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.
20 03 2020
Photographer Andy Pilsbury was awarded a Photobook bursary to support the development, creation and production of a new photobook dummy. The bursary includes professional feedback and guidance through a number of portfolio reviews with industry professionals.
Titled The Flesh & the Fantasy, the book dummy presents five stories connected by the export of American culture and its manifestation by outsiders in the UK. Interwoven with dreams and reality, or flesh and fantasy, Andy presents a multi layered narrative of symbolism, ideology and culture that journey through different genres and iconic subcultures commenting on both historic and contemporary themes.
With the American Dream becoming toxic and corroded in the USA, there still is an allure to Europeans who seek to transcend the monotony of life at home through embracing American narratives and clichés.
The timing of this work is extremely notable with the run up to the American elections, Trumpism and its political impact and the UK’s so-called special relationship with the US, alongside our positioning in Europe post Brexit.
Andy used long time friends and collaborators, Wild Ilk to design the book, and it was printed by Team Impression in Leeds. Hardback 200 x 250mm, perfect bind, 107 pages.
As part of the bursary, Andy was able to attend the FORMAT International Photography Festival portfolio reviews to present the book dummy to a range of industry leaders including figures from galleries, agencies, magazines, media, photography festivals and publishing. Throughout the day the work was received very positively with plenty of feedback to move the project forward.
Andy Pilsbury is a photographer whose particular interest is the presentation of American culture within the UK. Drawn to communities, individuals and subcultures he forms wider narratives based on his own experience and notable historic and contemporary themes.
Alongside personal and commissioned projects he works as a Senior Photography Technician at Birmingham City University, educating students in the craft. He is commercially represented by Lisa Pritchard Agency, London.
01 02 2020
Marco Kesseler has been 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 worked 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.
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.
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.
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.
Image Credit: Marco Kesseler
Grain Projects, New Art West Midlands, Aarhus Billedkunstcenter and Galleri Image are delighted to announce that Laura Dicken has been selected as the successful recipient of the International Bursary 2020. Laura will now undertake a period of research in Aarhus, Denmark, in March 2020.
Laura’s research proposal was selected by representatives from each of the four organisations from a batch of very strong and exciting proposals. The panel were particularly impressed by the focused, specific approach Laura took to her proposal and by the clear case she made for the impact of the bursary upon the development of her practice.
Laura’s work ‘You Are Another Me’ explores migration through the lens of the female (and female identifying) experience. The project includes portraits and stories of women from a broad spectrum of socio-economic backgrounds and ethnicities who have, for various reasons, migrated alone. By facilitating the telling of these disparate stories she hopes to bring new voices to the migration narrative and to highlight not only the vast differences but to celebrate and illuminate the many similarities. Having worked with participants in Copenhagen, in a pilot of this project, Laura is now able to use her research methodologies to connect with communities in Aarhus, to promote understanding, compassion, international cooperation and collaboration.
Laura’s ongoing body of work is a series of projects which are collaborations with individuals, communities and arts organisations. Through her work Laura hopes to create opportunities for previously untold stories to be shared authentically and with agency. Her process is built around meaningful connection, conversation, workshops and photography. Laura is interested in illuminating the shared human experience and celebrating the extraordinary ordinary.
About New Art West Midlands
New Art West Midlands is the Contemporary Visual Arts Network for the region. Our purpose is to strengthen and develop the contemporary visual arts sector in the West Midlands, creating defining opportunities for West Midlands’ artists and curators, and working collectively to safeguard the future of artists and our sector.
About Galleri Image
Galleri Image is a non-profit exhibition space, which aims to promote high quality photo-based art by showing Danish and international photography and video art. Founded in 1977, the gallery is the longest running non-profit exhibition space for photographic art in Scandinavia, and for many years it was also the only photo gallery in Denmark. Over the past 40 years, Galleri Image has achieved an international reputation for its exhibitions and has contributed considerably to the recognition and understanding of photography as an important and independent medium in the world of visual art. Based in Aarhus, Denmark, and with free entry to all its shows, the gallery regularly hosts talks, discussions, seminars, workshops and guided exhibition tours. We actively seek to support young talents and frequently tour our exhibitions around the world.
About Aarhus Billedkunstcenter
Aarhus Center for Visual Art (Aarhus Billedkunstcenter, AaBKC) is an artist resource center serving visual artists in Denmark’s Central Jutland region. Based in Aarhus, Aarhus Center for Visual Art strengthens the local arts community by creating opportunities for networking and collaboration between artists and institutions, offering professional development services to artists, facilitating discourse and community outreach with public art events and hosting residencies for local and international artists and art professionals.
Photo Credit: Laura Dicken
30 10 2019
GRAIN worked with a group of young people from the rural town of Whitchurch, Shropshire. Jamie, Rowan, Kelsey, Robyn, Matthew, Noah and Dylan attend the youth group at Beechtree Community Centre in Whitchurch. They created their own photography projects to tell the stories of how they live their lives, what the town and community mean to them and to explore what its like to grow up in a rural town.
Whitchurch is a market town in northern Shropshire. It lies 2 miles east of the Welsh border, 20 miles north of the county town of Shrewsbury, 20 miles south of Chester, and 15 miles east of Wrexham. At the 2011 Census, the population of the town was 9,781.
You can see the work created by the young people by following the
@WittyPhotographers Instagram page.
The project was led by Stephen Burke and in partnership with The Hive, Shrewsbury and supported by Labyrinth Photographic and Arts Council England.
Image Credit: Photography by Robyn
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.
19 09 2019
GRAIN in collaboration with The New Art Gallery Walsall presented an exhibition which brought together three photographers, Arpita Shah, Maryam Wahid and Nilupa Yasmin whose practices are rooted in the exploration of cultural identity.
Together they presented new and existing work focused around portraiture, culture and female identity. Through making work both about and in collaboration with their families and communities, these artists celebrate the rich and varied roles of women in society.
This exhibition provided an opportunity to expand upon narratives around the Asian diaspora and in particular the roles and identities of women.
A selection of works from Shah’s series ‘Purdah – the Sacred Cloth’ were shown; which presented contemporary women based in the UK from a variety of South Asian backgrounds who chose to practice traditions of head covering or veiling. West Midlands based Wahid and Yasmin created new work. Wahid’s portraits of women encountered in Pakistan, aim to recognise and celebrate women’s contribution to the economy and society. Yasmin’s self-portraits, with their multi-layered and manipulated surfaces, reflected upon femininity and cultural identity.
Exhibition Dates: 15th November 2019 – 19th April 2020..
Image Credit: Photography by Jonny Bark
29 08 2019
‘What’s it like to be sixteen years old now?’ This is the central thread running through the ambitious touring exhibition SIXTEEN. Photographer Craig Easton conceived this work following his engagement with first-time voters in 2014. Unlike the rest of the country, sixteen year olds in Scotland were given their suffrage for the first, and as yet only time, in the UK.
Later Craig invited award-winning fellow photographers Robert C Brady, Linda Brownlee, Lottie Davies, Jillian Edelstein, Stuart Freedman, Sophie Gerrard, Kalpesh Lathigra, Roy Mehta, Christopher Nunn, Kate Peters, Michelle Sank, Abbie Trayler-Smith, Simon Roberts and MFA candidate David Copeland to join forces with him to develop the project.
Together they collaborated with more than one hundred and seventy young people from diverse communities across the country to explore their hopes, fears and dreams. Each photographer selected a theme and a location. These span large conurbations such as London and Manchester, and include Wales, Northern Ireland, the north and south west of England, and the Scottish Islands.
Sixteen is an age of transition. At a time of increasing national and international anxiety, these young people are shifting from adolescence to become the adults who will live in a politically reshaped country, divorced from the European Union. It is an issue they had no say in. Working with photography, film, social media, audio recordings and writing, Craig and his colleagues give voice to those rarely heard.
The incisive portraits and the young people’s candid testimonies reveal whom and what they really care about and reflect the trust engendered between the sixteen year olds and the photographers. This gives the project significant potency, and highlights how social background, gender, ethnicity and location influence a teenager’s life and ambition.
A bespoke series of work from the broader SIXTEEN portfolio has been selected for this public realm exhibition, which is produced and commissioned in partnership with GRAIN, Birmingham City University, Millennium Point Trust and Arts Council England. It includes finely wrought portraits of local sixteen year olds by the internationally acclaimed photographer Kate Peters who grew up in the Midlands.
Join us for the exhibition launch after The State of Photography III symposium, from 5.30pm – 7.30pm at the Parkside Building, Birmingham City University.
Image Credit: (c) Kate Peters, Anthony, 2018
23 08 2019
Friday 11th October 2019
9:30 am – 17:30 pm
Birmingham City University, The Parkside Building, B4 7BE
The State of Photography will consider, explore, debate and review how photographers and photography practice develops and responds in this political moment. How do we look at our world today, how do we collaborate and work with communities and what does the world look like to photographers?
We invite acclaimed and outstanding photographers, artists, writers and curators who work collaboratively and in the fields of community photography and socially engaged photography to join us, to give important historical context, to debate contemporary approaches and to talk about their practice at this time of political uncertainty, international crisis and creeping right wing ideologies. Each have different approaches to making their work, to engaging with individuals and communities and to telling stories. They have been artist, story teller, observer, collaborator, explorer and researcher.
Some collaborate closely with community members, marginalised groups and those with little or no opportunity to speak out, others offer a more external perspectives on social issues and situations. Does one offer a better more ethical way? Is it important to come from a community or do you become too involved? Is objectivity important? How do we ensure the engagement is sincere and does not exploit? And where does the artist and author feature in the work?
The role of photography is changing, particularly as work is commissioned and made for exhibition and gallery settings. Photography can impart the greatest truth of our times and sheds light on injustices, inequality and other aspects of our society. It has been and remains one of the strongest vehicles for change as photographers explore polities, gender, society, sexuality, diversity, economics and environment. It seems today – a time of political unrest, flux and crisis – more essential than ever to explore the role that photography can play.
During the Symposium we will hear from the perspective of the photographer, curator and academic. They share our concerns about the present and offer a diverse range of practices, experiences and stories that document the state of humanity and the world today.
The State of Photography Symposium aims to present new bodies of work, question and challenge ideas, as well as offering advice and talking about positive approaches to influence change, provoke, prompt and give a voice. We will hear from and celebrate those that create self-initiated projects and commissioned bodies of work and see a range of photographic practices that are at the cutting edge of photography now.
- Daniel Meadows
- Anthony Luvera
- Julian Germain
- Clementine Schneidermann
- John Hillman
- Liz Wewiora
- Anand Chhabra
- Sam Ivin
- Concession: £18
- Standard: £25
*Please note prices include tea/coffee at registration but do not include lunch.Book your tickets here
Image Credit: Photography by Jonny Bark
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