Blog Archive

From March to October 2020 GRAIN commissioned and supported artists, writers and photographers to make new work in response to the Covid- 19 pandemic, lockdown and new laws around social distancing. The commissioning and bursary programme was a national response supported by Arts Council England and National Lottery Players.

12 photographers, writers and artists made new work responding to the unprecedented, uncertain and disturbing time of the pandemic, the affects of lockdown in the public realm and the personal and private space.

We are excited to be sharing work by; Andrea G ArtzLydia GoldblattChris HoareDaniel DaleFreddy GriffithsJemima YongNgadi SmartShaista ChishtyAnneka FrenchAnna SouterJamila Prowse and Lewis Bush.

Find our more about each of the Photographers, Writers and Artists here.

Image Credit: Pandemia to Pandemia, Andrea G Artz

From March to October 2020 GRAIN commissioned and supported photographers to make new work in response to the Covid- 19 pandemic, lockdown and new laws around social distancing.   The commissioning and bursary programme was supported by Arts Council England and National Lottery Players and Birmingham City Council.

7 photographers made new work in Birmingham responding to the unprecedented, uncertain and disturbing time of the pandemic, the affects of lockdown on communities and individuals at work and at home.

We are excited to share the work of; Jaskirt Boora, Andrew Roberts, Barnaby Kent, Chris Neophytou, Joanna Fursman, Olivier Jamin and Yas Lime.

Find our more about each of the Photographers and Artists here. here.

Image Credit: All People Are Like Grass, Barnaby Kent

From March to October 2020 GRAIN commissioned and supported photographers to make new work in response to the Covid- 19 pandemic, lockdown and new laws around social distancing.   The bursary programme was supported by Arts Council England and National Lottery Players and Appetite; Creative People & Places.

3 photographers made new work in Stoke on Trent responding to the unprecedented, uncertain and disturbing time of the pandemic, the affects of lockdown on communities and individuals at work and at home.

We are excited to share the work of; Robyn Clark, Sarah Peart and Holly Johnson.

Appetite is a Creative People and Places programme supported by funding from Arts Council England and led by the New Vic Theatre in partnership with Partners in Creative Learning, 6Towns Radio, Staffordshire University, Newcastle Business Improvement District (BID), Go Kidsgrove and Keele University.

Find our more about each of the Photographers and Artists here.

Image Credit: Sarah Peart

Photographic artists Nilupa Yasmin and Thanya Mavish (Birmingham, UK) and Waleed Zafar (Lahore, Pakistan) and Samsul Alam Helal (Dhaka, Bangladesh) are taking part in a new international digital artist exchange.

GRAIN Projects has been working with partners Tasweerghar (Pakistan’s first and only space dedicated to photography) and Pathshala Institute (the South Asia Media Institute specialising in visual arts in Bangladesh) to create this opportunity as part of Transforming Narratives, supported by the British Council.

The exchange involves artists and photographers in dialogue, creating new photography based on conversation and coming together to publish and exhibit the work via digital platforms.  The dialogues and new works will focus on identity, representation and visual stories of our contemporary times.  Themes will include the city, environment, family, heritage and community.

Photography is an international language, is accessible to audiences to engage and is an artform that is engaging on digital platforms.  At the end of the exchange in December we will host an evening of dialogue and talks by the four artists and new partners for audiences to see the work and share in the ideas and conversation.   We will also curate a digital exhibition presentation and produce a project zine featuring an edit of the conversations and work.

Transforming Narratives, is a ground-breaking project to establish Birmingham as a leading international centre for contemporary Pakistani and Bangladeshi arts, for the mutual benefit of Birmingham and cities in Pakistan and Bangladesh. The project is supported by Arts Council England and delivered in association with The British Council.

Collaboration & Exchange Artist Talks
10th December
3 PM (UK) | 8PM (Pakistan) | 9PM (Bangladesh)
Free | Zoom

Photographic artists Nilupa Yasmin and Thanya Mavish (Birmingham, UK), Waleed Zafar (Lahore, Pakistan) and Samsul Alam Helal (Dhaka, Bangladesh) will be talking about their work and shared dialogues, alongside the partner organisations, in this public event that focusses on the Digital Artist Exchange.

Join us and hear from the partners and photographic artists involved in this new collaboration & exchange programme supported by Transforming Narratives and The British Council.

Book your free place here.

Image Credit: Runaway Lovers, (c) Samsul Alam Helal

09 09 2020

Celebrating Age

Since the summer of 2018 we have been working with residents of three Lench’s Trust housing schemes in Birmingham, engaging with older people and using photography to celebrate and tell stories of families, childhood, occupations, war years, special occasions and memorable events.  In meetings and workshops residents have shared photographs from their own collections and family albums and have reminisced about the time and place depicted.  Memories have been collected and stories told as the project, through the participants, also tells the history and story of Birmingham and surrounding areas.   

Stephen Burke led the project with Kate Peters creating portraits of each of the participating residents.

The collaboration with the Lench’s Trust has seen us working in Quinton, Moseley, and Sutton with residents, connecting to special people and places and experiencing people’s lives through portraiture and family archives.

The project has helped spark memories, develop conversations and increase connections and has shown us that the older generation have something to tell us about enduring and enjoying life despite adversity and challenging times of crisis. 

A selection of the resident’s photographs, snapshots of their memories and the portraits made by Kate Peters have been curated and published in a small publication entitled ‘We Went Mackerel Fishing One Day’.    In the book the photographs are personal, powerful and enigmatic.  They tell us so much about communities, individuals and their lives.

‘Celebrating Age’ is a partnership with the Lench’s Trust, generously supported by The National
Lottery Heritage Fund.

Image Credit: Olive Hall, (c) Kate Peters

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. Due to Covid-19 our programme of talks and conversations will 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.

The Other

18t November, 6PM
Book a Free ticket here

The other, invite you to talk about class. Kelly O’Brien, Joanne Coates and Kirsty Mackay co-founded The Other photography collective to raise awareness, using an intersectional approach to class discrimination, within photography in the UK. This event will give an introduction to each of their practice, their experiences navigating an exclusive industry and their plans for change. You’ll be invited to speak of your own experience and join in for a warm and open conversation. Pour yourself a drink, bring your own cuppa and let’s bring compassion into the shifting landscape of photography and representation.

Send questions in advance via Twitter @the__other_ 

Book a Free ticket here.

Past speakers include; Maryam Wahid, Camilla Brown, East Meets West, Multistory, 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, 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, Claire Hewitt, 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.



With Thanks to Arts Council England and National Lottery players we are pleased to announce an exciting series of Photographer’s Talks as part of our 2020 online programme.

The talks are free and will take place online via Zoom, you will need to book a 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.

Polly Braden
12th November | 6.00 PM
Free | 
Book a ticket
Polly Braden is a documentary photographer whose work features an ongoing conversation between the people she photographs and the environment in which they find themselves. Highlighting the small, often unconscious gestures of her subjects, Polly particularly enjoys long-term, in depth collaborations that in turn lends her photographs a unique, quiet intimacy.Polly has produced a large body of work that includes not only solo exhibitions and magazine features, but most recently four books: Adventures in the Lea Valley (Hoxton Mini Press, 2016), Great Interactions: Life with Learning Disabilities and Autism (Dewi Lewis Publishing, 2016), Out of the Shadows: The Untold Story of People with Autism or Learning Disabilities (Dewi Lewis Publishing, 2018) alongside writer Sally Williams, and London’s Square Mile: A Secret City (Hoxton Mini Press, 2019.) with writing by David Kynaston.

Book a ticket here.

Image Credit: (c) Polly Braden

Previous Speakers include: Mark Neville, Jonny Briggs, Andrew Jackson and Lisa Barnard.

23 03 2020

Clare Hewitt

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.

18 02 2020

Anthony Luvera

GRAIN are working with leading Birmingham based charity SIFA Fireside and have commissioned artist, writer and educator Anthony Luvera to work with their client group to create new work.  Luvera is a socially engaged practitioner who has collaborated with people who have experienced homelessness for over fifteen years. The long-term collaborative projects he creates with homeless people and other community groups have been exhibited widely in galleries, museums and public spaces.

Luvera is working in Birmingham for the first time, collaborating with people who have experienced homelessness living in Birmingham. Creating this new body of work with the clients of SIFA Fireside, the main access point to support and services for vulnerably housed and homeless adults in the city, will enable participants to use photography to express the things they are interested in and present their points of view.

Luvera’s interdisciplinary approach is committed to the process of collaboration.  His concern and advocacy for confronting the politics of representation have been part of an increased practice of and dialogue with socially engaged and community art – to emphasise the importance of self representation among marginalised individuals.

The photography made with clients will be exhibited and published in 2021.

Thank you to Galliard Homes for sponsoring the project.

Image credit: Paul B

We are delighted to announce, with thanks to Arts Council England, a new programme of 10 projects in collaboration with rural communities across the Midlands.  The selected photographers and artists will work with communities to explore issues of rural life, lifestyles and environments.  The projects will focus on rural economics, health and wellbeing, diversity, young people, land rights, cultural identity and post Brexit agriculture.

The commissioned photographers & artists are; Alannah Cooper, Emily Graham, Guy Martin, Leah Gordon, Matthew Broadhead, Murray Ballard, Navi Kaur, Oliver Udy & Colin Robins, Polly Braden and Sam Laughlin.

The projects will culminate in a new publication and a symposium which will be a platform for sharing work as well as having dialogue and debating the issues and concerns that have been discovered and raised through the production of the work.

Image Credit: Deer browse-line (various species) from the series A Certain Movement, by Sam Laughlin

Copyright 2016 GRAIN.