Tuesday, 30 June 2009

FRESHfaced & WILDeyed 09

Image copyright Jonathan Baggaley

You got 5 days left to get your arses down to The Photographers Gallery to see FRESHfaced & WILDeyed 09 the recent (MA) graduates show. HERE for the online gallery.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Christina Seely & The LUX Project Are Coming To Town.

I was contacted a couple of weeks ago by Christina Seely. She introduced herself and her long term project LUX. She's coming to Manchester in August to add us to the work. She was after some contacts here, a bit of company during the long exposures and a bit of local knowledge. Gill Moore stepped up and is going to act as Christina's guide and possible Sherpa during the expedition to..... well where? a good location to view the city from, any suggestions? I was thinking from Salford towards town either Oldfield Road or perhaps my current stomping ground Pomona. She wants some nature in the foreground so if anybody has any better ideas let me know and I'll forward your suggestions on to Christina.It looks like an interesting and mammoth project and I'm glad the bright lights of Manchester are being included.

The Un-Natural Nature of Food.

Image copyright Jason Houston

Issue 7 Of Fraction web mag is out with a blinding group show, "The Un-Natural Nature of Food". I'd have let them look at my ever increasing collection of takeaway menu's if they'd asked nicely.......

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Urban Exposures

Image copyright Ed Watts
Manchester based photographer Ed Watts has started to run photography workshops through Urbis. Ed's a great young photographer and a nice bloke to boot and he promises to show you how to avoid taking pictures of Manchester reflected in puddles........... Details below.
Alternate Wednesdays6-8pm1, 15, 29 July, 12, 26 August, 9, 23 September£5 per session, includes tea/coffee
In each session you will be set a theme to test your creative response, you will take a journey around the city using the urban surroundings as a backdrop. The session concludes with an informal discussion looking at each image, discussing and brainstorming the success of the work or how the photographs could be improved.
This is your chance to join a friendly group of like-minded individuals and possibly take your photography in new directions. So whatever your level of knowledge and skills come along to exchange ideas and techniques, all you need is your digital camera and your imagination!
15 spaces per session, tickets from Urbis information desk or email tours@urbis.org.uk
or visit the Flickr gallery http://www.flickr.com/photos/urbanexposures/

Friday, 26 June 2009

MJ Never Came To Widnes, (but he couldn't half sing)

I was going to be all aloof and not mention MJ. Then I noticed that most of the cool kid photo bloggers are too cool to mention him so being an awkward bastard and him being well, MJ I thought fuck it I will, then I remembered I don't really have that many connections with him other than when was a kid and Pippa my rabbit got strangled one night and my mum found her and then I heard this song and projected my grief onto it. That's it. That's my MJ story. I wish my life was more glam and I had anecdotes like this........

P.S Is it me or does he look a little bit like Lilly Allen? No wonder he had fucking plastic surgery........ It's got to be said though that listening to him sing as a youngster well he could, really sing.

Here we go again.

I may be wrong but I have a feeling that the Media are about to canonize another celeb all be it a real one.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Sunny Sunny Days.

Images copyright Mark Page
Where do you go on those sunny sunny days like the last couple we've just had? I have my (semi) secret spot.
Some of you will have seen it from the tram to Salford Quays. There at the side Of The River Irwell is the mini miracle called Pomona. We all need a bit of nature even a cynical old urban monkey like me, and Pomona is where I head.
How this slice of riverside prime real estate has passed under the radar of planners I'll never know, but because it has for the best part of two decades, nature has decided to reclaim her. I say her because Pomona was the Roman Goddess of Gardens, fruit trees and orchards which judging by all the flora and fauna that has made this area it's home seems totally appropriate.
There are legends connected to this area including Roman sites (perhaps where it's name originated from) and THIS one which is my favourite and I do keep my eye's peeled for treasure!
During Victorian times it became Pomona Pleasure Gardens which it's hard to find any info on there's more on it's later use as Pomona Dock. If anyone knows more about the area please let me know as my getaway has now become a project to photograph Pomona over the next twelve months. I'm flower pressing as well, I want to document the area fully as I can't believe that this oasis will last too much longer.
If you're passing, get off the tram and come and say hello but don't tell too many people I like the peace and quiet.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Masumi Hayashi: Japanese American Internment

Thanks to Benjamin for the tip-off, and thanks to Pete for introducing me to something special with this post and the work of Masumi Hayashi.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

The National Photography Symposium.

Friday started with the Bolton Uni MA show and the most somber slideshow presentation I have ever been to, maudlin I think is the word I am looking for which is a shame because some of the work was pretty good if a little conservative, and Ian McMillan had kicked things off with an entertaining presentation, I'll feature my favs of the Bolton lot here over the next few of days.
Favourite talks were by Francis Hodgson writer on photography for The Financial Times and former head of photographs at Sotheby's he was "bang on the money" regarding the general state of photography in the UK compared to Europe/US. What did I make of the first National Photography Symposium? All in all a good first effort, I look forward to it growing over the next few years, although I think a different venue is needed. Beautiful though Hogwarts is, what with the creaky clunky doors, too small rooms and them bloody Cathedral bells........

Watching Too Much Telly Is Bad "fer ya ass"

This shite is lottery funded & Trafford Council funded........ Middle class whites, you gotta love em.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

I'm In A Gang and I May See Some Of You Homies At The Weekend.

In that great Manchester tradition and one that continues I have at last joined a "Gang"
I may see you Lil Homies tomorrow as it's the start of The National Photography Symposium here in Manchester. I shall be there so come over and say yo if you are there too. I'll be the incredibly handsome motherfucker in the Manchester Photography T-shirt. Just kidding I've not really got a Manchester Photography T-shirt.. I'm off to bed now coz I'm loosing the plot.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Ben Graville's "In & Out of The Old Bailey" That's all folks!

So post three and the last on this. Ben Graville has left a comment on his work and Kudos to him for that. He Say's,

"There seems to be an idea that there could be financial or career gain from in and out the old bailey. this is not the case. not a penny has come from the work and wouldn't. If there ever was any money it would be heading straight to m.o.j.o. miscarriages of justice organisation set up by paddy hill and john mcmanus who are dedicated to assisting innocent people both in prison and after their release. During my time working the courts I covered all the criminal appeals at the high court London. I would see and meet paddy hill who would appear at all the appeals where I covered ( to name a few ) sally clark, robert brown, gary mills and tony poole." Ben Graville

I'll leave Ben to have the last word it seems only fair. Should anybody want to continue the debate please feel free to use the comments section here.

Now let's all chill with Porridge..................

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Ben Graville's "In & Out of The Old Bailey" CONT'D

First off thanks to everyone who took the time to respond to my last post.

I would like to reply to a couple of things that Pete Brook from the excellent and perfectly placed to have a view on this subject, PRISON PHOTOGRAPHY said.

Pete Says. "Ideally, we'd not live in a paparazzi world, but we do. Do authorities then - over time - phase in windowless vans or do they not assess windows in their remand transportation fleet?"

Agreed. We do live in a world of the "pap" and they are free to spend their days photography celebrities. That comes with the territory when you "Dance with the Devil" I can accept the same with the "Evil Monsters" of the tabloid world. As far as I can tell though from Graville's pictures these are your more run of the mill prisoners whether on remand or not. As I'm sure you know many of those people especially those on remand will have many social and medical problems, mental health issues dependency problems etc not to mention mis-carriages of justice. I am taking offence at a bloke with a career plan and a big DSLR taking advantage for selfish gain.

Pete you say "While acknowledging shaky ethical ground I still find this photographic document worthwhile." I can't see that at all. What is it showing us? That some members of the public are locked up and transported between jail and court, and that when confined and humiliated and when someone trys to take their picture they react in different ways, exactly the same as people do in any situation. I don't need to pull the wings off a daddy long legs to know that if you do it's fucked for flying.

You're right Pete there is lots of Photojournalism that does nothing but exploit and make some big bucks for photographers. I've heard the stories from Don McCullin about photographers photographing a person as they die rather than helping, stories from the sixties, and I often wonder why photographers keep churning out the same images time and again and anyway that's why we invented Simon Norfolk because he brings something new to the table. Thing is that for every shithead there is a genuine, if a little naive, idealist on Lightstalkers who truly believes that his picture of an orphan will be THE one to change the world. That's not what "In & Out of The Old Bailey" is about, Graville's work's not prison reform it's "Wolf Boy"

I'll finish with a story. A while back I was in line for a commission to make some work about local cemeteries, a subject that would be an absolute minefield of cliches. Myself and a friend were racking our brains to come up with a new slant on a tired subject. As we got sillier and sicker with our ideas the idea of hiding behind the grave stones and jumping out and photographing the relatives paying their respects. Could you imagine those facial expressions? Of course we would never really do such a thing and felt ashamed of ourselves for even joking about other peoples misery. Perhaps with hindsight I should have done it and submitted it to Foto8..........

As for the windows, Like Benjamin I to have spent some time on the inside of said vans, (no doubt the main reason why I hate this work) and trust me when stuck in one for over an hour you want a window. What you don't want is some cock sticking a camera through it...............

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Ben Graville's "In & Out of The Old Bailey"

Image copyright Ben Graville

Uhhm Ben Graville's series "In & Out Of The Old Bailey" where to start. I would like to say that out of all the genre's of photography (and yes I know definitions are getting blurry, but humour me) Art & Documentary are what I spend most of my time looking at. I would never claim to be that knowledgeable about photojournalism but in the words of my Mother "I know what I like" so what to make of Graville's series.
I came across it by being on the
Foto8 mailing list where this series is currently being showcased. I approached it from an Art point of view, wow I thought what a concept, what a good idea. We've all seen the paps and hard nosed press fella's sticking their big DSLR's up at the Meatwagon windows when some pee-doe or politician is behind the little black portholes, but what about the ordinary convict, breakdown of society, celebrity, surveillance all kind of metaphor and on top of that, fuck yeah lets look at them convicts! I've not seen that done before, think
Elephant Man style Victorian freak show goer and that was me.
On some levels these images are great. The rawness of the aesthetic, the fact that they have left me feeling a little grubby and have got me still thinking about them several days later and I'm sure for longer to come, all goes in their favour and some way to justify their existence. One of the justifications of shock art is to question to create debate and so this work has filled that role.
All that said I am uneasy with this work. I'm not sure about it's morale's. As said I became aware of it through Foto8 so it is fairly safe to assume that it's supposed to be a photojournalist piece not Conceptual Art. Does that matter? I believe it does and here's why.
Art owes nothing to anyone. Sure the artist owes to his/herself to be true, but other than that it's only job is to raise questions. How that is done is between the artist and their conscience. The artist has a supreme right to create work that is answerable to no one. OK a little strong but you get my point. I really don't believe that photojournalism has that right, in short it has more responsibility, and judging this work by what I see as the agreed rules of journalism I can't see the point or worth of these images and if anything find them just wrong.
First off what gives Graville the right to take in the truest sense of the word these peoples pictures. For a start off unless he has some gift of insight that even the judiciary I'm sure would not claim to have, he is assuming that these folks are criminals which of course if innocent till proven guilty means anything we can't know that. The whole series tells me next to nothing about the criminal justice system, crime or indeed nothing about the reasons behind crime or the criminals themselves other than what they look like when kept in less space than a fucking farm animal gets. No this is an idea that a photographer has had that has no other purpose than to raise his profile and fuck the people portrayed. He says this in his statement: "
The long process and dark grim historical nature of criminal law was the starting point of these pictures, highlighting through the anonymity of the remand prisoners hidden away from public consumption, not through choice but a decision made by the authority to potentially alienate further from society these remand prisoners. Through the project I realized when taking the pictures that the remand prisoners reaction by the third photograph with the flashgun firing was true to how they wanted to be portrayed in their current situation. Covering themselves up, making rude gestures, exposing parts of their body, expressing gang signs, pulling strange faces or joking with the camera. Devoid of the public gaze you often hear remand prisoners banging on the window of the van to attract attention, a reaction I received as well photographing. This want to be heard or seen is present in the photos showing how the process of criminal law mystifies and intensifies the situation as the prisoner travels between the remand prison and the Old Bailey."
Maybe it's me but I don't get any of that from these pictures I get people trapped and having their humiliation amplified by someone taking their pictures. OK so perhaps some respond with bravado so what? Tell me I'm wrong I would love to hear points of view from people with more experience of photojournalism and responsibility like say Duckrabbit.
Why do I have such an issue with this work, it smacks of that shit categorising people that the Nazi's did. I'm not saying that Graville's a Nazi but he obviously thinks he's Superior to this lot.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

PDN & my mate Stan.

Image copyright of some shitty corporate website I can't remember the name of.
Well done to Stan Banos for taking PDN to task about their behaviour. PDN have not only apologised ( after a fashion) but as can be seen above, have completely re-selected the judging panel.

New Shows Manchester Way.

Image copyright Ed Watts.
First up, graduate showtime and the first one to come under my radar is Blackpool & Fylde at Cube gallery until 13th June closely followed by my old college Stockport also at Cube starting on 16th until 20th.
Also Blackpool "old boy" Ed Watts has a solo at Urbis in the Reception Gallery called Stalk New York which runs until September.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Normal Service.

It's been a tad gloomy around here for the last few posts I know. It must be my "Artist" radar picking up on all the dogshit that's going down here in Blighty. Home was on NEWSNIGHT and other news programs tonight with some locals who I'm not being funny but if they've ever worked a fucking day in their sorry benefit claiming lives, moaning about Johnnie foreigner nicking their jobs "well there's no jobs fer us innit" they so eloquently replied, so that's wound me up. I thought Salfordians had more about them than voting BNP, but heyho. I'm obviously going to have to nobble Nick Griffin myself. Only kidding Special Branch, I'll get him to dress as a Brazilian plumber and you can do it for me. Just kidding, having a laugh, well you got to laugh ain't ya........... tomorrow lets chat photography, coz that seems important at the moment........

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Shit shit day,

Image copyright David White

As I've just heard that the BNP have won their first seat in the European Parliament. It follows on from my last couple of posts.

I guess we have to do the best we can to clean up our own bit of the back yard when it comes to racism and other questions of unfairness and shitty behaviour.

So following on, this:

duckrabbit offers $1000 photography prize,
In a vicious attack the blog
Reciprocity Failure recently accused America's most prestigious photography magazine PDN of 'passive racism' when it revealed that 24 out of the 24 judges of their Photo Annual competition are white. PDN have so far failed to mount a defense but duckrabbit are determined to come to their rescue.

Rather than see the world of photography dragged through the mud and a cloud hang over PDN duckrabbit have announced that they are offering $1000 to anyone who can credibly defend PDN's all white panel.
But will anyone come to their rescue and claim the prize?
For more details about the award visit the duckrabbit
Benjamin Chesterton
Creative Director, duckrabbit
United Kingdom
Landline +44 (0)121 4446716
Skype: duckrabbit76

Bloody well done to duckrabbit for literally "putting their money where their mouth is".

Friday, 5 June 2009

Chris Killip's "Youth on wall, Jarrow, Tyneside 1976

This is an iconic image, a famous image and for me one of, if not the best British portrait ever taken. It's been read as a metaphor for Britain at the end of empire, at the end of it's industrial reign. Britain awaiting the huge political and social change that was to arrive with Thatcher a couple of years later.

I'm sure it's all of those things and more.

I've always related to it on a personnel level. The subject could have been me. The lad would have been about the same age as I was then. I had them boots, that shaved head them pants, "Birmingham bags" we called them, swap the location from Jarrow to another Northern town in terminal decline, in my case Widnes and Mr Killip could have taken my picture.

It's also a picture of vulnerability, perhaps a metaphor for nation, I see it on a more literal level and I don't think that that makes it any less of a work of art.

This image stirs a sense of nostalgia, as I've mentioned, the clothes etc. It also drags back darker memories of a permeable sense of despair, of fear for the future heightened by the onset of manhood.

The current recession and rise of hate party's such as the BNP stir up memories from the same time. Young lads like the one shown above were easy pickings for the jackals of the right. Back then it was the NF and the youth division of Oi! now replaced by the BNP or the more "user friendly" UKIP. They are still looking for recruits and finding them, that picture could be shot again with a kid wearing tracky's we have new economic hardship and a new load of foreigners to blame.
Not that anyone needs to make a new image, Killip's picture stands the test of time but I challange any of you photographers who are reading this to go sum up our current scary moment in our nations history so perfectly with one shot......

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Fuck The BNP, Lets Dance.

Don't forget to vote on Thursday! Don't let the fascists sneak in fer fucks sake.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Stuart Griffiths: Isolation

Image copyright Stuart Griffiths
Friend of Manchester Photography, acclaimed Manc born photographer and ex-squaddie Stuart Griffiths has had a documentary made about his long term work and the issues that inform it, namely the plight of ex-service men and their often difficult return to "civvy street". The projects undertaken by Stuart are a perfect example of "The photographic lifestyle" that was mentioned here
and a good example of the best work coming from personnel experience.
The film ISOLATION by Luke Seomore & Joseph Bull is to be screened at this years Edinburgh International Film Festival details and a trailer can be found here.

PS.Lets continue to bear in mind the lack of support upon return, the shoddy living conditions, the lack of battle equipment and the expenses of the MP's who continue to send them to war.................