CURRENT PROJECTS: GRAIN Projects is delighted to be part of We Feed The UK a Gaia Foundation Project

26 10 2023

Aaron Schuman

GRAIN Projects is delighted to be part of We Feed The UK. Coming in 2024, the project will weave together the arts and environment to celebrate regenerative farmers as custodians of Britain’s biocultural diversity.

As one of the national arts partners to be collaborating with The Gaia Foundation, we have commissioned Aaron Schuman for our project as part of We Feed The UK who is working at community owned Fordhall Farm, Shropshire. Fordhall is a regenerative organic farm that is pioneering in its work as a care farm and youth project.

In October 2023, during the harvest season, you can see a selection of images from We Feed The UK on billboards going live in the north, south, east and west.

In February 2024, We Feed The UK launches at Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool.

We Feed The UK Arts Partners:

GRAIN Projects, Martin Parr Foundation, Multistory, North East Photography Network, Open Eye Gallery, Penpont, Brighton Photo Fringe, Belfast Exposed and Street Level Photoworks.

24 Oct | 6 PM – 7.30 PM
Zoom | Book your free ticket here

We are delighted to host a talk by Artist Louise Beer who was awarded a GRAIN Projects and Forestry England residency at Cannock Chase.

Louise is an artist and curator, born in Aotearoa New Zealand. She now works between London, Margate and Aotearoa. Louise uses installation, moving image, photography, writing, participatory works and sound to explore humanity’s evolving understanding of Earth’s environments and the cosmos. Her experience of living under two types of night sky, the first in low level light polluted areas in Aotearoa, and the second in towns and cities in England with higher levels of light pollution, has deeply informed her practice. She explores how living under dark skies, or light polluted skies, can change our perception of grief, the climate crisis and Earth’s deep time history and future.

Recent awards, residencies and commissions include Delfina x Gaia Art Foundation Science Technology Society UK Associateship (2020), Arts Council England Developing Your Creative Practice Grant (2021), North York Moors Dark Skies Residency with solo exhibition (2021), Amant Siena Residency (2021), CreaTures Art/Tech/Nature/Culture Residency (2021), Art + Air Exhibition Commission (2022), the Jean Harrison Commission (2022), Photo Fringe 2022 OPEN Eco (2022), Vera C. Rubin Observatory Kickstarter Grant with the University of Canterbury Mount John Observatory, Aotearoa New Zealand (2022), Derby Cathedral and FORMAT23 Photography Festival (2023). Earlier this year, Louise was awarded her second Arts Council England Developing Your Creative Practice grant.

An event with Artist Roo Dhissou
Sun, 26th Nov 2023 13:00 – 15:00
Midlands Art Centre, The English Studio

Book your free ticket here

A qissa (quisse plural) is a tradition of Punjabi oral storytelling with communities which emerged when the local Punjabi people and migrants from the Arab peninsular and contemporary Iran fused.

Join us for an event focussing on Sikh and Punjabi histories and narratives. Performance and talk with artist Roo Dhissou.

This event is a culmination of research (both archival and social) and the presentation of new work carried out by Roo Dhissou. Commissioned by GRAIN Projects, Roo’s research came together through collaboration with communities associated with the Sikh and Punjabi diaspora in Vancouver. The research was based around the history of the Komagata Maru in Vancouver in 1914. Using quisse, Roo recounts her memories of the research trip, presenting us with oral histories of her time spent in Canada with the local gurdwaras, Sikh and Punjabi communities, researchers and activists.

For more information on the project to date you can visit and Roo’s Instagram takeover @grain_projects

A GRAIN Projects commission, supported by Arts Council England and Birmingham City University

Exhibition at Spode Museum
20th September – 5th November 2023

As Photographer in Residence in the historic town of Stoke, Natalie Willatt has worked alongside diverse communities, each a part of the town, and each welcoming her to their places of congregation. With a focus on belief and faith, in its broadest sense, Natalie’s main interest is in the behaviours and gestures of people partaking in worship, music, football and heritage.

The exhibition is the culmination of a two year residency as part of Picturing High Streets. During this time Natalie has worked collaboratively with individuals and communities, attending events, leading workshops and photo-walks and documenting people’s lives. The photographs, exhibited at the museum, including in the new community garden space, show congregation, community and union. They offer an alternative view to the commonly held idea of a neglected high street where a celebration of life can still be found behind closed doors.

Photographer Natalie Willatt says; ‘Stoke is derived from the Old English stoc, a word that at first meant little more than place, but which gained more specific connotations. These variant meanings included meeting place and place of worship. In dancing with church goers at the close of a thanksgiving service; being one of many voices singing Delilah in the wake of a football win; observing a moment of quiet reflection over Diwali candles and in pausing to listen between bell rings I have found moments of reflection, expressions of faith and a celebration of community.’ ‘I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to everyone involved with the project including people at: Guru Nanak Gurdwara, Living Water Parish Church, Stoke Minster, including their bell ringers, Staffordshire Community Choirs, The Kings Hall Northern Soul all-nighters, Ye Olde Bull and Bush, Spode Museum, WonderWomen, The Social Agency, Our People Our Places photography group, the family histories group at Stoke Library and photography students and staff at Staffordshire University.’

The residency is for Picturing England’s High Streets, which is a three-year project as part of the national cultural programme for Historic England’s High Street Heritage Action Zones.

For more information about the national programme and projects happening across England please visit

06 09 2023


REFLECTOR, a new and unique professional development programme,  for emerging Photographers, Artists and Curators of Colour working with photography, who are based in England. 

Produced by GRAIN Projects in partnership with The New Art Gallery Walsall, supported by Art Fund’s Reimagine programme.

REFLECTOR will empower participants and create new opportunities for collaboration and career development. The programme will take place over 10 months, starting in October 2023.

The programme includes mentoring, masterclasses, portfolio reviews, and networking opportunities. These activities are thoughtfully designed to boost professional development and empower artists to advance their creative pursuits to the next level. Additionally, bursaries have been provided to support artists in creating new work and further enhancing their skills. Participants will learn directly from inspiring artists, mentors, projects and events. REFLECTOR will amplify and platform work as well as being a unique opportunity to learn and develop new skills.  Participants will also receive support in developing CVs, statements, portfolios and creating new work for exhibition.

The 20 participants in the programme are:

Anselm Ebulue 
Georgia Williams 
Jodi Kwok 
Luke Jones 
Natalia Gonzalez Acosta
Terna Jogo 
Timon Benson
Yamuna Shukla
Jamal Lloyd Davis
Lakshita Munjal 
Marley Starskey-Butler 
Nicholas Olawunmi
Yuxi Hou 
Jade Carr-Daley 
Jose Luis Fajardo Escoffié 
Myah Jeffers 
Shashank Verma
Tasha Hylton
Vic Moyo

Masterclass session leaders & Mentors include:
Amak Mahmoodian, Andrew Jackson, Arpita Shah, Kavi Pujara, Roo Dhissou, Sebah Chaudhry, Vanley Burke.

About Art Fund
Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. It provides millions of pounds every year to help museums to acquire and share works of art across the UK, further the professional development of their curators, and inspire more people to visit and enjoy their public programmes. Art Fund is independently funded, supported by Art Partners, donors, trusts and foundations and the 135,000 members who buy the National Art Pass, who enjoy free or discounted entry to over 850 museums, galleries and historic places, 50% off major exhibitions, and receive Art Quarterly magazine. Art Fund also supports museums through its annual prize, Art Fund Museum of the Year. The winner of Art Fund Museum of the Year 2023 is The Burrell Collection.

Centre for British Photography, Mezzanine Gallery
49 Jermyn St, St. James’s, London SW1Y 6LX
5th October – 17th December 2023 | Free Entry

Drawing from and subverting the conventions of Mughal and Indian miniature paintings from ancient to pre-colonial times, Arpita Shah’s Modern Muse visually and conceptually explores the ever-shifting identities and representations of South Asian women in contemporary Britain. The portraits give an insight into the perspectives of what it means to be a young British and Asian woman. Shah examines the intersections of culture and identity, drawing on the women’s lived experiences and her own journey and life. Commissioned by GRAIN projects, this body of work has not been shown in London before.

Arpita Shah was born in Ahmedabad in India and spent an earlier part of her life living between India, Ireland and the Middle East before settling in the UK. This migratory experience is reflected in her practice, which often focuses on the notion of home, belonging and shifting cultural identities. In Modern Muse she does this in collaboration with women who are also artists, creatives and educators based in Birmingham and the West Midlands. The portraits were collaborative in nature and during their participation the women spoke of their own experiences.

Shah’s work often draws from Asian and Eastern mythology, using it both visually and conceptually to explore issues of cultural displacement in the South Asian diaspora. She states: “As a South Asian artist it was important to challenge representations of South Asian women in Mughal and Indian miniatures, but also comment on the visibility of women of colour as ‘Muses’ in Western art history. I made Modern Muse for South Asian girls and women, for them to feel represented.”

Exhibited at the same time as Modern Muse at the Centre for British Photography will be The 50th anniversary of Daniel Meadows’ Free Photographic Omnibus and Charlie Phillips’s 50-year work on Afro Caribbean funerals in London. Community-focussed work of Grace Lau’s Chinese portrait studio; and Dorothy Bohm’s photographs of London street markets.

01 09 2023

Picturing Walsall

Opening on the 2nd September in Walsall at The New Art Gallery Walsall, a major new free outdoor exhibition called Picturing High Streets tells the stories behind the town’s shopfronts. It celebrates high street heroes, captures familiar scenes, and invites audiences to consider the value and role of their local high street.

The exhibition, which runs until 1 October, features 65 photographs celebrating high street life, taken by members of the public collected through a national call out, at the New Art Gallery, Walsall Gallery Square, Walsall, WS2 8LG

Three winning photographs of contemporary Walsall high street life, selected from over 400 entries to Historic England’s recent Picturing Walsall competition, will be displayed in the exhibition. The winning entries and 7 runners up photographs will all become part of the Historic England Archive.

The winning photographs were chosen by a panel of judges including Annabel Clarke,
Senior Communications & Marketing Executive at The New Art Gallery Walsall, Stephen Burke, Project Producer at GRAIN Projects, and Tamsin Silvey, Cultural Programme Curator at Historic England.

Alishah Iqbal 
Anu Gamangari 
Jay Mason Burns 

Runners up:
Sherrie Edgar
Joanne Kendrick
Julia Holding
Jack Babington
Sylwia Ciszewska-Peciak
Marlene Little
Harriet McDevitt-Smith

Picturing Walsall is part of the national Picturing High Streets project commissioned by Historic England and delivered by Photoworks, as as part of the High Streets Heritage Action Zones Cultural Programme produced in partnership with Heritage Fund UK and Arts Council England.

9th September, 10 AM – 5PM, Zoom, £20 per review

GRAIN Projects is excited to be delivering a day designed to advise and support the development of photographer’s portfolios.  Reviews and presentations will be led by expert and experienced professionals from the photography sector.   

During the morning our guest expert reviewers will give short presentations on their career and advice for developing your career and in the afternoon there will be opportunities for one to one portfolio advice and reviews. On the day we will be joined by artist Jonny Briggs, photographer Kalpesh Lathigra, curator Niamh Treacy and curator Raquel Villar-Pérez.

Each review will cost £20 and last 20 minutes, please note there is a maximum of 4 reviews per person and we recommend having at least 2, by booking a review will give you access to the morning presentations. Spaces are limited, please book a.s.a.p.

*Please note the event is for UK based artists & photographers.

The event will take place on Zoom.

Schedule for 9th September:
10.00 AM – 10.10 AM – Registration and Introduction from GRAIN.
10.10 AM – 12.15 PM – Presentations from Jonny Briggs, Kalpesh Lathigra, Niamh Treacy, Raquel Villar-Pérez.
12.15 PM – 5.00 PM – One on one reviews

To book a review with Jonny Briggs, click here.
Jonny studied at Chelsea College of Art (BA, First Class, 2008) and Royal College of Art (MA, Distinction, 2011) in London. Awards include Saatchi Gallery UK/raine Finalist, 2014, 2017 and 2018 Paul Huf nominations, Foam Talent 2014, the 2011 Conran Award for Fine Art, a Lumi Honorary Art Award (2011), Saatchi New Sensations 2011 Winner, The Catlin Prize finalist 2012, & a NESTA Creative Sparks Award.

Solo exhibitions include Kristin Hjellegjerde London Bridge in 2022, Burgh House and Hampstead Museum in 2021, Photoforum Pasquart Photography Museum in Switzerland 2017, N Contemporary in Milan 2015 and 2021, Marie-Laure Fleisch in Rome 2015, Julie Meneret in New York City 2014, Simon Oldfield Gallery in London 2013, FaMa Gallery in Verona 2012, and White Project in Paris 2012.

Group shows include V&A Wedgwood Collection, Shanghai Centre of Photography, Fondation Francès in France, The Benaki Museum in Greece, Saatchi Gallery, 176 Zabludowicz Collection, Jerwood Space and Photographers’ Gallery in London, The Mark Rothko Centre in Latvia, L’Atelier Néerlandais in Paris, Centre Photographique in Normandy, The Marta Herford Museum in Germany, Fondazione Fotografia Modena, Hauser & Wirth Somerset, Stilll Gallery and Galerie d’YS in Belgium and East Wing Gallery in Dubai.

Work has been published in the British Journal of Photography, The Guardian, The Times, The Independent, Arte, Aesthetica Magazine, Elephant Magazine, Photoworks, Tate’s Playground Magazine, The Financial Times, La Stampa and national newspapers of France, China, Italy, South Korea and The Netherlands, and documentaries of the work have been shown on Channel 4, Sky TV and French and German cable TV. Jonny is currently an Associate Lecturer at London College of Communication and the Royal College of Art.

To book a review with Kalpesh Lathigra, click here.
Born in London, England in 1971 and studied photography at the London College of Printing. After leaving the course in 1994, he was awarded The Independent Newspaper Photographer Traineeship. Kalpesh worked for The Independent as a staff photographer for one year before freelancing for the national newspapers in the UK for 6 years covering news and features.

In 2000 , he gave up working for newspapers and made the decision to work on long term projects and magazine and commercial assignments. In the same year he was awarded a 1st Arts prize in the World Press Photo.

In 2003, he embarked on a project documenting the lives of Widows in India, receiving The W.Eugene Smith Fellowship and Churchill Fellowship. His first book “ Lost in the Wilderness” , a body of photographs on the Oglala Sioux and Pine Ridge Reservation was published in 2015. Noted by Sean O Hagan – The Guardian critic as one of the photo books of the year. In 2022, He published Memoire Temporelle, the first of a trilogy series exploring his South Asian heritage.

Kalpesh continues to work for the leading international magazines on documentary and portraiture assignments alongside personal projects.

To book a review with Niamh Treacy, click here.
Niamh Treacy is the Curator & Coordinator for FORMAT International Photography Festival, the UK’s leading international contemporary festival of photography and related media based in Derby, UK.

She has reviewed internationally for organisations such as Belfast Photography Festival, Uganda Press Photo, Hamburg Triennial and LCC and has juried open calls for FORMAT, UPPA, Zealous and the United Rugby Championship. Niamh is part of the FORMAT and QUAD curatorial team curating shows both internationally and nationally such as; Radical Souls, FORMAT23, un/natural, Lishui Photography Festival (2021), Feature Shoot Emerging Photography Awards, QUAD (2021), #massisolationFORMAT, Derby Museum and Art Gallery (2021); FUTURE FOCUS, QUAD Gallery (20222) and Bruce Asbestos, Eye of Newt 2.0, QUAD (2022).

To book a review with Raquel Villar-Pérez, click here.
Raquel Villar-Pérez is an academic and curator whose practice focuses on de- and anti- colonial discourses within contemporary art from the ‘Global South’. She is interested in the work of women-identified image-makers who address notions of migration, transnational feminisms, social and environmental justice, and do so in original, expansive ways.

She recently joined Impressions Gallery in Bradford as Curator, where she is responsible for the exhibitions programme of the gallery, commissions, and public events. Previously, Raquel was a curator at Photoworks, where she was instrumental in the development of the Photoworks Festival and led on the Annual, the Jerwood/Photoworks Awards, and the Ampersand Fellowship and the Ampersand Residency. Prior to Photoworks, Raquel worked for Tate Modern as an Exhibitions Assistant. As a freelancer, Raquel has curated exhibitions of contemporary art and public programmes in London, Cambridge, Bogotá, Stockholm, Seoul, Málaga, and Valencia. Her exhibition project Poetics of Resistance from the Archive in Two Acts won the 2021 Peckham24 Open Call. She regularly mentors artists, sits in jury panels and contributes to publications such as British Journal of Photography, Photomonitor, Intervenxions at NYU, A-Desk*, and C& América Latina.

CONSTRUCT is a new publication by Anthony Luvera, created between 2018 and 2022 in collaboration with people who have experienced homelessness.

Help support the printing of the publication by pre-ordering the book as well as backing the campaign through a number of exciting rewards such as postcards and prints. Once the target is reached all proceeds of the publication and money raised will go to SIFA Fireside, a leading charity that supports people experiencing homelessness in Birmingham.

This important book commemorates 20 years of Anthony Luvera working with people experiencing homelessness nationally and provides an opportunity to contribute to SIFA Fireside’s fundraising for their important work in the homelessness sector.

The CONSTRUCT publication is about collaboration and representation as Luvera attempts to shift the narratives surrounding homelessness, and bring to light how these problems are amplified through the way that society is structured. The process of making the work is as much a part of the practice as the outcomes, with traditional uses of photography being disrupted to create a more nuanced representation of the participants and the experience of homelessness. This book contains Assisted Self-Portraits, photographs created by participants, documentation of Luvera and participants working together and newly commissioned writing which expounds his pioneering approach to socially engaged practice and reflects on the right to housing in the UK today.

Designed by Chris Neophytou of Out of Place Books, the publication comes in a translucent dust jacket, is 124 pages, 280 x 210mm in portrait format and will be printed by Taylor Brothers in Bristol. 

Support the Kickstarter campaign here.

GRAIN are delighted to be working with older residents of Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin and SAND, on a heritage and photography project that explores and celebrates older LGBT+ identity.

Participants will share photographs, from their own albums and collections, and tell stories that illustrate lived experiences and which speak of identity and representation. Workshops are taking place in Shropshire led by artist Ming de Nasty and GRAIN Projects.

The project will add a new and important dimension to Shropshire’s archive and enable people to talk about their lives in a meaningful and open way.

The outcomes of the project will include new digital archive materials, an exhibition and a publication. SAND is based in Shrewsbury and take a targeted approach to increasing LGBT+ inclusion, challenging discrimination, promoting accessibility and equality of opportunity for LGBT+ people ageing in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin. They work with the LGBT+ community and service providers to develop inclusive practice in general, while focussing on the particular experiences and needs of LGBT+ people.  SAND is a community organisation whose goal is to improve the experiences and increase the expectations of LGBT+ people as they age.  They believe that if they can identify and address the barriers that impact on LGBT+  wellbeing in later life, bring about change in organisations’ working practice, tap into influential policy making channels –  then they can fundamentally influence the way in which LGBT+ people and those who care for them experience – and expect to experience – ageing.

This project is a partnership with SAND and is generously supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

26 07 2023

Louise Beer

GRAIN Projects, working in partnership with Forestry England, are delighted to announce that artist Louise Beer has been awarded the Photographer In Residence opportunity at Cannock Chase, Staffordshire.  Louise will engage with the location and its communities to create new work that supports the development of her practice.

Louise is an artist and curator, born in Aotearoa New Zealand. She now works between London, Margate and Aotearoa. Louise uses installation, moving image, photography, writing, participatory works and sound to explore humanity’s evolving understanding of Earth’s environments and the cosmos. Her experience of living under two types of night sky, the first in low level light polluted areas in Aotearoa, and the second in towns and cities in England with higher levels of light pollution, has deeply informed her practice. She explores how living under dark skies, or light polluted skies, can change our perception of grief, the climate crisis and Earth’s deep time history and future.

Recent awards, residencies and commissions include Delfina x Gaia Art Foundation Science Technology Society UK Associateship (2020), Arts Council England Developing Your Creative Practice Grant (2021), North York Moors Dark Skies Residency with solo exhibition (2021), Amant Siena Residency (2021), CreaTures Art/Tech/Nature/Culture Residency (2021), Art + Air Exhibition Commission (2022), the Jean Harrison Commission (2022), Photo Fringe 2022 OPEN Eco (2022), Vera C. Rubin Observatory Kickstarter Grant with the University of Canterbury Mount John Observatory, Aotearoa New Zealand (2022), Derby Cathedral and FORMAT23 Photography Festival (2023). Earlier this year, Louise was awarded her second Arts Council England Developing Your Creative Practice grant.

GRAIN Projects (UK) and Tasweerghar (Pakistan) announce the four artists who will be taking part in the New Narratives in Photography project as part of the British Council Pakistan Arts Residency Grants Programme 2023-2024.

Artists Asad Ali, Hira Noor, Ume Laila and Waleed Zafar, all of whom use photography in new and innovative ways to comment on our lives today, have been awarded the four residency places.

GRAIN and Tasweerghar are arts organisations that create new opportunities for diverse and emerging artists and photographers, supporting the development of skills and opportunities. In collaboration they will deliver a residency project that supports diverse and marginalised Pakistani artists curated in the context of prevalent themes including social justice, identity, gender, diaspora and home.

The four successful artists will have the opportunity to collaborate and network in Pakistan and the UK, take part in a bespoke mentoring programme, make and exhibit new work in Pakistan and the UK and have their artwork and practice amplified within the visual arts sector and more broadly. The opportunity will include a research and networking visit to the UK. At the end of the project the artists will exhibit their work at the Tasweerghar gallery space and in Birmingham, UK.

The artists that are taking part all have a unique and personal approach to photography, are ambitious in their work and have something to say about the world we live in. They come from a place of care, compassion and collaboration; their work is based on research and conversation and their artwork is of great relevance and interest, both as emerging practitioners in Pakistan, and to the photography scene internationally.

Image credit: Waleed Zafar

7th JULY
5.30 – 9.00 PM

Centrala and GRAIN Projects, have been working with young people from Ukraine, who settled in Birmingham just after the outbreak of the war. Over a period of six months the young people have worked with internationally acclaimed artist Mark Neville, attended workshops and made images that are a reflection on their experience, having left their homes to seek safety.

The photographs, projections and text have been curated to present an installation which is open to visitors on Friday 7th July at Centrala Space. The young people will be there to talk about their artwork.

The photography project has provided an exciting experience to work with an internationally acclaimed artist, develop photography skills and share their experiences and memories in a safe place. Themes explored include home, place, identity, hope, pride and separation. The Centrala youth club is a space and opportunity for the young people to come together, share experiences, explore working together creatively through collaboration and be a part of Centrala’s community.

British artist Mark Neville works at the intersection of art, activism, and documentary, investigating the social function of photography. Working closely with communities in a collaborative process intended to be of direct, practical benefit to the subject, his photographic projects have frequently made the places he portrays the primary audience for the work. In this project he has led workshops with the young people online from Kyiv. His recent activist pre-war photo book project, documenting Ukraine’s fight for independence, Stop Tanks With Books, was shortlisted for both the Arles PhotoBook Award and the Aperture PhotoBook Award 2022 and was voted The Art Newspaper’s best art book of 2022.

GRAIN Projects, working in partnership with Forestry England, are delighted to be hosting a new Photographer In Residence opportunity at Cannock Chase, Staffordshire.

The opportunity will be awarded to a photographer or lens based artist.  The applicant must be based in England and must submit their application by 2nd July 2023 (midnight).  The Residency will take place from July – September 2023 and offers an Artist Fee of £2,500.

For this opportunity we are seeking proposals from those who are interested in responding to the environment of Cannock Chase and/or working with the communities of Cannock Chase. The new work must be made before the end of September 2023. This opportunity is part of a broader series of continued professional development opportunities conceived and developed by GRAIN, supported by Arts Council England and Birmingham City University.

Cannock Chase and the West Midlands Region The West Midlands region is one of nine regions in England. Geographically diverse, the region has the urban central areas of the conurbation surrounding Birmingham to the rural western counties of Shropshire and Herefordshire which border Wales.  The region encompasses five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty including Cannock Chase. Cannock Chase Forest (CCF) covers 2684 hectares of coniferous and broadleaf woodlands and open land in Staffordshire in the West Midlands, between the towns of Stafford to the northwest, Cannock to the south and Rugeley to the east – Birmingham city centre is 20 miles to the south. Cannock Chase is mainland England’s, smallest AONB. Most of the forest is freehold as part of the public forest estate and is designated as Open Access land. Much of the woodland in the west and north eastern corner of the plan area is leased to Forestry England however, and access in these areas is restricted to Public Rights of Way. The area lies within the Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and the majority of Forestry England land is made up of conifers planted for timber production. There are also areas of ancient woodland, wetland, wood pasture and open heathland within the forest.

We would like to see applications from photographers and artists who are interested in issues affecting the forest and themes that can be explored through the forest and its communities. Ideas that applicants may like to focus on could include; forest eco systems, ancient woodland and wetland, forest industry, forest community, place-making, AONB contexts, health and wellbeing, the relationship with the urban. We are open to innovative approaches that push the boundaries of photography practice including socially engaged practice.

The Residency has been designed to support excellence in photography and is intended to provide artists with time to think, research, reflect and/or experiment with new ideas, to enable the research and development of new work in the context of Cannock Chase. Applicants must demonstrate that they have a professional practice and a track record of working at a professional level. They must also evidence a high level of quality, imagination and ambition in their work. The Residency can support practitioners at different stages in their career.

For more information and how to apply please click here.

Image Credit:  Cannock Chase, courtesy of Forestry England

26 05 2023

Jonny Briggs

We are delighted to announce the exhibition of new work by artist Jonny Briggs at the V&A Wedgwood Collection, the museum of Wedgwood’s design history and creative future located in the Potteries.

In 2021 GRAIN commissioned Jonny to create new work in response to the Wedgwood collection.   The two new diptychs go on display at Wedgwood, Barlaston, from Wednesday 7th June 2023.  

The works are made up of multiple photographs masquerading as single, fractured artworks.  The artist is interacting with images of stripes, within the mouth and along the fault lines of the fractures.  The shape of the cracks are symmetrical and yet the fragments are not.  Mirroring, splitting and the blurred boundary between self and other frequently reoccur in the artist’s practice. 

In his research and collaboration Jonny connected with the black and white stripes of Wedgwood, thinking of the dazzle as a form of hiding and referencing his queer experience of sometimes feeling safe to show his identity and other times needing to hide.   The fractures in the artwork introduce ambiguity and disorder, they celebrate imperfection, and are staged accidents to disrupt the precision and perfection of Wedgwood.  They were inspired by the large bags of misshapes disgarded in production and seen in the factory.   

Josiah Wedgwood utilised ceramics to amplify his voice and to achieve social change.   Terms used for the physical form of a vase include neck, ‘the neck of a vase’ and mouth, ‘the mouth of a vase’.  The artist explores the oral significance of the objects in the collection and the mouth as a site for both eating and the voice.   He highlights the importance of having a voice within Wedgwood’s work.  

The frames are made of photographic prints, mounted on to aluminium, within wooden frame, masquerading as fractured ceramic. These materials are ambiguous. 

The artist worked with the students of Portland School & Specialist College, Stoke on Trent, during the latter stages of the project to share his ideas and inspire creativity.  

Commissioned by GRAIN Projects and supported by Arts Council England.  

Jonny Briggs is a multidisciplinary artist best known for his idiosyncratic brand of highly autobiographical, self-psychoanalytical and yet universally relatable photography, whose arresting, hybridised, multi-media creations operate in the interstices between fact and fiction.  Jonny has been awarded numerous significant prizes and opportunities, has exhibited nationally and internationally and his work is in numerous international private and public collections.

Please visit for opening times and details.

Image Credit: Gag 1 (artist’s mouth gripping stripes), 2023, Jonny Briggs

Saturday 10th June 2023
9.45 AM – 5.00 PM                   
Staffordshire University, College Road, Stoke-on-Trent, ST4 2DE             
£25 / £30   
Book your place here

GRAIN Projects is excited to be delivering a day designed to advise and support the development of photographer’s portfolios.  Reviews and presentations will be led by expert and experienced professionals from the photography sector.   

The event will be ticketed and must be booked in advance.

Limited places available.  Once your booking is confirmed please email to confirm which reviewers you would like to see. (please note this operates on a first come first serve basis).

The day will focus on advice and developing skills needed to build and present your portfolio to assist you in making submissions, securing commissions and preparing for appointments and interviews.   As part of the day there will be presentations by experienced people from the photography world and group and individual one to one advice and reviews. The day is ideal for emerging photographers, artists and students, to help them develop a professional portfolio. 

For many photographers and artists a portfolio is the key way to secure work, commissions and exhibitions and to showcase your project.   A portfolio allows you to demonstrate your talent, your career and your ambition. This day aims to capture the importance of the portfolio, and offer advice and support about presentation and image selection.

Our Reviewers and Presenters are:

David Severn, Photographer
David Severn is a Documentary Photographer based in Nottingham, UK. His photography deals with themes such as the effects of deindustrialization, working class culture and social life within British post industrial communities. Drawn to subjects that echo his experiences growing up in a former Coal Mining town in the East Midlands, David’s photographs seek to capture a sense of place shaped by his memories and cultural background.

His work has been published in the New York Times, British Journal of Photography and The Guardian and exhibited internationally, most recently at Martin Parr Foundation, Bristol.

Lucy Mounfield, Assistant Curator IKON Gallery
Lucy Mounfield is Assistant Curator at Ikon. She was awarded her PhD in History of Art from the University of Nottingham in August 2022. Her thesis provides a recontextualisation of the ideological, spatial and material conditions to which women photographers were subject in the United States after the Second World War.  

She held the position of Kluge Fellow in 2020, undertaking a three-month research fellowship at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. Whilst presenting her research at academic conferences within the UK and abroad, she has also published widely on the history and theory of photography. Her peer-reviewed article –“Little Gems of Color: Kodak, Camera Design as Fashion, and the Gendering of Photography” – was published in the leading photography journal, Transbordeur (Éditions Macula, 2021). She is currently part of the Tate/Paul Mellon Centre British Art Network’s Emerging Curators Group 2023.

Mario Popham, Photographer, Curator and Educator
Mario is a photographer, curator and educator of Japanese descent, based in Manchester. He graduated from the Manchester School of Art in 2007 and has since continued to work on personal projects and commissions. In his personal work, his interests lie in man’s often paradoxical relationship to the natural environment and how this finds expression in the post-industrial areas of Britain and abroad.

His work has been exhibited and published in Britain and internationally, most recently at HOME
(Manchester), Signal (Barrow in Furness) and in external exhibitions with Open Eye Gallery. As a freelance curator, Mario has led and curated on the production of a number of contemporary
photography exhibitions in the North, working with and alongside organisations such as Open Eye
Gallery, Impressions Gallery, HOME Manchester and Castlefield Gallery.

Nilupa Yasmin, Artist and Educator
Nilupa Yasmin is an award-winning artist and educator with a primarily lens-based practice. She explores the principles of art and craft and the expanded materiality within photography.

The artist is interested in the notion of culture, self-identity, and anthropology. Whilst investigating
ideals and traditions that are close to home, she repeatedly draws upon her own identity through
gender, religion and her British Bangladeshi culture and heritage. An element of her practice
focuses on socially engaged photography, she works collaboratively with various communities to
produce and curate works of Art.
Within her educational programme she implements and highlights feminist narratives focusing on
women of colour, alongside offering an alternative perspective to westernised art books.

Please note you will be able to book for 2 one to one Portfolio Reviews during the afternoon and will have the opportunity for Group Reviews with the GRAIN Projects teams for advice and networking.

Book your place here

Supported by Staffordshire University

28 04 2023

Roo Dhissou

GRAIN are delighted to be working with Birmingham based artist Roo Dhissou as she develops, researches and creates new work titled A Voyage on Water – The Komagta Maru Revisited.  

The new body of work will be made in collaboration with communities associated with the Sikh and Punjabi diaspora in Vancouver through which the artist will develop their socially engaged arts practice.  They will embed themselves within the community to formulate a photographic project in relation to their own lived experience, being both British Panjabi and of the Sikh faith. 

In April 2023, for a 2-week period Roo Dhissou will immerse themselves within the Sangat (community) at Khalsa Diwan Society (KDS) Ross Street Gurdwara, where they will engage with the diaspora community, Seva (selfless service) team and the museum archive of the Komagata Maru incident 1914. Through socially engaged arts practice they will collaborate with the community to formulate a photographic project surrounding the Sikh and Punjabi diaspora in Vancouver.  They will engage with the photographic archive of the 1914 incident present at the Museum as well as contemporary histories through the lives of those working to maintain the Sikh temple currently through practices of Langar (community kitchen and practice of food sharing) and Seva.

The work will explore intergenerational and international migration histories through social gathering, archive and relationships between food and communities. The outcome of this research period and Commission will take shape in the form of a photographic essay, symposium, or video and perhaps a conference where the Artist will share their findings and documentation.  

The project will be shared and disseminated in late 2023.

Roo Dhissou is an artist and doctoral researched who works with communities, diasporas and her own histories.  Using socially engaged practice, cooking, craft, performance and installation her explores how communal and individual identities are formed.   Her practice based PhD is entitled Cultural Dysphoria: exploring British Asian women’s experiences through arts practices.  She is the recipient of several awards, most notably the Tate Liverpool Artist Award 2020.

Image credit: Passengers aboard the SS Komagata Maru in 1914.Image: James Luke Quiney fonds/City of Vancouver Archives/AM 15984-:CVA 7-122.

GRAIN Projects are working in collaboration with SAND and artist Ming de Nasty to make a collection of empowering portraits of older LGBT+ residents in Shropshire.

The project will focus on expression and celebration and will highlight lived experiences of those taking part. There will be 12 participants from across Shropshire who will make the portraits with Ming and speak of the story behind the picture.

The project will provide an opportunity for individuals to tell their story and control their image.  Ming de Nasty’s photography offers a different perspective, with individuals expressing a confidence and sense of identity in their gaze and position.  Her portraits are acclaimed and award-winning and speak of diversity and challenging stereotypes.

Ming de Nasty has been a professional photographer for 35 years and has worked on projects locally and nationally, exhibiting widely throughout the UK.  Her most recent projects include ‘Queer Country’ a photographic project looking at queer-identifying individuals in Wales and what it means to be living in a rural environment; ‘Tagmasc’, for Birmingham’s SHOUT! Festival 2020, where she worked with queer identifying men in Birmingham to make a series of photographic portraits and audio monologues; and in 2018 a Residency with IKON Gallery, Birmingham to undertake a commission on The Slow Boat, working with asylum seeking women to create a photographic installation along the Birmingham Canal of their portraits which were printed and displayed 3 metres high on buildings along the waterway. 

The project is a partnership between SAND and GRAIN Projects, supported by Arts Council England.  

Image credit; Mike Southern by Ming de Nasty

9th May, 6PM, Zoom, £3 / £5
Book a ticket here

Laia Abril (1986) is a research-based artist working with photography, text, video, and sound. After graduating from college with a degree in Journalism, she moved to New York to focus on photography, where she decided to start telling intimate stories that raise uneasy and hidden realities related to sexuality, eating disorders, and gender equality. In 2009, she enrolled in the artist residency at FABRICA, the Benetton Research Centre in Treviso, where she worked as a researcher, photo editor, and staff photographer at Colors Magazine for 5 years.

Abril’s projects are produced across platforms such as installations, books, web docs, and films. Her work has been shown wildely and published internationally and is held in private collections and museums, such as Centre Pompidou and FRAC in France, Musée de l’Elysée and Fotomuseum Winterthur in Switzerland, MoCP in Chicago, and MNAC and FotoColectania in Barcelona.

She has published several books —Thinspiration (2012), Tediousphilia (Musée de l’Elysée, 2014) and The Epilogue (Dewi Lewis, 2014), which was shortlisted for the Paris Photo-Aperture First Book Award, Kassel PhotoBook Festival, Photo España Best Book Award and was referred to as “a masterpiece of a photobook“ by critic Jörg Colberg. In 2016, she published Lobismuller (RM Verlag) which was the first recipient of the Images Book award at Festival Images, where was also first exhibited in Vevey, Switzerland the same year.

After completing her five-year project On Eating Disorders, Abril embarked on her trilogy, A History of Misogyny. Its first chapter On Abortion was exhibited at The Rencontres d’Arles in 2016; and was the first recipient of the Prix de la Photo Madame Figaro, produced with the support of the Fotopress Grant and nominated for the ICP-Infinity Award, Foam Paul Huf among others. The show has been exhibited in more than 13 countries, including at The Photographers’ Gallery (London), the Museum of Contemporary Art (Zagreb), el Centro de la Imagen (Mexico), the Museum of Sex (New York), and was the recipient of the Royal Photographic Society’s Hood Medal in 2019.

The book On Abortion and the repercussions of lack of access (Dewi Lewis, 2018) was the winner of the Aperture Best Book Award in 2018 as well as a finalist for the prestigious Deutsche Börse in 2019. Abril is currently about to launch the publication of the second chapter: On Rape and Institutional Failure (Dewi Lewis, 2022) —a project produced with the support of the Visionary Award and the Magnum Foundation grant. The presentation will take place during the exhibition in London, organized by the V&A Museum and Photoworks and hosted by Copeland Gallery in November 2022.

At-present, she is working on the third chapter: On Mass Hysteria —nominee of the Swiss Prix Elysée, co-produced by the Photo Elysée (Lausanne), Le Bal (Paris), and the Finnish Museum of Helsinki, and due 2023. Abril is currently based between Switzerland —where she is lecturer of Visual Narratives at Camera Arts (HSLU) and Barcelona.

Abril is represented by the Parisian gallery Les Filles du Calvaire.

Book a ticket here

16th May, 6 PM, Zoom, £3 / £5
Book a ticket here.

Mark Power is a British documentary photographer. As well as exhibiting widely, he has published 14 books, most recently a re-edited and much-expanded version of his first, ‘The Shipping Forecast’. He is currently working towards Volume Four of ‘Good Morning, America’, a series of five books that explore the political landscape of the United States. Mark joined Magnum in 2002 and became a full member in 2007. He lives in Brighton.

Book a ticket here.

08 03 2023

Hidden Worlds

East Meets West Masterclass 22/23
FORMAT Festival

In Hidden Worlds, sixteen visual artists from across the UK engage with topics of identity,
memory, body, family, place and power, unravelling the ‘hidden’ beneath the seemingly
familiar. Their work uncovers the concealed and the overlooked, exploring the hidden
aspects that exist both within and outside of ourselves, recognising the complexity of the
unseen. From hobbies to folklore, family ties to mental and physical health, migration, bias,
ecology, and the spaces where these different themes overlap and meet, in this exhibition
the artists have brought together issues and subjects that matter to them.

The viewer is encouraged to find their own connections when encountering this range of
work, some of which will feel closer or further to their own experiences and interests.

Associated Events:
Private View – Thursday 16 March at 5PM
Collage Workshop – Saturday 18 March, Drop in 10AM – 3PM
‘In conversation’ – Saturday 18 March, 2PM – 3PM
Zine making workshop – Sunday 19 March, Drop in 10AM – 3PM

Over a six-month period, this group of artists have formed a creative and nourishing
community, growing familiar as part of the East Meets West masterclass programme. East
Meets West is a FORMAT Festival, QUAD and GRAIN Projects collaboration made up of
a series of masterclasses for emerging photographers from across the UK. The professional
development programme offers photographers the unique opportunity to take part in
presentations, portfolio reviews, and advice sessions with leading professionals. The
project has been supported by Arts Council England, Birmingham City University and
the University of Derby.

Participating Artists:
Amber Banks Brumby, Andy Fell, Anna Sellen, Chiara Zandona, Emily Ryalls,
Ismail Khokon, James Cunliffe, Kat Young, Liliana Zaharia, Louise Taylor, Paul Railton,
Rebecca Davis, Ruby Nixon, Ryan Gear, Shona Morgan, Zula Rabikowska

Unit 7, Royal Hotel Buildings
Victoria Street
Derby | DE1 1ES
16 March – 9 April 2023

12th April, 6 PM, Zoom, £3 / £5
Book a ticket here

We are delighted that photographer Kavi Pujara will join us for a talk on zoom about his practice.

Kavi Pujara (born in Leicester in 1972) is a self-taught photographer who works as a film editor for the BBC alongside independently making personal, long-term documentary photo projects. His work has been included in the touring group exhibition Facing Britain. British documentary photography since the 1960s, and was exhibited at Museum for Photography, Krakow, Poland, Mönchehaus Museum Goslar, Germany and Kunsthalle Darmstadt, Germany, 2021 – 2022. Two portraits from This Golden Mile, his first long-term project, were selected for the National Portrait Gallery’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2022. His first solo exhibition of This Golden Mile was shown at the Martin Parr Foundation in 2022 and coincided with his first monograph of the same name published by Setanta Books.

Book a ticket here.

Image credit: Neighbours, Dundonald Road, 2018 © Kavi Pujara

National Symposium

*Fully Booked* Email to be added to the waiting list

21st April | 9:30 am – 17:30 pm
Birmingham City University
£25 – £30 | Book here

The State of Photography will consider, explore, debate and review how photographers and photography practice responds and develops in this time of uncertainty and injustice.  For the first time in four years we meet in person at this national symposium to hear from those who are creating new discourse and criticality as they look at the world today exploring life, love, home, land, and identity.  We consider how the current volatile and more accelerated circumstances impact on photographer’s projects, on how we care and change, and how we are presented with an opportunity to grow and be inspired.

We invite acclaimed and outstanding photographers and guests to join us to discuss what this rethinking looks like during this unsettling time.  What does the world look like to photographers?  Each have different approaches as we hear from those whose work is based on their own lived experience, who in a more closed and divided world have looked inside and at themselves as a starting point, putting their own experience and context front and central.
The role of photography is changing and caring, as experience, collaboration and social responsibility become the focus.  Photography can impart the greatest truth of our times and sheds light on injustices, inequality and other aspects of our lives and society.   It seems today –more essential than ever to explore the role that photography can play.

During the national symposium we will hear from the perspective of those who share our concerns about the present and offer a diverse range of practices, experiences and stories that shed light on our unsettling world. 

Speakers Include:


  • Concession: £25
  • Standard: £30
    *Please note prices include tea/coffee at registration but do not include lunch.

    Book your tickets here.

    *Fully Booked* Email to be added to the waiting list
14 02 2023

Mark Neville

GRAIN are delighted to be working with artist Mark Neville to make a unique photography project with young people from the Ukraine who are new residents in Birmingham.  The project is delivered in partnership with Centrala.

In this new project commissioned by GRAIN, Neville will be engaging with the young people to think about their experiences over the last 12 months, to explore their lives before the conflict juxtaposed with their recent arrival in Birmingham and attempts to settle and feel part of the city and its communities.  Mark’s home is in Kyiv, Ukraine. 

“Mark Neville has re-imagined what documentary photography could be, should be. Instead of the bland ‘deconstructions’ that pass so lazily as ‘critical’ in contemporary art, he makes extraordinary pictures and finds extraordinary ways to get them back to those he has photographed.” – David Campany

Mark Neville works at the intersection of art and documentary, investigating the social function of photography. He makes lens-based works which have been realised and disseminated in a large array of contexts, as both still and moving image pieces, slideshows, films, and giveaway books. His work has consistently looked to subvert the traditional role of social documentary practice. Often working with closely knit communities, in a collaborative process intended to be of direct, practical benefit to the subject, his photographic projects to date have frequently made the towns he portrays the primary audience for the work.

In 2016 Neville began work on a book project called ‘Stop Tanks With Books’. The concept was to weaponise the medium to effect change. He aimed to garner international support for Ukraine in its’ continuing fight for independence, help end Russian aggression in Donbas, and call for the withdrawal of Russia from Crimea. The second aim was to counteract the wealth of fake news and racist disinformation the Kremlin was generating – material that Western media was often perpetuating and reproducing unchallenged and unchecked – by presenting real portraits of Ukrainians. The book has been sent out for free to a target audience of diplomats, politicians, peace negotiators, celebrities, NATO and EU members – everyone, in short, who had it in their power to help Ukraine. By 2019, and after several intense editing sessions with David Campany, the book was ready in embryonic form.   The book was published by  Nazraeli Press in California, who immediately recognized the urgency of the book and the threat from Russia.

In 2012 The New York Times Magazine commissioned Neville to make the acclaimed photo essay ‘Here is London’, which examined wealth inequality in the capital, and which they subsequently nominated for The Pulitzer Prize. This was quickly followed by a commission from the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, America, which also looked at social inequalities. These two bodies of work were brought together in the touring solo exhibition ‘London/Pittsburgh’.

In 2011 Neville spent three months working on the front line in Helmand, Afghanistan, with the British Army as an official war artist. The films and photographs he made there featured in a major solo show at The Imperial War Museum London in 2014. More recently this war experience has resulted in The Battle Against Stigma Book Project, the overall aim of which is to challenge the stigma of mental health problems in the military. Neville’s book combines written testimonies about PTSD and adjustment disorder from serving and ex serving soldiers with the photographs he took of troops in Helmand, as a means to give some insight into the issue of adjustment disorder which he found he had fallen victim to on his return from the war zone. Throughout 2016 Neville personally disseminated 1,000 copies free to prison libraries, probation services, homeless shelters, and veteran mental health charities, in order to encourage more troops to come forward and seek treatment for adjustment disorder.

Neville’s work exists in different forms in many public and private collections, including those of the Arts Council of England, Kunstmuseum Bern, National Galleries of Scotland, Imperial War Museum, and Scottish Parliament. He has had major solo shows at venues which include The Photographers’ Gallery, London, Multimedia Art Museum of Moscow, Foundling Museum, London, QUAD in Derby, and the Imperial War Museum, and participated in group shows at Tate Britain, Jeu de Paume, Paris, and Haus Der Kunst, Munich. ‘Fancy Pictures’, the monograph published by Steidl, is the first commercially available book about Neville’s work and was one of Time Magazine’s best photo books of 2017, and also nominated for Aperture Photo Book of the Year 2017. Neville’s last book, ‘Parade’, was nominated for the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2020.

Image Credit: ‘Masha, 17 years old, with her mother Nina, just after de-occupation of Termakhivka in Kyiv Region’ by Mark Neville 2022.

31 01 2023


6 months, from March – August 2023

GRAIN Projects is seeking an Intern with an interest in contemporary photography, the visual arts, projects and events and participatory opportunities, linked to audience development and community engagement. This is a unique opportunity to work with GRAIN to develop your knowledge, skills and professional practice. 

The individual should be ambitious and organised and interested in supporting the development and delivery of our programme.  They should have the ability to work on their own initiative and be interested in working with people including practitioners, audiences and participants.

The applicant must have some knowledge of professional photography practice.

Responsibilities will include:

– Supporting the team in developing ideas for events and activities
– Assisting with events, commissions and artist development activities
– Admin and marketing tasks
– Research including interactive research
– Communicating with creatives, communities and audiences

The applicant will be selected based on the aforementioned skills rather than educational history or in-depth work experience.

The role will pay a fee of £1000, inclusive of all travel expenses.  

The opportunity will be for 8 – 10 days over 6 months, to include the 21st April at ‘The State of Photography symposium and 16th – 19th March at FORMAT International Photography Festival.

Location:  Midlands.   The Intern will be expected to work remotely and at a range of venues in Birmingham, and the Midlands dependent on the GRAIN programme of activities.

Open to applicants not in full time education.

To Apply:
If you are interested in applying for this opportunity please email your cv, a letter of application outlining why you are interested in this opportunity and how you feel you would fulfil this role and a testimonial from a current project contract, employer, lecturer or similar.

Please email to

The deadline for this opportunity is 28 February 2023.  

Please note applications must be provided in full as described above and no applications will be accepted after the deadline.

07 12 2022

Lydia Goldblatt

GRAIN are excited to be working with photographer Lydia Goldblatt, for the commission ‘Fugue.  The work focuses on the family, private and close public spaces and intimacy as she looks at questions of mothering, community, love, loss and time. The work is made in the family home, the community of nearby streets and is shot on film.   In this body of work texts by the artist play an equally important role as the photographs.

The collaboration began in 2020, as part of a series of bursaries and commissions that were awarded in response to Covid 19, for more information please click here.

Lydia Goldblatt considers themes of origins, transience and emotional experience through a lyrical harnessing of photography’s primary characteristics of light, time and surface. Her quietly powerful and beautifully crafted prints creatively fuse the approaches of both documentary and constructed photography. Tenderly observed portraits and details of the human form are combined with enigmatic still lifes and abstract constructions suggestive of elemental forces. Together, the images examine the impulse for existence paralleled with the act of artistic creation. While complete in themselves, each photograph can be understood as part of a larger whole: an absorbing puzzle reflecting upon the capacity of photography as poetic expression and simultaneously exploring emblems of the cycle of life.

Goldblatt’s series Still Here was published as an artist monograph by Hatje Cantz, and is held in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum National Art Library. Her work has been exhibited internationally, including at the Felix Nussbaum Museum, Germany, Somerset House, London, the GoEun Museum of Photography, South Korea and the National Museum, Gdansk. She was awarded the Grand Prix at 2014’s Tokyo International Photography Festival, and in 2016 undertook a year’s artist residency at the Florence Trust in London, where she developed her series Instar.

21 11 2022

Modern Muse

£20.00 + Postage, order via Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery Shop 

GRAIN commissioned a new series of portraits by Arpita Shah that explore South Asian female identity and have launched a new publication to accompany the work.  The ‘Modern Muse’ portraits visually and conceptually explore the ever shifting identities and representations of South Asian women.   Shah draws from and subverts  Mughal and Indian miniature paintings from ancient and pre Colonial times as she examines the intersections of culture and identity, drawing on the women’s lived experiences and her own journey and life. 

In her practice Shah focuses on the notion of home, diaspora, belonging and shifting cultural identities.  Here she does this in collaboration with women who are also artists, creatives and educators based in Birmingham and the West Midlands.  The portraits were collaborative in nature and during their participation the women spoke of their own experiences.   Sections of their texts can be found in the new publication alongside the portraits. 

As part of the publication GRAIN commissioned new writing by Alina Khakoo.  ‘Modern Muse & South Asian Feminism’ explores these portraits as a collective and community within a social genre.  A further legacy for the series is the acquisition of the portraits by Birmingham Museums Trust. 

Ruth Millington was commissioned to interview Arpita Shah about ‘Modern Muse’.  The writing can be found here.

Associated Event
Arpita Shah, Photographers Talk
26th January, 6PM – 7.30 PM
Zoom, Free to attend, Book Here

Modern Muse, £20 + Postage
Order via Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery online shop here.



About Arpita Shah:
Arpita Shah is a photographic artist and educator based in Eastbourne, UK. She works between photography and film, exploring the intersections of culture and identity. As an India-born artist, Shah spent the earlier part of her life living between India, Ireland and the Middle East before settling in the UK. This migratory experience is reflected in her practice, which often focuses on the notion of home, belonging and shifting cultural identities. Shah’s work tends to draw from Asian and Eastern mythology, using it both visually and conceptually to explore issues of cultural displacement in the South Asian diaspora.

Arpita’s work has been exhibited across the UK and internationally, including at the Detroit Center of Contemporary Photography (2013); Tramway in Glasgow (2014); Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, India (2015); Chobi Mela IX in Dhaka, Bangladesh (2017); Autograph APB in London (2018) Street Level Photoworks in Glasgow (2019) Harbour Front Centre in Toronto (2019) and Impressions Gallery in Bradford (2020). She is the recipient of the 2019 Light Work + Autograph ABP Artist-in-Residence programme in Syracuse New York and her work is held in the collections at the National Galleries of Scotland.

Image Credit – ‘Haseebah’ Modern Muse © Arpita Shah

For the past year, artist Tim Mills has been working as Photographer in Residence in Coventry, part of Picturing High Streets, a national cultural programme for High Street Heritage Action Zones.

Using a socially engaged approach working alongside local communities, Tim has created a contemporary response to The Burges, one of the few traditional historic high street areas surviving in Coventry.

Operating within a small, localised geographical area and, informed by industries that defined the city of the past and those that shape it today, he has explored the exchange of goods and services by engaging with shop owners and the wider community in photographic acts and workshops, harnessing the skills and expertise of local businesses to create the art works.

Tim has produced a range of small, experimental studies that continue his preoccupation with ideas of transience, place, heritage and community. Using photography, moving image, sound, textiles and performance, the collaborative outcomes feature multiple authors and voices.

From 12 th November to 27 th November, a selection of these outcomes will be displayed as public interventions in and around The Burges and Palmer Lane, with the aim of establishing a dialogue between concept, content and place.

An Historic England, Photoworks and GRAIN Projects commission.

Tim Mils, Photographers Talk
17th November, 6 PM – 7.30 PM
Zoom, Free to attend, Book here

During this talk Tim will discuss and share the multiple approaches he has undertaken to engage with communities of The Burgess and the outcomes created during the residency.

Tim Mills
Tim Mills will be working with GRAIN Projects in Coventry and local partners the Historic Coventry Trust, Culture Coventry, Coventry University, Coventry City Council and Coventry City of Culture Trust. Mills uses photography and reappropriated archive material to explore and engage with communities and place. His work is often presented as installations within public contexts and outdoor locations.

Mills said “From the stories of my Dad’s red velvet wedding suit purchased on the Burges, my Mum’s performances at The Coventry Theatre on Hales Street, to my Aunt providing blindfolded mystery tours of the city in a wheelbarrow during the 1950’s, Coventry has always been central to my family’s history. My work explores photographic archives, memory, community and place and what that means for our future, so I am thrilled by the creative potential of this project during a significant moment for the city.”

Open to Photographers, Photographic Artists or Artists who use Photography based in the Midlands or who have graduated from a Midlands University during the last 2 years.

To apply for one of the mentoring sessions please email by 3rd October with the following details:

– A short paragraph explaining what you would like to get out of the session
– A link to your website and or Instagram
– Your home address or the Midlands university you graduated from and in what year.

The mentoring session will be with Nicola Shipley, GRAIN Director and Stephen Burke GRAIN Project Producer.

The mentoring will be one hour sessions, taking place on Zoom, and will include advice and support on portfolios, artistic direction, curation, photo festivals, publishing and other aspects of professional development.

Re-Framing Culture is a free six week training programme for museum, gallery, library and independent photography and arts professionals working within curating and project development to explore the potential value and impact of delivering socially engaged photography commissions.

This Midlands programme will be led by GRAIN Projects with leading professionals in this field including Anand Chhabra,  Anthony Luvera, Clare Hewitt and Liz Wewiora. We are keen to hear from photographers, artists, curators and producers from all different backgrounds, and with differing levels of experiences, whether you are a recent graduate, self-trained or have been working in culture for many years.

The sessions will cover both the theory and artistic practice of socially engaged lens based media, as well as presenting case studies and the logistical and ethical considerations to this type of commissioning with participants, audiences and constituents.  The programme will culminate in a final full day session, which brings all participants from across each region together for a sharing day. 

This training programme is brought to you by Open Eye Gallery, Heart of Glass, GRAIN Projects, NEPN (North East Photography Network) and Fotonow CIC, who are all members of the Socially Engaged Photography Network (SEPN).

Dates & Times
12th October, 6 – 8pm, online
26th October, 6-8pm, online
2nd November, in person, time tbc
9th November, 6-8pm, online
16th November, 6-8pm, online
23rd November, 6-8pm, online

For the Midlands programme you must be a practitioner living or working within either the West or East Midlands regions.  

Deadline for Applications: Friday 30th September at 5pm

Please submit a current CV and either a written (one page) statement or video recording (3minutes) explaining:

  • a) A little bit about you and you are interested in this opportunity
  • b) What you hope to bring to the programme as either an early career, mid-career or established curator/ producer / artist / photographer 
  • c) What does ‘socially engaged practice’ mean to you?
  • Send your application to
  • Deadline to apply 30th September

*We understand that practitioners may work across curating, producing and artistic practice so we welcome people to self-define their practice within the application.  The first session will begin on Wednesday 12 October  (and we will send the programme overview and zoom details a week before).

If you have any questions please email

The training programme is funded and supported by Art Fund, as part of their reimagine grants and this Midlands opportunity, led by GRAIN Projects, is part of a programme led by Open Eye and the Socially Engaged Photography Network.

Exhibition, Snow Hill Square, Birmingham, 14th September – 13th October 2022.

CONSTRUCT is a new body of work by the socially engaged artist Anthony Luvera, created between 2018 and 2022 in collaboration with people who have experienced homelessness in Birmingham. Commissioned by GRAIN Projects and delivered in collaboration with SIFA Fireside.

Over four years, Luvera has been embedded within the support services of SIFA Fireside, Birmingham’s main day centre for homeless and vulnerably housed adults. The artist began by working in the kitchen, preparing and serving meals, before inviting participants to explore photography through regular meetings and workshops. Over 50 people took part, using disposable cameras to document their experiences and camera phones to share images. Throughout the lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic, Luvera continued working with participants by online platforms, post, telephone, and email.

Participants were also invited to make a self-portrait for the artist’s ongoing series, Assisted Self-Portraits. To create an Assisted Self-Portraits, Luvera meets each participant in locations that are important to them, to teach the individual how to use digital medium format camera equipment with a tripod, handheld flash, cable shutter release, and laptop. The final portrait is selected by the participant.

From the 14th September – 12th October 2022 the 21 new Assisted Self-Portraits will be exhibited in Snow Hill Square and a selection of photographs by participants will be shown in Snow Hill Station.   Presented in partnership with Colmore BID.

CONSTRUCT extends the artist’s ongoing work made with people experiencing homelessness in towns and cities across the United Kingdom over the past twenty years.

In association with the exhibition please join us on;

CONSTRUCT, Long Table Discussion
10th October 2022, World Homelessness Day, 2.00 – 6.00pm

St. Philips Chambers, Birmingham, B2 5LS
Book your free place here

We warmly invite you to join us for an afternoon of discussion with Anthony Luvera and speakers from the homelessness sector, including representatives from SIFA Fireside, Museum of Homelessness, Mayday Trust, Shelter, and Birmingham City Council.

The event will also include an exhibition tour and performance by The Choir With No Name.

Book your free place here.

Image credit: Documentation of the making of Assisted Self-Portrait of Ben Rodda from Construct (2018 – 2022) by Anthony Luvera

Top Image credit: Assisted Self-Portrait of Ben Rodda from Construct (2018 – 2022) by Anthony Luvera

We would like to thank all the project partners for their support:

Developed by GRAIN Projects in partnership with Multistory as part of Birmingham 2022 Festival, a large-scale cultural programme designed to coincide with the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, Julian Germain’s GENERATIONS (2022) project is focused upon families based in Birmingham and the Black Country that have four or five direct lineage generations. Anneka French speaks to one of the four generation families who took part: Marian Wallace, Melanie Flynn, Jason Wallace and Leo Walker-Wallace, all born and living in Birmingham.

Anneka: What prompted you to apply to take part in GENERATIONS?

Jason: It was Lucy, Leo’s Mom, who found out about it. She works for a company called Arts Connect and obviously knew that we have four generations; it’s something special in our family and in other people’s families. GENERATIONS sounded like a cool thing to be a part of.

Anneka: Absolutely. It’s special to your family but you’re also part of a wider network of other families in similar positions. And how about you, Marian? What did you think when Jason floated the idea?

Marian: I thought straightaway, yep. I like family history and social history so I was quite happy to go along with it.

Anneka: How important is photography to you as a family?

Marian: Yes, we’ve got lots of pictures. And now that pictures are taken on phones, we’ve got even more. Jason sends us loads of pictures of Leo all the time. I’ve always liked looking at photographs and talking about the family history, trying to make sure that the children know about our history and how they came about.

Melanie: And the photos make lovely memories to look back on later through the albums.

Anneka: Did Julian look through some of your own photographs when he came for the shoot?

Marian: Yes. I was really, really impressed with Julian and Stephen (Burke, Project Producer at GRAIN Projects), they were excellent. They didn’t just look at the photos. They were actually interested in the photos and asking, who’s this and who’s that and how did you come up to Birmingham? I thought that was great.

Anneka: It’s quite an unusual thing to have to have a photographer come to your home, especially people that you don’t know very well. What was it like inviting strangers into your home for the shoot?

Marian: When they came, they put a big light up and moved furniture around. It really was an experience but a good one. Julian and Stephen looked at the albums, they took photos out and marked all the correct places and put them all back again. It was like having a real photoshoot! I’ve never known anything like it.

Melanie: It was really professional but it was very relaxed as well. We couldn’t have asked for anyone nicer.

Marian: Mel said they’d be coming about 10.30am/11.00am and I thought they’d be here about an hour or so. But it was 1.40pm, I think, when they went. Our friend who comes to dinner every Sunday was waiting for his dinner and it wasn’t even in the oven! 

Anneka: Your friend was a bit perturbed then I guess?!

Marian: No, no, he’s seen all the photos. He’s looked at the ones in New Street Station and he’s interested in it all anyway.

Anneka: How was Leo during the shoot? Keeping a little one occupied is not always the easiest thing.

Melanie: He was really good. He was fascinated by all!

Marian: Leo’s Mom was here and she was sort of looking after him and Ted, my husband, was here as well. Leo was really good, just looking at the camera. We got told off for smiling, Mel and myself, by Leo was quite serious and really, really well behaved.

Anneka: Have you been to see any of the photographs exhibited yet?

Melanie: Yes, we went to see the big billboards on the Coventry Road all together and then we’ve all been individually to New Street Station.

Marian: It was my birthday when we went to the Coventry Road and we went at eight o’clock in the morning, so that there wouldn’t be many people around to recognise us!

Anneka: Oh, why do you want people to recognise you?

Marian: Well, just feel a bit embarrassed, don’t you …

Anneka: All those all those autographs …

Melanie: Jason wasn’t embarrassed. He was telling everybody at New Steet Station, ‘that’s me on the photo!’

Anneka: What was it like when you saw the photograph on that huge billboard scale?

Melanie: It was amazing. You know, I didn’t really know what to expect and it was great to see the other photographs as well.

Marian: Yes, there were about five or six other families on the billboards. It was lovely to see them and read their ages and their relationships.

Anneka: Have you had a chance to meet with any of the other families so far?

Marian: No, not at the moment but there’s a get together in August, which Julian and Stephen said will be a chance for all the families to meet. So we hope to go to that.

Anneka: That will be really nice. Perhaps it might be an opportunity to talk about your experiences and families. Was GENERATIONS being part of the Commonwealth Games cultural programme and, as you say, the social history of the city and of the West Midlands, additional motivations for you?

Marian: Yes. It’s good to be part of that wider story. You feel proud to be part of the history of Birmingham really.

Jason: I think that’s sort of what Birmingham is. It’s one big community. Whether we’ve met other families or not, you feel a connection already.

Anneka: The programme is a big celebration of the city. Big sporting events don’t come around too often and that sense of pride and celebration of the city, again, is not something that happens enough. Birmingham is generally derided by people that are not from here or don’t live here.

Marian: Exactly. Yeah, people always seem to be glad to grumble about Birmingham but it’s a good place to live.

Anneka: I think one of the lovely things about looking at all of the portraits is thinking that without you and your husband, you wouldn’t subsequently have all the rest of your family here. There must be a huge sense of pride for what you’ve achieved?

Marian: I’m proud of them all.

Anneka: Did you find anything about the project challenging or surprising?

Melanie: None of us had any issues. The whole thing was all good from start to finish. The only unexpected thing was a good one as Julian and Stephen invited my Dad and Lucy, Leo’s Mom, to be in a lovely family photo after they had completed their pictures for the shoot. That was a really nice, unexpected gesture. They then sent us a copy of the photo and it’s become a firm family favourite since. We are glad the project has taken off so well and is getting so much interest

Anneka: What do you feel that you’ve all gained from the experience?

Jason: There’s definitely a sense of pride in there. I think you can see that from a lot of the other photos. Obviously, I’ve never met any of them but within the way people are standing and the way Julian’s captured them, there’s pride. I think a lot of people probably would say the same and you get that impression seeing the work. I had to ask a lady to move out of the way when I went to see the photographs in New Street so I could get a photo and I said, ‘yeah, that’s me up there’. She wasn’t bothered! But you do feel proud and happy.

Marian: I’m pleased to be able to tell my friends all about it and I think you do gain a lot from the experience.

Melanie: It’ll be something good to look back on when Leo’s older and hopefully, he can show his kids and say, ‘well, this was me when I was little and famous!’ 

GRAIN Projects (Birmingham) FORMAT and QUAD (Derby) are delighted to announce a new iteration of their successful East Meets West Masterclass Programme, which take’s place in a hybrid format, both in person and online.

The masterclass programme is for UK based emerging photographers and offers professional development, inspiration, guidance and support in a collaborative learning environment in order to allow participants to develop their practice, networks and new unique opportunities. The programme offers a platform for photographers to receive guidance and participate in focussed discussions that will contribute to their creative practice and career development.

This year’s participants are; Anna Sellen, Amber Banks Brumby, Andy Fell, Chiara Zandona, Emily Ryalls, Ismail Khokon, James Cunliffe, Kat Young, Liliana Zaharia, Louise Taylor, Paul Railton, Ruby Nixon, Rebecca Davis, Ryan Gear, Shona Morgan, Zula Rabikowska.

The masterclasses will be led by industry and artform leaders who will share their knowledge and practical advice on developing a successful career. 

Speakers: Amak Mahmoodian, Clare Hewitt, Alejandro Acin, Mariama Attah, Monica Allende, Revolv Collective, Simona Ciocarlan, Tom Lovelace and Vincent Hasselbach.

GENERATIONS is a groundbreaking project which celebrates the diversity and heritage of Birmingham and Black Country families.

Julian Germain’s GENERATIONS uses the format of the family portrait to craft a fascinating celebration of the people of Birmingham, coinciding with the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Germain’s photographs of the 30 families that took part will appear in the public realm over the summer months.  They will feature on billboards, banners, poster sites and at a display at Birmingham New Street Station. 

(c) Thom Bartley for Jack Arts

In addition to exploring universal human themes, GENERATIONS offers an authentic portrait of a diverse region, acting both as an invaluable historical record and thought-provoking work of art.

Germain’s images reflect upon time itself – the past, present and future – via their detailed representation of direct lines of genetic descent from old age to infancy across 4 and even 5 living generations. It’s an ongoing discussion about the life cycle, the ageing process, human biology and characteristics. What do we inherit through our genes and what comes from our culture, our upbringing and the surroundings, which form an essential backdrop to each group portrait? 

Families from across Birmingham and the Black Country responded to a call out, made in November 2021, looking for four and five generation families that showcase all different stages of life; new-borns, infants, children, teens and their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents, many coming together for the first time since Covid. 

The artist spent time with the families exploring old family photos, their history and their lives uncovering deeply personal stories from mixed race marriages in the 1970s looked down on by other people, Birmingham born and bred five-generation families, the first Bangladeshi woman to be elected to the council in the Midlands, Bournville workers, and Italian emigres who spoke no English on arrival, and a couple who met at an Italian Dance at Edgbaston Reservoir’s Tower Ballroom.

When experiencing GENERATIONS, audiences can expect to encounter fundamental questions that relate to us all; life, death, time and the effects of time, where do we come from and where will we go? 

(c) Thom Bartley for Jack Arts

GENERATIONS is generously supported by Arts Council England and National Heritage Lottery Fund.

Thanks to our Media Partner Jack Arts who have brought this to life for us across the city

New writing by Anneka French

Julian Germain’s book The Face of the Century (1999) was published to mark the turn of the millennium through portraits of 100 people arranged by the year of their birth, oldest to youngest. It begins with Lizzie Hutchinson born in 1899 and finishes with newborn baby Rhiannon Germain born in 1999. The captions that accompany each portrait consist of the sitter’s name and year of birth: no more, no less, and because of this, every detail of every portrait assume great importance. The texture of skin, choice of hairstyle or clothes and the expression assumed by each individual are magnified; as fascinating as they are ordinary. Some of the most significant details are those that resist the idea of ‘perfection’: the rain in the hair of Jodie Macdonald b. 1991; the tucked-in collar of Elizabeth Doble b. 1906; Oliver Cook’s runny nose b. 1996; Rhiannon’s calloused top lip, a detail I am especially drawn to since my eldest son had the same feature at the same age. The 100 lives of these people are bound together through the book’s pages; Germain connected them when he invited a random selection of individuals to sit for him. The Face of the Century was published twenty-three years ago, before the pervasiveness of the digital, and nevertheless retains enormous power, largely due to the quality of the portraits but also due to the unique timing and context of the project. There is a good chance that many of these individuals, certainly those who were in their eighties or nineties at the time, are no longer living; the youngest of those photographed will now be adults, part of the so called ‘millennial generation’. What became of each person? What lives they have they since lived and who else’s lives have they touched?

GENERATIONS is an extension and expansion of the research and ideas Germain began with The Face of the Century. Developed by GRAIN Projects in partnership with Multistory as part of Birmingham 2022 Festival, a large-scale cultural programme designed to coincide with the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, Germain’s focus is this time upon families based in Birmingham and the Black Country that have four or five direct lineage generations. While this is an idea he has been exploring for some fifteen years, this is the first time GENERATIONS has come to this area of the country. Beginning with an open call for families, extensive shoots taking place in people’s homes since November 2021 that centre upon these people as individuals and as integral parts of a complex family structure. Each photograph is shot within the home, with each of those four or five generations arranged in age order, skilfully framed and balanced against the clean lines of a mantelpiece or the softer curves of a sofa or dramatic pair of curtains. The composition of a family is a constellation and inevitably holds multiple tensions and joys within it. Germain is cautious of his work being used to propose an entirely romantic notion of family. He notes that families “have a tremendous hold over our feelings and the connections we make, but as well as being supportive and loving they can sometimes be stifling or dysfunctional too.” Families, are for many of us, relatable and this makes the long exposure photographs that Germain produces rich and compelling. Further, these are documents of this moment in history, cultural and social records of family samples from Birmingham and the Black Country, and the portraits are a recognition of the family unit as something that is greater and more layered than the sum of its parts. GENERATIONS is also an invitation to connect.

In Germain’s GENERATIONS portraits we can trace similarities in facial features, expressions, hairstyles, clothing choices and body language within photographs and across them, finding patterns that bind this group of images together for reasons other than simply circumstance. Jean Ann Perkins and her daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter all wear an item of yellow clothing or yellow accessory, for instance, while three of the four generations in Pauline Curtis’ shot wear leopard print clothing and three of the four generations of Herma Hansle’s wear white. Though these may be deliberate choices or serendipity, they reveal something of the connections and synchronicities of thought between these family members as well as something of the fashions and tastes of people within the period of the project. Taken altogether as a body of work, the portraits are indicative of wider global issues, the ubiquitousness of energy smart meters at a time of UK fuel crisis, for example, rooting the photographs in the time of their making. Events from the Beijing Winter Olympics appear on the television in the background of several photographs, with a calendar turned over to March 2022 in Wilbert Francis’ shot. Clocks feature in almost all of them. We understand that tiny details tell larger narratives.

Zaria Bannerman 2, Rio Hamilton 30, Brenda Francis 51, Wilbert Francis 93, 2022. By Julian Germain

Family dynamics are key throughout and pose and body language feed into this. Formally speaking, the portrait subjects are arranged sitting or standing, often creating a straight horizontal line across the image or in an arc or triangle formation, with central standing figures flanked by seated figures. The physical points of connection between hands, arms, knees, shoulders and laps give the portraits emotional and psychological depth. Many of the younger children of GENERATIONS are balanced on footstools or sofas, elevating them within the frame where adults are standing tall. Reece Sandhu (4) and Rafaella Pulisciano (3) are among those number, boosters a reminder of their physical smallness and hugely important role within their families. Raising children. Another infant who is elevated is one-week old Elliot Price who appears with his identical twin brother Harrison. Elliot’s blue-eyed gaze is at once soft and penetrating as he peers out of his car seat, balanced on a kitchen chair. There are evident links here to Rhiannon in The Face of the Century. A text by Martin Herron written for The Face of the Century notes itis “A book saturated with time … [the photographs] defy interpretation. They are fixed, yet illusive. Right in front of us, yet somewhere in the distance. We cannot see them because their faces are secondary to the gaze, and the gaze obscures our view … This book is a book of secrets … The last image is of a baby. Newborn, unformed – we don’t even know what colour her eyes will be.” GENERATIONS, however, offers us a pretty good guess. Elliot and Harrison’s future selves are foreshadowed; they seem already entirely formed, already the spitting image of not only each other but their father and grandfather, even if their great grandfather’s face is slightly different. Germain tells me that it was the twins’ mother’s birthday when the photograph was taken: it is her birthday cake on the right of the image. Their mother is outside the photograph’s frame, outside of Germain’s criteria of direct lineage, remaining nonetheless present in the portrait through the inclusion of the cake and through her obvious absence. I hope she is having a little lie down. One-week-old twins and a family photo shoot sound a challenge.

Elliot and Harrison Price 1 week, Samuel Price 32, Kevin Price 52, Colin Price 81, 2022. By Julian Germain.

Other of the GENERATIONS photographs find ways to incorporate additional family members too. In the two versions of Adella Peterkin’s images, there are three female adults in shot although what might be an adult male coat and cap appear on wall hooks behind. There are many instances of family photographs (and a drawing or print) visible on walls, mantelpieces, shelves and in pride of place on pieces of furniture. Family photos are arguably the most precious items that many of us hold. Those included here may show those in the portrait itself at different or similar stages in their lives although as viewers we may equally be gaining insight into other members of the family who did not participate in the shoot. Arguably, speaking almost as loudly from each portrait are the voices of those that are not in the photograph’s frame – other siblings, family formed through marriage, civil partnership, friendships, stepfamilies, adopted families, foster families, those who were working or travelling at the time of Germain’s visit, those who have not yet been born those who did not meet Germain’s criteria, those unwell or those who have died. Objects –sometimes kept in their original position or moved to a new position in a room for the shoot – contain huge narrative and symbolic potential. A statue of an angel by the feet of the women in Jean Ann Perkins’ portrait, for instance, appears to refer to missing loved ones; a pair of discarded pink glittery shoes might belong to her great granddaughter Imogen or to another child entirely that we cannot see. A clock and the word ‘time’ appears over Prudence Whittingham’s family on the wall behind them; Germain has cropped the decal butterflies so that they drift out of the photograph’s frame. Both lend this image a sad poignance. The open door on the right is indicative of hope, loss, possibility. Striking different notes entirely, we see the strange anthropomorphism of cuddly toys in action, particularly the giraffe wearing a size 5+ nappy belonging to two-year old Lewis Burton. Elsewhere, Oprah Winfrey is the cover star of Platinum magazine, her face humorously prominent in a woven basket close to Maya Rai’s side.  

Maya Rai 85, Alfred Rai 63, Megan Gosnell 28, George Gosnell 2 months, 2022. By Julian Germain

Making comparisons between ourselves and others is both a curse and a blessing, the blessing being that it helps us to make sense, to shape identity and to find the comfort of familiarity. We are social animals deeply rooted to and always searching for community. Indeed, collective memory and a sense of belonging is increasingly urgent in times of crisis, such as the political, climate and health emergencies we are currently experiencing, to name but a few. In Germain’s GENERATIONS portraits we find multiple everyday domestic objects that we can identify with. So too, these objects provide us as viewers with clues as to the interests of the sitters, even down to the specific television programme on in the background or the preference of newspaper tucked down the side of the sofa, as well as additional leisure pursuits suggested by a chess set, piano, collections of books, jigsaws and a hi-fi. There are clues to other members of the family through children’s toys and games, pet accessories, shoes, trophies, anniversary cards and fridge magnets: all objects that point to elsewhere and to other people.

Aaliyah 4, Kai Devine 21, Chloe Haughton 38, Linda Haughton 69, 2022. By Julian Germain

Linda Haughton’s portrait is notable for several reasons. In addition to the four generations standing and the framed family photographs proudly hung on the wall, we find a very large mirror cut in the shape of Africa. Formally, it is dominant and eye-catching, culturally perhaps it infers clues to the family’s heritage, significant in the context of the Commonwealth Games and in the migration stories of Birmingham and the Black Country area. The mirror additionally offers a slightly distorted reflection of another man who is not part of the main portrait group. This almost-hidden reflection puts me in mind of historical paintings made by artists who excelled in making oils that would showcase the wealth or status of their patron’s family, often with explicit or sometimes more subtle symbolism, sometimes incorporating optical illusion. Another remarkable portrait that calls back to art history is that of Enrichietta Caizo and her daughter, grandson and great-granddaughter. I cannot shake the fact that there are so many threads of connection to The Ambassadors, a painting made in 1533 by Hans Holbein the Younger of two French ambassadors, produced in London at a politically turbulent time with Henry VIII on the throne. Both Caizo’s photographic portrait and Holbein’s painted portrait contain globes indicative of the importance of travel (noteworthy, again, in light of the Commonwealth context) and other instruments for measuring intangible phenomena such as time or celestial bodies – an hourglass and a hanging ornament of moon phases, in Caizo’s case. Surrounding Caizo are multiple other objects that feel loaded with symbolism – a doll’s house, toy till, camel statue, cocktail shaker, sports team photograph and a miniature neo-classical male sculpture high up on a shelf – things that might (or might not) be connected to socio-economic and cultural achievement and/or aspiration. Caizo’s imposing, confident pose, tiger-print dress and knee-high leather boots give an impression of power and confidence. She is depicted here as the head of the family. A glimpse of the blue sky and bare tree branches through the roof window of her portrait is again reminiscent of the Western Renaissance trope in which a fragment of landscape behind a portrait sitter(s) would lead the eye elsewhere and contextualise the figure(s), perhaps in an imagined, idealised or specific location.

During each of the thirty family shoots, Germain took time to learn about each family and their stories. He is full of anecdotes that evidence the bonds he has been quickly and adeptly able to make with those he photographs. Part of these conversations took place in front of family photo albums, a way of telling the history of each family tree and its multiple, entangled branches, with Germain uncovering joyful experiences while reflecting on difficulties and challenges in dialogue with those he photographed. Germain describes family album photographs as a way to stretch time. Curator and producer Liz Weiwora’s introduction to the first issue of A Spotlight On, an annual publication from the Socially Engaged Photography Network (SEPN) is titled ‘When to look means to listen’. This sentiment is true in the making of the GENERATIONS photographs, in all their prior logistical organisation and in their reception – in our looking. We must be mindful to try to steer clear of assumptions and to use our eyes to listen as well as look.

GENERATIONS is a present-day archive of family, place and time: a fitting commission by and for the Commonwealth Games. The stories, personalities and memories held within each frame are partial. They can be glimpsed or guessed at via expression, body language, the visibility and frequency of family snaps and other objects positioned in each room. The portraits remain private even as they are extremely public, shown at locations such as advertising billboards and poster sites at train stations around Birmingham and neighbouring Sandwell. The characteristics of the living room, kitchen or conservatory, the collections of objects, choices of décor and display are unique, even as we are invited to and indeed do seek points of connection and familiarity to them. Germain’s photographs are set within the intimacy of the family home, where one, two or more of these generations reside and this special space is one that has assumed far greater significance for many of us since the turmoil of the Covid-19 pandemic and social restrictions. Germain tells me that these portrait shoots were in some cases, the first time these families had gathered since before the pandemic, with older family members visiting from care homes or assisted living spaces. This makes, then, the physical points of connection – a hand clasp, an arm around a waist or shoulder or pairs of knees pressed together all the more valuable and all the more worth capturing for posterity.

Zoya Ali 8, Husnain Ali 35, Safina Ali 56, Ghulam Kubra Hussain 87, 2022. By Julian Germain

Writing by Anneka French

GENERATIONS is generously supported by Arts Council England and National Heritage Lottery Fund.

Maryam Wahid
Grosvenor Rd Studios | 24th March – 11th August
Perry Barr Train Station | 18th June – 10th July

Birmingham 2022 Festival presents FACES OF 2022, a celebratory project about pride, place, identity and heritage in Perry Barr. A Creative City Project generously supported by Birmingham City Council.

The exhibition features 31 portraits made by acclaimed Birmingham based artist and photographer Maryam Wahid. Maryam worked with the people of Perry Barr and North Birmingham to capture their portraits as part of this project, photographing those that have contributed to culture, community and education in an extraordinary way.

The exhibition at Perry Barr train station is a unique opportunity to see these new portraits in the public realm and in the heart of the community in which they were made. Perry Barr is a special part of the city and the portraits capture the energy, identity and spirit of local people as well as marking their achievements.

Alongside the portrait commission the project has also seen artists working with groups and individuals in the area to capture stories, share family photographs and take part in workshops. Perry Barr is at the heart of the Commonwealth Games and at the heart of the city, the people of this distinct place are proud Birmingham residents with amazing stories to tell and contributions to be celebrated.

GRAIN would like to thank all the people who have taken part and shared their stories as well as the artists Maryam Wahid, Jaskirt Boora, Ayesha Jones, Nilupa Yasmin and Stephen Burke.

For their support for this unique exhibition opportunity GRAIN would also like to thank the West Midlands Combined Authority.

FACES OF 2022 is a partnership between GRAIN Projects and the Black Arts Forum for
Birmingham 2022, and is generously supported by Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Grosvenor Rd Studios, Exhibition opening times – Mon, Tue, Thur & Fri. 11am – 3pm.
Address – 16 Grosvenor Rd, Handsworth, Birmingham B20 3NP

Image Credit: Vidya Patel, by Maryam Wahid

31st March, 6 PM, Zoom, £3 / £5
Book a ticket here

In partnership with Coventry University we are delighted to host a talk by award-winning artist and researcher Yan Wang Preston.

Dr Yan Wang Preston is an award-winning artist and researcher. She is interested in the contested ideas of nature in contemporary societies, and how such ideas are related to the notions of national identity, landscape representation and the environment. Her major projects include: ‘Mother River’ (2010-2014), for which she photographed the entire 6,211km Yangtze River in China at precise 100km intervals a; ‘Forest’ (2010-2017), for which she investigated the politics of reforestation and ecology recovery in new Chinese cities.

Preston’s work has won major international awards such as the First Prize, Professional Landscape, Sony World Photography Award (2019) and the First Prize, Syngenta Photography Award (2017). Her artistic work has been exhibited over fifteen countries at prestigious venues such as the 56 th Venice Biennale (Italy), Chongqing China Three Gorges Museum, Gallery of Photography Ireland, and Fotofest Biennale, USA. Her artist monographs, Mother River and Forest, are both published by Hatje Cantz in 2018, while her images have been featured in numerous newspapers, magazines and journals, such as Irish Times, The Guardian, and the RPS Journal.

She regularly presents papers at academic conferences, such as as keynote speaker at the Art Practice Research Conference, University of Plymouth (2019) and at Women in Photography conference, Tate Modern (2019). Her first peer-reviewed paper Forest Re-seen: From the Metropolis to the Wilderness is to be published in the Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art (2020). She holds a PhD in Photography from the University of Plymouth and lectures part-time at the University of Huddersfield.

Image Credit: Y25_2,400km from the river source. From ‘Mother River’ series (2010-2014), ©Yan Wang Preston.

21st March, 6 PM, Zoom, £3 / £5
Book a ticket here

In partnership with Coventry University we are delighted to host a talk by acclaimed artist Tom Hunter.

Tom Hunter is an artist using photography and film, living and working in East London. He is Professor of Photography at the University of the Arts London, Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society and has an Honorary Doctorate from the University of East London. Tom has earned several awards during his career, including the Rose Award for Photography at the Royal Academy, London.

Tom graduated from the London College of Printing in 1994 with his work ‘The Ghetto’, which is now on permanent display at the Museum of London. He studied for his MA at the Royal College of Art, where, in 1996, he was awarded the Photography Prize by Fuji Film for his series ‘Travellers’. In 1998 ‘Woman Reading a Possession Order’ from his series ‘Persons Unknown’, won the Photographic Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery. In 2006 Tom became the only artist to have a solo photography show at the National Gallery, London with his series ‘Living in Hell and Other Stories’.

Tom Hunter’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally in major solo and group shows including: Life and Death in Hackney, National Gallery Washington D.C. USA; Seduced by Art, National Gallery, UK; A Palace for Us, Serpentine Gallery, UK; Another Story, Photography from the Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden. He has published eight books including, Down The Lane (Cafe Royal Books 2020), Where Have All The Flowers Gone (Hartman Projects 2019), Le Crowbar (Here Press 2013) The Way Home (Hatje Cantz, 2012).

Tom has been commissioned by the Serpentine Gallery London, The Victoria and Albert Museum, the Museum of London and The Royal Shakespeare Company. His works are in many collections around the world including; MOMA, New York, The V&A, London, Tate Modern, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Smithsonian, Washington, National Gallery, Washington, National Gallery, London and the Los Angles County Museum of Art.

21st March, 6 PM, Zoom, £3 / £5
Book a ticket here

01 03 2022

Faces of 2022

Birmingham 2022 Festival presents FACES OF 2022, a celebratory project about pride, place, identity and heritage. A Creative City Project generously supported by Birmingham City Council.

The photography project, in collaboration with the people of Perry Barr, will see artists working with groups and individuals in the area to capture stories, share family photographs and take part in workshops. Perry Barr is at the heart of the Commonwealth Games and at the heart of the city, the people of this distinct place are proud Birmingham residents with amazing stories to tell and contributions to be celebrated.

Artists will be working in the area to lead workshops and to create artwork that will be exhibited in public spaces during Birmingham 2022. A series of new portraits, by renowned and acclaimed photographer Maryam Wahid, will be made of individuals who have contributed to culture and community in Perry Barr. In addition, workshops with local people will take place where participants will be invited to illustrate and to share their unique histories, experiences and stories of their lives.

Further information on the public exhibitions can be found here and on social media over the next few months.

FACES OF 2022 is a partnership between GRAIN Projects and the Black Arts Forum for Birmingham 2022, and is generously supported by Arts Council England and National Heritage Lottery Fund.

In association with GENERATIONS by Julian Germain, part of Birmingham 2022 Festival, a cultural
festival for the Commonwealth Games, we are delivering a Professional Development
Programme that offers 3 new and unique opportunities to emerging artists;

Bursary for an Emerging Artist based in Birmingham £2500
Bursary for an Emerging Artist based in the Black Country £2500
Bursary for an Emerging Artist based in England £2500

GENERATIONS by artist Julian Germain is a celebration of families and people from across Birmingham and the Black Country. The exhibition will take place as part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival – a six month celebration of culture in the West Midlands which will surround the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

GENERATIONS is presented by Birmingham 2022 Festival, with GRAIN Projects and Multistory, and is generously supported by Arts Council England and National Heritage Lottery Fund.

The Bursary Opportunities are awards made to a photographer or artist, writer or curator working in photography to make new work in response to the theme GENERATIONS.

Deadline for applications; 31 st March 2022 at 5pm (GMT)
Each bursary offers an award of £2,500 to support the making of new work and a public engagement outcome. The making of the work and the outcome should take place in Birmingham or/and the Black Country, UK. The work must be made and the public engagement outcome delivered before the 30 th September 2022.

The bursary supports artistic development and experimentation and the production of new work. We are interested in interesting and innovative approaches to engaging with the theme GENERATIONS, including working with vernacular imagery or socially engaged photography, and to delivering a public engagement outcome.

Download full details here.

21 01 2022

The Rural Gaze

£30.00 + £5.00 postage (UK and EU only)

In January 2020 GRAIN Projects commissioned 11 new bodies of work by photographers who collaborated with rural communities, making work in response to rural locations in the English Midlands. The diversity of approaches are significant and provide a new voice in the rural aesthetic.

This book contains eleven new bodies of work that draw our attention to some of these issues and themes. Writers Camilla Brown and Mark Durden have contributed essays to this publication that explore the themes of the work by commissioned artists and photographers Alannah Cooper, Emily Graham, Guy Martin, Leah Gordon, Marco Kesseler, Matthew Broadhead, Murray Ballard, Navi Kaur, Oliver Udy and Colin Robins, Polly Braden and Sam Laughlin.

In the work the artists and photographers explore issues of rural life, environments, economics, politics, land use, community, young people and cultural identity against a backdrop of crises of post Brexit agriculture, the climate emergency and Covid 19 pandemic. In England the rural accounts for 80% of the land area and around 20% of the population (source DEFRA). These are communities that are the minority, are often not heard as loudly as the urban, who face many societal issues including deprivation, isolation, health and wellbeing concerns and are often misaligned and misunderstood.

The projects range from the poetic, documentary, conceptual and archival and demonstrate a range of different approaches to photography about the rural that is not dominated by the picturesque, pastoral or romantic but by the complexities, connections and diversity of the rural landscape. The work responds to people and places in a state of significant change and decline and our essential and integral relationship with the rural.

The projects show a disappearing way of life, disconnected communities and habitat loss, brought on by a lack of understanding of the rural, our extraction from the natural world and consumerism. At this time rural communities have lost faith in our politics, government and systems, not for the first time in our history, Brexit has so far failed the countryside and rural habitats and communities are vanishing.

£30.00 + £5.00 postage (UK and EU only)

3rd February, 6 PM, Zoom, £3 / £5
Book a ticket here

We are delighted that Vanessa Winship will join us for a talk on zoom about her practice.

Vanessa Winship is an award-winning British photographer who works on long term projects of portrait , landscape , reportage and documentary photography. These personal projects have been in Britain, Western and Eastern Europe, India and the USA. She now shares her time between photography and teaching.

In 2018 the Barbican Art Gallery in London staged a major solo exhibition of her work, following a major solo exhibition at the Fundacian Mapfre gallery in Madrid. Her work has also been exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery in London and prominently at Rencontres d’Arles in France. In 2019 Tate Britain acquired a collection of her work.

Her books have been widely acclaimed and include Schwarzes Meer (2007), Sweet Nothings (2008), She Dances on Jackson (2013), Vanessa Winship (2016), And Time Folds (2018), and Sete (2019).

Winship has won several prestigious awards: the HCB award from the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation (being the first woman to do so); an Honorary Fellowship at the Royal Photographic Society; and ‘Photographer of the Year’ at the Sony World Photography Awards.

She is a member of Agence Vu photography agency.

Book a ticket here

*This publication is now sold out.

The Our People, Our Places publication is part of a project led by Appetite and GRAIN Projects who invited people to take part in a collaborative photography project about life in Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme.

Some of the participants were new to photography, some returning to photography and some wanted to explore photography in new ways.

Within the publication there are a wide range of projects that tackle subjects such as family life, history and memories of places and people, landscape, wellbeing, access rights for disabled people and portraiture.

Each of the participants provides a new view and imaginative reflection on the community, people and places that are important to them in their lives. The multiple views shown are a collective vision revealing the broad life experienced within North Staffordshire.

Participating Photographers; Abi Winkle / Andie Dale / Ashley Pretorius / Carol Gallagher / Deb Shenton / Donna Aubrey / Ellie Comber-Davies / Francesca Wheeler / Jo Wade / Judith Pearce / Kaz Hare / Sophia Khalid / Stephen Malkin / Tony Smith.

The publication includes an interview by artist, writer, and academic Anthony Luvera with GRAIN Project Producer Stephen Burke and two of the project participants Andie Dale and Carol Gallagher.

Participants took part in online and in person workshops that took place during 2021 – 2022, led by artists and photographers; Anneka French, Clare Hewitt, Nilupa Yasmin, Dan Burwood, Chris Neophytou, David Bethell, Niall McDiarmid, Stephen Burke and facilitated by Sammy Bishop, Appetite’s Community Participation Co-ordinator, the participants explored a variety of techniques and approaches to photography.

They experimented and made creative work on themes and subjects that were new, meaningful and personal to them, trying out Lumen Printing, Photo Weaving, Landscape, Portraiture, Still Life and Tableau, 5×4 film cameras and printing in the Dark Room.

Key to the project was the participants developing their own photographic and artistic voice, implementing the various techniques learnt, to tell stories that were important to them.

The publication includes an interview by artist, writer, and academic Anthony Luvera with GRAIN Project Producer Stephen Burke and two of the project participants Andie Dale and Carol Gallagher.

Desgin by Chris Neophytou, Out of Place Books.

The project was funded by Appetite as part of Arts Council England’s Creative People and Places National Programme.

*This publication is now sold out.

19 12 2021

Photo Play

Photo Play is a book of pictures and photography activities for children and young people focusing on play.

In the summer of 2021 GRAIN and Appetite led a series of workshops with children, young people and families in Chesterton, Cobridge, Cross Heath, Kidsgrove and Middleport, in Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme.

The images that feature in this book were made by the children and young people who took part in the workshops using disposable cameras, undertaking tasks like the ones you will find in this zine.

We would like to say an enormous thank you to everyone that made photographs with us and took part across the five locations and to thank the artists who led the workshops -Natalie Willatt, David Bethel and Stephen Burke.

The publication will be distributed for free to young people in Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme.

Design by Chris Neophytou

Photo Café is an informal discussion and meeting place, an event that invites speakers and participants to discuss ideas, debate topics around contemporary photography issues and network with others. The event is for photographers, artists with a photographic practice, students and general public with an interest in the subject.

Photo Café will feature photographers and artists talking about their work, ideas, audiences and engagement. Our programme of talks and conversations take place on line, via Zoom, you can book your free place via the links below, an email with the link to join the Zoom meeting will be sent out to attendees prior to the talks taking place.

Photo Café with SHOUT Festival, Holly Revell & Laura Chen 
18th November, 6PM, Zoom
Book a free ticket here

Holly Revell & Laura Chen who will discuss their work being exhibited as part of SHOUT Festival.

Queer Photography at Southside is a new public photography exhibition featuring the works of Holly Revell and Laura Chen who are using photography to capture local queer communities and to celebrate their diversity.

Holly Revell project “People like us” is a participatory photography project that focuses on AFAB (assigned female at birth) trans and non-binary identities and experiences. Through this viewers are invited to engage with images of gender non-conforming people which have been made collaboratively putting participants at the forefront.

Laura Chen “Killer Queens” captures Birmingham’s drag community celebrating their uniqueness to the contemporary British and global drag scene.

Due to unforeseen circumstances Queer Photography at Southside exhibition is postponed until 22nd November 2021. Unfortunately, the combination of bad weather and damage to the original site of the exhibition, caused this change. We apologise for any inconvenience this might cause, however we want to make sure that this important exhibition have a best possible space. Thank you for your patience, and if you any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me on

For more information about the exhibition and SHOUT Festival please click here.

Holly Revell:
Holly Revell is an artist, photographer who makes collaborative portraits exploring transforming identities. Projects include ‘Transformations’, photographs reflecting the transition from drag to self in one long-exposure (2016), ‘David Hoyle: Parallel Universe’ photo-book (2017) and her current project ‘People Like Us’, exploring queer masculinity from AFAB (assigned female at birth) perspectives.

Laura Chen:
Laura Chen (b. 1997) is a Dutch image maker and writer based in London, UK. Working within the fields of photography, video, mixed-media and found or archival material, her multidisciplinary practice associates a fine art and documentary approach where research and implementation are closely intertwined.

Recurring themes and interests include identity, memory, tactility, the marginalised, disregarded and overlooked – whether in everyday objects or groups of people who live and work on the fringes of society. Fascinated by observing and recording her daily encounters and whereabouts, she uses photography as a catalyst for her imagination, her camera as a tool and device to make sense of the world and the obscurities of the mundane.

She is currently editorially contributing to GUP Magazine.

Her work has been featured in and published by Photo London, Lensculture, GUP New, Canon, PHmuseum, Life Framer, Shutterhub, Fresh Eyes, Aesthetica Magazine, Musée Magazine, Float Magazine and Intern Magazine, amongst others. She has exhibited at Westergas Amsterdam (NL), Keilepand Rotterdam (NL), Midlands Art Centre (UK) and Ikon Gallery (UK).

In 2020 she graduated from Birmingham City University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Photography. She is currently undertaking a Masters in Photography Arts at the University of Westminster.

Book a free ticket here

Past Photo Café speakers include; Natalie Willatt, Tim Mills, Clare Hewitt, Laura Dicken, Elisa Moris Vai, Lesia Maruschak, Vera Hadzhiyska, Richard Mark Rawlins, Chris Hoare, Kirsty Mackay, Ania Ready, Gianluca Urdioz, Holly Houlton, Paul Romans, Tommy Sussex, Exposure Photography Festival, Emma Palm, Louie Villanueva, Angela Boehm, Dona Schwartz, The Other, Kelly O’Brien, Joanne Coates, Maryam Wahid, Camilla Brown, East Meets West, Multistory, Emma Chetcuti, Jaskirt Boora, Jagdish Patel, Liz Wewiora, Anthony Luvera, Rachel Barker, Sam Ivin, Mark Murphy, Andy Pilsbury, Nilupa Yasmin, Emma Case, Rob Hewitt, Living Memory Project, Geoff Broadway, Adam Neal, Emily Jones, Andrew Jackson, Atillio Fiumarella, Max Kandhola, Faye Claridge, Tom Hicks, Charisse Kenion, Gunhild Thomson, Marcus Thurman, James Abelson, Leanne O’Connor, Lucy Turner, Leah Hickey, Laura Chen, Amanda Holdom, Tia Lloyd, Anand Chhabra, Beth Kane, Chris Neophytou, Jonny Bark, Fraser McGee, Peta Murphy, Red Eye, Duck Rabbit, Lilly Wales, Matthew Finn, Walter Rothwell, Richard Lambert, Anneka French, Caroline Molloy, Tarla Patel and Mark Wright.

26th October, 6 PM, Zoom, £3 / £5
Book a ticket here

We are excited that Chloe Dewe Mathews will join us for a talk on zoom about her practice.

Chloe Dewe Mathews is an artist, photographer, and filmmaker. Her work is internationally recognised, exhibiting at Tate Modern, Irish Museum of Modern Art and Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden; as well as being published widely in newspapers and magazines such as the Guardian, New Yorker, Financial Times and Le Monde.

She is the recipient of the Robert Gardner Fellowship in Photography from Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology, and her work is held in public collections such as the British Council Art Collection, the National Galleries of Scotland and the Irish State Art Collection.

Four monographs have been published on her work: Shot at Dawn (Ivorypress, 2014), Caspian: the Elements (Aperture / Peabody Press, 2018), In Search of Frankenstein (Kodoji Press, 2018) and Thames Log (Loose Joints / Martin Parr Foundation, 2021).

Book a ticket here

Agency is a new body of work commissioned for Coventry UK City of Culture which extends Anthony Luvera’s ongoing work made with people experiencing homelessness in towns and cities across the United Kingdom over the past 20 years. Throughout 2021, Luvera invited participants to use disposable cameras to document their experiences and places in the city that are significant to them. Participants were also invited to use digital medium format camera equipment in order to work on the production of a self portrait for the artist’s ongoing series Assisted Self-Portraits. The final images will be exhibited along Warwick Row, a road containing many estate agents that leads into the city centre from Coventry Train Station, throughout the duration of the HOME festival and featured in a community newspaper distributed freely across the city.

Supported by GRAIN Projects

The exhibition will take place from Fri 08 Oct – Thu 28 Oct 2021 on Warwick Row, Coventry

Image Credit: Ruby Nixon

29 07 2021

De’Anne Crooks

Artist De’Anne Crooks has been awarded a Bursary to make work about Parks in Birmingham over the next 12 months. De’Anne will explore inner city parks and use text in conjunction with photography to offer another narrative of these parks and the areas they are in.

About De’Anne Crooks:
Built on a foundation of traditional painting and drawing, much of De’Anne’s practice considers the collaborative and collective experiences of others, making these recent times in isolation significantly more remarkable. Now engaging with various disciplines, De’Anne’s practice involves themes of intimacy, identity, and culture, much of which is heavily discovered through play. De’Anne uses Blackness as a lens in which to investigate all things through, an approach also seen in their recent academic research entitled ‘I hope you write back xxx’. Alongside De’Anne’s current role as a Black Hole Club artist, De’Anne has used their recent commissions for the Film and Video Umbrella, Vivid Projects, and The Barber Institute of Fine Arts as opportunities to refine and exhibit their film making, performance and digital skills.

Having lectured at various spaces across the UK, and recently concluding a collaboration with Iniva on the Contemporary Art Space Project, De’Anne is insistent on confronting western ways of teaching and learning. Sitting at the intersection of both student and teacher, De’Anne is enthused to offer alternative spaces and methods that challenge current schooling and ways of seeing. Facilitating discussions around politicized identities within schools, colleges, and universities, De’Anne uses art to engage their community in conversations of critical race theory and amplify marginalised voices.

GRAIN Projects (Birmingham) FORMAT and QUAD (Derby) are delighted to announce a new iteration of their successful East meets West masterclass programme, which will take place online.

The masterclass programme is for UK based emerging photographers and offers professional development, inspiration, guidance and support in a collaborative learning environment in order to allow photographers to develop their practice, networks and new unique opportunities. The programme will offer a platform for participants to receive guidance and participate in focussed discussions that will make a difference to their work and contribute to their career development.

The online sessions will be led by industry and art form leaders who will share their knowledge and practical advice on developing a successful career. This opportunity is aimed at emerging photographers and recent graduates currently based in the UK wishing to broaden their perspectives and push the boundaries of their personal development. We welcome diverse and innovative submissions.

The cost for the Masterclass programme is £200 and will be payable once accepted onto the programme. We have two bursary places available at £100, for participants who live in either the West or East Midlands.

There will be a production budget provided for participants to work as a collective to create a self-directed joint outcome of their choosing, such as a newspaper, publication, event or exhibition.

How To Apply:

  • CV
  • Outline explaining why you would like to apply for the programme and how you
    think it would benefit you (maximum 250 words).
  • Link to your website and social media or a PDF with a selection of images.
  • If you are based in the West or East Midlands please note on your application if you
    would like to be considered for both the bursary price and standard price.

Deadline for applications: Midnight 15th August 2021. Please send your applications as one PDF to

The programme will take place from the 8th September 2021 (evening) through to the 19th February 2022. Six masterclass sessions will run on a combination of Saturdays (daytime) and Wednesday (evenings). Exact dates T.B.C

Image credit; Marley Starskey Butler

Coventry; Visual Stories is by Asia, Aya, Daleen and Mohsin who are service users of the Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre.

The photographs were created as part of a series of online photography workshops that took place during lockdown 2021. the participants learnt about creativity and expression through photography, about technique, photographic history, and they created photographs in response to their new lives in Coventry.

The participants have created a photographic response to their lives in the city, revealing a snap shot of the place and their relationship to it.

About the Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre (CRMC):
Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre (CRMC) welcomes and empowers asylum seekers, refugees and other migrants in Coventry to rebuild their lives and achieve their potential.

Forming from humble beginnings in the back of a local laundrette, the charity has grown exponentially during the past two decades and now assists over 4,000 people each year. This includes destitute families, victims of trafficking, modern slavery, unaccompanied children and those escaping conflict zones from around the world.

This project is part of a Coventry partnership which assists and empowers newly arrived individuals and families so that they can rebuild their lives in their new home. Set up in Coventry in 2014, it started out by supporting Afghan interpreters and their families who used to work with the British Army in Afghanistan.

The UK government then launched the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) and Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme (RVC), which resettle vulnerable families and children from countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt and Turkey.

It is formed of local organisations Coventry City Council, Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre, Coventry Law Centre, Coventry Citizens Advice, Positive Youth Foundation, Foleshill Women’s Training and St Francis Church of Assisi.

Currently, Coventry has welcomed over 600 refugees on the programme, one of the best responses of any local authority in the country.

The workshops were led Sam Ivin, Jaskirt Boora, Liz Hingley and Stephen Burke.

The zines & window vinyl were designed by Lotte Norris

This project has been supported by Coventry City Council, Coventry City of Culture and Arts Council England .

1 2 3 4
Copyright 2016 GRAIN.