12 05 2020
With thanks to Arts Council England we are pleased to announce our new online programme which means we can continue to share new work, support the making of work and engage with projects from the safety of our homes.
As part of our online programme we have a series of commissions and bursaries aimed at exploring, responding to and documenting the current historical and significant time we are experiencing.
The commissions and bursaries will support photographers and writers to make new work in isolation ( at a social distance), reflecting on these times & contributing to creativity and wellbeing. Outcomes will be shared with audiences via our digital platforms. (Health & safety is particularly important, all projects must follow the government guidelines for the lockdown and social distancing).
We are interested in work that responds to the following themes; Social Distancing, Family, Community, Caring, Togetherness, Relationships, Health & Wellbeing, The Economy, Work, Key Workers.
We welcome applications from diverse backgrounds. If applicants have any additional needs and would like support with their application please do get in touch at
There are a number of strands to this programme and the opportunities are open to photographers, artists and writers who are based in England. Please send your applications to Stephen.email@example.com, within your email please state which strand of the programme you are applying for.
Commission: Fee £2000, Deadline 10th June 2020
- We are awarding 2 commissions aimed at artists & photographers with a track record of producing high quality work.
- A strong commitment to working at a professional level
- Ambition for their work and practice
- The work created must be able to be shared digitally
- The work must be made in a 5 month period between June and October 2020.
- To Submit please send your CV, examples of previous work & website links, and description of the work you propose to do (maximum 500 words) to Stephen.firstname.lastname@example.org
Micro Bursary: Fee £500, Deadline 15th June 2020
- We are awarding 6 bursaries aimed at emerging artists & photographers including recent graduates from 2020.
- The bursary will also include advice from the GRAIN team.
- The work created must be able to be shared digitally before October 2020.
- To Submit please send your CV, examples of previous work & website links, and description of the work you propose to do (maximum 200 words) Stephen.email@example.com
Writing Bursary: Fee £250, Deadline 15th June 2020
- We are awarding 2 writing bursaries.
- The work created must be for text that has a photographic theme.
- Submit a CV, examples of previous work & website links, and a short synopsis of the writing you would undertake to Stephen.firstname.lastname@example.org
23 03 2020
Photographer Clare Hewitt, awarded the 2019 GRAIN Bursary Award, has developed a project that aims to look at isolation through working with a community of individuals and a woodland of trees.
Through support from STEAMhouse, Clare has created, developed and produced 24 pinhole cameras that have been installed into 12 oak trees at The Birmingham Institute of Forest Research.
The pinhole cameras will be living in the community of trees for the next year, forming part of her project based on the ways that trees communicate in contrast to rising levels of human isolation and loneliness in rural areas.
Recent studies have found that isolation and loneliness are increasing in the UK, and lacking social connections is as damaging to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes per day (Holt-Lunstad, 2015).
In her work Clare aims to address this issue through building a community of individuals who identify as lonely or isolated, and working with them to create a year-long photographic study of a community of ancient oak trees.
Although trees appear to be individual organisms above ground, scientific research shows that their complex communication methods facilitate survival, nurture and pass on wisdom, and send warnings when they are under attack. In a time when loneliness is increasing, segregation is being encouraged politically, and isolation driven through technology, there is much that can be learnt from the unity of the forest. This project is also supported by STEAMHouse, Birmingham City University.
Clare Hewitt is a photographer based in Birmingham. After completing a degree in Law at Oxford Brookes University, Clare went on to study Commercial Photography at the Arts University Bournemouth. She found that both subjects relate to a complex interest in human beings, their habits, behaviours and experiences, and through photography she could explore this in a more creative way.
In 2011 Clare’s work was selected for Fresh Faced and Wild Eyed at The Photographers’ Gallery, and has since been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery as part of the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize, 2013. In 2016 and 2017 she was included in the Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward emerging photographer selection for Eugenie and Kamera, and the British Journal of Photography’s nationwide Portrait of Britain exhibition. Clare has recently been shortlisted for the Royal Photographic Society’s IPE #161, and selected for 209 Women, a photographic portrait project that marks the centenary of women achieving the vote in the UK in 1918.
01 02 2020
In 2019 we began working with photographer Marco Kesseler on a new commission which saw him creating new work about the hidden Midlands landscape where our food is produced and the seasonal staff that work tirelessly to harvest it.
Kesseler’s work has been shaped by Brexit politics and how they have provoked many uncertainties within the agricultural industry, revealing the uneasy relationship between the nation’s reliance on seasonal workers, and growing English nationalism that often draws on nostalgia of the English pastoral, but which bears little resemblance to modern life. With 99% of seasonal staff in the UK migrating from Europe he was keen to portray some of the people that sustain an essential industry picking our food at a time of political and ecological flux.
The photographer has visited and working with farming communities across the West Midlands to find out more about some of the rapid changes and challenges faced in the industry. Some of the larger farms have been working collaboratively with researchers and robotics engineers to develop mechanised fruit picking, with some farmers thinking it may be as little as 5 years away before harvesting soft fruit and tomatoes can be automated on a commercial scale.
Kesseler has been looking at representations of agriculture in art through the ages, from ancient depictions to present day, there has been one constant, which has remained unchanged – the human presence and interaction with the landscape, and more specifically the use of our hands in the process from sowing to harvesting. As more and more parts of the agricultural process give way to new technology and machinery, the potential for the future of food to be fully mechanised may not be such a distant concept, the photographer believes that this is an important time to be recording this work and to work with an essential workforce living on the periphery of society.
The images were made from the summer of 2019 at a time where people’s concerns were about freedom of movement, wages and integration with local communities in the wake of Brexit. More recently Coronavirus looks to disrupt an already fragile industry that the nation relies on. In early April ’20 the Government predicted a shortfall of 90,000 workers to harvest the fruit and vegetables, which have already been planted. Concordia, a large scale recruitment firm announced a “Feed The Nation” campaign but with no concrete plan for support from Government, farmers and ordinary people and businesses have taken it into their hands to find solutions. Some farms have now chartered flights for migrant fruit pickers and volunteers have also been recruited following their change of work status due to the pandemic. Since launching in April over 15,000 people have signed up to offer their services to more than 200 participating farms.
Marco Kesseler is a photographer based in the UK, with an interest in the role of narrative, studying both fact and fiction, as a reference point in representing contemporary social stories. Working with communities over an extended period of time, previous works have documented the socio-political effects of the Ukrainian revolution; living in hiding with Albanian families persecuted in the age old traditions of blood feuds, as well as celebratory traditions in Greece.
Past exhibited works have been included in The Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize, Paris Photo, PhotoIreland Festival, The Renaissance Photography Prize and The Sony World Photography Awards and clients include The FT Weekend Magazine, The New York Times, TIME and The British Journal of Photography.
14 10 2019
Arenig is the name of the mountain to the north-west of Lake Bala, North Wales. This location is where artist Matthew Murray has producing a series of landscapes in response to the work of painters J. D. Innes and Augustus John who produced work at Arenig between 1911 and 1914. Murray’s approach is a personal representation. He depicts the landscape through what he feels rather than what he sees. Curator Roger Watson said of the work, ‘a series of dark mysterious landscapes that are cinematic, giving an emotional response as well as a sense of the solidity and earthbound sensation of the environment.’
The Arenig series, explores modern printing processes and early historical alternative printing techniques and how different printing approaches can give a different understanding and interpretation towards the final physical image. Photographing at Arenig and its surroundings locations, documenting diverse landscapes, surfaces and textures throughout; the different seasons allow Murray to experiment using a number of printmaking processes, each process giving a different result.
Murray is working collaboratively to explore new techniques and to reflect on the landscape. He is working with artists, emerging practitioners and communities looking at how people emotionally connect and respond to the landscape. This way of working will inform the work, harness strong ideas, show the exploration of place and identity, topical observation and the transformative moments within the landscape. Through research, collaboration, exhibition and publication, the intimate insight and obsessive study, will allow audiences to think about their own experience, memories and emotions when faced with landscape and nature.
“Photographs are about memory – or perhaps about the absence of memory, providing pictures to fill voids, illustrating and sometimes falsifying our collective memory (Lippard, 1998: 60)”
The new work will feature an engagement programme including workshops, masterclasses and a photo walk.
The work will be exhibited at Lacock Abbey, Fox Talbot Museum, Wiltshire in the summer of 2020. A new publication will accompany the exhibition.
Photogravure Workshop with Jack Whitwell
9th and 10th November from 11am – 5pm
Hot Bed Press Studios, First Floor, Casket Works Cow Lane, Salford M5 4NB
£45 (plus booking fee) for 2 days, 5 places, book your ticket here.
Learn copperplate photogravure in a two day workshop, taught by printmaker Jack Whitwell. You will learn how to expose, etch and print a 10×8 inch sized photograph of your choice. A high resolution image must be sent via email to email@example.com, at least 3 days ahead of the workshop. Some prior experience of etching and photography may help, however, it is not essential as full tuition will be provided.
What is Photogravure? The photogravure is an intaglio print, much like an etching, aquatint or mezzotint. The continuous tone of the original photographic negative are etched, in varying strengths of acids, onto a copper plate using a carbon printed gelatin resist and an aquatint halftone. Ink is then applied to the etched plate, wiped with a cheese cloth. Dampened cotton rag paper is laid on the plate and is then run through a roller press. The image in ink is then transferred from the plate to the paper. Photogravure is a true continuous-tone ink printing technique. Hand printed photogravures have an atmospheric and object quality that is unique to the process. The print will also last a millennia, without fading, if cared for.
Photo-Walk with Fleur Olby and Matthew Murray
14 November Lickey Hills
12.30 – 4pm, meet at Lickey Hills Visitor Centre & café
Lickey Hills Country Park, Warren Lane, Rednal, Birmingham B45 8ER
£3 (plus booking fee), book your ticket here.
Join Matthew Murray and photographic artist Fleur Olby at the Lickey Hills for a photowalk. Matthew and Fleur will talk about their approach to the landscape, their methodology and how that informs their work. Fleur’s narrative is in visual poems, she works with plants and food, in gardens and landscapes. North Yorkshire based she has exhibited her work internationally and has been She has had one monograph published by Fuel publishing and self published her latest one – which is in the V&A’s National Library of artists books and Aperture’s library and The Photographer’s Gallery bookshop. It is also part of her forthcoming exhibition at the Garden Museum in 2020. She has also had her work featured in The Observer magazine, the Sunday Times and the Sunday Telegraph.
Please dress sensibly for the conditions, and bring with you any refreshments you may require including, water, hot drinks and food.
Workshop with the Photocopy Club, In association with Matthew Murray
8th February | 10.30am – 5pm
The Shell, Birmingham City University
£25 (plus booking fee) 10 places only, book your tickets here.
The Photocopy club workshop gives you an insight into the history of zines, self publishing and street photography. You will get to shoot, curate and design as a group and you will have an introduction into Japanese book binding.
Participants need to bring a digital Camera (camera phone) Laptop and any cables to download images. No pre skills, but an interest in photography and self publishing.
The Photocopy Club is an open submission exhibition project which supports photographers and collectors through a series of xerox exhibitions, workshops, talks and events. Since starting in 2011 TPC have curated over 30 group and solo exhibitions within the UK and abroad. TPC has exhibited at the LAABF and the NYABF as well as OFFPRINT London and the Berlin Miss Read Book fair. They have worked with The Photographers Gallery, Magnum Photos, Photoworks, Woohoo Space, Joberg Photo School, Adidas, UCA, John Doe, Margret, Dr Martens, Doomed Gallery and a verity of photography festivals through the world.
The work is supported by Arts Council England, GRAIN Projects and the University of Gloucestershire.
01 07 2019
GRAIN are delighted to be working with photographer Arpita Shah on a new
commission which will see the photographer work with South Asian women
across Birmingham and the West Midlands.
Shah’s project ‘Modern Muse’ will explore, represent and celebrate South Asian
female identity across the city and region. The series will visually and
conceptually explore the ever-shifting identities of South Asian women in
contemporary Britain and give an insight into the perspectives of what it means
to be a young British and Asian woman.
Shah would like to invite young South Asian women aged between 16-30 based
in Birmingham and the Midlands to be involved in the project, so if you’re
interested in getting more info please contact Arpita at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Arpita Shah is a photographic artist and educator based in Edinburgh, Scotland.
She works between photography and film, exploring the fields where culture and
identity meet. As an India-born artist, Shah 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. Shah’s work tends to draw from
Asian and Eastern mythology, using it both visually and conceptually to explore the
issues of cultural displacement in the Asian Diaspora.
Arpita’s work has been exhibited internationally, including at the Detroit Center of
Contemporary Photography (2013); Tramway in Glasgow (2014); Focus Festival in
Mumbai, India (2015); Chobi Mela IX in Dhaka, Bangladesh (2017); Autograph APB
in London (2018) and Street Level Photoworks in Glasgow (2019). She is also the
recipient of the 2019 Light Work + Autograph ABP Artist-in-Residence programme
which she will undertake in NY in September of 2019.
Image Credit – ‘Haseebah’ Modern Muse © Arpita Shah
The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery 17th May – 22nd September 2019
Made in collaboration with local residents, Settling is an exhibition of pictures that tell the stories of people who have moved to Stoke-on-Trent from around the world. Stories include the life journey of World War Two veteran Walerian Tyminski, Pat Phillips the wife and business partner of a local artist, and Aida Haughton’s story on finding love in post-war Bosnia & Herzegovina.
The exhibition has two parts; The first is a projection of The Settling Archive and original photographs from contributor’s personal albums, digital versions of which will be gifted to the City Archives to preserve these stories. The second is Welcome Home, a series of diptychs by photographer Sam Ivin, made with contributors to the archive. Individuals own images are shown alongside a portrait created by Ivin, reflecting on the experiences that have bought them to Stoke-on-Trent. Audiences are also invited to share their own stories to the exhibition.
The exhibition is supported by GRAIN Projects, Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Arts Council England.
05 11 2018
In association with The Face of Suffrage you are invited to attend a short series of free public talks.
Wed 21 November at 6pm, The Face of Suffrage artist Helen Marshall
Lloyds Room at Birmingham Hippodrome. Lead artist of The Face of Suffrage Helen Marshall speaks about the project in Birmingham and her other collaborative projects nationally and internationally.
Wed 12 December at 6pm, Historian Dr Nicola Gauld
Lloyds Room, Birmingham Hippodrome. Historian, writer and academic expert on the Suffragette movement Dr Nicola Gauld provides an overview of the Suffragist Campaign and a specific look at Birmingham and women’s stories.
Thurs 10 January at 6pm, Artists and Community Archivists Anand Chhabra and Geoff Broadway
Gowling Room, Birmingham Hippodrome. Artists, Photographers and Archivists Anand Chhabra and Geoff Broadway talk about the community archives Apna Heritage and Living Memory and the role of women in archive histories and community photography archives.
The Face of Suffrage is a new large scale art installation created to celebrate 100 years of Votes for Women by Helen Marshall
The ‘Face of Suffrage’ artwork was a floor-based, 200 metre square photo mosaic consisting of more than 3,500 images of females from across the West Midlands. It was located on the concourse of Birmingham New Street Station. The artwork was made up of a combination of historical images, women involved in the Suffrage movement from the early 1900s, and from photographs made today by people that have photographed the women in their lives and wish to join in to commemorate and celebrate their stories.
This project was supported by Network Rail, Cross Country Trains, GRAIN Photography Hub, Arts Council England, LSE Women’s Library, Birmingham City University, Birmingham Hippodrome and The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
03 08 2018
Settling is a collaborative, community photography project and archive exploring migration to the city of six towns, Stoke-on-Trent. Socially engaged photographer Sam Ivin extends and develops this work that originated during a residency with GRAIN Projects & Appetite, and will now launch a series of progressive workshops in summer 2018 with individuals and community groups across the city to create a publicly accessible vernacular archive, as well as a series of participatory artworks.
Participants of the project are linked by their narrative of movement and status as residents of the city, but have moved at different times and from different places following World War II to the present day. They have travelled for a wide range of reasons: professional opportunities, education, family and refuge from difficult circumstances.
Photography is part of these people’s journey; from the places and people they left to their new lives in Stoke-on-Trent.
The participants will engage with the project through a series of workshops facilitated by Sam Ivin with a focus to make visible their fascinating, brave and poignant stories and journeys of migration to Stoke-on-Trent. Participants of the project are encouraged to contribute photographs to be part of the new community archive, and will also contribute to both visual and oral histories with contemporary works. The participatory works have a playful engagement with the photographs and stories, and record both past and present chapters of an important, but under-represented, recognition of the cities social history. Sam will then proceed to make a new body of work in response to his experiences and the city.
Settling will become an accessible community photography archive, located in one of the city’s public institutions, telling the story of Stoke today through the eyes of those who have moved there and becoming part of the visual memory of this period of Stoke’s history. The archive will contribute to the important story of Stoke-on-Trent’s important social history of migration and movement.
This project is generously supported by Arts Council England, GRAIN Projects, Appetite, Creative People & Places and Stoke on Trent City Council.
25 02 2018
Camera Obscura by David Bethell
Ilam Park, Ilam Holy Cross, near Ashbourne, Staffordshire Moorlands
The work will be in-situ 14 – 22 April 2018
Artist David Bethell is inspired by the rural landscape and natural environment. He frequently uses performance, film and photography in his work to animate his installations and sculptures within the location and to explore a narrative. GRAIN Projects has commissioned David to create a unique camera obscura for Ilam Park in the Peak District, inspired by the landscape and heritage there and in collaboration with the National Trust.
Ilam Park is a 158-acre country park situated in Ilam, on both banks of the River Manifold five miles north west of Ashbourne, and is owned and managed by the National Trust. The estate includes the remains of Ilam Hall, built in the 1820s. Nearby, within the village, a Saxon church stands which houses the shrine of a Mercian king. Most significant is the beautiful landscape, an area of outstanding natural beauty, including Bunster hill just beyond the church and the magnificent example of a picturesque landscape in the foreground.
It is the church that forms the basis and design for David Bethell’s site specific largescale work which functions as a camera obscura. Visitors will be able to engage and experience the surroundings as an inverted landscape from within the installation. The commission will capture the immense beauty of the surrounding landscape from its position.
For more information on Ilam Park, how to get there and parking arrangements visit; https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ilam-park-dovedale-and-the-white-peak
For more information on David Bethell http://davidbethell.com/
20 01 2018
Indre Serpytyte (b. 1983 in Palanga, Lithuania) is an artist living and working in London, UK. Serpytyte is concerned with the impact of conflict and war on history and perception. She works with photography, sculpture and installation.
Earlier this year GRAIN Projects commissioned Serpytyte to collaborate on research and make new work in response to the history of war and conflict in Birmingham.
It is estimated that throughout both World Wars, the Ministry of Munitions employed around a million female munitions workers in thousands of arms factories. These women played a crucial role in Britain’s strategy of “total war”. especially after Britain’s shell crisis in 1915 when there was a severe shortage of artillery shells on the front line. The women worked extremely long hours as production was focused on a 24-hour shift pattern with only one day off a week.
Using archive material from Birmingham collections as well as from the Imperial War Museum Serpytyte has examined the relationship between widely publicised propaganda images of the female factory workforce, as part of a political project of moral boosting, and the images, accounts and ephemera that tell the largely hidden and forgotten story of the so-called ‘munitionettes.’ In her work she will look at the history of female work and life in the context of war, violence and political strategy as well as the home as a place of waiting, loss and a repository for memory and objects. Domestic objects on shelves and mantlepieces provided keep sakes as well as reminders of lives and death. Most unsettling are the vases made from spent ammunition shells, many of which were made by women in munitions factories and then decorated by women for home ornamentation.
In her work Serpytyte will use these vases as a way to explore the complex relationship between domesticity, ornament, labour, class, gender, war and trauma. The work will explore the objects and materials of war.
Image credit: © IWM (Q 54375) – A female munitions worker operating a chronometer for registering velocity of bullets fired from cartridges at the Kynoch’s factory in Birmingham, 1917