climb a tree - VERY VERY SLOW! As a result I don't have time to write lots about each photographer. Had more info been available I would have written much more...

What I've come up with is a list of comments, interspersed with ideas & advice that arose from my Free Range experience. Take it or leave it - but remember I say it with love.... 

Rules of engagement:

1. Put ALL of your info out there wherever you show up, lead your audience to you, do not expect them to find you, they will loose interest & look at something/someone else/s work/s. (I am having to look up some of the websites as the info is not consistently on the Free Range site - bad practice people, start as you mean to go on - be professional)
ie: Website/ Twitter / Linkedin / email / get the idea! Tumblr is not deemed professional though, so if you don't have a website get one!

2. Display - standards must be set high. If you've ever heard the phrase 'less is more' or 'Quality over quantity' take it on board. I won't name & shame but this made me both sad & angry:

Longest caption ever on my blog so far...
A horribly crinkled print that needed dry mounting, behind a window mount (which was the wrong size) that looked like it had been cut with a butter knife, with no glass in the frame & pencil lines all over the wall. It was shocking, distracting & disappointing. 

3. Artists statements / writing on your website : You are not a writer, so if you have to get someone who is to write the text for you or a t least get several people to read what you have written. I often see a car crash of grammatical errors, coupled with 'artspeak' which means nothing & doesn't make you look clever, just pretentious. (For those of you who know me 'juxtaposition' is my least favourite word in the whole world. It is overused & often in the wrong context. Leave it alone. Find another!)

4. If you don't have a website get one! This is your 'shop window' a look into your work, the first glance, use it or loose your audience! Once the work comes off the wall how else can you be found? (I could do a whole blog on websites but this is for another time...) It's so much easier now, you can do it yourself or (if you are a bit flush) pay someone else to do it for you. 

Now for something completely different...

Part 2. Some work that caught my eye

The work I found interesting, only some of it as time is pressing. I didn't see absolutely everything & its not advisable to try to in one go as there is a lot to digest, but here goes...

©Theodore Deproost
Film Still #04
What He Thought She Didn’t See - An Unmade Film.

I like the concept of An Unmade Film as a visual narrative waiting for the insertion of a story by the viewer. It could be argued that this happens a lot with many staged photographs, but Theordore Deproost's lighting techniques & dramatic scenes begged for a script & made for engaging viewing. I was ready to cast the film. That reminds me I must get Gary Oldman & Tim Roth on the blower...

©Benjamin Skerratt
Untitled 2

Another series which abandons traditional narrative was Benjamin Skerratt's portraits with faces turned away from the camera. This image feels as if something monumental is about to happen. Then I realised what it reminded me of:

Caspar David Friedrich
The Wanderer above the mists

Whether this was intentional or not doesn't matter to me. For a graduate work to conjure up this painting is enough for me. The determination of the mans face is present even though you cannot see it through the stance & posturing of the figure. We enter Skerratt's  subconscious through his lens & his subjects actions, refreshing. 

©Chrissy Boddy

I was drawn to this work firstly by its display in a white square tray frame (without glass) exposing the prints to the elements, which suited the imagery discussing the cyclical fragile notions of nature & nurture on a global scale. Chrissy Boddy's images are circles within circles, twisted to take them out of sync with each other & positioned to show the interconnectedness of the themes both physically & psychologically. Made me think of the film The Tree of Life.

Be Still
5x4" C-type print

Emily Moya Addis' work emulates Victorian values, depicting haunting images inspired by a story title The Yellow Wallpaper (1892) by Charlotte Perkins Gilman - a cautionary tale about a woman descending into madness. (Well worth the read) Victorian notions of power, control & female hysteria whilst 'remaining still' are displayed with visual dexterity, small & perfectly formed. 

Anatomiae - Leporidae

I couldn't resist this, as again I am reminded of a great painting (the first that I was fascinated with after being given a book on Rembrandt aged 6) The Anatomy Lesson whereby the layers of skin stripped back reveal the muscles of a mans arm. 

The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp
It works. I look forward to seeing what comes next from Rouse... 

From one sculptural theme to another, I was pleasantly surprised she I saw Jenny Wickens  photograms. The lovely tension created by the physical reality of the potted plants with the realisation that the 'shadows' were in fact photogrsams & did not match the plant placed upon them works beautifully. 

©Gemma Pepper

Gaol / Untitled 3

Using objects & spaces inside the Galleries of Justice Museum in Nottingham - a once woking prison - Gemma Pepper's work with chalky tones upon first glance barely read as photographs. These are are constructed environments made from fictional spaces which are now used as interactive teaching tools. The real is made unreal again with harmonious results.

So now its time to take a deep breath & go out into the big bad world. The tools you need are out there, just use common sense & you can't go far wrong.

Discussing your work with others is important & ultimately useful for the future as you meet other artists, curators, press & galleries. If you attend/exhibit at exhibition events & festivals having confidence to speak eloquently about your work & practice is an invaluable tool.

With L A Noble Gallery's forthcoming Summer Salon exhibition at Maybe a Vole in Dalston we will be conducting salon evenings (with a limit to 8 people per evening session from 6.30pm - 8.30pm - £12). The gallery invites each attendee to bring one of their photographs to talk about for 5 - 10 minutes each. The group headed up by yours truly will discuss the photographs & compare ideas in the traditions of the great salons of the 1930's. To book a place for the first salon on Tuesday July 23rd email 

Why not join us, practice your networking & public speaking skills, pick up tips & take your practice to the next level.

Places will be reserved on a first come first served basis. 

Throughout the exhibition personal Portfolio reviews can also be booked. These can be to focus on your work at all stages of completion, with advice on editioning, pricing & career development. Each review is bespoke to your needs at every level. For more details see this link. To book please email - be sure to include a contact telephone number.

Address during exhibition, please do not send post to this address:
L A Noble Gallery 
c/o Maybe a Vole 
51 King Henrys Walk, N1 4NH

Remember I don't bite, so please feel free to post comments! 


Thursday, 13 June 2013

Wild & free, but what is the reality?

The graduation frenzy is upon us & I have just returned from the first batch of 'Free Range' students shows at The Truman Brewery. The next batch will have their private view next week.

As always, I had a lot of thoughts about what was on display, how it was displayed & in some cases why it was displayed?

The usual round up of highlights is all well & good but before that I think the true meaning of being a graduate must be taken into consideration. A lovely drunken night celebrating the culmination of three years work on the walls of a big old industrial building is great fun, but what happens next......?

Honestly, this will probably not be what you would expect.

Rachel, BA Photography
©Matthew Sheather

This is why I have to mention the lovely young man, Matthew Sheather from Plymouth College of Art - who approached me when I came over to look at his work. (Incidentally, he was the only one who did this.) Not only was he sober, but he was very engaging and passionate about his work. The merits of his attitude I felt too important to pass by without comment. He pitched his project well & made me look more closely at his work for longer than I would have otherwise. 

One of the problems with big degree shows is that you can get photo-fatigue quite quickly as there are often similar projects on display and repetitive themes result in a less engaged audience. 

Spot the art
©Laura Noble

What really fascinated me was the brave choice of Matthews project, 'When The Crow Flies'. I had at this point seen a LOT of portraits at Free Range, notable in their abundance this year. Some were better than others, but I was not really 'feeling' many of them.

The difficulty with only three portraits from the series on display meant that I hadn't seen the story behind the work beyond three portraits of people in their work uniforms. Also the titles of the work were not on display, which would have revealed much more about the series. (Artists statements are helpful if you are drawn to a particular series - but not to read on the opening night - you would be there until the morning!) I know that many universities wrestle with the 'caption' question but sometimes they really help when there are this many students works from different universities on display. 

Rosie, BA Textiles
©Matthew Sheather

It was a refreshing reality check both for myself & for the students to have a glimpse into the future of graduates (just like themselves) who only 12 months ago were celebrating the completion of their degree. Photographed at work, their current occupations (in the case of the three on display) are far removed from the subjects they had studied.

I asked if there were images of men also; 'Yes' came the reply, 'about half of each in the series of 19 pictures'. Unfortunately they are not on display on Matthew's site yet, but I expect that will change... 

Sundry Socket Arrangement
©Laura Noble

So the thing that made the greatest impression this evening wasn't a body of work but an individual who has looked into the future & had not shied away from the uncomfortable realities of being a graduate today. Don't despair, but be realistic & aim high, but do it well. All the Camera Lucida quotes in the world won't get you a job if you aren't willing to stick your neck out & be noticed. Be polite, friendly & unafraid to show your devotion to your practice, you never know who may be looking at your website the minute they get home, or even writing a blog about it....