Blog Archive

GRAIN In partnership with Appetite have been running online photography workshops with Veteran service men and women, as part of the Appetite at Home programme.

The participants have been sharing photographs, stories and experiences of their time in the armed services as well as creating new photographic work, that explores themes around journeys, life development and the joy of the outdoors.

Please see a selection of photographs made by the participants:

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Main photograph by Teri Elder

28 01 2021

New Narratives

Photographic artists Nilupa Yasmin and Thanya Mavish (Birmingham, UK) and Waleed Zafar (Lahore, Pakistan) and Samsul Alam Helal (Dhaka, Bangladesh) took part in a international digital artist exchange, supported by Transforming Narratives.

GRAIN Projects worked 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.

Find out about the project and the artists involved in this Digital Zine:

Click on the bottom right to see the zine full screen. Download the zine to print at home here.

The Zine was designed by Mark Murphy

Image Credit: Nilupa Yasmin & Samsul Alam Helal


Public Programme:
What Photography & Incarceration have in Common with an Empty Vase

by Edgar Martins

In association with the exhibition at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum

17th Feb, 6 PM, Zoom, Book here:
Edgar Martins will share with audiences the process of making and developing the project as well as the production of the book that accompanies the exhibition.

17th March, 6 PM, Zoom, Book here:
Edgar Martins will be in conversation with artist, writer and educator Mark Durden. They will discuss the project in detail, examining the themes, intentions and results of the work.

About the exhibition:
What Photography and Incarceration have in Common with an Empty Vase, an exhibition by internationally acclaimed artist Edgar Martins, at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry to coincide with Coventry’s City of Culture celebrations.

Commissioned by GRAIN Projects, Martins worked for four years with the inmates of HM Prison in Birmingham, the largest Category B prison in the Midlands, and their families as well as a myriad of local organisations and individuals to create a new body of work that explores loss, conflict and confinement.

The resulting book, What Photography and Incarceration have in Common with an Empty Vase was shortlisted as the best Photobook of the Year in Paris Photo & Aperture Photobook Awards as well the PhotoEspaña Book Awards.

By using image and text, new and historical photography, evidence and fiction, Martins’ work explores how we deal with the absence of a loved one, brought on by enforced separation through incarceration and lockdown.

The subject matter and focus take on a new and important resonance during these times of Covid-19 and the absence, loss and experience of confinement that this has brought to so many people.

Edgar Martins said: “By giving a voice to inmates and their families and addressing absence as a set of social relations rather than a mere physical space, my work tried to rethink and counter the sort of imagery normally associated with incarceration and confinement. I went to great lengths to avoid images whose sole purpose, in my opinion, is to confirm the already held opinions within dominant ideology about crime and punishment and to instead look at loss and absence.”

For full information about the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum opening times and Covid – 19 restrictions please visit 

About Edgar Martins:
Edgar Martins was born in Évora (1977) (Portugal) but grew up in Macau (China), where he studied Philosophy and where he published his first novel entitled “Mãe deixa-me fazer o pino”. 
He studied for a BA (Hons) at the University of the Arts (London) and an MA in Photography and Fine Art at the Royal College of Art (London).
 His work is represented internationally in several high-profile collections, such as those of the V&A (London), the National Media Museum (Bradford, UK), RIBA (London), the Dallas Museum of Art (USA); The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum/Modern Art Centre (Lisbon), MAAT/EDP Foundation (Lisbon), Fondation Carmignac (Paris), MAST (Italy), amongst others. 
His first book—Black Holes & Other Inconsistencies—was awarded the Thames & Hudson & RCA Society Book Art Prize. A selection of images from this book was also awarded The Jerwood Photography Award in 2003.
 Between 2002 and 2018 Martins published 15 separate monographs, which were also received with critical acclaim. These works were exhibited internationally at institutions such as PS1 MoMA (New York), MOPA (San Diego, USA), MACRO (Rome), Laumeier Sculpture Park (St. Louis, USA), Centro Cultural de Belém (Lisbon), Centro de Arte Moderna de Bragança (Portugal), Centro International de Arte José de Guimarães (Portugal), Museu do Oriente (Lisbon), Centro de Arte Moderna (Lisbon), MAAT (Lisbon), Centro Cultural Hélio Oiticica (Rio de Janeiro), The New Art Gallery Walsall (Walsall, UK), PM Gallery & House (London), The Gallery of Photography (Dublin), Ffotogallery (Penarth, Wales),The Wolverhampton Art Gallery & Museum (UK), Open Eye Gallery (Liverpool), amongst many others. In 2010 the Centre Culturel Calouste Gulbenkian (Paris) hosted Edgar Martins’ first retrospective exhibition. 
Edgar Martins was the recipient of the inaugural New York Photography Award (Fine Art category, May 2008), the BES Photo Prize (Portugal, 2009), the SONY World Photography Award (Landscape cat. 2009; Still-Life cat 2018; Architecture cat., 2018), the Int. Photography Awards 2010 (Abstract category), etc. He was nominated for the Prix Pictet 2009.
He was selected to represent Macau (China) at the 54th Venice Biennale.

About Mark Durden:
Mark Durden is an artist, writer and educator.  He has written extensively on contemporary art and photography. His most recent publications include Double Act: Art and Comedy (2016), co- written with David Campbell, and The Routledge Companion to Photography Theory (2019), co-edited with Jane Tormey.  With Ian Brown and David Campbell, Durden regularly exhibits as part of the artist group Common Culture.  Their current solo show Little Deaths opens at Rampa in Porto in March 2020.  With Campbell he has co-curated a number of substantial exhibitions on art and comedy: Double Act (Bluecoat, Liverpool and the MAC, Belfast in 2016) and The Laughable Enigma of Ordinary Life (Arquipélago, centro de artes contemporâneas, São Miguel in 2017). Together with João Leal, and in collaboration with Scopio Network, Durden is currently working on a photography project in response to the architecture of Álvaro Siza. He is Professor of Photography and Director of the European Centre for Documentary Research at the University of South Wales, UK

Tristan Poyser
Participatory Talk
Tues 29 December at 7pm – The eve of Brexit…

GRAIN are pleased to be collaborating with photographer Tristan Poyser and Art Link, Inishowen, Co. Donegal, Northern Ireland for this participatory event in association with the exhibition at Art Link.

A Time of Uncertainty brings together two significant series of work by Poyser, ‘The Invisible Inbetween’ and ‘Masked’.

Poyser has been making socially engaged work in Ireland, particularly focussing on the border, since the referendum. His work is not traditional documentary but participatory, based on conversations with over 700 individuals and communities over 5 years. For ‘The Invisible Inbetween’ he travelled the Irish border he recorded the landscape reflecting on the effect of Brexit on a land rich with turmoil and history. He explains, ‘Borders are intrinsically peripheries, a third space and projections of the state. The Irish border is both an administrative and political division, an imaginary boundary, with little evidence of the existence to signify a physical border.’

‘Masked’ is a piece that aligns still life, performative portraiture and documentary photography in another idiosyncratic form. 64 masks from his shifts for the online conglomerate Amazon appear bound together. This is a meditation upon an unprecedented era of hardship. ‘Whilst fortunate to be in a position to earn an income, there was a palpable tension brought on by the restrictions of the pandemic, the lockdown and employment. Clocking in, clocking out, timed breaks, compounded by the uncomfortable but necessary safety measures,’ he elaborates.

On Tuesday 29 December you are invited to participate in a Talk that Poyser will be facilitating. The first 50 participants that register before 16th December will receive a pack in the post which will enable them to contribute to this ongoing project link to The Invisible In Between.

Poyser invites the public to consider the referendum vote, their individual vote and how this will impact on those living on the Irish border and their future.

In addition to the first 50 registering you are able to register for the Talk and join in the Q&A and chat.

Each project engages with people and communities and remarks on a crucial time that affects us all. Each is a narrative of opinions, complemented by the artist’s reflection on two dominant issues of our time.

Book here. 

Tristan Poyser is a photographer, a board member of the Arts Council England’s Sector Support Organisation Redeye – The Photography Network, a Tutor for the British Academy of Photography, guest lecturer on Professional Practice, and delivers participatory workshops. He has also judged for the RIBA awards.

To Book  |  For further information on the associated exhibitions

Thank you to Luke Das who contributed to the text on these projects, interviewing Tristan Poyser for Loupe Magazine.

GRAIN have worked in collaboration with young people from across Shropshire, including Telford Young Carers, Shropshire Young Carers, XYZ and Steps Forward youth groups, to make photographs that document young people’s lives during a year like never before.

The young people took part in both online & in person workshops creating their own photography projects to tell the stories of how they live their lives, what it’s like to grow up in a rural area and their experiences of Covid – 19 and life in lockdown.

The resulting photographs offer a documentation of this historical time period and reveal the importance of family, friends and the outdoors to the young people.

The project was led by Stephen Burke, in partnership with The Hive, Shrewsbury, supported by Frosts Photo Centre and Arts Council England.

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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

Supported by Arts Council England we are delighted to announce our first online portfolio review day. During the morning our guest expert reviewers will give short presentations on their career and advice for developing your career, in the afternoon there will be opportunities for one to one portfolio advice and reviews. On the day we will be joined by curator and artist Bindi Vora, artist Edmund Clark and artist Tom Lovelace.

Each review will cost £5 (plus booking fee) and last 25 minutes taking place on Zoom. Please note you can purchase a maximum of 3 reviews (one per reviewer). Spaces are limited so we recommend you book a.s.a.p.

Schedule for 3rd October:
10.00 AM – 10.15 AM – Registration and Introduction from GRAIN.
10.15 AM – 11.15 AM – Presentations from Bindi Vora, Edmund Clark & Tom Lovelace.
11.30 AM – 3.40 PM – Individual Portfolio Reviews, book your time slot below.

*This event is now fully booked.

Bindi Vora

Bindi Vora is an artist, curator, and curatorial project manager at Autograph, London. Since joining Autograph in 2018 she has co-curated solo exhibitions by Lola Flash and Maxine Walker. She is currently curating Poulomi Basu’s Centralia as part of the 2020 Louis Roederer Discovery Award.

Bindi previously held the position of curatorial assistant at the Hayward Gallery, organising exhibitions Lee Bul: Crashing and commissioning the inaugural Hayward Billboard by Njideka Akunyili Crosby. Prior to the Hayward Gallery she curated the off-site commissions for The Photographers’ Gallery, which included the international touring exhibition Work, Rest & Play: British Photography from the 1960s to Today, featuring thirty-eight acclaimed photographers and artists and In Fine Feather at Selfridges London.

Edmund Clark

Edmund Clark’s work links issues of history, politics and representation through a range of references and forms including photography, video, documents, found images and other material. A recurring theme is engaging with state censorship to represent unseen experiences, spaces and processes of control in contemporary conflict and other contexts.

Clark has published six books and been exhibited widely including in major solo museum exhibitions at the International Center of Photography Museum, New York, the Imperial War Museum, London, and Zephyr Raum für Fotografie, Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen, Mannheim.

Edmund Clark teaches postgraduate students at the London College of Communication, University of the Arts London. For four years Clark was artist-in-residence in HM Prison Grendon, Europe’s only wholly therapeutic prison.

Tom Lovelace

Lovelace is a London based artist, lecturer and curator working at the intersection of photography, sculpture and performance. Lovelace is a Tutor at the Royal College of Art and London South Bank University. Central themes to his research and visual inquiry encompass the collaborative histories of photography and contemporary Minimalism. His curatorial projects include With Monochrome Eyes (2020), Rehearsing the Real (2019), Concealer (2018) and At Home She’s a Tourist (2017). Residencies include Yorkshire Sculpture Park (2017), Lendi Projects, Switzerland (2015), European Capital of Culture, Aarhus, Denmark (2013) and the Anna Mahler International Foundation, Italy (2012). Lovelace exhibits with Flowers Gallery (London & New York) and Alma Zevi (Venice).

Arpita Shah, Maryam Wahid, Nilupa Yasmin & Caroline Molloy
Online Symposium

10th September
6pm – 8pm
£3 (plus booking fee)

This online event follows on from GRAIN and The New Art Gallery Walsall’s collaboration on the exhibition ‘Too Rich A Soil’ which opened on the 15th November 2019 and closed early due to lockdown. The exhibition presented new work that dealt with themes of identity and representation, from three British artists’ of South Asian descent, Arpita Shah, Maryam Wahid and Nilupa Yasmin.  This session, originally intended to be a face to face symposium has been rescheduled as an online event.  Each artist will have the opportunity to share a selection of their practice and contribute to crucial conversations about the politics of representation.

The event is organised by GRAIN in collaboration with The New Art Gallery Walsall and will be chaired by academic Caroline Molloy. Places must be booked in advance and there is a small fee of £3.00 to attend.

Book your tickets here.

Arpita Shah

Arpita Shah is a photographic artist 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 issues of cultural displacement in the Asian Diaspora.

Maryam Wahid

Maryam Wahid (b. 1995) is an award winning artist. Using the art of photography, Wahid’s work explores her identity as a British Pakistani Muslim woman.

She expresses the origins of the Pakistani community in her hometown Birmingham (UK) by exploring her deeply rooted family history; and the mass integration of migrants within the United Kingdom. Her academic background in Art, Photography and Religious Studies alongside her fascination in cultural cognition and religious ideologies have progressively influenced her work. Her work is autobiographical but delves into human experiences and existence today. She is keen to photograph the complexity of places around the world and the places people call home.

Nilupa Yasmin

Nilupa Yasmin is a photographic artist based in Birmingham, West Midlands. Yasmin has a keen interest in the notion of culture, self-identity and anthropology, which she combines with her love for handcraft and photographic explorations, to repeatedly draw upon her own South Asian culture and heritage.

Her research examines the principles of craft in art based practice; becoming an evident methodology shown throughout her work whilst investigating ideals and traditions that are very close to home. Repeatedly drawing upon what it means to be a British Bangladeshi Muslim Woman, she aims to create a space of representation for the underrepresented, through her photographic practise. 

Caroline Molloy

Caroline Molloy is an artist, academic and writer. She is Programme Leader of Fine Art and Photography at UCA Farnham, alongside of which she is in the final stages of her PhD thesis that looks at the performance of transcultural identity in studio photography at Birkbeck, University of London. She has an MA in Visual Anthropology from Goldsmiths, and an MA in Photography from the Royal College of Art. Caroline is well read in post-colonial and decolonising theory; her research interests are in raising the audibility of the maginalised voice through the activation of archives. She regularly writes about photography and visual culture for Visual Studies, The Journal of Visual Practice, Source Magazine, 1000words and Photomonitor.


GRAIN is delighted to have awarded the Format Festival Portfolio Award 2020 to Oliver Raymond Barker for his work ‘Trinity’. This is the fourth occasion that GRAIN has awarded a special prize at Format International Photography Festival.

Oliver Raymond Barker works with the mechanics and alchemy of photography to make images, objects and structures that expand upon what photography is and can be. Working predominantly with alternative analogue techniques he uses photography as a tool to uncover imagined narratives, unseen processes and underlying systems.

Recent exhibitions and displays include Belfast Photo Festival (2019), UNSEEN (2018), Newlyn Art Gallery (2017) & Four Corners Gallery for the London Pinhole Festival (2017).

Trinity engages with the unique ecology of the Rosneath peninsula in Scotland: the landscape itself, the networks visible and invisible that have been imposed upon it and the complex histories embedded in its fabric. Early christian pilgrims voyaged to remote corners of the British isles such as Rosneath in search of sanctuary; peregrini who sought to use the elemental power of nature as a means of gaining spiritual enlightenment. Today, the peninsula is dominated by the presence of HMNB Faslane and RNAD Coulport, the home of the UK’s nuclear deterrent Trident. Existing alongside these sprawling sites are the small, temporary constructions of itinerant activists – locations such as the Peace Wood bear traces of their occupation.

The works made originate from 20 x 24 inch paper negatives, exposed in a unique custom built ‘backpack’ camera obscura – designed to allow creation of large format images in remote locations.

12 05 2020

Open Call

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, 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

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)

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

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